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Your Presence is Mandatory

Sasha Vasilyuk

May 28, 2024

In 2007 Ukraine, following the death of her husband, Yefim Shulman, Nina finds a letter he wrote to the KGB confessing the secret he’d kept for over 50 years. If it came out that his unit was wiped out and he was taken as a prisoner of Germany during WWII, he would have been considered a traitor to the USSR. After surviving the Red Army, Nazi prison camps and forced labor, Yefim decides to keep the secret of his survival, and invents a story for his wife and children. In the post-war regime, the wrong lie can mean exile or death, and when years later, his presence is demanded by the KGB, he knows that it’ll be easier for him and his family if he’s completely honest. Your Presence Is Mandatory (Bloomsbury, 2024) is a story of Jewish survival, Russian deception, secrecy, and societal disfunction, and the struggle of Ukrainians to endure another war.

Sasha Vasilyuk is a journalist and author who grew up in Ukraine and Russia before immigrating to the U.S. at the age of 13. She has an MA in Journalism from New York University, and her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, CNN, TIME, Los Angeles Times, Harper’s Bazaar, BBC Radio, USA Today, KQED, San Francisco Chronicle, The Telegraph, and Narrative. She has won several writing awards, including the Solas Award for Best Travel Writing and the NATJA award. Sasha lives in San Francisco with her husband and children.

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