The Kulak's Daughter
By Gabriele Goldstone
Blooming Tree Press, Austin, Texas, 2009, 201 pages, softcover.
Based on a true story the author writes, "It's a face I didn't know well -- my mother's face when she was an eleven year old girl. I'd not seen this photo until 2000 when a distant relative found the photo and mailed it as a gift calendar. At first I was afraid to look at that image of my mom as a child because it was obviously too painful for her to look at. She hid it -- and I respected her pain. Gradually, however, I would peek at it whenever I visited her apartment. I got to know that little girl by asking questions. After all, I had two young daughters of my own and I was very aware of just how vulnerable little girls are."
"Later, I made a copy of that photo (and of another one) and hung the two over my bed. I stared at that family until those eyes were etched into my mind. And now I know the story. And it's going to be a book. And my mom's photo -- that young kulak girl -- is on the cover!" "Following the death of my father in 1993, I realized he took him from me his stories -- forever -- and I regret this loss. Since then, I have encouraged my mother to share the stories she and my father had tried so hard to forget."
On the back cover of the book is written: "Olga likes little things -- especially the tiny apples in the orchard in the spring, or her baby brother's little toes. But when her family is labeled 'kulak' and exiled to Siberia, she start to hate little things -- especially the bed bugs that overrun the barrack at night, or the lice that carry the dreaded typhus. Suddenly Olga's little world is overwhelmed by Stalin's big plans."
This book is recommended for ages 12 and up. It is a work of fiction, but the story of what happened to the kulaks is true.
About the Author:
When I was growing up, I hated the question: What are you going to be when you grow up? I would always answer -- ME!
I didn't want to be defined or judged, I wanted to discover myself. Now that I'm waaaay older, I know more about me, but I'm still learning. Each day is an adventure where I can discover a little bit more about myself and the world around me.
I live with my family in Winnipeg, which is in the middle of Canada. Exploring the world through the eyes of my three children (almost young adults now) has been a real adventure. While we miss our old dog, Tip, our old black cat seems ageless.
My mom and dad came to Canada from Germany in 1953. I knew they had both been in the Soviet gulag after World War II, and had promised themselves to leave the past behind and start over here in Canada. They stayed silent about the "old country", which was okay when I was little, but later I got curious.
I decided early in my life I wanted to be a writer, but I couldn't tell anyone for fear people would make fun of me, or that I would fail. When I went to university I studied German literature, focusing on the 20th century, I think I wanted to find my parents' stories in the novels I studied.
But the stories of the German Russians was obscured by the Iron Curtain of communism, and I have been inspired to share my parents' amazing stories by writing them myself.
The Kulak's Daughter, my first novel, began as a story my mother told my daughter about when she misbehaved as a little girl. Read the story behind that story.