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19 November 2018

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Wave of Terror

In the late 1930s, Fedir Sholomitsky lived in Pinsk, Belorussia, working as a schoolteacher and publishing an underground, anti-communist newspaper. Hunted by the Soviets, he eventually created a new identity for himself, escaped to Czechoslovakia, then Germany and finally Canada.

So it was at the age of 42, that Theodor Odrach settled into life in Toronto, working in a printing shop by day and writing stories, in Ukrainian, by night. He would live only another 11 years, but the stories he created live on thanks to the luminous translations of his daughter, Erma.

Compared to Solzhenitsyn and Orwell for his journalistic storytelling abilities, Odrach has a terse, compact writing style. In Wave of Terror, he draws on a wealth of personal experience and his natural gifts as a storyteller to provide an almost documentary tale of the Stalinist steamrollering of rural Belorussia and Ukraine in 1939, after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

— Paul E. Richardson

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Reviewed in Russian Life: July/Aug 2009