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.
Everything Flows is the last novel by Vasily Grossman, written after the Soviet authorities suppressed his extraordinary epic of besieged Stalingrad, and the besieged modern soul, Life and Fate. The central story is simple yet moving: Ivan Grigoryevich, the hero, is released after thirty years in the Soviet camps and has to struggle to find a place for himself in an unfamiliar world. This story, however, provides only the bare bones of a work written with prophetic urgency and in the shadow of death. Interspersing Ivan's story with a variety of other stories and essays and even a miniature play, Grossman writes boldly and uncompromisingly about Russian history and the 'Russian soul, ' about Lenin and Stalin, about Moscow prisons in 1937, and about the fate of women in the Gulag, and in the play he subtly dramatizes the pressures that force people to compromise with an evil regime. His chapter about the least-known act of genocide of the last century-the Terror Famine that led to the deaths of around five million Ukrainian peasants in 1932 - 33-is unbearably lucid, comparable in its power only to the last cantos of Dante's Inferno.
The novel is based on the traditional Ukrainian folk song "Oi, ne khody Hrytsiu". The tragic story of a young man torn between two women and poisoned by one of them lends itself readily to literary interpretations. But in Kobylianska's interpretation, this is far more than a melodramatic love story with a predictable ending. It is not merely the love story of Tetiana and Hryts: it is a story of the eternal conflict between passion and reason, between personal happiness and social constraints, between freedom and its practical limitations. Kobylianska turns the love story into a feminist exploration of the psychology of two strong women, Tetiana and her mentor (and Hryts's mother) Mavra. Like figures in a classical Greek tragedy, Kobylianska's characters move in a graceful, stylized narrative ballet toward their inevitable fate, leading the reader into an ever-deepening thematic exploration of human emotions and social conventions.
Table of Contents: Foreword -- Introduction -- Selection from the lyrical poems -- Selections from the dramatic poems and dramas : On the Ruins -- Babylonian captivity -- The Noblewoman -- Forest Song -- Martianus the Advocate.
Zhadan (Mesopotamia) presents a nightmarish, raw vision of contemporary eastern Ukraine under siege from Russian-backed separatists. Pasha, a bespectacled teacher with a heart condition and an injured hand, keeps his head down, avoids politics, and just does his job. One January day, he must pick up his nephew from the local orphanage (where his unmarried, stressed-out sister, a railway stewardess, had left the epileptic boy years ago) and bring him home. On the way there, Pasha encounters roads destroyed by shelling, public transportation suspended, utility and cellphone service disrupted, and the train station crowded with stranded women, children, and old men. After reluctantly leading a ragtag assortment of vulnerable people on a dangerous trek back to their neighborhood and an uncertain future, Pasha reaches the orphanage and takes the surprisingly mature 13-year-old on a terrifying trek back home, with constant threats from mortar rounds, automatic-rifle fire, tanks, packs of starving dogs, menacing soldiers, and desperate civilians. With a poet’s sense of lyricism, Zhadan employs descriptions of weather and the sky as literal physical challenges but also as powerful metaphors for lack of transparency, justice, and truth, and the translators deserve credit for rendering Zhadan’s prose into colloquial English. This unblinkingly reveals a country’s devastation and its people’s passionate determination to survive.
"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 wartorn 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."
Studies of Eastern European literature have largely confined themselves to a single language, culture, or nationality. In this highly original book, Glaser shows how writers working in Russian, Ukrainian, and Yiddish during much of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century were in intense conversation with one another. The marketplace was both the literal locale at which members of these different societies and cultures interacted with one another and a rich subject for representation in their art. It is commonplace to note the influence of Gogol on Russian literature, but Glaser shows him to have been a profound influence on Ukrainian and Yiddish literature as well. And she shows how Gogol must be understood not only within the context of his adopted city of St. Petersburg but also that of his native Ukraine. As Ukrainian and Yiddish literatures developed over this period, they were shaped by their geographical and cultural position on the margins of the Russian Empire. As distinctive as these writers may seem from one another, they are further illuminated by an appreciation of their common relationship to Russia. Glaser's book paints a far more complicated portrait than scholars have traditionally allowed of Jewish (particularly Yiddish) literature in the context of Eastern European and Russian culture.
Bridging East and West explores the literary evolution of Ol'ha Kobylians'ka, one of Ukraine's foremost modernist writers. Investigating themes of feminism, populism, Nietzscheanism, nationalism, and fascism in her works, this study presents an alternative intellectual genealogy in turn-of-the-century European arts and letters whose implications reach far beyond the field of Ukrainian studies.
For feminist scholars, Bridging East and West makes accessible a thorough account of a central, yet overlooked, woman writer who served as a model and a contributor within a major cultural tradition. For those working in Victorian studies or comparative fascism and for those interested in Nietzsche and his influence on European intellectuals, Kobylians'ka emerges in this study as an unlikely, but no less active, trailblazer in the social and aesthetic theories that would define European debates about culture, science, and politics in the first half of the twentieth century. For those interested in questions of transnationalism and intersectionality, this study's discussion of Kobylians'ka's hybrid cultural identity and philosophical program exemplifies cultural interchange and irreducible complexities of cultural identity.
George S.N. Luckyj provides a survey of the main literary trends of Ukraine, its chief authors, and their works, as seem against the historical background of the present century. Luckyj provides information about literary developments both in Ukraine and in the Ukrainian emigration and diaspora.
This pioneering study is the first to show how Jews have been seen through modern Ukrainian literature. Myroslav Shkandrij uses evidence found within that literature to challenge the established view that the Ukrainian and Jewish communities were antagonistic toward one another and interacted only when compelled to do so by economic necessity. Jews in Ukrainian Literaturesynthesizes recent research in the West and in the Ukraine, where access to Soviet-era literature has become possible only in the recent, post-independence period. Many of the works discussed are either little-known or unknown in the West. By demonstrating how Ukrainians have imagined their historical encounters with Jews in different ways over the decades, this account also shows how the Jewish presence has contributed to the acceptance of cultural diversity within contemporary Ukraine.
Where Currents Meet, Tanya Zaharchenko’s path-breaking study of literature and cultural memory, moves decisively beyond the simplistic view of a post-Soviet Ukraine divided between east and west. It positions the Ukrainian and Russian components of cultural experience in the country’s east as elements of a complex continuum. Combining insights from memory studies and border studies, Zaharchenko analyzes a generation of younger writers in the city of Kharkiv—a “doubletake generation” that came of age at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse and now revisits this experience through fiction. In the works of Serhiy Zhadan, Andreĭ Krasniashchikh, Yuri Tsaplin, Oleh Kotsarev, and others the author reveals how borderlands and frontiers, both geographical and conceptual, acquire zonal qualities of their own as these writers navigate the historical legacy they have inherited.