"A powerfully moving debut . . . Ukraine’s tragic history painfully echoes its current crisis, and on every page the Ukrainian spirit shines out, unbowed, unbent and unbroken.” Kate Quinn, author of The Diamond Eye
In the 1930s, Stalin’s activists marched through the Soviet Union, espousing the greatness of collective farming. It was the first step in creating a man-made famine that, in Ukraine, stole almost 4 million lives. Inspired by the history the world forgot, and the Russian government denies, Erin Litteken reimagines their story.
In 1929, Katya is 16 years old, surrounded by family and in love with the boy next door. When Stalin’s activists arrive in her village, it’s just a few, a little pressure to join the collective. But soon neighbors disappear, those who speak out are never seen again and every new day is uncertain.
Resistance has a price, and as desperate hunger grips the countryside, survival seems more a dream than a possibility. But, even in the darkest times, love beckons.
Seventy years later, a young widow discovers her grandmother’s journal, one that will reveal the long-buried secrets of her family’s haunted past.
This is a story of the resilience of the human spirit, the love that sees us through our darkest hours and the true horror of what happened during the Holodomor.
May we never forget, lest history repeat itself.
Winner of the She Reads Best Historical Fiction of 2022 Award
Winner of the Women's Fiction Writers Association Star Award
"A compelling and intimate story of love and survival. Harrowing and haunting . . . yet, at the same time, it is sensitive, beautiful and inspiring. Everybody should read this story, especially now. I cannot recommend it highly enough." Christy Lefteri, author of The Beekeeper of Aleppo
"A stunning portrait of Ukraine and its people, of strength, of endurance, of the fight for survival during the forced famine, the Holodomor, but also a tender story of Katya, a grandmother whose hidden history holds the power to guide her granddaughter through the darkness of loss and grief, toward life and a limitless future. A remarkable read not to be missed." Lisa Wingate, author of *Before We Were Yours
"This beautifully written snapshot of Ukraine’s history is both timely and heart-rending, sensitively bringing to life the culture of a nation devastated by an enemy invader. How shocking it is that it’s a history that’s being repeated today. And how important a reminder that where there’s life, there’s hope." Fiona Valpy, author of The Dressmaker’s Gift**
“Emotionally riveting and honest . . . simultaneously shines an unflinching light on historical atrocities while it celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. You won’t soon forget this stunning debut.” Paulette Kennedy, author of Parting the Veil
“The Memory Keeper of Kyiv is a meticulously researched novel . . . depicting a country whose people managed to dig deep enough to find the strength, determination and heart to survive." Deborah Carr, author of An Island at War
“Breathtaking. Devastating. Erin Litteken's The Memory Keeper of Kyiv chronicles a defining but forgotten moment of Ukrainian history.” Amanda McCrina, author of The Silent Unseen
I could not stop reading this book! I never knew much about Stalin but what an evil person he was just like Hitler! What people endured during Stalin’s reign was absolutely horrific! What amazing courageous people to never give up!
The Memory Keeper of Kiev by Erin Litteken
I had never heard of the Holodomor prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. What a gripping and haunting story Erin Litteken has told in this debut novel, The Memory Keeper of Kiev. I laughed, I cried, I celebrated and mourned with her wonderful characters. I couldn’t wait to get to the end, but once I did, I didn’t want the book to end.
Devastating but hopeful
I had never heard of the Holodomor until I read this book. It made me cry so many times but just like stories of the Holocaust you experience the resolve of people to survive, to continue to help others and to love.