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Last Updated: Jan 8, 2024 3:45 PM

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Above: Kyiv during rush hour. Image source: Unsplash. Creator: Oleksandr Zhabin. License: Unsplash license. Design: Michael Kicey.

Out of the impoverished coal regions of Ukraine known as the Donbass, where Russian secret military intervention coexists with banditry and insurgency, the women of Yevgenia Belorusets's captivating collection of stories emerge from the ruins of a war, still being waged on and off, ever since the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. Through a series of unexpected encounters, we are pulled into the ordinary lives of these anonymous women: a florist, a cosmetologist, card players, readers of horoscopes, the unemployed, and a witch who catches newborns with a mitt. One refugee tries unsuccessfully to leave her broken umbrella behind as if it were a sick relative; a private caregiver in a disputed zone saves her elderly charge from the angel of death; a woman sits down on International Women's Day and can no longer stand up; a soldier decides to marry war. Belorusets threads these tales of ebullient survival with a mix of humor, verisimilitude, the undramatic, and a profound Gogolian irony. She also weaves in twenty-three photographs that, in lyrical and historical counterpoint, form their own remarkable visual narrative.

House Stained Glass cover artŻanna Słoniowska, The House with the Stained-Glass Window, trans. Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Quercus Publishing, 2022.

Amid the turbulence of 20th century Lviv, meet four generations of women from the same fractious family, living beneath one roof and each striving to find their way across the decades of upheaval in an ever-shifting city. First there is Great-Granma, tiny and terrifying, shaped by a life of exile, hardship and doomed love, now fighting to keep her iron grip on the lives of her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter. Then there is Aba, arthritic but devoted; cowed and despised by her mother, her one chance of happiness thwarted and her hopes of studying painting crushed. Thirdly, Marianna, the brilliant opera star: bold, beautiful and a fearless crusader for Ukrainian independence, who is shot during a demonstration and whose life and martyrdom casts a shadow upon the young life of the fourth and final woman, her daughter. More important even than these four women though is the character of the city of Lviv (or Lwów, or Lvov, depending on the point in history). A city of markets and monuments, streets and spires, where history and the present collide, civilizations clash and stories rise up on every corner.

Night Reporter cover artYuri Vynnychuk, The Night Reporter: A 1938 Lviv Murder Mystery trans. Michael M. Naydan. Glagoslav, 2021.

The events of the novel The Night Reporter take place in Lviv in 1938. Journalist Marko Krylovych, nicknamed the "night reporter" for his nightly coverage of the life of the city's underbelly, takes on the investigation of the murder of a candidate for president of the city government. While doing this, he ends up in various love intrigues as well as criminal adventures, sometimes risking his life. Police Commissioner Roman Obukh, who was suspended by administrators from the murder investigation, aids him in an unofficial capacity. Meanwhile, German, and Soviet spies become involved, and Polish counterintelligence also takes an interest in the investigation. The picturesque and vividly described criminal world of Lviv of that time appears before us - dive bars, batyars, and establishments for women of ill repute. The reader will have to unravel riddle after riddle with the characters against the background of the anxious mood of Lviv's residents, who are living in anticipation of war. The Night Reporter is a compelling journey into the world of the enthralling multicultural past of the city.

Sweet Darusya cover artMaria Matios, Sweet Darusya: A Tale of Two Villages, trans. Michael Naydan & Olha Tytarenko. Spuyten Duyvil, 2019.

"To my mind Maria Matios’ Sweet Darusya is the best contemporary Ukrainian novel written since Ukrainian Independence in 1991. It reveals a family saga that is much more dynamic than classical sagas and at the same time is much more touching and engaging. It is an emotional history of Ukraine with a very well researched and vivid historical background that gives the reader the opportunity to understand not only the characters and their drama, but the entire drama of the country/countries in which they lived without leaving their village." --Andrei Kurkov. "Matios’s novel Sweet Darusya, initially published in Ukraine in 2003, has been read, studied, researched, and written about worldwide—mostly in academic circles. The question remains, however, why it took over a decade for its English translation to appear. In my opinion, not only the complexity of the text made it a daunting task for a skilled translator to undertake but also the challenge of communicating in another language a deeply seeded trauma of Ukraine and its people, masterfully portrayed by Matios." --Natalia Cousineau.

