Thursday, May 26, 2022

Seven Ukrainian Novels Show What Ukrainians were Like on the Eve of Putin’s War

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 11 – For many countries, works of fiction are a better guide to what people are like than any sociological polls or scholarly investigations. Because that is so, the Meduza news agency has offered a list of seven Ukrainian novels that describe the lives of Ukrainians in major cities in the period before Putin launched his war against them.

            As the news agency points out, all of the authors whose current location it has been able to establish have been displaced by the war, with many of them now living in the West, a pattern that highlights how deeply part of their nation they are (

            The seven books, available in Ukrainian and in Russian translation are:

Sergey Zhadan, Voroshilovgrad (Moscow, 2012)

Mariya Galina, Autochthonians (Moscow, 2015)

Marina Lewycka, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (London, 2005)

Henry Lion Aldy (a pseudonym for Dmitry Gromov and Oleg Ladyzhensky), A Hero Must Be Alone (Moscow, 2014)

Aleksey Gedeoov, An Accidental Guest (Kyiv, 2016)

Vladimir Rafeyenko, Longitude of Days (Kyiv, 2017)

And Marina and Sergey Dyachenko, Vita Nostra (Moscow, 2007).

            Only Lewycka’s is available in Western languages – in her case, both English and German. The rest very much deserve to be.

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