Phillip H. McMath and Emily Matson Lewis

A real-life story of a young woman fleeing the Nazis at the start of World War II is the basis for a compelling new novel, The Broken Vase by Phillip H. McMath and Emily Matson Lewis.

The Broken Vase is a roman à clef ("novel with a key," or novel based on real life) written in close collaboration with Holocaust survivor Penina Krupitsky, who appears in the novel as the fictional Miriam Kellerman. Penina Krupitsky currently resides in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Born to middle-class parents in July 1924 in North Bukovina, Romania (now Chernivtsi, Ukraine), Miriam Kellerman grows up in an atmosphere of culture and privilege that is interrupted when her country is invaded -- first by Stalin in July 1940, then by Hitler in June 1941.

Fearing for their lives, Jews like her begin to flee into the Soviet Union to escape the German advance. Separated from her parents, Deborah and Max, and later from her fiancé, Isaac, Miriam finds herself alone and on foot, trudging ever eastward into Russian territory.

This novel’s compelling narrative chronicles her incredible struggle to stay alive as World War II rages and she is forced to travel the breadth of Russia. Ultimately, it is Miriam’s native tongue, German, and her ability to learn the Russian language that saves her life, as she becomes a translator for the Russian government.

McMath said that he and Lewis wrote the book as a novel because Krupitsky "wanted something unique and artistic to memorialize her parents, not just another memoir of which there have been so many. While permitting certain artistic liberties, she has insisted on scrupulous attention to the facts." Both of Krupitsky’s parents died in a concentration camp. "The more I have written," McMath said, "the more I have realized the importance of her story as a symbol of that sublime something we can only call the greatness of the human spirit."

Krupitsky, who emigrated with her family from Russia to Little Rock in November of 1980, remembers that she was overwhelmed by the welcome she and her family received. "People came from all over -- from companies, synagogues, churches -- to our apartment, offering help, support, money. I fell in love with this small state and its local population."

Krupitsky still lives in Little Rock with her husband, children, and grandchildren, remaining active in Holocaust remembrance organizations around the world. She says that she wants The Broken Vase “to help young people and become an inspiration to them. It will teach them how to build a world of love and not of hatred."

6 x 9 , 210 pages
$24.95 cloth | ISBN 978-1-935106-20-3