The accolades and awards are streaming in for Ahwatukee author Katrina Shawver’s biography of a Polish athlete and Nazis concentration camp survivor who made his way to Ahwatukee and befriended her in the last years of his life.
Katrina Shawver’s book, “Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America” (Köehler Books, November 2017) has won or is a finalist in four literary award contests, besting hundreds of entries.
“Henry” cleaned up in the 2017-18 the Reader Views Literary Awards, winning first place in both the Biography/Memoir and West/Mountain region categories and the grand prizes as best book in those categories.
She also is a finalist for a Wishing Shelf Book Award for adult non-fiction.
Shawver earlier this year received a silver award in the historical category of the 2018 Feathered Quill Book Awards.
And the book is a finalist in the 30th annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards program for biography, which will be held April 6 in Austin, Texas.
The awards come at a time when the Polish government has created an international controversy by making it illegal for anyone to associate the country with Nazi concentration camps. Poland was the site of the Nazis’ most brutal phase of its attempt to eradicate Jewish people.
Six million Poles were killed during the nearly six years the country endured World War II. Three million were Jewish and another 3 million were Christian. In Auschwitz alone, 150,000 Poles were executed or died from starvation, disease and mistreatment.
The book’s namesake, Henry Zguda, was Catholic and survived imprisonment in two camps, eventually making his way to this country and becoming a well-known figure in Ahwatukee Lakes until his death in 2003.
Shawver met Zguda when he was 85 and spent untold hours with him, and became so fascinated with his story that she traveled abroad to research the fate of millions of non-Jews at the Nazis’ hands.
Her book includes more than 75 original photos and rare German documents, some of which have never before been known to more than a handful of people.
“Henry is both poignant and inspiring,” said Andrew Nagorski, author of “The Nazi Hunters” and “Hitlerland” in a review.
Local residents have several opportunities in the coming weeks to meet Shawver and hear about the book.
She will discuss it at 7 p.m. April 18 at Ironwood Library, 4333 E. Chandler Blvd., Ahwatukee, and will answer questions and sign copies of her book. The event is free.
The program will include time for questions from the audience and book signing. The event is offered free of charge to the public.
She also will be a presenter at the sixth annual Genocide Awareness Conference at Scottsdale Community College, 9000 E. Chaparral Road, Scottsdale, at noon April 9.
“Henry” is for sale in the gift shop at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, and online through the Polish American Journal.
The Holocaust Museum markets few books on Poland or the Polish experience during WWII and its decision to sell Shawver’s book is considered a tribute to its credibility.
More about the book, including photos, praise, book trailers, and event dates, is available at KatrinaShawver.com.