A disillusioned American veteran volunteers for the war in Ukraine to reconnect with a woman from his past in this timely and powerful novel from a “vital” (The Washington Post) voice in contemporary literature.

Thirty-three-year-old Luke “Pax” Paxton has been out of the US military for almost a decade, adrift in an America he no longer understands, haunted by a mistake made in an unforgiving moment of combat. When an old army friend suggests they travel to Ukraine to help fight against the Russian invasion, he agrees, and together they cross an ocean to Lviv, the City of Lions. But Pax isn’t merely going out of the goodness of his heart. He carries with him the address of a former love, a Ukrainian woman named Svitlana whom he had known as a young soldier and has been unable to forget.

His feverish journey through Lviv takes him down winding and missile-cratered streets as he forms surprising connections with everyone from humanitarian volunteers to displaced Ukrainians and ordinary citizens trying to survive. And when Pax gets the chance to save someone dear to Svitlana, he just might be able to correct the wrongs that have wracked him with guilt for so many years.

Inspired by the author’s time in Ukraine, Daybreak is a deeply moving love story, as well as an exploration of the struggle to find meaning and redemption in the midst of war.

About the author(s)

Matt Gallagher is a US Army veteran and the author of four books, including the novels Youngblood and Daybreak. His work has appeared in Esquire, ESPN, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and Wired, among other places. A graduate of Wake Forest and Columbia, he is the recipient of the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Fellowship, a Sewanee Writers’ Conference Fellowship, and was selected as the 2022 Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum Writer-in-Residence. He lives with his family in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


“Gallagher’s plot artfully connects the present-day conflict to previous wars by referencing such stories as A Farewell to Arms and Casablanca without sacrificing a sense of urgency. This harrowing account of life in a besieged Ukraine reads like a bulletin from the front lines.” —Publishers Weekly

"Equal parts love story and war story, Daybreak is a profound meditation on idealism and its costs, a vital novel that arrives at a perilous time."—Elliot Ackerman, New York Times bestselling author of 2034: A Novel of the Next World War

"Daybreak takes the reader on a thrilling journey through war-time Ukraine. The plot moves at the speed of a road movie, intensifying every detail of the story, each word spoken by the characters who may well be based on people the author met during his recent trips to Ukraine's front lines. Shocking and totally believable."—Andrey Kurkov, author of Grey Bees

"Matt Gallagher has written an important and timely novel, which works as a powerful testimonial to Ezra Pound’s statement that literature is news that remains news. Daybreak is history and memory at its most raw, intimate, and brilliant, and is a book to be widely read and discussed."—Yiyun Li, author of The Book of Goose