Dalia Grinkevičiūtė was deported at the age of fourteen in 1941 by the Soviets along with her mother, brother and thousands of other Lithuanians to the Siberian Arctic. A place historians have come to call the “special settlements“ —islands of misery to which Stalin deported mostly women and children (the men having already been sent to concentration camps).This book is her legacy. She wrote it on her first escape at the age of 22 and kept it in a box, which she buried fearing the KGB might read it. A few months later she got caught again.
In 1991, four years after her death, her memoirs were found and were celebrated like a miracle by a national event.
Dalia Grinkevičiūtė (1927-1987) was born in Kaunas, the former capital of Lithuania. She spent her teenage years in a Siberian gulag. At 21 she escaped and returned to her home country only to be deported to Siberia once again in 1951. She was released five years later, then studied medicine. Grinkevičiūtė’s writings are now placed firmly in the Lithuanian canon.
“Dalia Grinkevičiūtė develops through the destruction of her humanity according to the soviet plan an incredible force of language one can‘t escape. It is not the pathetic story of a hero but the story of a constant indignation and self-assertation, a literary document like they are only a few of them.“
Regina Mönch, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
“Grinkevičiūtė‘s book is a distressing historic document but also the evidence of a literary work of great significance.“
Andreas Breitenstein, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
‘Dalia Grinkeviciute’s account of surviving starvation and hard labour deserves to become a classic.’ Anna Aslanyan, The Spectator
‘Shadows on the Tundra is a devastating portrait of human cruelty … yet Dalia’s searing tale is unexpectedly uplifting.’ Lucy Popescu, The Riveter
‘Dalia’s suffering is so breathlessly cruel that the Gulag may have been plucked from some dark early century, but her voice – angry, sulky, sarcastic – brings it hurrying into the present.’ Julie McDowall, TLS