Spring 1938. After nearly two years in prison for the crime of stealing his own grain, Ukrainian immigrant Teodor Mykolayenko is a free man. While he was gone, his wife, Maria; their five children; and his sister, Anna, struggled to survive on the harsh northern Canadian prairie, but now Teodora man who has overcome drought, starvation, and Stalin's purgesis determined to make a better life for them. As he tirelessly clears the untamed land, Teodor begins to heal himself and his children. But the family's hopes and newfound happiness are short-lived. Anna's rogue husband, the arrogant and scheming Stefan, unexpectedly returns, stirring up rancor and discord that will end in violence and tragedy.
Under This Unbroken Sky is a mesmerizing tale of love and greed, pride and desperation, that will resonate long after the last page is turned. Shandi Mitchell has woven an unbearably suspenseful story, written in a language of luminous beauty and clarity. Rich with fiery conflict and culminating in a gut-wrenching climax, this is an unforgettably powerful novel from a passionate new voice in contemporary literature.
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"Starred Review. Remarkable...itchell's harrowing story delivers an unforgettable literary tribute to an immigrant people and their struggle. The lyrical style, the riveting historical material, and the treatment of prejudice make the novel a great book-club choice." - Booklist
"Starred Review. This book will have immediate appeal to readers searching for superb historical fiction filled with tension, unforgettable characters, and a dramatic setting. Enthusiastically recommended." - Library Journal
"Utterly gripping. Epic in scope, this tale of family feuds, violence and hardship follows the fortunes of Theo Mykolayenko, a Ukrainian survivor of Stalin's labour camps who starts a new life in the harsh Canadian Prairies...Beautifully pitched and unsentimental in execution. Brilliant." - Marie Claire (UK)
"A magnificent novel....A powerhouse of a debut that grips from start to finish." - Steven Galloway, author of the The Cellist of Sarajevo
"This ambitious novel...comprises a harsh picture of lives lived in an unforgiving landscape, though some readers may find themselves wishing for an occasional break from the grinding woe." - Publishers Weekly
"Not much style or literary finesse, but the family's plight is affecting." - Kirkus Reviews
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Shandi Mitchell is an award-winning Canadian filmmaker and screenwriter. Her short films have screened at numerous international festivals, and she is a recipient of a Canada Council for the Arts endowment. Mitchell spent her childhood on a military base on the prairies and now makes her home in Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada, with her husband, Alan, and their dog, Annie. Under This Unbroken Sky is her first novel.
Watch the author explain the backstory to the book here; and print out a reading guide here.
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