Sentsov cover artOleg Sentsov, Life Went on Anyway, trans. Uilleam Blacker. Deep Vellum Publishing, 2019.

The stories in Ukrainian film director, writer, and dissident Oleg Sentsov’s debut collection are as much acts of dissent as they are acts of creative expression. These autobiographical stories display a mix of nostalgia and philosophical insight, written in a simple yet profound style looking back on a life's path that led Sentsov to become an internationally renowned dissident artist. Sentsov's charges seemingly stem from his opposition to Russia's invasion and occupation of eastern Ukraine where he lived in the Crimea. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in August 2015 on spurious terrorism charges after he was kidnapped in his house and put through a grossly unfair trial by a Russian military court, marred by allegations of torture. Many of the stories included here were read during international campaigns by PEN International, the European Film Academy, and Amnesty International, among others, to support the case for Sentsov across the world. Sentsov's final words at his trial, "Why bring up a new generation of slaves?" have become a rallying cry for his cause. He spent 145 days on hunger strike in 2018 to urge the Russian authorities to release all Ukrainians unfairly imprisoned in Russia, an act of profound courage that contributed to the European Parliament's awarding him the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought Sentsov remains in a prison camp in Russia. It is the publisher's hope this book, published in collaboration with PEN Ukraine, contributes to his timely release.

Biography Chance cover artTanja Maljartschuk, A Biography of a Chance Miracle, trans. Zenia Tompkins. Cadmus Press, 2018.

A Biography of a Chance Miracle explores the life of Lena, a young girl growing up in the somewhat vapid, bureaucracy-ridden and nationalistic Western Ukrainian city of San Francisco. Lena is a misfit from early childhood due to her unwillingness to scorn everything Russian, her propensity for befriending forlorn creatures, her aversion to the status quo, and her fear of living a stupid and meaningless life. As her friends enter college, Lena sets forth on a mission to defend the abused and downtrodden of San Francisco—be they canine or human—armed with nothing more than an arsenal of humor, stubbornness, chutzpah and no shortage of imagination. Her successes are minimal at best, but in the process of trying to save San Francisco’s collective humanity, she may end up saving her own. At first glance a crazy and combative girl, Lena just may be the salvation that the Ukrainians of San Francisco sorely need. With haiku-like precision, Tanja’s deceptively simple writing style blends surrealism and magical realism with satirical wit, occasionally outlandish humor and poignant social commentary. The German literary media has described her depictions of contemporary Ukraine as full of humor and absurdity, but “more exact and harsher” than those of her peers, comparing her to the 19th-century Russian satirist Saltykov-Shchedrin and hailing her as “a name to be remembered.” This work, her most provocative to date, was a finalist for the 2012 BBC Book of the Year Award in Ukraine, and has been lauded as “simply ingenious” by fellow Ukrainian authors.

Lewycka cover artMarina Lewycka, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Fig Tree, 2012.

"As Romeo and Juliet found to their cost, marriage is never just about two people falling in love, it is about families." Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must aside a lifetime of feuding to save their widowed, tractor-obsessed Ukrainian father from the voluptuous, wealth-obsessed Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she outmaneuvers the sisters at every turn. But their campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers fifty years of European and Ukrainian history, and sends them back to roots they'd much rather forget.

Hardly Ever cover artMaria Matios, Hardly Ever Otherwise. Glagoslav, 2012.

