The Steppes Are the Colour of Sepia: A Mennonite Memoir invites the reader to embark on a journey that traces the paths of ancestral memory over the steppes of the Russian empire to the valleys of Canada’s Fraser River. Connie Braun’s narrative continues where Sandra Birdsell’s historical fiction Russlander has left off – back to the catastrophic events of twentieth-century Europe. Braun intimately ushers us into the life of one extended Mennonite family, and in particular the life of her father and grandfather, living under the terror of Stalin, and later, under the military expansion of Hitler’s Nazi Lebensraum in the Ukraine. In the vein of Janice Kulyk Keefer’s memoir Honey and Ashes: A Story of Family and Anne Michaels’ Fugitive Pieces, Braun gives voice to the narrative of dispossession. In a memoir that is historically faithful to documents, letters, old photographs and personal testimony, Braun offers a lyrical second-generation witness to her family members and to all other Canadians who have suffered displacement in history’s disasters, and whose obscure stories must be told. In doing so, she honours the spirit of resilience embodied by the refugees who have created and transformed Canadian society.
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About the Author
Connie Braun is a first-generation Canadian born and raised in the Fraser Valley. She is an emerging writer whose work has most recently appeared in Half in the Sun: Anthology of Mennonite Writers (Ronsdale) and in the Mennonite literary journal, Rhubarb. In both her academic work at the university and in this Mennonite memoir of creative nonfiction, Braun focuses on the second-generation narrative voice as witness. She has published short stories, poems and reviews in various publications. Married and the mother of three young-adult children, Connie now makes her home in Vancouver.