Antanas Sileika is the author of two novels and one collection of linked short stories, Buying On Time, which was nominated for both the City of Toronto Book Award and the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. His last novel, Woman in Bronze, was a Globe and Mail Best Book selection. He lives in Toronto, where he is the artistic director for the Humber School for Writers.
A tragic love triangle set in a forgotten place during an invisible war.
Inspired by true events, Underground tells the story of a troubled romance between Lukas and Elena, two members of the underground Lithuanian resistance movement in mid- 1940s.
After shooting up a room full of Soviet government workers during their engagement party, Lukas and Elena become folk heroes to their political cause, but are forced deep into hiding in order to escape punishment for their role in the massacre.
When their secret bunker is discovered, Lukas is nearly captured. Believing his beloved Elena has been killed in the raid, Lukas is forced to flee the country and the increasingly hopeless resistance movement that he has defended over the years.
Finding himself stranded in Paris, Lukas tries in vain to generate some political interest in the plight of his country. Settling quietly in Europe, Lukas falls in love again, remarries, and begins his life anew. When an unexpected crisis arises back home, the tranquility of Lukas’ new life is shattered. Stealing back into his former country, Lukas embarks on the most important fight of his life.
Based on true historical revelations and fragments of the author’s family history, Underground is an engaging literary thriller and love story that explores the narrow range of options open to men and women in desperate situations, when history crashes into personal desires and private life.
Underground might be described as a historical love story, but it is also a political military/spy thriller. Sileika writes with a spare style that suits the action sequences as well as the rare moments of tenderness or humour. Entertaining and sometimes shocking, the book describes a little-known period of European history that has been kept underground far too long.
...full of poetry and wisdom gorgeously expressed... a brilliant, highly accessible military history, one that remains largely repressed--underground-- in the East and in the West.
It's a curious novel telling an unusual story...One of the best descriptions of life on the run by dedicated partisans, it's brutal in places, heroic in others, and always rewarding.
In an uncompromising novel, post-war Lithuania receives its due.
Sileika's novel is a gripping tale...engag[ing] the reader to the last page.
The tale is briskly told, with pages of dialogue and swift changes of scenery. You can almost see the film script emerging.
Seleika does capture the partisans droll humour and aphorisms in many passages
...elegant thinking that characterizes this rare and compelling chronicle of Lithuanian partisans...
...an evocation of the harsh, often brutal life endured by partisans in their struggle to bring the attention of the West to their plight.
Entertaining and sometimes shocking the book describes a little known period of European history that has been kept underground far too long.
...left me mourning the loss of these (barely fictional) family members and more curious about my own ancestors
This is a powerfully imagined book which reminds us that political oppression in whatever form eventually brings on a wrathful vengeance.
...the moments of poetry and incredible insight into a forgotten part of history result in an interesting and worthwhile novel by Seleika
...he has written a tough, uncompromising book and brought those forgotten stories back to life