Shadows on the Tundra

by Dalia Grinkevičiutė


An extraordinary piece of international survival literature, joining the likes of Primo Levi and Anne Frank.

Shortlisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize 2019.

Longlisted for the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation 2019.

In 1941, 14-year-old Dalia and her family are deported from their native Lithuania to a labour camp in Siberia. As the strongest member of her family she submits to twelve hours a day of manual labour. At the age of 21, she escapes the gulag and returns to Lithuania. She writes her memories on scraps of paper and buries them in the garden, fearing they might be discovered by the KGB. They are not found until 1991, four years after her death. This is the story Dalia buried. The immediacy of her writing bears witness not only to the suffering she endured but also the hope that sustained her. It is a Lithuanian tale that, like its author, beats the odds to survive.

Translated from the Lithuanian by Delija Valiukenas.

192pp, paperback with flaps, £12
ISBN 978-1-908670-44-1
Publication date: 15 June 2018

Press & Reviews

'Dalia Grinkeviciute's account of surviving starvation and hard labour deserves to become a classic.' - Anna Aslanyan, The Spectator

'Shadows on the Tundra is a devastating portrait of human cruelty ... yet Dalia's searing tale is unexpectedly uplifting.' - Lucy Popescu, The Riveter

'Dalia's suffering is so breathlessly cruel that the Gulag may have been plucked from some dark early century, but her voice - angry, sulky, sarcastic - brings it hurrying into the present.' - Julie McDowall, TLS

‘A distressing historic document and a literary work of great significance.’ - Neue Zürcher Zeitung

About The Book


Dalia Grinkevičiūtė (1927-1987) was born in Kaunas, the former capital of Lithuania. She spent her teenage years in a Siberian gulag. At 21 she escaped and returned to her home country only to be deported to Siberia once again in 1951. She was released five years later, then studied medicine. Grinkevičiūtė's writings are now placed firmly in the Lithuanian canon.


Born in Germany of Lithuanian parents, who fled their home in 1944 to escape the Russian occupation, Delija Valiukenas and her family emigrated to the United States and settled in Upstate New York. She earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from Brown University and has taught World Literature for 34 years. Delija writes and translates for Baltic and Lithuanian journals; and was commissioned by the Lithuanian National Theatre of Kaunas to translate selected Lithuanian plays into English.