Publishers Weekly gives Epistolophilia a Starred Review


Of the publishing industry’s four major trade (the other three include Kirkus, Booklist, and Library Journal) magazines, Adelle Waldman writes at Slate that “Publishers Weekly, or PW, is the biggie—it plays Coke to Kirkus‘ Pepsi.” A “‘starred’ review in PW still increases a book’s chance of getting media coverage and showing up in your neighborhood bookstore.” These also determine which books Amazon promotes. A starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality.

Imagine my pleasure when I came across this.

Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Šimaitė

In this captivating and remarkable book, Šukys (Silence is Death: The Life and Work of Tahar Djaout) celebrates the life and letters of Ona Šimaitė, one of the lesser-known Righteous Among the Nations. In 1940 Šimaitė was a young librarian at Vilnius University, hired to head the catalogue department as the school converted from a Polish to a Lithuanian curriculum. The following year, when the Soviets sent 17,000 Lithuanians to Siberia and German bombs rained on the city, the librarian began to smuggle medicine, food, forged documents, clothes and correspondence into (and out of, in the case of letters) the Jewish ghetto. Three years later she was arrested by the Gestapo, brutally tortured, and shipped to Dachau, eventually landing in a prison camp in occupied France, the capital of which she would later call home. Šukys brings to life a solitary woman dedicated to saving the dispossessed and capturing her memories by producing an enormous amount of letters; Šimaitė wrote, on average, 60 letters a month after the war. Šukys draws liberally from thousands of pages of correspondence and numerous diaries to create a portrait of a deeply thoughtful woman trying to make sense of history and her own life by putting it all to paper. Also of Lithuanian descent, Šukys’s own meditations on the power of letters and writing make this a powerful testament to the confluence of history and individual lives and passions. B&W photos & maps. (Mar.)

[Photo: winterofdiscontent]

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10 Replies to “Publishers Weekly gives Epistolophilia a Starred Review”

  1. Thanks Tracey! Even though it’s not my first book, I’m still finding it wild and surreal to have actual readers reading the book (and liking it)!

  2. I heard your interview on The Sunday Edition and I ordered your book from Chapters-Indigo. Did I understand correctly? Are you a Montreal writer? Maybe I misunderstood.

  3. Yes, I am a Montreal writer! You absolutely understood correctly. Thanks for listening and for reading. I hope you enjoy the book!

  4. I’m also a librarian… as is my sister. Are you booksigning in Montreal any time soon?

  5. Hi Normand,
    I will be launching the book in Montreal on June 7 at Paragraphe Books from 5-7. You, your sister, and friends are all welcome! We would love to see you there!

  6. Great Normand! I look forward to meeting you! There may also be an event at the Jewish Public Library in Montreal. I’ll post on the website. You can also find me on Facebook, where I have an author page and keep an events calendar.

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