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Ukraine Yesterday and Today

Updated: Mar 25, 2022

A book about Ukraine during WWII and a song by a Ukrainian refugee today.

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

2002, Houghton Mifflin

In this fantastical and funny (yes) account of Holocaust-related events, the "hero" Jonathan travels to Ukraine in search of the person who saved his Jewish grandfather during World War II. He hires a translator, Alexander, who acts as narrator, along with Jonathan and an unnamed storyteller. Neither Alexander's hilariously horrendous English, nor the multi-narrator writing technique stop the book from moving along at top speed; it flows easily in spite of the tragic events portrayed.

World War II resulted in the deaths of four million Ukrainians including over one million Jews. Now, Ukraine is under siege and war is again taking its senseless human toll. Will we never learn to stop fighting and killing? Why can't we live in peace?


Watch this little Ukrainian girl, Amelia, as her song silences babies' cries and brings hope to other refugees.

Everything is Illuminated, impressively Jonathan Foer's first book, was the winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2002. Foer became a big hit in the literary community for awhile following its publication; as for what he's doing now, you can find out more here. The book was made into a movie in 2005.

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