Highlighting Ukraine and Ukrainian Authors

This month, we want to highlight some wonderful works by Ukrainian authors, or that take place in Ukraine. All of these titles are either currently available through the MVLC, or on order and will be available at the Topsfield Town Library soon.

 

Oksana, behave! by Maria Kuznetsova

When Oksana’s family begins their new American life in Florida after emigrating from Ukraine, her physicist father delivers pizza at night to make ends meet, her depressed mother sits home all day worrying, and her flamboyant grandmother relishes the attention she gets when she walks Oksana to school, not realizing that the street they’re walking down is known as Prostitute Street. Oksana just wants to have friends and lead a normal life–and though she constantly tries to do the right thing, she keeps getting herself in trouble.

Good Citizens Need Not Fear by Maria Reva

A bureaucratic glitch omits an entire building, along with its residents, from municipal records. So begins Reva’s ingeniously intertwined narratives, nine stories that span the chaotic years leading up to and immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union.

Also available in large print.

A Door Behind a Door by Yelena Moskovich

In Yelena Moskovich’s spellbinding new novel, A Door Behind A Door, we meet Olga, who immigrates as part of the Soviet diaspora of ’91 to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There she grows up and meets a girl and falls in love, beginning to believe that she can settle down. But a phone call from a bad man from her past brings to life a haunted childhood in an apartment building in the Soviet Union: an unexplained murder in her block, a supernatural stray dog, and the mystery of her beloved brother Moshe, who lost an eye and later vanished. We get pulled into Olga’s past as she puzzles her way through an underground Midwestern Russian mafia, in pursuit of a string of mathematical stabbings.

Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov

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 rival from his schooldays. With little food and no electricity, under constant 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?

Ukraine Diaries by Andrey Kurkov

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 Yanukovcyh, 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.

A short history of tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka

Sisters Vera and Nadezhda must aside a lifetime of feuding to save their émigré engineer father from voluptuous gold-digger Valentina. With her proclivity for green satin underwear and boil-in-the-bag cuisine, she will stop at nothing in her pursuit of Western wealth. But the sisters’ campaign to oust Valentina unearths family secrets, uncovers fifty years of Europe’s darkest history and sends them back to roots they’d much rather forget.

Something Unbelievable by Maria Kuznetsova

Larissa is a stubborn, brutally honest woman in her eighties, tired of her home in Kiev, Ukraine, tired of everything in life, really, except for her beloved granddaughter, Natasha. Natasha is tired as well, but that’s because she has just had a baby, and she’s struggling to balance her roles as a new mother, a wife, an actress (or she used to be, anyway), and a host to her husband’s greasy-haired, useless best friend, Stas, who has been staying with them in Brooklyn. When Natasha asks Larissa to tell the story of her family’s Soviet wartime escape from the Nazis in Kiev, Larissa reluctantly agrees. Perhaps Natasha is just looking for distraction from her own life, but Larissa is desperate to make her happy, even though the story hurts to tell.

The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan

In late March 1944, as Stalin’s forces push into Ukraine, young Emil and Adeline Martel must make a terrible decision: Do they wait for the Soviet bear’s intrusion and risk being sent to Siberia? Or do they reluctantly follow the wolves – murderous Nazi officers who have pledged to protect “pure-blood” Germans?

Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector

From one of the greatest modern writers, these stories, gathered from the nine collections published during her lifetime, follow an unbroken time line of success as a writer, from her adolescence to her death bed.

I Will Die in a Foreign Land by Kalani Pickhart

In November 2013, thousands of Ukrainian citizens gathered at Independence Square in Kyiv to protest then-President Yanukovych’s failure to sign a referendum with the European Union, opting instead to forge a closer alliance with President Vladimir Putin and Russia. The peaceful protests turned violent when military police shot live ammunition into the crowd, killing over a hundred civilians. I Will Die in a Foreign Land follows four individuals over the course of a volatile Ukrainian winter, as their lives are forever changed by the Euromaidan protests.

A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert

In a small Ukrainian town that is overrun by the SS in 1941, the lives of its residents—including Ephraim, a Jew under the threat of deportation who awaits word of his missing sons; Yasia, who has come in search of her lover only to confront new and harsh truths about those closest to her; and a young boy determined to survive—become intertwined.

Dog Park by Sofi Oksanen; translated by Owen Frederick Witesman

Olenka sits on a bench, watching a family play in a dog park. A stranger sits down beside her. Olenka startles; she would recognize this other woman anywhere. After all, Olenka was the one who ruined her life. And this woman may be about to do the same to Olenka. Yet, for a fragile moment, here they are, together–looking at their own children being raised by other people. Moving seamlessly between modern-day Finland and Ukraine in the early days of its post-Soviet independence, Dog Park is a keenly observed, dark and propulsive novel set at the intersection of East and West, centered on a web of exploitation and the commodification of the female body.

To the Edge of Sorrow by Aharon Appelfeld ; translated from the Hebrew by Stuart Schoffman

A group of brave Jewish partisans escapes from a ghetto and establishes a hiding place in the Ukrainian forest to survive World War II, sabotage German forces and rescue Jewish prisoners from trains heading toward concentration camps.

Makhno: Ukrainian Freedom Fighter by Philippe Thirault and Roberto Zaghi

In early 20th century Ukraine, anarchist Nestor Makhno, the son of peasants, was among the most heroic and colorful figures of the Russian Revolution, encouraging his people to find and embrace social and economic self-determination. This is his story, of a military strategist who tirelessly defied both the Bolsheviks and the Germans to protect his homeland.

From Odessa with love: Political and literary essays from post-Soviet Ukraine by Vladislav Davidson

The Tashkent-born Russian-American literary critic, editor, essayist, and journalist Vladislav Davidzon has been covering post-Soviet Ukraine for the past ten years, a tumultuous time for that country and the surrounding world.

The gates of Europe: A history of Ukraine by Vladislav Davidson

As Ukraine is embroiled in an ongoing struggle with Russia to preserve its territorial integrity and political independence, celebrated historian Serhii Plokhy explains that today’s crisis is a case of history repeating itself: the Ukrainian conflict is only the latest in a long history of turmoil over Ukraine’s sovereignty. … This revised edition contains new material that brings this definitive history up to the present, from the election of Volodymyr Zelensky to the role of Ukraine in Trump’s impeachment. As Ukraine once again finds itself at the center of global attention, Plokhy brings its history to vivid life as he connects the nation’s past with its present and future.

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