July 24 – 28, 2024

William Durbin will share a series of archival slides that will help participants visualize the historical settings of his novels. In addition to conventional academic research, Durbin was privileged to interview dozens of people, who have provided him with invaluable first-person accounts of Finnish culture and history. He has not only spoken with numerous Finnish homesteaders and iron miners, but he has also had the rare opportunity to visit at length with several Winter War veterans (the youngest was 85 years old), and Karelian immigrants, who in the 1930s were fortunate to escape from Russia and return to America. Primary among the Karelian survivors was Mayme Sevander, a woman who helped Durbin see Karelia through her eyes.

Presenter Bio:
A two-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award, William Durbin has written fourteen historical novels, including four books that focus on Finnish-American culture and history: SONG OF SAMPO LAKE, a homestead story which is set in Northeastern Minnesota; THE JOURNAL OF OTTO PELTONEN, which explores underground iron mining on the Mesabi Range and the first strike against U.S. Steel, THE DARKEST EVENING, which focuses on the Finns who immigrated to Karelia, Russia during the 1930s; and THE WINTER WAR. Durbin’s latest novel, THE HIDDEN ROOM, is set in Ukraine during the final year of WWI, and it draws many parallels between Stalin’s invasion of Finland in 1939 and Putin’s current, unprovoked attack on Ukraine.