Ex­pa­tri­ate au­thors find in­spi­ra­tion in Ukraine

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY VIC­TO­RIA PE­TRENKO PE­[email protected]

The Eu­ro­Maidan Rev­o­lu­tion, Rus­sia’s war against Ukraine, the fate of Crimean Tatars, bor­shch and mu­sic. These are some of the themes that ex­pa­tri­ate au­thors have fo­cused on in their books about Ukraine. All of them are pub­lished in English, ex­cept for Mauro Vo­erzio’s book in Ital­ian.

Here’s a sam­pling:

Mauro Vo­erzio

“An­gels of Maidan” (2014, pub­lished in Ital­ian, $4 for Kin­dle edi­tion at Ama­zon)

S ince 2007, Ital­ian en­tre­pre­neur Mauro Vo­erzio, 47, has been op­er­at­ing a travel agency in Kyiv while split­ting his time be­tween Italy and Ukraine. When the Eu­ro­Maidan Rev­o­lu­tion be­gan in November 2013, he couldn’t stand aside. “We thought that it was the be­gin­ning of real changes in the coun­try,” he re­calls. Vo­erzio spent two months on Maidan Neza­lezh­nosti, pho­tograph­ing and mak­ing videos. At the end of last year, Vo­erzio re­leased his first book with the aim of telling Ital­ians the truth about the rev­o­lu­tion in Ukraine, “Gli An­geli di Maidan” (“An­gels of Maidan,” Sim­pli­cis­simus Book Farm).

“To­day’s govern­ment in Kyiv doesn’t care much about pro­pa­ganda, es­pe­cially in for­eign coun­tries. In Italy our TV chan­nels use ma­te­ri­als from Rus­sia To­day, Novorossiy­a TV, ITAR-TASS, and noth­ing ar­rives from Ukrainian jour­nal­ists or of­fi­cial chan­nels,” Vo­erzio says.

Diane Chan­dler

“The Road to Donetsk” (2015)

Debu t British nov­el­ist Diane Chan­dler over­saw Ukraine aid pro­grams at the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion for sev­eral years and spent much time in Ukraine be­tween 1994 and 2000. On Jan. 1, Chan­dler has pub­lished the novel “The Road to Donetsk” (2015, Black­bird Dig­i­tal Books, Lon­don). It is a fic­tional love story that takes place in the “wild east” of Ukraine in 1994, “in a world where mil­lions of dol­lars can ei­ther wash away in a mo­ment’s cor­rup­tion, or turn around the lives of the need­i­est.” Chan­dler was im­pressed by “in­cred­i­bly re­source­ful and in­tel­li­gent” Ukrainian women, who are the heart of her novel. “The Road to Donetsk” be­gins with a pro­logue that touches on Rus­sia’s war in the Don­bas. The writer is sad­dened by the con­flict and of­ten thinks about what has be­come of the Ukraini­ans she knew back in the 1990s.

J. Michael Wil­lard

“The Legacy of Moon Pie Jef­fer­son,” “Ki l ling Friends,” “Ura­nia: A Fa­ble” and


Wh e n J. Michael Wil­lard came to Kyiv in 1994, he planned to stay a year. In­stead, he’s now been here for more than two decades, find­ing in­spi­ra­tion for his writ­ing. Wil­lard has au­thored 11 books, fic­tion and non-fic­tion. The most re­cent, “The Legacy of Moon Pie Jef­fer­son” (2014, Vi­dalia House), is a po­lit­i­cal thriller, a story of the as­sas­si­na­tion of a U.S. se­na­tor and his adopted daugh­ter, as she em­barks on a mis­sion to find her father’s killer. The events take place in the U.S. and Ukraine. Wil­lard plans to write a novel about Rus­sia’s war against Ukraine. He is also work­ing on two books: a novel called “A Mean Old Man,” about a jour­nal­ist who is near­ing re­tire­ment and can’t un­der­stand all the changes in the news­pa­per world, and an up­date of the non-fic­tion “The Flack,” to be reti­tled” The Per­cep­tion Fal­lacy.”

Raisa Marika Sto­hyn

“Baba’s Kitchen: Ukrainian Soul Food With Sto­ries From the Vil­lage” (2014) A writer, singer and horse trainer from Canada, Ra isa Marika Sto­hyn, known as Raisa Stone in North Amer­ica, spent 50 years col­lect­ing life sto­ries and cooking recipes from Ukrainian sur­vivors of Soviet and Nazi ter­ror, in­clud­ing her own fam­ily that fled Ukraine in 1940s, es­cap­ing the Soviet ter­ror. Stone says in her web­site that she ate pureed bor­shch as baby food & cut dough cir­cles for varenyky as soon as she could reach the ta­ble top.

In Fe­bru­ary 2014, Stone re­leased the sec­ond ad­di­tion of her book “Baba’s Kitchen: Ukrainian Soul Food With Sto­ries From the Vil­lage” (2014, Creates­pace, U.S.), which Canada Coun­cil for the arts has as­signed as both a lit­er­ary work and a Ukrainian cook­book. On the 384 pages of the “Baba’s Kitchen” the reader finds 190 recipes, as well as sto­ries about sur­vival from Soviet and Nazi ter­ror. Raisa’s nar­ra­tor, Baba (Grandma), teaches read­ers sim­ple folk reme­dies and Slavic curses such as, “May you be kicked by a duck!”