Everything eventually reaches its appointed place in time and space. Maria Matios's dramatic family saga, Hardly Ever Otherwise, narrates the story of several western Ukrainian families during the last decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and expands upon the idea that "it isn't time that is important, but the human condition in time." In Matios's multi-tiered plot, the grand passions of ordinary people are illuminated under the caliginous light of an ethereal mysticism. Digressions on love, envy, transgression, together with atonement are woven into the story. Each character in this outstanding drama has an irrefutable alibi, a unique truth, and a private conflict with honor and duty. Her characters do not always act in accordance with logic and law books, as the laws of honor clash with the laws of the heart. And this is why it is hardly ever otherwise.

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Author image source: Wikimedia Commons. Creator: Rafał Komorowski. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International. Design: Michael Kicey.

Yuri Andrukhovych emerged as a prominent voice in Ukrainian literature with the publication of his first book of poems in 1985. The same year, together with Oleksandr Irvanets and Viktor Neborak, he formed the poetic group Bu-ba-bu, which became a leading force in Ukrainian poetic innovation for nearly a decade. After publishing only prose for a number of years, Andrukhovych returned to poetry in great form but with a much-changed poetics in 2004, with the publication of another collection. A comprehensive selection of his poetry from the 1980s-1990s, titled Lysty v Ukrainu (Letters to Ukraine), came out in 2013; in it, Andrukhovych revisited and revised several of those texts. This book traces the evolution of his poetics from the 1980s onward.

Moscoviad cover artThe Moscoviad, trans. Vitaly Chernetsky. Spuyten Duyvil, 2009.

The literary dormitory at Moscow University becomes a kind of Russian Grand Hotel, serving the last supper of empire to a host of writers gathered from every corner of the continent, and beyond. Young poets from Vietnam, Mongolia, Yakutia, Uzbekistan, Russia, and Ukraine assemble to study, drink, frolic, and explore each other and the decaying city around them. When the supper turns into a bacchanal, who's surprised? "The empire betrayed its drunks. And thus doomed itself to disintegration." Part howl, part literary slapstick, part joyful dirge, charged with the brashness of youth, betraying the vision of the permanent outsider, Andrukhovych's novel suggests that literature really is news that stays news. Funny, buoyant, flamboyant, ground-breaking, and as revelatory today as when it was first published in Ukrainian, The Moscoviad remains a literary milestone. In spirit and intellectual brio Andrukhovych, whose irreverence makes Borat seem pious, is kin to the great Halldor Laxness and the venerable David Foster Wallace.

Perverzion cover artPerverzion (Writings from an Unbound Europe), trans. Michael M. Naydan. Northwestern University Press, 2005.

What was the fate of Stanislav Perfetsky--poet, provocateur, and hero of Ukrainian underground culture? Evidence points to suicide. But some whisper murder. Some suggest the grand Eastern European tradition of coerced suicide. It may even be related to the religious cult ceremony he happened upon in Munich . . . or that job as a dancer in a strip club for older women. Or, then again, it may not. Perverzion constructs Perfetsky's final days using a mishmash of relics, from official documents to recorded interviews to scraps of paper. Perfetsky, the personification of the Ukrainian artistic superman--he used his masterful musicianship in a collaboration with Elton John during the pop star's secret sojourn in Ukraine--is bound for Venice to participate in a seminar to save the world from absurdity. On the way he becomes a Ukrainian Orpheus descending into the decadence of the West, navigating through surrealistic adventures and no less surrealistic seminar topics as he charges head up (and pants down) toward his fate.

Recreations cover artRecreations. Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, 1998.

Originally published in Ukrainian in 1992, Recreations is a novel of carnivalesque vitality and acute social criticism. It celebrates newly found freedom and reflects upon the contradictions of post-Soviet society. Four poets and an entourage of secondary characters converge on the fictional Chortopil for the Festival of the Resurrecting Spirit, an orgy of popular culture, civic dysfunction, national pride, and sex. Recreations established Andrukhovych as a sophisticated but seductively readable comic writer with penetrating insights into his volatile times. The novel delights the reader with its extravagant and eccentric variety. For all its artful devices, it aims to be lucid, not dark, and readable, not forbidding. Yuri Andrukhovych's works have been translated and published in Poland, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Russia, Finland, Italy, Canada and the United States.

