The Broken Vase


A Novel Based On the Life of Penina Krupitsky, a Holocaust Survivor
Phillip H. McMath and Emily Matson Lewis
978-1-935106-20-3 (cloth)
September 2010


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The Broken Vase is a roman à clef (“novel with a key,” or novel based on real life) written by Phillip H. McMath based upon research done by his co-author, Emily Matson Lewis, and in close collaboration with Holocaust survivor Penina Krupitsky, who appears in the novel as the fictional Miriam Kellerman. With the help of the World Jewish Organization, Mrs. Krupitsky emigrated from the Soviet Union with her family to the United States and now lives in 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 Miriam 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. This novel’s compelling narrative chronicles her incredible struggle to stay alive as World War II rages.

Mrs. Krupitsky lives in Little Rock with her husband, children, and grandchildren. She remains active in Holocaust remembrance organizations around the world and 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.”

Phillip H. McMath, writer, trial lawyer, and Vietnam veteran, has combined his interests in history, his native South, and war to create a unique body of work, his fiction trilogy—Native Ground (1984), Arrival Point (1991), and Lost Kingdoms (2007). The latter novel won the Arkansiana Award for fiction sponsored by the Arkansas Library Association. He lives in Little Rock with his wife, Carol, and practices law with McMath Woods PA.

Emily Matson Lewis, a lifelong resident of Little Rock, has always been fascinated by stories of young people who find their lives defined by extraordinarily difficult times. She spent a year interviewing Penina Krupitsky, whose life inspired this book, and feels honored to have provided the initial notes for The Broken Vase.

Distributed for the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies.