Vanished Lands: Book Publication Subvention Report by Laima Vincė Sruoginis

Feb 4, 2024

The Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS) is pleased to recognized the successful conclusion of a Book Publication Subvention Grant awarded to Peter Lang Publishers for publishing the book Vanished Lands: Memory and Postmemory in North American Lithuanian Diaspora Literature, by Laima Vincė Sruoginis.

Laima Vince

Dr. Laima Vincė Sruoginis 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, and Association of the Advancement of Baltic Studies book publication subvention and dissertation award, among other honors. Writing under the name Laima Vincė, she has published over twenty books in the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom. 


The Impact of an Award: Reports from Peter Lang Publishers and Laima Vincė Sruoginis

After the publication of Vanished Lands, Peter Lang Publishers and Laima Vincė Sruoginis submitted the following to AABS.
We thank them for their permission to publish their thoughts here.


Peter Lang Publishing Group is very grateful to have received the grant from AABS, which helped us to publish Laima Vincė’s remarkable book exactly as she imagined, fully illustrated with meaningful family photographs, artwork and historical maps. It has been a pleasure working with the author and AABS to bring this book to fruition, and we look forward to the response from the AABS community and beyond.

– Dr Laurel Plapp, Senior Acquisitions Editor, Peter Lang Oxford

Together with my editor, Laurel Plapp, and the production team at Peter Lang Publishers, we are deeply grateful for the book publication subvention awarded by the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies to support the publication of Vanished Lands: Memory and Postmemory in North American Lithuanian Diaspora Literature as part of the Exile Studies series, edited by Dr. Andrea Hammel.

Vanished Lands analyzes literary works by North American Jewish and Lithuanian writers through the lenses of postmemory, cultural memory and trauma theory. The writers, descendants of the Lithuanian survivors of World War II, pass along the trauma narratives of their families and speak over the silence of decades.

Although my contract with Peter Lang covered the cost of publishing this 536-page monograph, the AABS Book Publication Subvention paid for the inclusion of 70 images, more than are usually included in an academic book. These images comprise of black and white photographs, some of which are almost a century old, high quality color reproductions of the artwork of Samuel Bak, and historic maps that show the shifting borders of Lithuania. Through images, and not only words, Vanished Lands is a document of the lives, hopes, and dreams of people who were part of the North American Lithuanian diaspora and Litvak and Jewish writers in America. With the support of AABS, in Vanished Lands, not only text, but photographs document the lives of exiles, prisoners, and emigres.

Marianna Hirsch writes: “Whether they are family pictures of a destroyed world, or records of the process of its destruction, photographic images are fragmentary remnants that shape the cultural work of postmemory” (Family Frames 37).  In the past decade, archival projects that honor the memory of Lithuania’s Jews have emerged in Vilnius and Kaunas. As the world has retreated into the virtual landscape of the internet, as a virtual memorial to Lithuanian Jews who spent the last moments of their lives imprisoned in the Vilnius and Kaunas ghettos, and who then lost their lives in the most tragic and brutal way—stripped naked, shot, their bodies dumped in an unmarked mass grave—the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History has built an online memorial of postcards and family photos left behind in these two ghettos after its people were gone. The chapter “The Holocaust by Bullets” concludes with a visual memorial to those lost with family photographs found in the ghettos. These reclaimed photographs invite us to see a glimpse of people captured in a moment by an anonymous photographer, immortalized in the flow of life, not suspecting they would depart this world so violently. In these pages, they survive a moment longer, in a time before the historical trauma of the Holocaust changed our perception forever.

I asked descendants of displaced persons to search through old family albums and send me photos that told the story of their family’s experience as exiles and émigrés. Rasa Matušaitis Balaišis, shared photographs of her father on a Canadian work brigade—he was given permission to immigrant to Canada in exchange for his labor. Paul Landsbergis, the son of Lithuanian émigré writer Algirdas Landsbergis, shared photographs of his father’s family’s journey across the Atlantic to New York after having spent five years in a DP camp. My own family shared photographs of political organizations formed in Waterbury, Connecticut as early as 1940 to advocate for Lithuania’s independence from the Soviet Union. Algis Norvila, whose mother was a graduate of Baltic University, created by displaced professors after World War II in the rubble of West Germany, shared rare photos of one of the university’s few graduating classes. Recently discovered photographs of the people and places of Kaunas in the 1930s by the prewar photographer Antanas Ingelevičius are part of the visual landscape of this book thanks to the National Museum of Lithuania.

I’m grateful to Dalia Augūnas, Samuel Bak, Rasa Matušaitis Balaisis, Ellen Cassedy, Tesa Dunn, Daiva Markelis, Algis Norvila, Paul Landsbergis, and Julija Šukys, who contributed family photographs and gave permission for them to be published in this book. Thank you to Dr. Milda Danytė for sharing the map of DP camps in Germany reproduced with the permission of her father, Joseph Vincent Danys.

I’m grateful to the following institutions for granting me permission to publish photographs from their collections: the National Museum of Lithuania, the Vilna Gaon Jewish History Museum, the Genocide and Resistance Centre of Lithuania, and the Pucker Gallery. The Osher Maps Library at the University of Southern Maine shared access to maps of Lithuania and assisted with requesting permissions.

The AABS book grant also paid copyediting fees and paid for creating the index, and for that I am very grateful as it freed me up to begin work on my next project.

– 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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