As much time as I spend reading newspaper and magazine stories about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, not to mention Instagram posts and Twitter threads, I still find myself wanting to read Ukrainian fiction, to learn more about the country on its own terms.
There isn’t a huge amount available in English, but if you can wait until March 29, Deep Vellum will be publishing Andrey Kurkov’s Grey Bees, written in 2018, in a new translation by Boris Dralyuk. Set in the “Grey Zone,” the no-man’s-land between Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists in the Donbas region, it tells the story of beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich, who finds himself one of the last two inhabitants of his forsaken village. Our review says, “Kurkov transforms the abstractions of geopolitics into an intensely human account of compassion and persistence.”
We can learn a lot about a country through its fiction, essays, and poetry; I appreciate the articles I’ve seen lately that focus on materials written by Ukrainians and/or about Ukrainians. If you read the article, you’ll find several other reading suggestions.
Meanwhile, in an article from Publishers Weekly, comes this news: “Ukrainian publishers are turning to Polish and Lithuanian partners to print and distribute books for the more than three million Ukrainian refugees that have fled the war in their country. Ranok, Urbino, and VSL, among the most prominent Ukrainian houses, and have already begun printing in Poland, while the Ukrainian Book institute is working with smaller Ukrainian houses to collect print-ready files to send to printers abroad.”
You’ll find some audiobooks to listen to from this article in the Seattle Times: “Dive beneath the surface of the Ukraine-Russia War with these 6 audiobooks”
As David Wright says in the lead, “As all eyes turn to Ukraine, audiobook listeners can dive beneath the roiling surface of each day’s news to better understand the history, culture and experiences of Ukrainians and Ukrainian Americans.”