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The Unresolved Scarcity of Justice

Reality, spoken loud and clear in the language of fiction


“The Coveted Recipe” is Astrida Stahnke’s gothic novella which will be featured in the upcoming 2018 Frankfurt Book Fair at the Frankfurter Buchmese (Frankfurt, Germany) from October 10-14, 2018.

Set in 17th century Livonia and Germany, Mara Liebman, a boron’s “first night” daughter, falls victim of her stepmother’s hatred and jealousy, leading to accusation of witchcraft because of Mara’s baking skills. A flight from a witch-hunt in Livonia leads her to a moat-locked town, ruled by a mad executioner who craves her Lebkuchen recipe. When she refuses, Henker also calls her a witch, and, again she must flee until her journey ends mysteriously.

Readers may be reminded of many a tragic tale of times past and events present, or they may view the story as a parable of human nature that, in changing, remains the same, as Truth is caught in webs of  lies, power struggles, unjust laws, and terror. The idea came from Hans Trexler’s book  Die Wahrheit uber Hansel & Gretel (Rowohlt, 1978) and a visit to Berlin after The Wall fell, the Iron Curtain disintegrated, and many trapped people found release.

Witness the harsh reality told in fiction and the universality and timelessness of human frailties in Astrida Stahnke’s “The Coveted Recipe”.

“The Coveted Recipe”
Written by Astrida B. Stahnke
Published by XLIBRIS
Published Date: April 28, 2017
Paperback: $18.35
About the Author
Born in Latvia, March 15, 1935; WW II refugee, escaped 1944; lived with her family of 6 in Esslingen, Germany refugee camp till Aug ’49 emigration to US. After a year in Charlotte, NC., family settled in Cleveland, OH. Graduated from Shaw High 1954; 1954-55—Western Reserve U. 1955-57: Bethel College, St. Paul, MN. 1958 married Dr. Arthur A. Stahnke.

1963, Southern  Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIU-E), hired Arthur as Political Science professor, where he served until retirement.  Family—four children--made a home in Collinsville, IL. Stahnke completed her formal education at SIUE, Dept. of English: 1968—BA; 1977-MA.

In 1975, she joined the Baltic Drama Translation Project @ SIU-Carbondale. That  opened doors into a broader, comparative world of literature and active participation in conferences (mostly American Association of Baltic Studies—AABS), trips to then Soviet Latvia. Also, in the  80s, brief stays  in East & West Berlin with husband on Fullbright. Since she is fluent in Latvian, English and German, she self-studied and compared works of literature in various libraries and observed & experienced life behind the Iron Curtain and, in late ‘80s & ‘90s, witnessed the demise of the Iron Curtain and the Berlin Wall.

In late 80s and into the  90s, she taught special courses in English writing and literature at Latvia University in Riga.

Out of all that and more she created a bulk of prose, poetry/articles and essays in Latvian & English, publishing selections in mostly Latvian media and translations of poetry, drama, stories in English. Most important were her first book: Aspazija: Her Life and Her Drama (UPA, 1984): Kitty’s Water Mill (1995): Latvian Folk Tales (1998), Riga: Zvaigzne ABC and 2015: Aspazija’ Prose, Jurmala Art and Culture Scociety. Too numerous to mention are translations for brochures, introduction materials for CDs, advertising blurbs, random poems, etc. Also lectures and dramatic presentations to American and international audiences.

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 Astrida Stahnke
 Gothic Novella
 Literature and Fiction
 Hansel and Gretel
 Frankfurt Book Fair

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