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Monday, October 8, 2012

Review: Khatyn by Ales Adamovich

Title: Khatyn
Author: Ales Adamovich
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Glagoslav
Publish Date: June 22, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You don't mind tough subjects.
What's the Story?:

Synopsis: "It is a quiet place, with lush green grass covering the location of the former Belorussian village. A village that was burned to the ground with its inhabitants in 1943. Anyone familiar with this small corner of Eastern Europe is chilled to the bone by the events that transpired there, and the village’s name Khatyn has now come to embody a horrific national tragedy. But tragedy is not all this name embodies, for it also reminds people of the tremendous courage of those who fought for the life and freedom of their country. 

It is the story of this village and the events that surround its annihilation that are the focus of Ales Adamovich’s novel Khatyn, which was written on the basis of historical documents. The author, himself a World War II veteran and partisan,  depicts the reality of the partisan resistance to fascism in Belorussia. 

The main character is a man named Florian, who in his memories returns to events that transpired some thirty years ago, when as a teenager he joined a partisan unit and met his future wife, Glasha. He witnesses how the villagers of Khatyn are burned alive as reprisal for supporting the partisan movement. The monstrous cruelty of the death squad and its commanders manifested itself in the act of punishing the entire community for the deeds of those who had helped the partisans. The village, composed mostly of the elderly and mothers with children, was locked inside a barn. After being covered with dry hay, the barn was set ablaze with the families inside.

Over half a century later, Adamovich’s story about the courage of ordinary people has not lost its immediacy. Today, the world is still marred by war crimes committed against communities of noncombatant. Khatyn is a testament to an event that must not be forgotten, and to a reality that must not be repeated."

My Two Cents:

Khatyn is not an easy book to read due to the subject matter. War is never easy to read about, nor is brutality. The events surrounding the Khatyn massacre are filled with both. In March 1943, the Nazis and some Soviet collaborators carried out a massacre of an entire village in what is now Belarus. 149 people were brutally murdered, including 75 children.

The author sheds some light on this horrible event through a fictional witnessing of this story from someone in the partisan troops. I thought that using the first person point of view made this story feel both especially real and even more scary. It's hard to get over what the characters are doing and witnessing.

The hard thing about reading books like that is that they can be sort of graphic and this one is a little bit. Even though they are graphic, they are still very important to read. Realizing that made it a lot easier for me to get through the book. It is so important for us to learn about the past so that the same mistakes are not made in the future.

This book is probably not for very sensitive readers but if you think you can deal with all of the bad things in the book, it is most definitely worth the read.


1 comment:

  1. This was a very intense, even nightmare-inducing book. I think it needs that kind of power, though, given the subject matter. Sounds like we had similar thoughts about this one. My review will post on Wed.


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