Author(s): Rita Gabis
Rita Gabis comes from a family of Eastern European Jews and Lithuanian Catholics. She was close to her Catholic grandfather as a child and knew one version of his past: prior to immigration he had fought the Russians, whose brutal occupation of Lithuania destroyed thousands of lives before Hitler's army swept in. Five years ago, Gabis discovered an unthinkable dimension to her family story: from 1941 to 1943, her grandfather had been the chief of security police under the Gestapo in the Lithuanian town of Svencionys, near the killing field of Poligon, where eight thousand Jews were murdered over three days in the fall of 1941. In 1942, the local Polish population was also hunted down. Gabis felt compelled to find out the complicated truth of who her grandfather was and what he had done. Built around dramatic interviews in four countries, filled with original scholarship, and mesmerizing in its lyricism, A Guest at the Shooters' Banquet is a history and family memoir like no other, documenting "the holocaust by bullets" with a remarkable quest as Gabis returns again and again to the country of her grandfather's birth to learn all she can about the man she thought she knew.
In prose as beautiful as it is powerful, Rita Gabis follows the trail of her grandfather's collaboration with the Nazis--a trail riddled with secrets, slaughter, mystery, and discovery.
A journey of discovery ... thoughtful. Library Journal More than any nonfiction I have read, A Guest at the Shooter's Banquet brings up close the Final Solution as lived in the forests and villages of Eastern Europe during the closing years of World War II. Most extraordinary is the intimacy with her own conscience that Rita Gabis affords us, as on her uncompromising quest she brings alive the Lithuania of her Jewish family, their friends and neighbors, the survivors and descendants who guide her, and the murderous and shocking complicity of her Catholic grandfather. This book has the richness and sweep of a saga novel, the bite of a thriller, and the revelatory shock of a great memoir. -- Honor Moore, author of THE BISHOP'S DAUGHTER Heartfelt ... Gabis paints an engrossing portrait of the snake-pit of ethnic animosities in wartime Lithuania, and of the intimate horrors of the Holocaust. Publishers Weekly A powerful consideration of what happens when reality contradicts our belief "that those we love or have loved are good New Yorker
Rita Gabis is an award-winning poet and prose writer. Her grants and fellowships include a New York Foundation for the Arts Award for creative nonfiction and residencies at Yaddo and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. She is the author of the poetry collection The Wild Field (Alice James Books). Her work has appeared in Harvard Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. She lives and teaches in New York City.