The American Latvian Association Cultural Foundation has awarded a grant to my proposal to elevate knowledge of Latvia through the reading of a good novel.
My proposal posits that, when immersed in a story, a reader is open-minded and may come to care about the characters, which often translates into caring about real people. Latvians are elevated when people know of and appreciate their unique culture.
"Historical fiction is a palatable way to digest new facts."
Knowledgeable people are more likely to shed mischaracterizations, such as the bias that Latvian Legionnaires were fascists, and recognize parallels between the past and the current geopolitical landscape. For example, when the viability of NATO’s Article 5 is questioned, when Russia annexes the Ukraine with impunity, at such critical junctures it benefits Latvia to have American and worldwide fans. Reading stories set in Latvia can help people understand Latvia’s past and care about the present geo-political situation.
The crux of the proposal is a one-year advertising campaign promoting The Linden Tree & the Legionnaire historical fiction series. The novels will be promoted in the print or on-line newsletters of the major Latvian community centers across the country. All grant monies will be invested in Latvian community center newsletters.
The Linden Tree & the Legionnaire is an historical fiction series that portrays a young Latvian man struggling to survive the Stalin versus Hitler meat-grinder with his dream intact.
The series is inspired by the art and accounts of the late Corporal Kārlis Smiltens, de facto War Artist of the Latvian Legion, and the author’s uncle by marriage; and depicts coming of age under the Russian occupation. Book I: Article 58, refers to the section of the Russian Criminal Code used to justify execution and cultural extinction. Book II: Witch Hammer likens Communist tactics to an ancient manual on how to interrogate and torture witches, and hints at the mystical force of Latvia’s forest lore. Book III: The Knock at Night, takes place on June 14, 1941, the night of mass deportations, and shows how brutal Soviet repressions made the country welcome the German army as liberators.
The books are available in several formats, including: e-book; short, quick reads for the Young Adult audience; and a volume entitled The Ghastly Yearthat includes all of Books I-III.
Book IV Thunder Cross, coming soon, is set during the German occupation.
Books purchased for Latvian schools receive a 20% discount.