Your Presence Is Mandatory: A Novel (Hardcover)

Your Presence Is Mandatory: A Novel By Sasha Vasilyuk Cover Image

Your Presence Is Mandatory: A Novel (Hardcover)


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A riveting debut novel, based on real events, about a World War II veteran with a secret that could land him in the Gulag, and his family who are forced to live in the shadow of all he has not told them.

Ukraine, 2007. Yefim Shulman, husband, grandfather and war veteran, was beloved by his family and his coworkers. But in the days after his death, his widow Nina finds a letter to the KGB in his briefcase. Yefim had a lifelong secret, and his confession forces them to reassess the man they thought they knew and the country he had defended.

In 1941, Yefim is a young artillerist on the border between the Soviet Union and Germany, eager to defend his country and his large Jewish family against Hitler's forces. But surviving the war requires sacrifices Yefim never imagined-and even when the war ends, his fight isn't over. He must conceal his choices from the KGB and from his family.

Spanning seven decades between World War II and the current Russia-Ukraine conflict, Your Presence Is Mandatory traces the effect Yefim's coverup had on the lives of Nina, their two children and grandchildren. In the process, Sasha Vasilyuk shines a light on one family caught between two totalitarian regimes, and the grace they find in the course of their survival.

Sasha Vasilyuk was born in the Soviet Crimea and spent her childhood between Ukraine and Russia before immigrating to San Francisco at the age of 13. She has a MA in Journalism from New York University, and her nonfiction has been published in The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar, BBC, The Telegraph, Narrative, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. She has won several awards, including the Solas Award for Best Travel Writing, NATJA award, and BAM/PFA Fellowship from UC Berkeley. She lives in San Francisco, California with her husband and children.
Product Details ISBN: 9781639731534
ISBN-10: 1639731539
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication Date: April 23rd, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English

“At once a historical epic, an engrossing family saga, and an astute examination of morality, survival, hope, and love, Your Presence Is Mandatory is a stunning feat. The emotional impact of reading Sasha Vasilyuk's gripping debut is immense. I sat with the vivid characters Vasilyuk has created for hours after reading, and I continue to think of them. Your Presence Is Mandatory is a book to last generations, and one I won't soon forget.” —Lara Prescott, New York Times bestselling author of THE SECRETS WE KEPT

“A Ukrainian soldier survives World War II to face a lifetime of secrets . . . Chapters set during the war alternate with chapters set much later; to begin with, Yefim, as an old man, has just died, and among his papers, his wife has found a letter to the KGB that seems to indicate that much of what he has told his family about his wartime experiences was untrue. Vasilyuk, a journalist as well as a debut novelist, sets out to comb through all this with patience, subtlety, and finesse.” —Kirkus Reviews

“An absorbing historical drama that spans from WWII to the current Russian-Ukraine conflict. Vasiluk is tender and caring with her characters and her setting. Fans of All The Light We Cannot See will find the perfect historical novel with this book.” —Debutiful, “Most Anticipated Debut Books of 2024”

“This extraordinary debut is the best kind of historical fiction-an emotionally complex and heartrending saga that takes us to unfamiliar places in unfamiliar times and makes them feel known and lived.” —Meg Waite Clayton, internationally bestselling author of THE POSTMISTRESS OF PARIS

“Journalist Sasha Vasilyuk works magic in the gray areas of history, weaving her compelling debut historical novel out of the shadowy overlap between survival, secrecy, and guilt. Ukrainian-Jewish Yefim Shulman fights through his time in the Red Army, but war and captivity will leave him with secrets he cannot tell his family. Struggling to build a life postwar in a regime where the wrong lie-or truth-means exile and death, Yefim makes choices that echo through the decades and generations to come. Your Presence Is Mandatory is an important, moving read that will resonate long in the reader's memory.” —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of THE ALICE NETWORK

“Vasilyuk draws on her family background to illuminate the personal, cultural, and experiential . . . Full of devastating pathos and elucidation of how war and, especially, fascist and communist mindsets destroy one's humanity, this timely novel is a robust addition to the growing body of literature chronicling the Ukrainian experience.” —Booklist

“Impressive . . . This is a reverberating exploration of guilt, trauma, and the turbulent history between Ukraine and Russia.” —Publishers Weekly

“Get a glimpse at life behind the Iron Curtain in this remarkable historical fiction debut . . . First-time author Sasha Vasilyuk takes us on a captivating journey from Yefim's time in Germany's forced labor camps to his life after the fall of communism and Ukrainian independence . . . Meticulously researched and incredibly gripping, Your Presence Is Mandatory is historical fiction at its finest.” —Apple Books

““Immediate and necessary . . . Personal and haunting, Yefim's story will remain with readers indefinitely, because all are called to present as Yefim and his family recount their stories.”” —World Literature Today

“Wonderfully written, elegiac and necessary, Sasha Vasiyuk uncovers the history behind the recent headlines with great skill and grace.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of OUR COUNTRY FRIENDS

“Captivating and suspenseful, Sasha Vasilyuk's novel is a tender tribute to the human spirit, a fresh and moving look at the nature of guilt and memory and one man's desire to survive at all costs. The characters loom off the page, so real, that I was quickly absorbed into this tragic yet life-affirming tale.” —Kristina Gorcheva-Newberry, author of THE ORCHARD

“An engrossing family saga and a secret key for anyone who wants to understand how history has brought Ukrainians and Russians to where they are today.” —Boris Fishman, author of SAVAGE FEAST

Your Presence Is Mandatory is a powerful story of a Jewish-Ukrainian family told in alternating time frames that stretch from WW2 Germany to 21st century Ukraine. In masterfully-crafted prose, Sasha Vasilyuk examines the harrowing choices her characters have to make to survive during and after the war.” —Elena Gorokhova, author of A TRAIN TO MOSCOW

Your Presence Is Mandatory is an outstanding novel of sacrifice, love, and forgiveness. If you have any confusion about the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia, this illuminating story will clarify so very much. It did for me.” —Susanne Pari, author of IN THE TIME OF OUR HISTORY and THE FORTUNE CATCHER

“This novel is a masterful exploration of the weight of secrets, generational divides, war trauma, and the search for home and belonging within one's own homeland-a subject that feels more urgent than ever. Your Presence Is Mandatory should be mandatory reading for this time of crisis.” —Maria Kuznetsova, author of OKSANA BEHAVE and SOMETHING UNBELIEVABLE