The daughter of displaced Ukrainian emigres, Irena led a sheltered life in America with a mentally ill father and guilt ridden, anxious mother. In the chaos of WWII and Soviet occupation, her infant brother Orest was left with his grandparents who were exiled to Siberia. Orest remained in the village, an abandoned child of enemies of the people. For the first time, brother and sister, both in their twenties, meet in Moscow in August of 1969. They will travel across Soviet Ukraine, a trip that will change their lives forever. Orest draws shy, beautiful Irena out of her self-imposed cocoon, allowing her to wake up to her own womanhood and intellectual potential. Orest grows to love his sister, even as he discovers his own developing attraction to her as a woman. When two KGB agents see Irena as a potential spy, Orest becomes a pawn in their recruitment game-and Irena will be forced to make an agonizing choice. Interspersed with flashbacks to the horrors of war, Siberian exile, and the turmoil of immigrant life, Displaced is a tragicomic blend of historical fiction, fantasy, and farce. In a world where everything is dislocated, two individuals attempt to cross the immeasurable gulfs of time, territory, and the never-to-be-deciphered landscape of the human heart.
Irena Kowal was born to Ukrainian emigres in a displaced person's camp in West Germany. She would grow up in the United States and be educated in America, England, and France. Kowal spent fifteen years in Germany, England, and Ukraine with her husband and two children. She worked as a freelance journalist for BBC Ukraine. She organized the first drama conference in Ukraine with the participation of four leading British dramatists. She is the author of The Barefoot Ballerina, a novella, and two plays. The Lion and the Lioness was produced at the National Theatre in Kiev and The Marinated Aristocrat is playing in Kiev in its twelfth year in repertory. She currently lives in Concord, Massachusetts.