(13th January 1926 – 27th June 2017)
My scheduled book review has been moved to tomorrow, because I want to share this story!
A couple of decades ago, a woman masquerading as a Ukrainian published a book that became an overnight sensation, a multi-award-winning book that allegedly was a mostly-true story about Ukraine in the Second World War, based on “her family history”.
It was all fake. The woman’s family is 100% British, and her parading around in traditional Ukrainian dress, with a fake Ukrainian name, was such an offensive, gross appropriation of a culture.
Her real – non-Ukrainian – name was eventually revealed to the press, and her lies about all Ukrainians being Nazis crumbled around her.
However, a lot of damage was already done (I tried to discuss this at university a few years later, and got attacked by a know-it-all Anglo-Australian man who’d done his thesis on this particular book – and believed every word of it). The Kremlin has been running that particular Nazi propaganda line since WW2 began.
For the record: Unlike many of its neighbours, Ukraine NEVER collaborated with Nazi Germany.
My grandmother was taken by the Nazis in their invasion of Ukraine in Operation Barbarossa in 1941. She was taken to Germany, stripped naked, hosed down, and literally sold on a slave market. She was a teenager at the time, and ended up trapped in Germany for eight years.
My grandfather – a resistance fighter against both Russia AND Germany – was finally captured by the Nazis in 1944, beaten badly, and put on a train to a concentration camp. He and a friend managed to escape, and spent the rest of the war in hiding in record-low temperatures. His health issues from that time killed him early. I never met him.
Because America dominates the media, everyone (especially younger people who live on sites like Tumblr) see cultural and race relations *only* as how they relate to the United States. This is dangerous – and WRONG. Every part of the world has different, specific issues.
Everyone forgets the hate crimes being committed against Eastern Europeans on a daily basis in Britain (one of the main reasons for Brexit was to keep us out!). The ethnic cleansing in Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine happening *right now*. The Holodomor. The way my non-Ukrainian relatives still refer to us by the racial slur “wogs” (I was told recently that “wogs” shouldn’t be allowed to finish school, because we might bring the scores down!).
I’m glad this horrendous author is in trouble for something else. If she’d slandered another ethnic group the way she’d slandered Ukrainians, she’d be hated a great deal more than she is.
Nothing to do with books, but there has been a lot of sad, negative stuff on this blog recently. So – instead – watch this video!
Watch it to the end, because it starts off sort-of-funny, and then gets REALLY funny. Honestly, the best bit is the unimpressed sulphur-crested cockatoo on the left.
I’m not sure why people overseas want to spend thousands of dollars on keeping our (Australian) cockatoos as pets. They are SO loud that they’re deafening. I wouldn’t want them in the house (plus, I’m not sure it’s fair to them.)
We have a group of them living outside, and there are two in particular who hang out in the garden all day and pull things (trees, THE HOUSE) to pieces because they know it annoys us. However, they’re very smart, hilarious birds who live longer than some humans. And – of course – total idiots!
Yes, I’m a day late (it was first published on the 26th of June), but it is the twentieth anniversary of Harry Potter.
I was at the end of my schooling when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone came out. So, I wasn’t exactly thrilled by a book craze about a little wizard boy and his magic wand, complete with cutesy illustrated covers.
I moved to London shortly afterwards, and was watching live on television when the casting for the first movie was announced. However, it was also the time the first Lord of the Rings movie was released, and I was accidentally in Leicester Square the evening of the world premiere (which meant I got to watch all the red carpet arrivals, even though half of them weren’t famous yet – Orlando Bloom? Viggo Mortensen? Who’re they?!).
The media in England set up a fan war between the two franchises, with plenty of British newspapers printing long lists of “evidence” J. K. Rowling plagiarised J. R. R. Tolkien. I believed it at the time; not anymore.
Eventually, my boss made a deal with me: she’d read my Lord of the Rings books if I gave Harry Potter a chance. I was about twenty, and not that interested, but in the end I did actually enjoy them (though I never finished the series).
My favourite character was that Bulgarian (? – Hungarian?) wizard guy who was Hermione’s boyfriend for about three seconds. I wanted them to end up together!
My boss HATED The Lord of the Rings (I don’t really blame her); she couldn’t get past the first twenty-thousand pages describing all the Hobbits. I didn’t hold it against her that she didn’t finish.
So, I’m no Harry Potter fangirl, but this was definitely an important Book-World anniversary to mark. We need another quality book franchise for the next generation. Maybe next time everyone won’t be raging misogynists and will let the female author publish under her real – feminine – name.
Too early? A bit scary? Christmas review books have started appearing for a few weeks now, which is always a bit freaky – it makes a person think how little they’ve achieved this year, and Christmas signals the end of it.
Scarier still, some of these books are going on sale in the next few weeks.
Gorgeous start to the week in Canberra. I was sitting outside in the sun, without any shoes on (and with the neighbour’s cat sitting on my keyboard!). Not bad for winter!
Surreal Winter Sunset
I deleted the post I was going to have today, because the site I was going to reference pissed me off with their nasty comments about blondes!
So, instead, I will tentatively recommend two books I’m less than halfway through reading:
Now, the title of this one is so clunky it makes me want to cry, and the people on the cover have the world’s worst hair, but ignore all of that! Also, it seems to be (there’s no date) set in the 1830s, which has the dorkiest fashion of any era in history (OF COURSE, it’s not represented on the cover), and I love that!