The Matryoshka Memoirs: A Story of Ukrainian Forced Labour, the Leica Camera Factory, and Nazi Resistance


Product Details

$18.95  $17.62
ECW Press
Publish Date
5.59 X 8.48 X 0.59 inches | 0.74 pounds

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About the Author

Sasha Colby is a writer, literary historian, performance artist, and director of Simon Fraser University's Graduate Liberal Studies program. She lives in Vancouver, BC.


"In The Matryoshka Memoirs, Sasha Colby draws together treasures from oral history, meticulous research, and her own imagination to tell 'A Story of Ukrainian Forced Labour, the Leica Camera Factory, and Nazi Resistance, ' but also of three, and eventually four, generations of women whose conversations and memories range from Eastern to Western Europe, from Eastern to Western Canada, and from past horrors to the intense, loving family dynamics of recent days. The writing is vivid and lyrical, the narratives are arresting, and the women are unforgettable." -- Craig Howes, Director, Center for Biographical Research, University of Hawai?i at Manoa
"Colby skillfully weaves together the stories of women brought together by war and its remembering and forgetting. This is both a captivating family memoir of a granddaughter coaxing stories from her grandmother and Colby's recreation of the wartime meeting of a Ukrainian forced labourer and a wealthy German woman. I picked it up and couldn't put it down." -- Tim Cole, University of Bristol, Director of the Brigstow Institute, author of Holocaust Landscapes
"This exquisitely wrought book paints a compelling picture of one woman's journey through the labour camps of Europe in the 1940s. Woven into her story are the stories of the women of her family, from her daughter to great-granddaughter. This is a delicate, poignant, and deeply humane exploration of generational inheritance, legacy, and female survival." -- Kate Kennedy, BBC broadcaster and Associate Director, Oxford Centre for Life-writing, University of Oxford
"[Colby] breathes new life into well-trodden WWII tropes, building a vivid, novelistic narrative focused on memory and family. Readers of WWII fiction will savor this evocative work of history." -- Publishers Weekly
"From the moment I began reading The Matryoshka Memoirs, I was transported. Colby's memoir moves seamlessly between time and place, fact, fiction, and memory bringing us along with her as we travel from safety one moment, to terrifying circumstances the next. Evocative, poetic and at times stark and direct, Colby invites us into the intimate circle of her family, where she weaves the ordinary and the unimaginable together to create a deeply affecting work that explores a hidden history and the depth of feeling within. Through this beautifully written memoir, we are able to touch and feel the experience of one woman, one family and the countless others who have stories such as these still waiting to be told." -- Dorothy Dittrich, 2022 Governor General's Award winner for drama
"The shape that this story takes, from Ukraine to Germany to Belgium to Canada, is as full and capacious as a matryoshka doll; when we open it, taking it apart, we marvel that so much can be held inside. Sasha Colby is a beautiful writer. In her hands, Irina's complicated life story and its living legacy is explored with rich and intelligent care." -- The British Columbia Review