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10 books that will help you understand Ukraine

Yaroslava Yaroslavska



Дата публікації

   How not to lose understanding of reality amid the chaos of stereotypes, fakes, and myths?

   The morphology of Russian propaganda is actively parasitizing, trying to spread false narratives through both the media and cultural products. It should be understood that the cultural front line is an important tool to counter the retransmission of Russia's imperial plans. The cultural war is invisible to the naked eye, but very effective.

  Literature is a powerful long-range weapon. Quite often, through books, we form our principles, beliefs, worldviews, etc. To better understand Ukraine, its history, current events, we have formed an up-to-date list of books for you.

  • ✧  Yaroslav Hrytsak. Overcoming the Past: Global history of Ukraine


       Yaroslav Hrytsak is a Ukrainian historian and public intellectual. He is a professor at UCU and an honorary doctor of the National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy” and has taught at Harvard and Columbia Universities.

        “Overcoming the Past: Global history of Ukraine” is the result of 15 years of work by the author. At the center is the search for the country's stable development and understanding of responsibility within the civic change-making position.

       It is said that history does not teach anything, but it happens precisely because knowing and understanding are different things.

       The book is not about a historical narrative, but about trying to understand why did the general trends have to turn out to be such, and what can this mean for our future?

  • ✧ Serhii Plokhii. The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine


       Serhii Plokhii is a professor of history and director of the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University.

       This book is a kind of essay on the history of Ukraine from the time of Herodotus to the collapse of the USSR and the current Russian-Ukrainian war. The author shows how different models of Ukrainian self-consciousness and vision of Ukrainian statehood gradually emerged, evolved, and competed with each other.

  •   ✧ Timothy D. Snyder. The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America


       Timothy D. Snyder - American historian, writer, and public intellectual. Professor at Yale University, a specialist in the history of Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th century.

       The author analyzes the complex and dramatic transformations in Russia, Ukraine, Europe, and the United States from 2011 to 2016. This is a book about the phenomenon of post-truth in the modern world and the global challenges it has provoked.

  • ✧ Sofiia Andrukhovych. Amadoca.


      Sofiia Andrukhovych is a recognized Ukrainian writer. Author of famous novels “Old People”, “Salmon”, and “Felix Austria”.

      A volume of more than eight hundred pages about the war in the East, the Holocaust, the terror of the first half of the 20th century, and memory as the ground from which everything comes and the past that cannot be lost.

       “While working on “Amadoca” and seeking additional insight into the sources of World War II, the Holocaust, or the Stalinist repression of the 1930s, I realized the hopelessness: most of those stories will forever remain unjust, painful, and immeasurable. I realized that they cannot be corrected and changed in any way. “Amadoca” is a novel about how a human needs and seeks love and how she chooses confusing paths in her search”.

  • ✧ Pavlo Kazarin. Wild West of Eastern Europe.


       Pavlo Kazarin is a Ukrainian publicist, journalist, and TV presenter. His interests include post-Soviet drift and identity issues.

       “Wild West of Eastern Europe” is the author's chronology of modern Ukrainian history.

       From the annotation: “This is an attempt to summarize everything that has changed us and everything that has remained unchanged. The war plunged Ukraine into a debate about itself. We try to understand where “they” end and “we” begin”.

       Occupation of Crimea, the war in Donbas, the era of post-truth and pandemic…

  • ✧ Oleksandr Mykhed. “I Will Mix Your Blood with Coal”. Understanding Ukrainian East.


       Oleksandr Mykhed - writer, curator of art projects, and literary scholar.

       “Why did I go to the East and immerse myself in this journey for several years? You can live a successful life in the country but never travel from North to South. Or from East to West. Everyone has this mental map of stereotypes and ideas about their country…”

       At the end of 2016, the author traveled to six cities in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and researched their modern life and stories hidden in the archives to answer the question: What is the Ukrainian East? What is hidden behind heaps and endless fields?

  • ✧  Serhii Zhadan. The Orphanage: A Novel.


       Serhii Zhadan is a Ukrainian poet, novelist, translator, and essayist.

       Author of novels “Voroshylovhrad”, “Depeche Mode”, collections of short stories “Big Mac”, “Mesopotamia”, poetry collections “Tsytatnyk”, and “Ethiopia”, and others.

       “The Orphanage” is the optics of the war in the East from the point of view of the civilians. About their choice, position, responsibility, and at the same time, the absence of all this.

       Local history of self-identity, national psychology, radical views, and liberal indifference.

       “Once you wake up, you see a fire outside the window. You didn't inflame it. But you will have to extinguish it too ... ”

  • ✧ Olesia Yaremchuk. Our others. Stories of Ukrainian Diversity


       Olesia Yaremchuk is a Ukrainian journalist and writer. “Our Others” is an attempt to tell the Ukrainian reader about communities at the border of different identities, languages, and cultures.

       Armenians, Germans, Jews, Romanians, Swedes - Ukraine is home to dozens of different peoples, and each gives it color and fullness.

       Reporter Olesia Yaremchuk traveled to many settlements, from the bustling cities of Donbas and Bukovyna to the quiet villages of Bessarabia and Transcarpathia to document how our national minorities live today and how they cherish their past.

  • ✧ Lina Kostenko. Notes of a Ukrainian Madman


      The first published novel by a prominent Ukrainian writer is a rich mix of fiction, diaries, modern chronicles, and journalism.

       From the annotation: “The novel is written on behalf of a 35-year-old computer programmer who, against the background of personal drama, meticulously, deeply, and painfully scans all the twists and turns of our globalized time. In a world of excessive (dis) information and total alienation, he - a hostage of worldly absurdities - seeks to bridge the communication gap between man and woman, family and profession, Ukraine and the World”.


✧  Bridges Instead of Walls, or What Unites Ukrainians? Compiled by Tetiana Teren


  Kateryna Kalytko, Vakhtanh Kebuladze, Zoia Kazanzhy, Pavlo Kazarin, Ostap Slyvynskyi, Larysa Denysenko, etc. 20 Ukrainian intellectuals and 20 essays on the phenomenon of public bridges and walls.

  Why do both exist? Do bridges always promote understanding? Or maybe sometimes allow you to cross boundaries? Are walls the only thing that separates you? Or sometimes protects? With whom and how to build bridges, and from whom - to defend the walls?

  Here the name explains the essence. If we reject metaphorical, so in the center - language, culture, identity, territorial unity.

 Currently, many families are forced into shelters during аir raid alerts. This is especially important at this time - to distract children from the reality of war, reduce psychological stress, and in general - comfort the baby. For this purpose, we have prepared here a list of useful resources.


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