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Author image source: Wikimedia Commons. Creator: Juerg Vollner. License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. Design: Michael Kicey.

Little Starhorodivka, a village of three streets, lies in Ukraine's Grey Zone, the no-man's-land between loyalist and separatist forces. Thanks to the lukewarm war of sporadic violence and constant propaganda that has been dragging on for years, only two residents remain: retired safety inspector turned beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich and Pashka, a "frenemy" from his schooldays. With little food and no electricity, under ever-present threat of bombardment, Sergeyich's one remaining pleasure is his bees. As spring approaches, he knows he must take them far from the Grey Zone so they can collect their pollen in peace. This simple mission on their behalf introduces him to combatants and civilians on both sides of the battle lines: loyalists, separatists, Russian occupiers and Crimean Tatars. Wherever he goes, Sergeyich's childlike simplicity and strong moral compass disarm everyone he meets. But could these qualities be manipulated to serve an unworthy cause, spelling disaster for him, his bees and his country? Grey Bees is as timely as the author's Ukraine Diaries were in 2014, but treats the unfolding crisis in a more imaginative way, with a pinch of Kurkov's signature humour. Who better than Ukraine's most famous novelist - who writes in Russian - to illuminate and present a balanced portrait of this most bewildering of modern conflicts?

Good Angel cover artThe Good Angel of Death, trans. Andrew Bromfield. Vintage, 2015.

The Good Angel of Death is a classic, first-rate Kurkov yarn which is sure to delight old and new fans alike. When Kolya moves into a new flat in Kiev, he discovers an annotated manuscript hidden inside a copy of War and Peace and decides to track down its author, even if it means digging up the grave of a Ukranian nationalist who died in mysterious circumstances. An exhumation reveals that an item of great national importance is buried near a fort in Kazakstan so when, during his night shift as a security guard, Kolya is threatened with mysterious phone calls, he sets off on what turns out to be a very bizarre journey. Along the way he meets a host of unlikely characters including Bedouins, ex-KGB officers and a spirit-like companion in the form of a chameleon.


Ukraine Diaries cover artUkraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kiev, trans. Sam Taylor. Harvill Secker, 2015.

Acclaimed author Andrey Kurkov gives powerful insight into life in Kyiv following the 2013 protests and before the 2022 Russian invasion. "-16°C, sunlight, silence. I drove the children to school, then went to see the revolution. I walked between the tents. Talked with rev­olutionaries. They were weary today. The air was thick with the smell of old campfires." Ukraine Diaries is acclaimed writer Andrey Kurkov's first-hand account of the ongoing crisis in his country. From his flat in Kyiv, just five hundred yards from Independence Square, Kurkov can smell the burning barricades and hear the sounds of grenades and gunshot. Kurkov's diaries begin on the first day of the pro-European protests in November 2013, and describe the violent clashes in the Maidan, the impeachment of Yanukovych, Russia's annexation of Crimea and the separatist uprisings in the east of Ukraine. Going beyond the headlines, they give vivid insight into what it's like to live through - and try to make sense of - times of intense political unrest, on the path to the current crisis.

Case Thumb cover artThe Case of the General's Thumb, trans. George Bird. Vintage, 2004.

The corpse of a distinguished general is found attached to an advertising balloon—and minus his thumb. Police Lieutenant Viktor Slutsky is sent in to investigate. So, too, is KGB officer Nik Tsensky. They begin their investigations unbeknownst to each other, but quickly find themselves mystified about developments caused by the other. Thus begins a comedy of very dangerous errors as the two criss-cross Europe, Russia, and the Ukraine, catalysts in a bizarre battle between the Russian and Ukrainian secret services. What ensues is simultaneously hilarious, tragic, and suspenseful, with a fascinating cast of characters who would seem absurd if they weren’t so compelling: a larger-than-life hitman, a deaf-and-dumb blonde, and a turtle. Then there’s the gun that shoots backwards . . . And as the two faithful investigators find themselves to be pawns in a story of post-Soviet collapse, it becomes—as usual in the work of this modern Russian master—an inspiring tale of resilience against the dark forces of the day.

