Dora / Lora

by Larissa Shmailo





Price and Format: 
$18 paperback, $2.99 ebook
Page Count: 
Publication Date: 
February, 2023
Publication Status: 





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Unlikely Books presents Larissa Shmailo's latest poetry collection: Dora / Lora, a dark commentary on a number of sociopolitical subjects, but especially the involvement of one Ukrainian family in the Holocaust. Dora/Lora is a harrowing account of the Ukrainian holodomor (mass starvation of the 1930s) and the role of Ukrainian collaborators in the Nazi death camps seen through the lens of one family's experience. Intergenerational Holocaust trauma is agonizingly depicted (suppose your parents joined the wrong side?). The political is personal in this gripping collection.





Check out what people are saying about Dora / Lora:


“The alphabet sings only / to me,” confides Larissa Shmailo; elsewhere she writes, “I AM YOUR LOGOS, THE WORD MADE FLESH.” Shmailo is an alchemist of words, manipulating rhyme and cadence and all the tricks of form in her quest to produce gold. Whether she’s channeling Anna Karenina in the #me, too era, voicing Icarus’s post-mortem report, or exploring her own family connections to kapos and crematoria, Shmailo’s Dora/Lora explicitly confronts the question of how one can write poetry after Auschwitz. Astonishing, confounding, and deeply moving: in these poems, Shmailo conjures gold from the unlikeliest of substances.

—Katherine E. Young, author of Woman Drinking Absinthe and Day of the Border Guards, poet laureate emerita, Arlington, VA


Dora/Lora is an audacious and brutally honest book by one of the most honest and fearless voices on the American literary scene. It takes unimaginable courage to even try to comprehend the incomprehensible – let alone to write about it now, of all times.  Larissa Shmailo’s prose, as “unadorned and unperfumed” as the utterings of a Sybil, heroically strives to connect vantage points, which, like dead stars, are impossible to connect with any finality. Her unyielding poetry, crisp, laconic, and masterful, refuses to remain trapped and wrapped in itself. The book opens a gate to compassion and, hence, if not to forgiveness, then to freedom.

—Irina Mashinski, author of The Naked World


In "Dora/Lora," Larissa once again pushes the boundaries of poetry offering surprises in the pause between comedy and heartbreak.

—Elizabeth L. Hodges, author of Witchery


This rupture of heart, love’s sharp scalpel will cut mine apart.” With torture, starvation, beatings, and disfigurement, what has changed? Shmailo follows what her father told her, “‘Keep breathing,’ he encouraged me in difficult times! ‘Keep breathing.’” As you read this bravely written book, “Keep breathing.”

—Gloria Mindock, editor of Červená Barva Press


Buy the paperback at Barnes & Noble or the ebook on Kobo!