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Theodore Odrach (February 13, 1912 – October 7, 1964), born Theodore Sholomitsky, was a Ukrainian writer of novels, short stories, and memoirs. He is generally known as the "writer of the Pinsk Marshes."
Odrach was born in Mysatichia, outside of Pinsk, Belarus (then a part of Czarist Russia). Not much is known about his early life, except that he was born to a Jewish family, the youngest of several children and extremely devoted to his mother. An unruly child, at the age of nine, after committing a petty offense, he was sent by Polish authorities who then controlled the area to a reform school for boys in Vilnius. His parents were never informed of his whereabouts and did not learn what had happened to him until years later. After serving his time, doing odd renovation jobs around town, at the age of eighteen, Odrach enrolled in the Stefan Batory University (now Vilnius University), where he went on to earn a degree in ancient history and philosophy.
World War II
With the Soviet invasion of Vilnius in 1939, Odrach fled and returned to his native Belarus, landing a position as headmaster of a grammar school outside of Pinsk. Denounced by the Soviets and briefly imprisoned, he then headed south to Ukraine, Volyn Oblast, where he edited several underground newspapers. Still pursued by the Soviets and ultimately forced into hiding, with his name now changed from Sholomitsky to Odrach, he managed to escape to Slovakia by way of the Carpathian Mountains.
In the West
With the war’s end, Odrach roamed around Europe for several years. In 1948, after meeting Klara Nagorski in Germany, the two moved to Manchester, England, where they married. They lived in Manchester approximately five years and worked as weavers in a linen factory. In 1953 both Odrach and his wife boarded an ocean liner and sailed for Canada. With the birth of their two daughters, Ruta and Erma, they settled into a Victorian-style house on a small, quiet residential street in Toronto. Working by day in a nearby printing house, by night, returning home, Odrach focused on his writing. He produced novels and short stories as well as articles for local Ukrainian newspapers. As his books were banned in the Soviet Union, he depended on the small Western immigrant community for his readership. All of Odrach’s major works were written in his Toronto home until his death from a stroke in 1964.
Wave of Terror, detailing the horrors of living under Joseph Stalin, is Odrach’s first novel to appear in English. It is published by Academy Chicago Publishers and is translated by his daughter, Erma Odrach.
- В Дорозі, 1955
- Щебетун, 1957
- Півстанок за Cелом, 1959
- Покинута Оселя, 1960
- На Непевному Грунті, 1962
- Вощадь, 1972 (published posthumously)
- Wave of Terror, 2008
- Kopach, Olexandra (1972). In Voshchad Toronto: Committee "Voshchad"
- Publishers Weekly
- Academy Chicago Publishing
- Brothers Judd
- Theodore Odrach at Goodreads
- Erma Odrach at Goodreads
- "Unsung author, unknown identity". Globe and Mail. March 16, 2006.