Friday, September 14, 2007

Kobzar's Children

Kobzar’s Children: A Century of Untold Ukrainian Stories is a collection of stories and memoirs written about and by Ukrainian immigrants to Canada.

Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch writes in the book’s preface that she was inspired to compile these stories because of her own experiences in an immigrant family. Growing up, she never had any books to read (in English) written by or about Ukrainians.

Skrypuch has a noble reason for creating her collection. Unfortunately, though, many of the stories and poems have very little literary value (including those written by Skrypuch herself).

For example, Danylo in Skrypuch’s “The Rings” lives through the Stalinist famine in Ukraine. In only twenty pages, his entire family dies, he journeys around the country, and he’s buried alive. Clearly, the pages are plot thick, but there is little room for character development.

However, I did learn something very interesting from this collection. During WWI, Canada placed Ukrainians in internment camps (reminiscent of the United State’s treatment of those with Japanese heritage during WWII). Although I’ve never claimed to be a scholar of Canadian history, this information surprised me.

So much for Canada’s reputation as the nice guys to the north.

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