Valya Dudycz Lupescu

Writer, fueled by coffee

Honor and Identity


When I set out to write The Silence of Trees, I wanted to honor my grandmothers, my ancestors, and my family. I wanted to honor my community and the Ukrainian culture that helped to shape me.

But what is honor? What does it mean to honor? Are these ideas of honor still relevant in modern America?

The definition of honor is tied up with ideas of reverence, respect, and integrity. Most explanations of honor involve the way that someone relates to another person or group. Honor isn’t really about the self, it’s about how we behave toward others, how we consider and treat other people.

Ukrainian Americans of my generation grew up very much aware of their ethnic roots. At that time, Ukraine was not an independent nation, and many of us were raised with the idea that we had to keep the Ukrainian culture alive—we had a responsibility to speak Ukrainian, to carry on the traditions, to dance the dances, and to sing the songs.

There was a sense of urgency in our parents’ and grandparents’ expectations. Those who came over after WWII had lived through efforts to wipe out the Ukrainian language, culture, and history. Many had witnessed Ukrainian artists, writers, and intellectuals rounded up and taken away during Stalin’s purges and WWII. These immigrants, the Displaced Persons, saw themselves as preserving a national treasure – their Ukrainian identity, their history, and their future.

One of the major themes that comes up again and again in my novel, The Silence of Trees, is the juxtaposition of Old World traditions and New World expectations. The old and new often clash. This is not unique to Ukrainian immigrants in America. But how do we find balance? How do we reconcile both parts of our selves?

Author: Valya

Valya Dudycz Lupescu is the author of THE SILENCE OF TREES and STICKS & BONES, as well as the founding editor of CONCLAVE: A Journal of Character. Born and raised in Chicago, Valya received her degree in English at DePaul University and her MFA in Writing as part of the inaugural class at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Since receiving her MFA, Valya has worked as a college professor, obituary writer, content manager, internal communications specialist, co-producer of an independent feature film, and Goth cocktail waitress.


  1. Dear Valya, how can I contact you? I am a journalist with the Ukrainian Service of Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe and would like to speak with you about your book.

  2. Dear Valya,

    Has your book “Silence of Trees” been published? I find the story fascinating and can`t wait to read the entire book. My parents were friends with your Dudycz grandparents, in fact, I believe they were in Germany at one of the camps together. (Both my parents are now deceased). I went to school with your Uncle Bohdan and knew your Aunt Maria. I believe my daughter may have danced with you and your sister at Cym in the 80`s.

    Presently, I am in Canada with a sick relative. When I return home, I will contact your Baba, perhaps she can share some stories of the DP camp.

    Looking forward to hearing from you. Best regards to all your family.


  3. Hello Olya,

    I’m sorry for taking so long to respond. I hope that your relative is better now.

    Thank you for your kind words. Who is your daughter? I wonder if I also danced with her.

    As far as the novel, my agent is in the process of shopping it around to publishers. I will certainly update the site with purchase information once it’s available.
    Hope to hear from you again.


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