Children in war and second-generation trauma
June 1, 1943, Eastern Poland. Within just a few hours, the village of Sochy had ceased to exist. Buildings were burned. Residents shot. Among the ruins remained a single house and a few survivors. One of these was nine-year-old Teresa Ferenc, who saw her family murdered by German soldiers, and would never forget what she witnessed the day she became an orphan. The horror of that event was etched into her very being and passed on to her daughter, author Anna Janko. A Little Annihilation bears witness to both the crime and its aftershocks—the trauma visited on the next generation—as revealed in a beautifully scripted and deeply personal mother-daughter dialogue. As she fathoms the full dimension of the tragedy, Janko reflects on memory and loss, the ethics of helplessness, and the lingering effects of war.
‘A Little Annihilation explores war and the relentless grind of history on a human scale—and as such, it is a haunting word of warning for the present and the future.’ —European Literature Network
‘This is a book about children in war and how we inherit trauma—factual and unflinching, but touching and tender … As with Svetlana Alexievich’s reportage, in this book war is shown not only as a tragic episode in history, but as a living memory, which even after many years puts us on our guard as a danger which could recur.’
‘An exceptional book. Exceptional not just because we believe the author when she speaks of her “genetic trauma,” but due to the powerful language which conveys her sadness, anger and goading irony, while verging on cynicism. Emotional truth emanates from this book.’
‘This book argues strongly against the view that instances of war-related trauma can be ranked in a hierarchy.’
‘Janko has masterfully combined her mother’s memories, accounts from other members of the family who could tell their own versions of the story, and references to academic texts and essays with her own testimony about inheriting such memories and facing the burden and restrictions they impose.’