The Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREES) at the University of Michigan is pleased to bring celebrated novelist Ruta Sepetys (Rūta Šepetys) to Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater on October 4. Sepetys, a Lithuanian-American, is well known for her historical fiction aimed at a global audience of students and adults. She will deliver the CREES Distinguished Lecture “From the Soviet Gulag to Franco’s Spain: Historical Fiction’s Power for Global Dialogue” at 5:30 PM. In the talk, she will present the varying global interpretations of the history contained in her books on World War II and its aftermath for Lithuanians, Poles, and Germans, to illustrate how the historical fiction genre might be used to facilitate awareness and dialogue. “We’re thrilled to host author Ruta Sepetys,” says CREES director Geneviève Zubrzycki. “She brings the difficult and complex histories of 20th-century Eastern Europe to a broad audience, making it resonate for today’s youth, a generation for whom the Second World War is ancient history.”

In addition to the lecture, Sepetys will be greeting guests from 4:00-5:00 PM. A presentation of the 2018 film Ashes in the Snow, based on the author’s novel Between Shades of Gray, will begin at 7:00 PM. The novel and film depict a 16 year-old aspiring artist and her family, who are deported to Siberia in 1941 amidst Stalin’s brutal dismantling of the Baltic region. Filmed in Lithuania by Lithuanian director Marius A. Markevicius, it is the country’s highest grossing film of all time. The film is not rated.

Ruta Sepetys, who is one of the film’s producers, is an internationally acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of historical fiction published in over sixty countries and forty languages. Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Sepetys is renowned for giving voice to underrepresented history and those who experienced it. Born in Michigan to a Lithuanian refugee, Sepetys is passionate about the power of history and story to foster global dialogue and connectivity. She was awarded The Rockefeller Foundation’s prestigious Bellagio Fellowship for her studies on human resilience. The New York Times Book Review declared, “Ruta Sepetys acts as champion of the interstitial people so often ignored—whole populations lost in the cracks of history.” She was bestowed the Cross of the Knight by the President of Lithuania for her contributions to education and memory preservation and was recently honored with a postage stamp containing her image.

The lecture and related events are free and open to the public.

Friday, October 4, 2019
4:00-5:00 PM – Meet the author, signed books available for purchase from Nicola’s Books
5:30-6:45 PM – CREES Distinguished Lecture, “From the Soviet Gulag to Franco’s Spain: Historical Fiction’s Power for Global Dialogue”
7:00 PM – Screening of Ashes in the Snow
Michigan Theater, 603 E. Liberty St., Ann Arbor

Contact: Mary Elizabeth Malinkin / T: 734.764.0351 / E:

The University of Michigan Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREES) is dedicated to advancing and disseminating interdisciplinary knowledge about the peoples, nations, and cultures of Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Eurasia, past and present. Through its own academic programs and its support of area-focused training and scholarship across U-M’s schools and colleges, CREES helps meet the nation’s ongoing need for experts with deep contextual knowledge who are proficient in the region’s languages. CREES is an affiliate of the Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia and constituent unit of the International Institute. In 2019-20, CREES is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a series of signature anniversary events with prominent scholars, artists, and public figures. For more information, visit