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Author image source: Wikimedia Commons. Creator: European Parliament. License: Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. Design: Michael Kicey.

Winner of the 2020 Ramaswamy prize for works in translation, this volume collects poems, an essay, and an interview with one of Ukraine's most central figures of contemporary literature. Zabuzhko's first novel is still recognized as the "bible of Ukrainian feminism." She has published a dozen more books, including three story collections, three volumes of essays, four books of poetry, a prize-winning study on landmark Ukrainian author, playwright, and thinker Lesia Ukrainka (1871-1913), and The Museum of Abandoned Secrets, a prize-winning novel which has been translated into six languages. Her forthcoming collection of short stories, Your Ad Could Go Here, will be available in May 2020, and her next novel, Cassandra's Banquet, will debut in Winter 2021.

Your Ad cover artYour Ad Could Go Here: Stories, ed. & trans. Nina Shevchuk-Murray et al. AmazonCrossing, 2020.

Oksana Zabuzhko, author of "the most influential Ukrainian book in the fifteen years since independence," Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex, returns with a gripping short story collection. Oksana Zabuzhko, Ukraine's leading public intellectual, is called upon to make sense of the unthinkable reality of our times. In this breathtaking short story collection, she turns the concept of truth over in her hands like a beautifully crafted pair of gloves. From the triumph of the Orange Revolution, which marked the start of the twenty-first century, to domestic victories in matchmaking, sibling rivalry, and even tennis, Zabuzhko manages to shock the reader by juxtaposing things as they are--inarguable, visible to the naked eye--with how things could be, weaving myth and fairy tale into pivotal moments just as we weave a satisfying narrative arc into our own personal mythologies. At once intimate and worldly, these stories resonate with Zabuzhko's irreverent and prescient voice, echoing long after reading.


Museum cover artThe Museum of Abandoned Secrets, trans. Nina Shevchuk-Murray. AmazonCrossing, 2012.

Spanning sixty tumultuous years of Ukrainian history, this multigenerational saga weaves a dramatic and intricate web of love, sex, friendship, and death. At its center: three women linked by the abandoned secrets of the past--secrets that refuse to remain hidden. While researching a story, journalist Daryna unearths a worn photograph of Olena Dovgan, a member of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army killed in 1947 by Stalin's secret police. Intrigued, Daryna sets out to make a documentary about the extraordinary woman--and unwittingly opens a door to the past that will change the course of the future. For even as she delves into the secrets of Olena's life, Daryna grapples with the suspicious death of a painter who just may be the latest victim of a corrupt political power play. From the dim days of World War II to the eve of the Orange Revolution, this book offers an "epic of enlightening force" that explores the enduring power of the dead over the living.

Fieldwork cover artFieldwork in Ukrainian Sex, trans. Halyna Hryn. AmazonCrossing, 2011.

Called "the most influential Ukrainian book for the 15 years of independence," Oksana Zabuzhko's Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex became an international phenomenon when it shot to number one on the Ukrainian bestseller list and remained there throughout the 1990s. The novel is narrated in first-person streams of thought by a sharp-tongued poet with an irreverently honest voice. She is visiting professor of Slavic studies at Harvard and her exposure to American values and behaviors conspires with her yearning to break free from Ukrainian conventions. In her despair over a recently ended affair, she turns her attention to the details of her lover's abusive behavior. In detailing the power her Ukrainian lover wielded over her, and in admitting the underlying reasons for her attraction to him, she begins to see the chains that have defined her as a Ukrainian woman - and in doing so, exposes and calls into question her country's culture of fear and repression at the very time that it wrestled its way toward independence.

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Author image source: Wikimedia Commons. Creator: Rafał Komorowski. License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International. Design: Michael Kicey.

