Ukrainian dispatches from the heart of Kiev
-16°C, sunlight, silence. I drove the children to school, then went to see the revolution. I walked between the tents. Talked with revolutionaries. They were weary today. The air was thick with the smell of old campfires.
Ukraine Diaries is acclaimed writer Andrey Kurkov’s first-hand account of the ongoing crisis in his country. From his flat in Kiev, just five hundred yards from Independence Square, Kurkov can smell the burning barricades and hear the sounds of grenades and gunshot.
Kurkov’s diaries begin on the first day of the pro-European protests in November, and describe the violent clashes in the Maidan, the impeachment of Yanukovcyh, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the separatist uprisings in the east of Ukraine. Going beyond the headlines, they give vivid insight into what it’s like to live through – and try to make sense of – times of intense political unrest.
“Andrey Kurkov's Ukraine Diaries offer a unique personal insight into one of the world's most complex trouble spots. The fact that Kurkov lives in the heart of Kiev, and the fact that he can write so well, give an eloquence and immediacy to his account of day to day life in the teeth of a crisis. This is history, with feeling”
“[Kurkov writes] in the style of an informed but convivial flaneur, and his entries crackle with irony and humour”
Marcus Tanner, Independent
“Controlled rage and wry wit, nicely captured in Sam Taylor’s translation… Kurkov’s diaries are valuable”
“As his diaries make clear, real life has outstripped his blackly comic fiction for surreal detail, political cynicism and latent menace”
Ben Hoyle, The Times, Book of the week
“The power...lies in the interweaving of the extraordinary and the mundane”
John Thornhill, Financial Times
“What it lacks in first-hand reportage…it makes up for in atmosphere. We learn what the revolution is like not from the point of view of the demonstrators but from the ordinary citizens, who are left to pick up the pieces after the foreign television crews have gone home”
Colin Freeman, Telegraph
“[Kurkov’s diaries] seamlessly mix the everyday with the seminal and provide a fascinating guide to how Ukraine has found itself where it is… The prose is charming… I am glad Kurkov will be at the centre of the events as they unfold, ready to distil both tragedy and delight into his pithy, humane prose”
Oliver Bullough, Observer
“Those 500 yards [from Kurkov’s flat to the Maidan] permit Kurkov to take a thoughtful stance towards evolutionary moments, their goals, and the people who come to the fore at such times”
Padraig Belton, Times Literary Supplement