What Is Written on the Tongue

“The threads of Sam’s inner conflict between loyalty to his friends and family, and the fact that he repeatedly meets people on the opposite sides of the wars who are people he could like, people who could be friends, weave a very realistic struggle. Blunt about the futility of the Indonesian war, Lazurko creates a cast of characters who have an array of agendas, loyalties, and lens on war.:–the Mirimachi Reader

“Though set in a specific time period about two specific wars, this story is timeless. It addresses questions still asked today: Who are freedom fighters, who terrorists? Who are occupiers and who peacekeepers?”- The Historical Novel Society

“In this deft and deeply moving novel, Anne Lazurko disperses the fog of war to shine a light on one soldier’s process of reckoning. As Sam confronts the enemy without and within, his creator honours the terrible vulnerability of our bodies, the essential balm of love and friendship, and the life-affirming beauty of the natural world, all the while lamenting the hell we so often make of this paradise we call home.” — Alissa York, author of The Naturalist

“Teeming with life and drama, What Is Written on the Tongue is an ambitious, sweeping, riveting story of war, immorality, love and family. Spanning The Netherlands, Germany and Indonesia during and after the Second World War, Anne Lazurko’s novel serves as a grim reminder that the oppressed sometimes become oppressors. The novel hooked me on the first page and captured me to the last.” — Lawrence Hill, author of The Book of Negroes and The Illegal

What is Written on the Tongue isn’t an easy novel, but I highly recommend that you read it, because what it asks us to do is remember, not only the past, but also that the better angels of our own natures can transform into demons, given the right circumstances. That those we condemn as monsters may actually live inside of us. And that our salvation, like Sam’s, rests only in our ability to love and forgive, both ourselves and each other.” – Erna Buffie, Prairie Fire

“This novel is the vivid and gripping story of a man caught in two brutal occupations: Sam is first a young victim of the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands in World War Two. He then becomes a colonial perpetrator as a Dutch soldier in the occupying army of Indonesia in the late forties. He suffers and then he deals out suffering. In this moving novel, Sam must search for a way to navigate his way through moral quagmires and find some kind of peace for himself and the ones he loves.” — Antanas Sileika, author of Provisionally Yours


Goodreads reviews based on Advanced Reader Copy (ARC)


“An absolutely stunning novel that I hope gets some notice. I’ve reviewed some 4,000 books for the Sun-Times in the past 20 years; only a few times did something new glue me like this one. Dollybird. Very nice.”

Andrew Armitage, Book Editor for The Sun-Times


“Lazurko’s straightforward prose transports the reader to early 20th-century Canada… Hers is an unidealized portrayal of life at that time, as known to the working poor, the disenfranchised and the sickly. Her characters are well-developed, flawed and frightened.

Dollybird, like all good novels, and life itself leaves much to ponder and question…”

Laurie Glenn Norris, for the Telegraph Journal )


“What makes Dollybird seductive is the great care Lazurko has for the characters, who have rich histories wrapped neatly in intricate dialogues and breathtaking action and downfalls. They are desperate and wild. They are judgmental. They are saints and saviors… Lazurko is deceptive in where her plot takes you – much like the skies churn on the grasslands, Dollybird is a warm sun, a relentless storm.”

Dollybird covered me in dust and mud; the pages are intoned with every kind of love: the absent, the lost, the yearning, the found.

Read Dollybird.”

-Katherine Lawrence, Award winning author of “Lying to Our Mothers”, and “Ring Finger, Left Hand”.


In a well plotted, readable novel, Lazurko helps redress a long-standing misconception that the European re-settling of Saskatchewan was done only by men. As one title proudly proclaimed a number of years ago, there were mighty women, too.”

Bill Roberston, The Saskatoon Star Phoenix Dec. 4, 2013


“The novel’s strength lies in its glimpses into not only the hardship but also the tight sense of community that marked pioneering men and women…  Lazurko’s title speaks to the confining roles women were permitted to have as the West was  “settled” and to the difficulties women faced when they, like Moira, tried to resist them.” (Readmore)

The Coastal spectator, Sept. 16, 2013  

One thought on “Reviews

  1. This is a story set in Saskatchewan in 1906. My how our world has changed. Many people only had the strength of their backs to see them through. I liked the characters, they are well developed and felt real. It was a book I read quickly as I wanted to know what would happen next. It ended differently than I thought it would. There could be a sequel to this book, I do not think Moira is going to spend the remainder of her life on the farm.

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