A devastating story of the struggle of civilians caught up in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, this book was chosen as one of "Six Books to Read for Context on Ukraine" by the New York Times and selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the "20 Best Books of 2021." If every war needs its master chronicler, Ukraine has Serhiy Zhadan, one of Europe's most promising novelists. Recalling the brutal landscape of The Road and the wartime storytelling of A Farewell to Arms, The Orphanage is a searing novel that excavates the human collateral damage wrought by the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. When hostile soldiers invade a neighboring city, Pasha, a thirty-five-year-old Ukrainian language teacher, sets out for the orphanage where his nephew Sasha lives, now in occupied territory. Venturing into combat zones, traversing shifting borders, and forging uneasy alliances along the way, Pasha realizes where his true loyalties lie in an increasingly desperate fight to rescue Sasha and bring him home. Written with a raw intensity, this is a deeply personal account of violence that will be remembered as the definitive novel of the war in Ukraine.

New Orthography cover artA New Orthography: Poems, trans. John Hennessy & Ostap Kin. Lost Horse Press, 2020.

This book is the fifth volume in Lost Horse Press's Contemporary Ukrainian Poetry Series. In these poems, the poet focuses on daily life during the Russo-Ukrainian war, rendering intimate portraits of the country's residents as they respond to crisis. Zhadan revives and revises the role of the nineteenth-century Romantic bard, one who portrays his community with clarity, preserving its most precious aspects and darkest nuances. The poems investigate questions of home, exile, solitude, love, and religious faith, making vivid the experiences of noncombatants, refugees, soldiers, and veterans. This collection will be of interest to those who study how poetry observes and mirrors the shifts within a country during wartime, and it offers solace as well.

What We Live For cover artWhat We Live for, What We Die For: Selected Poems, trans. Virlana Tkacz & Wanda Phipps. Yale University Press, 2019.

An introduction to an original poetic voice from eastern Ukraine with deep roots in the unique cultural landscape of post-Soviet devastation. "Everyone can find something, if they only look carefully," reads one of the memorable lines from this first collection of poems in English by the world-renowned Ukrainian author Serhiy Zhadan. These robust and accessible narrative poems feature gutsy portraits of life on war-torn and poverty-ravaged streets, where children tally the number of local deaths, where mothers live with low expectations, and where romance lives like a remote memory. In the tradition of Tom Waits, Charles Bukowski, and William S. Burroughs, Zhadan creates a new poetics of loss, a daily crusade of testimonial, a final witness of abandoned lives in a claustrophobic universe where "every year there's less and less air." Yet despite the grimness of these portraits, Zhadan's poems are familiar and enchanting, lit by the magic of everyday detail, leaving readers with a sense of hope, knowing that the will of a people "will never let it be / like it was before."


Mesopotamia cover artMesopotamia, trans. Reilly Costigan-Humes et al. Yale University Press, 2018.

A unique work of fiction from the troubled streets of Ukraine, giving invaluable testimony to the new history unfolding in the nation's post-independence years. This captivating book is Serhiy Zhadan's ode to Kharkiv, the traditionally Russian-speaking city in Eastern Ukraine where he makes his home. A leader among Ukrainian post-independence authors, Zhadan employs both prose and poetry to address the disillusionment, complications, and complexities that have marked Ukrainian life in the decades following the Soviet Union's collapse. His novel provides an extraordinary depiction of the lives of working-class Ukrainians struggling against an implacable fate: the road forward seems blocked at every turn by demagogic forces and remnants of the Russian past. Zhadan's nine interconnected stories and accompanying poems are set in a city both representative and unusual, and his characters are simultaneously familiar and strange. Following a kind of magical-realist logic, his stories expose the grit and burden of stalled lives, the universal desire for intimacy, and a wistful realization of the off-kilter and even perverse nature of love.

Voroshilovgrad cover artVoroshilovgrad, trans. Reilly Costigan-Humes & Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler. Deep Vellum Publishing, 2016.

