Peter Lang Publishing awarded Book Publication Subvention for “Vanished Lands” by Laima Vincė Sruoginis

Mar 17, 2023

The AABS Board is pleased to announce that Peter Lang Publishing has been awarded the AABS Book Publication Subvention for publishing Vanished Lands: Memory and Postmemory in North American Lithuanian Diaspora Literature. The book, authored by Laima Vincė Sruoginis, gives an overview of the history of Litvak and Lithuanian emigration, the Nazi occupation, the postwar anti-Soviet resistance, the Lithuanian émigré literary renaissance, and applies the concepts of postmemory, rite of return, cultural memory, collective trauma, and trauma theory to analyze literary works of creative nonfiction by numerous authors.

Laima Vince

©Laima Vincė Sruoginis, 2023

Dr. Laima Vincė Sruoginis is an author, academic, and life-long part of the North American Lithuanian diaspora. She has published over twenty books in the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom. She earned a PhD in Humanities from Vilnius University, an MFA in Writing from Columbia University, an MFA in Nonfiction from the University of New Hampshire, and a BA in English and German Literature from Rutgers University. She is the recipient of two Fulbright grants, a National Endowment for the Arts grant in Literature, a PEN Translation Fund grant, an Academy of American Poets Award in Poetry, an Association of the Advancement of Baltic Studies dissertation grant, among other honors. She teaches in the English Department at the University of Southern Maine.

At the end of World War II, thousands of Lithuanian and Litvak survivors fled the terror of Soviet-occupied Lithuania and found shelter in the displaced persons camps of the Allied territories. By 1949, most had emigrated to North America. They brought with them opposing narratives about the Nazi occupation (1941-1944) when 95 percent of Lithuania’s Jewish community was annihilated. In the diaspora, historical trauma narratives were passed down to the second and third generations born in the United States and Canada, forming collective memory. Meanwhile, historical analysis of the Holocaust was obfuscated by the Soviet occupation of Lithuania (1944-1991) where censorship and isolation sealed off the historical record, preventing any serious examination outside of officially sanctioned communist propaganda narratives that deprived Jews of their identity, claiming them as “Soviet citizens,” erasing the memory of the Holocaust.

All that changed when the KGB archives were opened after the collapse of the Soviet Union when Lithuania became an independent democratic nation in 1991. Nonetheless, gaps in the archives left more questions unanswered. Literature has the power to fill in silences and speak the impossible. Vanished Lands analyzes memoirs written by three generations of North American Litvak and Lithuanian émigré writers. Their voices speak over the silences of decades, seeking answers.

Vanished Lands

Cover photograph. American Federation of International Institutes (A. F. I. I.) case workers Janina Simutis (far left) and Werner Wartenberg (far right) greet two European refugees in New York after World War II. Circa 1946.

Reproduced with permission from the Simutis Family Archive.

This book gives an overview of the history of Litvak and Lithuanian emigration, the Nazi occupation, the postwar anti-Soviet resistance, the Lithuanian émigré literary renaissance, and applies the concepts of postmemory, rite of return, cultural memory, collective trauma, and trauma theory to analyze literary works of creative nonfiction by Samuel Bak, Ellen Cassedy, Rita Gabis, Daiva Markelis, Antanas Sileika, Julija Šukys and a play by Algirdas Landsbergis. This book traces how the vibrant postwar and Cold War Lithuanian literary movement in the diaspora inspired the spirit of the second and third generation, who continued to write about Lithuanian collective trauma in English for an audience of North American readers.

Another unique aspect of this book is that it incorporates 90 historical photographs documenting the lives of Lithuanian displaced persons in the DP camps as well as their early decades of immigration in the United States and Canada. Many of these photographs were pulled from family albums all over North America and have never been published before.

– Laima Vincė Sruoginis

– Laima Vincė Sruoginis

What is the AABS Book Publication Subvention?

The AABS awards its Book Publication Subvention of up to $5,000 for individually authored books, edited volumes, and multiple-authored books in English that make a substantial scholarly contribution to Baltic Studies. The applications must be submitted by publishers, not authors. Priority will be given to single author’s first monographs.

AABS awards two Book Publication Subventions each year. Applications may be submitted for review anytime, on a rolling basis.

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