22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys was born in 1967 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. She attended Hillsdale College to study opera, but then graduated with a BS in International Finance.

Sepetys’ first novel »Between Shades of Gray« tells the story of 15-year-old Lina who is arrested in 1941 by the Russian secret services in 1941, and deported to Siberia together with her mother and brother, and ten thousand other Balts. To this day there is very little public awareness of Stalin’s genocide of the Baltic people, one of the darkest chapters in world history. Sepetys condenses the terrible atrocities of this time into a tense, emotional narrative by using simple language that nevertheless possesses great literary power, and achieves a careful balance between moments of tragedy and hope. While the characters in the novel are purely fictional, the storyline is based on actual events, which Sepetys researched intensely, also conducting interviews with survivors of the genocide. It was the personal biography of Septetys’ father, who left Lithuania as a young boy, that inspired her to write »Between Shades of Gray« (2011). In March 2013, Sepetys was the first American children’s book author ever to speak in front of members of the European Parliament in Brussels. »Out of the Easy« (2013), Sepetys’ second novel, is set in 1950s New Orleans, the city also known as »The Big Easy«. At the story’s centre we find 17-year-old Josie, who wants to make more of her life than her mother – a prostitute – has. However, following a mysterious death in her neighborhood, Josie finds herself embroiled in police investigations, and her loyalty to her mother is put to the test. »Out of the Easy« is a dark novel about lies, secrets and, above all, about the consequences of decisions we are sometimes forced to make. Her most recent novel »Salt to the Sea« (2016), is told by four teenagers, who narrate their experiences before and during the sinking of the German ship »Wilhelm Gustloff« in 1945, which claimed more lives than the Titanic. A review in the »New York Times« declared that »once again, Ruta Sepetys acts as champion of the interstitial people so often ignored – whole populations lost in the cracks of history«.

In 2013 Ruta Sepetys was decorated with the Cross of the Knight by the President of Lithuania for her contribution to education and culture. She lives in Nashville.