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Literary Criticism Canadian

Leaving Shadows

Literature in English by Canada's Ukrainians

by (author) Lisa Grekul

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2005
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2005
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"On our way home, we stopped in Vegreville for one last look at the Pysanka-and, posing in front of it while my dad pulled out his camera, I wanted to cry. Are we doomed? Click. Is this all we are? Click. How do we drag ourselves out from under the shadow of the giant egg? Click." Conceived in a fervent desire for fresher, sexier images of Ukrainian culture in Canada, and concluding with a new reading of enduring cultural stereotypes, Leaving Shadows is the first Canadian book-length monograph on English Ukrainian writing, with substantive analysis of the writing of Myrna Kostash, Andrew Suknaski, George Ryga, Janice Kulyk Keefer, Vera Lysenko, and Maara Haas.

About the author

Originally from St. Paul, Alberta, Lisa Grekul has lived in Mbabane (Swaziland), Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver. She completed her B.A. and M.A. degrees at the University of Alberta, and she holds a Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia. Now residing in Kelowna, she teaches Canadian literature in the Department of Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia-Okanagan. Balancing a talent for fiction and skill for scholarly inquiry, Grekul's published works investigate the role and place of fourth- and fifth-generation Ukrainians in Canada. Leaving Shadows: Literature in English by Canada's Ukrainians (University of Alberta, 2005) is her second book; her first, Kalyna's Song (Coteau, 2003), was shortlisted for the in Canada Best First Book Award and the inaugural Kobzar Literary Award. Currently, she is at work on a book- and film-project, (Con)temporary Nomads: Canadian Autobiography and the Search for Home, focused on Eastern European diasporic communities in Canada.

Lisa Grekul's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Through a sweeping survey of under-read and under-appreciated literary works, Grekul methodically lays out her case for the value of Ukrainian-Canadian writing in English. Grekul embarks on a chronological discovery of what she considers to be the best, most informative, and above all most culturally important works from Ukrainian-Canadian authors since 1900. Grekul's obvious strength throughout is the quality of her narrative voice and the organization of her thoughts, something oft-forgotten in 20th- and 21st-century criticism. It is clear that the process of writing Kalyna's Song, Grekul's first novel and nominee for the Books in Canada/Amazon First Novel Award, developed a well-defined and pleasant writing style that has transferred over to her critical work." Ryan Jones, Prairie Fire Review of Books,"

"Grekul's account offers a kind of synthetic treatment that has rarely been provided. She focuses on Lysenko, Maara Haas, George Ryga, Andrew Suknaski, Janice Kulyk Keefer, and Myrna Kostash, but also contextualizes their writings by providing a chapter on the first Anglo-Canadian novels dealing with Ukrainians..The discussion of issues like multiculturalism and contemporary return-to-the-homeland writing is nuanced and bold, and offers new approaches and methods of analysis.. Unfortunately, argues the author, the heavy focus on race in recent discussions around multiculturalism and diversity has obscured the substantial contributions that other ethnic minority writers have made to the issues of assimilation, multiculturalism, and transculturalism; the intersection of ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality; and nationalism, transnationalism, and diaspora. Sensitively written (even when it is iconoclastic in its readings of individual authors), the book provides an excellent historical overview of the Ukrainian-Canadian experience. It should be considered essential reading for anyone dealing with the subject, and can profitably be used as a text for a number of courses, particularly those dealing with ethnicity, national identity, and Canadian literature." Myroslav Shkandrij, Canadian Book Review Annual 2007

"This is a wonderful collection of essays by a Ukrainian Canadian about the impact on Canadian culture by the infusion of Ukrainians, as felt both by them and by us..A fascinating introduction to writers of Ukrainian background." Ron MacIsaac, The Lower Island NEWS, April 2006.

"Grekul does a close reading of Bloodlines and The Doomed Bridegroom, by Myrna Kostash a self-proclaimed second-generation Ukrainian Canadian, feminist, writer, alumna of the 1960s, who was confronted by Eastern European gender roles..Grekul draws comparisons between Kostash's perspective and that of Kulyk Keefer, (in The Green Library and Honey and Ashes: A Story of a Family), 'the inherent gaps' between history and historiography, that is, historical realities and representations of these realities." Anne Burke, Prairie Journal Trust, February, 2006.

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