‘This novel’s unflinching portrait of a forgotten tragedy is haunting.’
In the Shadow of Wolves
A Times Book of the Year, 2019Alvydas Šlepikas
A Times Book of the Year, 2019
THE SECOND WORLD WAR IS OVER. BUT THE WORLD IS FAR FROM SAFE.
As victorious Russian troops sweep across East Prussia, a group of desperate children face a new battle. Confronted by critical food shortages and the onset of a bitterly cold winter, these ‘wolf children’ secretly cross the border into Lithuania in search of work or food to take back to their starving families. In a world still reeling from the devastation of war, the children must risk everything to survive.
In the Shadow of Wolves is a story of resilience, devastation and, ultimately, hope. Based on meticulous research, Alvydas Šlepikas’s stunningly powerful debut novel has won over readers and critics across the world.
‘Has the simple narrative structure and heightened quality of a fable... Šlepikas has a vivid vision and lyricism which lifts the prose and ensures it is anything but derivative.’
‘This is stunning. Cinematic, powerful... [In the Shadow of Wolves] has an irresistible, emotional pull that is as fascinating as it is brilliant, with a sense of heartbreak rather than trauma.’
‘A heartbreaking blend of historical facts and literary prose.’
‘A raw and tender true tale... It’s no wonder that this elegant and intricate debut has garnered its Lithuanian author many awards.’
‘Vivid, highly dramatic and compelling... Alvydas Šlepikas has broken the dam of silence.’
‘In the Shadow of Wolves...reminded me in some ways of reading the work of Cormac McCarthy... Šlepikas imbues barren East Germany and the forests of post-war Lithuania with the dark undertones of a fairytale.’
‘This novel finds the perfect balance between documentary and literary narrative.’
‘A significant work of memorialisation... Šlepikas – who is also a scriptwriter and director – injects his writing with a dramatic urgency that seeks to capture the scale of extraordinary suffering.’
‘In the Shadow of Wolves is a gem of Lithuanian literature. It touches a nerve as it tells the story of those who survived an awful fate, who have experienced the most terrible things.’
'The novel portrays the unending suffering of children, themselves innocent of the actions of their fathers, subject to indiscriminate cultural and political prejudice... Examples of kindness only throw into sharp relief the cruelty of social and cultural dislocation.'
‘Alvydas Šlepikas uses direct yet poetic language to write about a period of history that has remained almost entirely buried until now. His concise prose conveys the tragedy of the situation and contains rich details about that time and place.’