Seven Ukrainian books to fall in love with


We have incredible literature and four months of cold weather ahead.

Almost twenty years passed between my school reading of Ukrainian classics, which left me depressed, and my enthusiastic return to Ukrainian literature.

The return was not easy, as it began with the novel Voroshilovgrad by Serhiy Zhadan, over 200 pages of which I read for almost a month and endlessly enjoyed the language, the aptness of observations, and the subtle humor. Still, the reading process was difficult and slow.

Almost ten years and 100+ books by Ukrainian authors have passed since then, and I have put together a list of novels for a more accessible introduction to Ukrainian literature.

It's easier – not in terms of frivolous reading, but in terms of being well-written, with interesting dynamic plots and classic literary Ukrainian. This is not to say that more dialect-based Ukrainian literature is somehow less-than. However, for example, I could only overcome the brilliant Felix Austria by Sofia Andrukhovych on the third attempt because of the Galician dialect.

So, here are the seven books I recommend reading to fall in love with the Ukrainian language and literature:

1. Ask Miechka by Yevhen Kuznetsov

Summer, a dacha, and women, some of whom are well into their sixties. It sounds light and funny (and the plot is hilarious), but in fact, this novel is a deceptively light reflection on our experiences and the search for life's meanings.

2. Daughter by Tamara Horikha-Zernia

A novel about how this war began (and why it continued). The story is told through the eyes of the protagonist, who sees everything that happens in Donetsk, makes her life choices, and... acts. Beautifully written, scary to read, impossible to put down.

3. Notes of the Snub-nosed Mephistopheles by Volodymyr Vynnychenko

It is a novel by the first prime minister of Ukraine, as well as a bon vivant, nudist, and vegetarian (all in the early twentieth century), about relationships and internal ethics, or, rather, the lack thereof. Highly recommended for Kyiv intellectuals with lost moral compasses. It's very fascinating!

4. Dancing with Bones by Andriy Semyankiv

A crime story with ethical dilemmas that takes place in a morgue. It's a hypnotic process of watching the moral decline of one particular person in a whirlwind of events, people, and corpses. It reminds me a lot of Theater of the Absurd and Chase Detectives.

5. The Enchanted Desna by Oleksandr Dovzhenko

It is an incredibly beautiful and romantic text about the author's childhood on the banks of the Desna River. It is so warm, beautiful, and heartwarming. If you want to be distracted and feel a surge of optimism, this is the right book for you.

6. Garden of Gethsemane, Ivan Bahrianyi

This book is not only about falling in love with the Ukrainian language and literature, but also about admiring, appreciating, and being proud of us Ukrainians, our resilience, freedom-loving spirit, and endless will to live.

7. Anything by Max Kidruk

This is not a title; it is a recommendation to pick up any of his books and enjoy them. With fantasy, plots, twists, intrigue, skill, and the carefully measured mystical darkness of his novels.

Choose and enjoy, because we have incredible literature and four months of cold weather ahead of us.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine