Andrei Kushnir, "Epic Journey: Life and Times of Wasyl Kushnir" (Academic Studies Press, 2020)


In Epic Journey: Life and Times of Wasyl Kushnir (Academic Studies Press, 2020), Andrei Kushnir documents the story of his father, Wasyl Kushnir, who was born in the western part of Ukraine in 1923. The book is based on Wasyl Kushnir’s memoirs and it includes a number of photos that help reconstruct his personal story. Narrating his family story, Wasyl Kushnir goes back to the second half of the 19th century and takes the reader to the present moment: the story provides a glimpse into a family that seems to be shaped by all the atrocities of the 20th century. World War I, the collapse of the two empires, the advancement of the Soviets, dekulakization, collectivization, the Holodomor, World War II, Nazi German labor camps, exiles to Siberia, immigration to the USA: these events undoubtedly leave an imprint on the individual’s life. At times, the book reads like a movie plot: Wasyl Kushnir is a character whose life unfolds as the countries and the peoples survive though tragedies and hardships. While Andrei Kushnir pays tribute to his family by introducing the audience to the story of his father and his family, he also creates a unique way to open up historical moments through personal narratives and stories. The center of the book is the story of Wasyl Kushnir, but it gives a panoramic overview of the events that shaped not only an individual life, but the lives of nations and the destinies of the countries. This is a narrative that provides an opportunity to emphasize the fate of the individual and to present a linear presentation of historical developments. For this reason, the book is very personal and rather unbiased at the same time; the book provides insight into the life of a beloved person and it opens up the tragedies of generations on a global level. Epic Journey: Life and Times of Wasyl Kushnir is a book of memories that documents an individual life in an intimate and delicate way and it arranges numerous pieces of history not only of Ukraine, but its neighbors as well, which produces space for remembering and commemoration on private and public levels.

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Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed

Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed is a Preceptor in Ukrainian at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University. She has a Ph.D. in Slavic languages and literatures (Indiana University, 2022). She also holds a Ph.D. in American literature (Taras Shevchenko Institute of Literature, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, 2007). Her research interests include contested memory, with a focus on Ukraine and Russia. She is a review editor of H-Ukraine. Since 2016, she has been a host on the New Books Network (Ukrainian Studies, East European Studies, and Literary Studies channels).
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