Booksmith is thrilled to host the West Coast launch for Sasha Vasilyuk and her riveting debut novel, Your Presence Is Mandatory. She'll be in conversation with Molly Antopol (The UnAmericans). Join us!
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.
"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, NYT bestselling author of The Secrets We Kept
"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, NYT bestselling author of The Alice Network
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. Photo by Christopher Michel.
Molly Antopol’s first book, The UnAmericans (W.W. Norton), was nominated for the National Book Award and won the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award, the Berlin Prize, the French-American Prize, the Ribalow Prize and a California Book Award Silver Medal. The book was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, the Barnes & Noble Discover Award, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize and the Sami Rohr Prize, among others. It was named a “Best Book of the Year” by over a dozen publications and was widely published internationally. Antopol was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where she went on to teach in the Creative Writing Program for thirteen years. She has also taught at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin and is a frequent faculty member of the Disquiet Literary Seminars in Portugal. Additionally, she is on the board of a foundation focused on the critical needs of low-income children and families. She currently teaches at Harvard University and is finishing up a novel, which will also be published by Norton.
In the event of cancellation, you will be refunded the price of your ticket within 4 business days.