A city-dwelling executive heads home to take over his brother's gas station after his mysterious disappearance, but all he finds at home are mysteries and ghosts. The bleak industrial landscape of now-war-torn eastern Ukraine sets the stage for Voroshilovgrad, the Soviet era name of the Ukranian city of Luhansk, mixing magical realism and exhilarating road novel in poetic, powerful, and expressive prose. Serhiy Zhadan, one of the key figureheads in contemporary Ukrainian literature and the most famous poet in the country, has become the voice of Ukraine's "Euro-Maidan" movement. He lives in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

Depeche Mode cover artDepeche Mode. Glagoslav Publications, 2013.

In 1993, tragic turbulence takes over Ukraine in the post-communist spin-off. As if in somnambulism, Soviet war veterans and upstart businessmen listen to an American preacher of whose type there were plenty at the time in the post-Soviet territory. In Kharkiv, the young communist headquarters is now an advertising agency, and a youth radio station brings Western music, with Depeche Mode in the lead, into the homes of ordinary people. In the middle of this craze, three friends, an anti-Semitic Jew Dogg Pavlov, an unfortunate entrepreneur Vasia the Communist and the narrator Zhadan, nineteen years of age and unemployed, seek to find their old pal Sasha Carburetor to tell him that his step-father shot himself dead. Characters confront elements of their reality, and, tainted with traumatic survival fever, embark on a sad, dramatic and a bit grotesque adventure.

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Boris Khersonsky and Ludmila Khersonsky write poetry that speaks to the crisis of our time, when refugees run from bombardments, nonstop propaganda flows from TV, and neighbors begin to hate their neighbors. The setting is Ukraine at the start of the twenty-first century, but it is eerily recognizable anywhere. These brief lyric poems speak about the memory of historical trauma and witness stark individual voices that pierce the wall of complacency. What is the music of such times? What is its metaphysics? This collection gives us an unflinching, memorable response.

Love in Defiance cover artAli Kinsella et al (eds.), Love in Defiance of Pain: Ukrainian Stories. Deep Vellum Publishing, 2022.

This collection aims to bring the riches of contemporary Ukrainian literature--and of contemporary Ukraine, too--to the world. While Ukraine is under sustained attack, many in the West have marveled at the nation's strength in the face of a barbaric invasion. Who are these people, what is this nation, which has captivated the world with their courage? By showcasing some of the finest Ukrainian writers working today, this book aims to help answer that question. There are war stories, but there are also love stories. Stories of aging romantics in modern Ukraine, and of modern Ukrainians in Vienna and Brooklyn, a fantastical tale set on a mysterious island where people never die, a wild lovers' romp through modern-day Ukraine, a sobering account of an American war photographer, and a post-modern tale of a botanist in love. Some of these stories have been published before--indeed, many are award-winning and acclaimed--while some are appearing for the first time, making their rightful debut on the world stage. The range of voices, settings, and subjects in this vivid and varied collection show us how to "love in defiance of pain"--an apt phrase taken from the very first story in this book. Readers will be delighted and moved, and will gain insight into the proud history and contemporary life of Ukraine.

Yermolenko cover artVolodymyr Yermolenko (ed.), Ukraine in Histories and Stories: Essays by Ukrainian Intellectuals. Ibidem-Verlag Haunschild, 2020.

This fascinating collection of texts by contemporary Ukrainian writers, historians, philosophers, political analysts, and opinion leaders combines reflections on Ukraine's history--or histories--and analyses of the present as well as conceptual ideas and life stories. The authors present a multi-faceted image of Ukrainian memory and reality: from the Holodomor to Maidan, from Russian aggression to cultural diversity, from the depth of the past to the complexity of the present. Essential reading for anyone interested in Ukraine. The contributors of this book are prominent Ukrainian historians, writers, philosophers, political analysts, and intellectuals.

White Chalk cover artMark Andryczyk (ed.), The White Chalk of Days: The Contemporary Ukrainian Literature Series Anthology. Academic Studies Press, 2018.

