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What forced exile does to a family

Inara Verzemnieks’s remarkable new memoir travels back through the stories of her own relatives

By Josie Mitchell   July 2018

A clean-up team in destroyed Liga, 1941. Photo: German Federal Archive

For someone exiled from their homeland, the past becomes an almost physical place. Inara Verzemnieks’s memoir, a remarkable debut, considers the effect of forced exile on the elders of her family—the displacement of her Latvian grandmother Livija to America after the Second World War mirrored in her great-aunt Ausma’s Soviet exile to Siberia.

As refugees, forced to abandon Riga while bombs dropped on the Latvian capital during the war, Livija and her husband Emils were unable…

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