Vilė, Jurga (Text) / Itagaki, Lina (Ill.)
A Graphic novel from Lithuania
Translated from Lithuanian by Saskia Drude
© 2020 Baobab Books
240 pages, softcover, handlettering, 17 x 23 cm
CHF 29.00 / € [D] 25,00 / € [A] 25,70
Ages 14 and up
It is June 1941 and we are in Lithuania. The independent Baltic republic has recently been occupied by the Soviet Army. Now, one fine summer morning Algis and his family is given barely ten minutes to pack before being herded onto a crowded freight train.
They are leaving behind the fertile agricultural lands. The terminus of the journey is a camp in barren Siberia. Thousands of innocent Lithuanians are deported. Even children as young as Algis are among the them.
It is Algis who is telling us the story from his child's perspective. The prisoners are forced to adapt to living in harsh conditions. Whilst this life quickly becomes a battle for survival against hunger, the cold, and despair, the thrown together community shows gallows humor and remarkable inventiveness. Algiukas learns to escape the daily rigours through the inventive power of his imagination. His aunt Petronella has a weakness for Japanese haiku poems, and his teacher is convinced that singing will help them to overcome the pain and injustice. The camp choir is named the Apples Choir … although Algis has to learn that apple trees do not grow in Sibiria.
Eventually, a treaty is signed that at least the children can be released, and that is how Algis, his sister Dalia are allowed to travel back home among others. Based on the true story of her father, Jurga Vilé, along with artist Lina Itagaki, offers an unforgettable tale of a childhood in exile. In the process, they shed light on one of the darkest periods of European history that, seen through a child’s eyes, underlines the courage of human endurance. Equally moving and encouraging, the book has been presented multiple awards in Lithuania. After being translated to English and French, the German edition is published by Baobab Books.
Jurga Vilė (*1977) was born in Vilnius. She studied French at Vilnius University, and later film science and audiovisual media at the University of Sorbonne in Paris. After living in New York and Spain for several years she moved back to Vilnius where she nowadays works as a freelance author and translator for the film industry.
Lina Itagaki (*1979) was born in the city of Kaunas. She studied English and Literature in Lithuania before she set off for Japan to study international economics and business. Before returning to Lithuania she worked for a Japanese video game company where her interest in drawing was awakened. That made her decide to study graphic art at the Academy of Arts back in Vilnius, where she currently lives. Lina's grandfather was also deported to Siberia. The photo album of her family was a source for this book.