Read these 10 Books about Ukraine
Reading Books is the Answer – but what was the question?
What is happening in Ukraine and don’t the Russians love their children too? Why are Russian citizens also objecting to the war, and was Ukraine a different country? If so why is the Virgin of Kyiv, that 11th century icon in Moscow? With the bombardment of news and fake news, it’s time for some literary relief, the type you can only get from books. Here is my list of basic reading to understand the Ukraine, it’s history, and it’s tragedy.
My excuse is that in my far away youth, Ukraine was part of that great red glob that covered half of Europe and all of Asia north of that other red blob, China. The USSR or “Russia” was indeed, India’s only great power friend. For some reason, the Western democracies rejected India’s then young and vibrantly free democracy in favour of other dictatorships and religious fanatics.
It’s time to me to remedy my ignorance. So here is my list of books about Ukraine, from the past to its present.
Meanwhile, also please pray for Ukraine and its beautiful tortured people.
The Museum of Abandoned Secrets
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.
Powerful, off-beat stories about women living in the shadow of the now-frozen, now-thawing war in Ukraine
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.
I will die in a foreign land
Over the course of a volatile Ukrainian winter, four lives are forever changed by the Euromaidan protests. Katya is an Ukrainian-American doctor stationed at a makeshift medical clinic in St. Michael’s Monastery; Misha is an engineer originally from Pripyat, who has lived in Kyiv since his wife’s death; Slava is a fiery young activist whose past hardships steel her determination in the face of persecution; and Aleksandr Ivanovich, a former KGB agent, who climbs atop a burned-out police bus at Independence Square and plays the piano.
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.
The Gates of Europe
Located at the western edge of the Eurasian steppe, Ukraine has long been the meeting place of empires – Roman to Ottoman, Habsburg to Russian – and they all left their imprint on the landscape, the language and the people living within these shifting borders. In this authoritative book, Serhii Plokhy traces the history of Ukraine from the arrival of the Vikings in the tenth century to the current Russian invasion.
On 26 April 1986, at 1.23am, a series of explosions shook the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Flames lit up the sky and radiation escaped to contaminate the land and poison the people for years to come. While officials tried to hush up the accident, Svetlana Alexievich spent years collecting testimonies from survivors – clean-up workers, residents, firefighters, resettlers, widows, orphans – crafting their voices into a haunting oral history of fear, anger and uncertainty, but also dark humour and love. A chronicle of the past and a warning for our nuclear future, Chernobyl Prayer shows what it is like to bear witness, and remember in a world that wants you to forget.
On our Way Home from the Revolution
In 2014 Sonya Bilocerkowycz is a tourist at a deadly revolution. At first she is enamored with the Ukrainians’ idealism, which reminds her of her own patriotic family. But when the romantic revolution melts into a war with Russia, she becomes disillusioned, prompting a return home to the US and the diaspora community that raised her. As the daughter of a man who studies Ukrainian dissidents for a living, the granddaughter of war refugees, and the great-granddaughter of a gulag victim, Bilocerkowycz has inherited a legacy of political oppression. But what does it mean when she discovers a missing page from her family’s survival story—one that raises questions about her own guilt?
In 1932-33, nearly four million Ukrainians died of starvation, having been deliberately deprived of food. It is one of the most devastating episodes in the history of the twentieth century. With unprecedented authority and detail, Red Famine investigates how this happened, who was responsible, and what the consequences were. It is the fullest account yet published of these terrible events.
So They Remember
When we think of Nazi camps, names such as Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and Dachau come instantly to mind. Yet the history of the Holocaust extends beyond those notorious sites. In the former territory of Transnistria, located in occupied Soviet Ukraine and governed by Nazi Germany’s Romanian allies, many Jews perished due to disease, starvation, and other horrific conditions. Through an intimate blending of memoir, history, and reportage, So They Remember illuminates this oft-overlooked chapter of the Holocaust.
Hip Hop Ukraine
In Hip Hop Ukraine, we enter a world of urban music and dance competitions, hip hop parties, and recording studio culture to explore unique sites of interracial encounters among African students, African immigrants, and local populations in eastern Ukraine. Adriana N. Helbig combines ethnographic research with music, media, and policy analysis to examine how localized forms of hip hop create social and political spaces where an interracial youth culture can speak to issues of human rights and racial equality.