The publication of this anthology commemorates the tenth year of the Contemporary Ukrainian Literature Series. Co-sponsored by the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University and the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Series has recurrently organized readings in the US for Ukraine's leading writers since 2008. The anthology presents translations of literary works by Series guests that imaginatively engage pivotal issues in today's Ukraine and express its tribulations and jubilations. Featuring poetry, fiction, and essays by fifteen Ukrainian writers, the anthology offers English-language readers a wide array of the most beguiling literature written in Ukraine in the past fifty years.


Words for War cover artOksana Maksymchuk & Max Rosochinsky (eds.), Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine. Academic Studies Press, 2018.

The armed conflict in the east of Ukraine brought about an emergence of a distinctive trend in contemporary Ukrainian poetry: the poetry of war. Directly and indirectly, the poems collected in this volume engage with the events and experiences of war, reflecting on the themes of alienation, loss, dislocation, and disability; as well as justice, heroism, courage, resilience, generosity, and forgiveness. In addressing these themes, the poems also raise questions about art, politics, citizenship, and moral responsibility. The anthology brings together some of the most compelling poetic voices from different regions of Ukraine. Young and old, female and male, somber and ironic, tragic and playful, filled with extraordinary terror and ordinary human delights, the voices recreate the human sounds of war in its tragic complexity.

Frontier cover artAnatoly Kudryavitsky (ed. & trans.), The Frontier: 28 Contemporary Ukrainian Poets. Glagoslav Publications, 2017.

This anthology reflects the search of the Ukrainian nation for its identity, the roots of which lie deep inside Ukrainian-language poetry. Some of the included poets are well-known locally and internationally; among them are Serhiy Zhadan, Halyna Kruk, Ostap Slyvynsky, Marianna Kijanowska, Oleh Kotsarev, Anna Bagriana and, of course, the living legend of Ukrainian poetry, Vasyl Holoborodko. The next Ukrainian poetic generation also features prominently in the collection. Such poets as Les Beley, Olena Herasymyuk, Myroslav Laiuk, Hanna Malihon, Taras Malkovych, Julia Musakovska, Julia Stahivska and Lyuba Yakimchuk are the ones Ukrainians like to read today, and each of them already has an excellent reputation abroad due to festival appearances and translations to European languages. The work collected here documents poetry in Ukraine responding to challenges of the time by forging a radical new poetic, reconsidering writing techniques and language itself.

Herstories cover artMichael M. Naydan (ed.), Herstories: An Anthology of New Ukrainian Women Prose Writers. Glagoslav Publications, 2014.

Women's prose writing has exploded on the literary scene in Ukraine just prior to and following Ukrainian independence in 1991. Over the past two decades scores of fascinating new women authors have emerged. These authors write in a wide variety of styles and genres including short stories, novels, essays, and new journalism. In the collection you will find: realism, magical realism, surrealism, the fantastic, deeply intellectual writing, newly discovered feminist perspectives, philosophical prose, psychological mysteries, confessional prose, and much more. You'll find an entire gamut of these Ukrainian women writers experiences that range from deep spirituality to candid depictions of sexuality and interpersonal relations. You'll find tragedy and humor, and on occasion, humor in the tragedy. You'll find urban prose, edgy, caustic, and intellectual; as well as prose harkening back to village life and profound tragedies from the Soviet past that have left marks of trauma on an entire nation. This is a collection of Ukrainian women's stories, histories that serve to tell her unique stories in English translation. Substantial excerpts from novels and translations of complete shorter works of each author will give the reader deep insight into the phenomenon of contemporary Ukrainian women's prose.

Panorama of Kyiv
Above: A panorama of Kyiv in the evening. Image source: Unsplash. Creator: Maksym Diachenko. License: Unsplash license. Design: Michael Kicey.

Please direct all comments, suggestions, and inquiries regarding the content of this guide to its editor, Michael Kicey.

Special thanks to Prof. Katherine Zubovich of the UB Department of History for her valuable contributions to this guide.