The Ukraine

The Ukraine

A stunning debut collection of fiction and creative nonfiction by a Ukrainian writer currently fighting for his country in Kyiv.

A finalist for a 2018 BBC Book of the Year Award.

The Ukraine is a collection of twenty-six pieces that deliberately blur the line between nonfiction and fiction, conjuring the essence of a beloved country through its tastes, smells, and sounds, its small towns and big cities, its people and their compassion and indifference, simplicities and complications.

In the title story, Chapeye facetiously plays with the English misuse of the article “the” in reference to Ukraine, capturing a country as perceived from the outside, by foreigners. That pseudo-kitsch, often historically shallow, and not-quite-real Ukraine resonates because of its highly engaging and brutally candid snapshots of ordinary lives and typical places. In “One Soul per Home” an elderly woman laments that the men are dying and the young are leaving for the cities, changing the face of her small town; in “The Unscrupulous Spirit of the Provinces,” a couple of unspecified gender get stoned and go to church; and in “False Premises,” a man romanticizes his younger years working for a Soviet fishing fleet only to reconstruct his nostalgia in the face of Putin’s Russia.

"A refreshingly frank portrait of his native country.”
The Irish Times
"What the book does . . . is rally against viewing Ukrainians as simply numbers, fleeting headlines, or statistics on a screen – something that is needed more than ever. The Ukraine reminds the reader that behind every Ukrainian is a story."
The Kyiv Independent
"Candid, darkly funny observations."
—Ella Creamer, The Guardian
"In his remarkable collection of stories . . . [Chapeye] offers a refreshingly frank portrait of his native country. . . . Chapeye’s faith in the reader’s intelligence is matched by his deep empathy for his fellow citizens as they struggle with the unheroic task of making ends meet."
—Michael Cronin, The Irish Times
"Artem Chapeye shares with us a brilliant screenshot of Ukrainian life. This prose deserves all our attention."
—Andrey Kurkov, author of Grey Bees and Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv
"The Ukraine is a startling and genuinely delightful set of stories from a writer now serving in Ukraine’s Armed Forces. Artem Chapeye writes with warmth and brilliance, giving us ‘the Ukraine’ that in all its complexity, comedy, and beauty the author is now fighting to defend."
—Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment and Missionaries
"A unique vision of Ukraine, with and without the "the," Artem Chapeye's book is also a tender and melancholic confession of love, to a beloved and to a homeland by turns, a confession made all the more poignant by the premonition of death."
Liliana Corobca, author of Kinderland and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize winning novel, The Censor's Notebook
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