Guzel Yakhina :Дети мои (A Volga Tale)

The latest addition to my website is Guzel Yakhina‘s Дети мои (A Volga Tale). The focus is on the Volga Germans, German nationals who, at the invitation of Catherine the Great (herself German) emigrated to Russia in the late eighteenth century and settled alongside the River Volga. Catherine the Great referred to them as my children, which is the Russian title of this book. We follow the story of a community of Volga Germans and particularity Jacob Bach, the local schoolmaster. He is asked to privately teach a seventeen year old girl as her father wants to take ger to Germany and marry her off but, en route, she escapes and returns to Jacob. Driven out of the community they live happily in her father’s farmhouse. However she is raped by Russian soldiers and dies in childbirth. The trauma causes Jacob to lose his power of speech and he brings up the child of the rape, Antje, up without spoken language, as the assault has affected his power of speech. But he cannot hide from the Soviet Union forever. It is a superb story with magic realism and a fascinating account of the Volga Germans and what happened to them under Stalin.

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