Tumanova, Alla 1931-

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TUMANOVA, Alla 1931-

PERSONAL: Born August 28, 1931, in Kieve, Ukraine, USSR; daughter of Eugene (an economist) and Olga (an editor; maiden name, Pressman) Reyf; married Alexander Tumanov (a professor, writer, and musician), January 1, 1960; children: Vladimir. Education: Moscow Pedagogical University, B.A. (biochemistry), 1959.

ADDRESSES: Home—7715 157th St., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5R 2A1. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Research chemist. Moscow Institute of Medical and Biological Chemistry, Moscow, Russia (formerly USSR), researcher, 1956-60; Moscow Medical University, researcher, 1960-74;Canadian Red Cross, laboratory technician, 1975-82.

AWARDS, HONORS: Edmmonton Business and Arts Council Best Book of the Year award, and Wilfred Eggleston Award, Writer's Guild of Alberta, both 2000, both for Where We Buried the Sun.


Chitajte, Zafidujte (short stories), Time and We (New York, NY), 1986,

Inga (short stories), Continent (Paris, France), 1989.

Shag Vpravo, Shag Vlevo (short stories), New Review (New York, NY), 1989.

Shag Vpravo, Shag Vlevo (autobiography), Progress (Moscow, Russia), 1995, translated by Gust Olson as Where We Buried the Sun, NeWest Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1999.

Prigovor; The Verdict (short stories), Time and We (New York, NY), 1996.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Writing poetry.

SIDELIGHTS: Alla Tumanova told CA: "Where We Buried the Sun is a memoir of my experiences as an inmate of the Gulag system in the Soviet Union in the 1950s. Eighteen years old at the time, I was a member of a youth organization which dared to speak out against the Stalinist regime, its tyranny and dishonesty. Our group was a rare phenomenon in the history of the Soviet Union where there was practically no resistance to the oppression: only very few people and—typically—youth organizations had dared to raise their voice. All the members of the organization, some of us still high school students, others first-year university students, were arrested by the KGB and put in jail. During a lengthy interrogation we were accused of forming an illegal anti-Soviet organization and of being involved in anti-Soviet activities. Gradually the interrogators added new accusations alleging that we intended to assassinate members of the government, and gave our group the label Jewish Bourgeois Nationalist Organization! (The majority of the group's members were Jews and the fight against antisemitism was an important part of our program.) After spending a year and a half in solitary, all sixteen members of the group, aged from sixteen to nineteen, were brought to a trial—in fact a military court—without defense lawyers and regular court procedures. Three boys, the leaders of the organization, Yvgeny Gurevich, Boris Slutsky, and Vladen Furman, were sentenced to death and executed shortly thereafter. The rest of the group received twenty-five years each in the Gulag. I spent in various labour camps three and a half years. Along with the others, after Stalin's death, I was granted an amnesty in 1956, and in 1974 immigrated with my family to Canada.

"I always wanted to write about my experiences, but it was dangerous while I lived in Russia. Ever since coming to Canada I contemplated writing and started in the late 1970s-early 1980s. I have published a number of short stories on the topic in various emigré journals and other periodicals. By the beginning of the 1990s the manuscript of my book was finished and in 1995 was published in Russia by Moscow Press Publisher under the title Shag Vpravo, Shag Vlevo. For the English edition I have written two additional chapters. I am very much concerned that When We Buried the Sun is read by as many people as possible. The story of my incarceration is very personal and, at the same time, a part of the history of Soviet power and the history of human suffering and abuse, a history that can and probably will be soon forgotten. I want my story to be a reminder of the very recent past which might very easily be repeated—if not in Russia, then in some other place. There are many places where my story has been repeated again and again. I think it is important that accounts of this type are not lost and forgotten. That is the primary reason why I write."