Wil­liam Jay Risch

“The Ukrainian West: Cul­ture and the Fate of Em­pire in Soviet Lviv”

A pro­fes­sor of his­tory at Ge­or­gia Col­lege in Milledgevi­lle, U.S., Wil­liam Jay Risch, first came to Ukraine in 1998 to do dis­ser­ta­tion re­search in Lviv. He stayed for two years do­ing archival re­search and con­duct­ing in­ter­views. And came back again, in 2002, to teach dur­ing tw o years the East­ern Euro­pean his­tory at Lviv Na­tional Univer­sity. As a re­sult of his re­searches, he pub­lished a monograph about cul­tural life of Lviv af­ter World War II. “The Ukrainian West: Cul­ture and the Fate of Em­pire in Soviet Lviv” (2001, Har­vard Univer­sity Press) has re­ceived fa­vor­able re­views in lead­ing aca­demic jour­nals. His re­searches on hip­pies and rock mu­sic in Lviv was in­cluded into col­lec­tion of es­says “Youth and Rock in the Soviet Bloc: Youth Cul­tures, Mu­sic, and the State in Rus­sia and East­ern Europe” (2015, Lex­ing­ton Books).

Cur­rently Risch is writ­ing a his­tory of the Eu­ro­Maidan Rev­o­lu­tion protests and their af­ter­math in Ukraine, based on 100 in­ter­views and his own ob­ser­va­tions.

Kat Argo

“The Shadow of the Bear: From Ukrainian Ac­tivists to ProRus­sian Sep­a­ratists”

In 2014, Kat Argo took a break from her ca­reer as a gove r nment an­a­lyst, packed her be­long­ings and wen t to Kyiv dur­ing the very heart of the Eu­ro­Maidan pro tests and there­after to the war-torned east. Argo saw ar­tillery bom­bard­ments, broke bread with Rus­sian sep­a­ratists, met for­eign fight­ers and vis­ited in­jured Ukrainian sol­diers at the hos­pi­tal. As a re­sult, the book “The Shadow of the Bear: From Ukrainian Ac­tivists to ProRus­sian Sep­a­ratists” (2014, Eat Your Se­rial Press, New York) ap­peared. Au­thor claims its main goal is to show what ef­fect the war had on or­di­nary peo­ple.

“The cri­sis is com­pli­cated, as the peo­ple are in­volved, and can’t be cov­ered in a cou­ple thou­sand words. I needed a book to show how ev­ery­thing was in­ter­linked,” Argo ex­plains. The au­thor claims she tries to be ob­jec­tive as pos­si­ble, and show both sides of the war as fairly as she can.

Wal­ter Orr Scott

“Arise, Ukraine” (2014)

Wal­ter Orr Scott vis­ited Ukraine sev­eral times be­fore be­com­ing a per­ma­nent res­i­dent in Oc­to­ber 2011. He lived in Kyiv for six months, but found it too busy. Now he re­sides in a small town of Zmerynka in Vin­nyt­sia Oblast, which he calls a good place for writ­ing.

In 2013, some of Scott’s po­etry was pub­lished in “Charm­ing Spring Waters,” a col­lec­tion of 54 Ukrainian po­ets with him be­ing the only for­eigner in­cluded. In 2014 Scott re­leased a po­etry book “Arise, Ukraine”. All the pro­ceeds from dis­tri­bu­tion of the book go to the Ukrainian ser­vice­men wounded in Don­bas. Now he is work­ing on a his­tor­i­cal novel, a three-part tril­ogy, which cov­ers 2,000 years and takes place mostly in Ukraine.

Lily Hyde

“Dream Land” (2008)

For more than 10 years, Ukraine was the sec­ond home for British writer and jour­nal­ist Lily Hyde, a for­mer Kyiv Post staff writer and cur­rent con­trib­u­tor. In 2008 Hyde left Ukraine but came back in 2014, when she found it im­pos­si­ble to watch the events from a dis­tance. Her ma­te­ri­als have been pub­lished in the in­ter­na­tional press, in­clud­ing The Times, Newsweek and For­eign Pol­icy. Her first novel, “Riding Icarus” ( 2008, Walker Books, Lon­don), was set in Ukraine. Her most fa­mous book, “Dream Land” (2008, Walker Books, Lon­don), is about Crimean Tatars and is en­dorsed by Amnesty In­ter­na­tional as con­tribut­ing to a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of hu­man rights. Now the au­thor ad­mits she could not imag­ine that the book will be­come so rel­e­vant again, as the Crimean Tatars suf­fer from an­nex­a­tion of Crimea.

“I never guessed “Dream Land” could be­come such a top­i­cal book. I was sure that the sit­u­a­tion for Crimean Tatars could not go back to how it was in the early 1990s, or even 1944,” she says. Cur­rently Hyde is work­ing on two more Ukraine nov­els: about a mail-or­der bride in a Ukrainian vil­lage and about the “makhnovsch­yna,” a brief rule of the gangs of Nestor Makhno in Ukraine in 1918.

Wil­liam Jay Rish dur­ing the Eu­ro­Maidan Rev­o­lu­tion demon­stra­tions on Maidan Neza­lezh­nosti in Kyiv on Dec. 19, 2013.(Cour­tesy)

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