Whether it's reading books by Ukrainian authors to better understand Ukrainian history or giving to local organizations with relief funds, supporting the Ukrainian community doesn't have to be hard.
Fictional Books Set in Ukraine
The Last Green Valley by Mark T. Sullivan: As Stalin's forces push into Ukraine, siblings Emil and Adeline Martel must make a terrible decision: Do they wait for the Soviet intrusion and risk being sent to Siberia? Or do they reluctantly follow the Nazi officers who have pledged to protect "pure-blood" Germans? Caught between two warring forces, they will have to overcome horrific trials to pursue their hope of immigrating to the West and seeing their dreams realized.
I Will Die in a Foreign Land by Kalani Pickhart: This novel follows four unique individuals over the course of a volatile Ukrainian winter, their lives are forever changed by the Euromaidan protests. Katya is an Ukrainian-American doctor; Misha is an engineer originally from Pripyat; Slava is a young activist; and Aleksandr Ivanovich is a former KGB agent. As Katya, Misha, Slava, and Aleksandr's lives become intertwined, they each seek their own solace during an especially tumultuous and violent period.
Good Citizens Need Not Fear by Maria Reva: Inspired by her and her family's own experiences in Ukraine, Reva brings the black absurdism of early Shteyngart and the sly interconnectedness of Anthony Marra's Tsar of Love and Techno to a collection that is as clever as it is heartfelt. From moments of intense paranoia to surprising tenderness and back again, this novel explores what it is to be an individual amid the roiling forces of history.
A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert: November 1941. A small Ukrainian town is overrun by the SS. A father anxiously awaits word of his two sons, a young woman must confront truths about those closest to her, a German engineer is faced with a crime unfolding behind the lines, and a boy determined to survive must throw in his lot with strangers. As their stories weave together, each of these characters comes to know the compromises demanded by survival, the oppressive power of fear, and the possibility of courage in the face of terror.
Tom Clancy's Op-Center: Dark Zone by George Galdorisi and Jeff Rovin: Former US Ambassador to the Ukraine Douglas Flannery meets with an old friend and former spy who is seeking his help to thwart a Russian plan to overrun her native Ukraine. Moments later, his friend is brutally murdered. Director Chase Williams and his team have been following events as Ukraine and the Op-Center must respond to the rapidly unfolding crisis before the U.S. is forced to take sides in a conflict that could change history.
Daughters of the Resistance by Lana Kortchik: While on a train headed for labor camps under Nazi command, Lisa, a young Russian woman, is rescued by resistance fighters and falls in love with Maxim, one of the battalion members, who has dark secrets, while Maxim's wife, Irina, trapped in a government job back in Kyïv, risks her life to help her neighbors, and both women must face a hard decision.
Mother Country by Irina Reyn: Nadia's daily life in south Brooklyn is filled with small indignities, and as an ethnic Russian, she finds herself feuding with western Ukrainian immigrants who think she is a traitor. On television, Vladimir Putin speaks of the "reunification" of Crimea and Russia, the Ukrainian president makes unconvincing promises about a united Ukraine, and American politicians are divided over the fear of immigration. When Nadia finds out that her daughter, detained by the Department of Homeland Security, has lost access to the medicine she needs to survive, she takes matters into her own hands.
Death of a Nightingale by Agnete Friis and Lene Kaaberbøl: Natasha Doroshenko, a Ukrainian woman who has been convicted for the attempted murder of her Danish ex-fiancé, escapes police custody on her way to an interrogation in Copenhagen’s police headquarters. Danish Red Cross nurse Nina Borg has followed Natasha’s case for years now, and just can’t see the young mother as a vicious killer. But in her effort to protect Natasha’s daughter and discover the truth, Nina realizes there is much she didn’t know about Natasha and her past.
Penguin Lost by Andrey Kurkov: Viktor Zolotaryov sneaks back into Kiev under an assumed identity to find Misha, his penguin, whom he fears has fallen into the hands of the criminal mob looking for Viktor himself. Determined to do what it takes, Viktor falls in with a Mafia boss who employs him in an election-rigging campaign, in return for introducing Viktor to other mobsters who can help him find Misha. What ensues is for Viktor both a quest and an odyssey of atonement, and for the reader, a stirring mix of the comic and the tragic, the heartbreaking and the inspiring.
The Wine of Solitude by Irène Némirovsky: From the hot Kiev summers to the cruel winters of St Petersburg and eventually to springtime in Paris, the would-be writer Hélène blossoms, despite her mother's neglect, into a clear-eyed observer of the life around her. This is a powerful tale of disillusionment-the story of an upbringing that produces a young woman as hard as a diamond, prepared to wreak a shattering revenge on her mother.
Nonfiction Books About Ukraine
In Wartime: Stories from Ukraine by Tim Judah: The author lays bare the events that have turned neighbors against one another and mired Europe's second-largest country in a conflict seemingly without end. Judah talks to everyone from politicians to poets, pensioners, and historians. Listening to their clashing explanations, he interweaves their stories to create a sweeping, tragic portrait of a country fighting a war of independence from Russia--twenty-five years after the collapse of the USSR.
Lost Kingdom: The Quest for Empire and the Making of the Russian Nation by Serhii Plokhy: In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimea and attempted to seize a portion of Ukraine. Spanning over 500 years, from the end of the Mongol rule to the present day, Plokhy shows how leaders from Ivan the Terrible to Joseph Stalin to Vladimir Putin exploited existing forms of identity, warfare, and territorial expansion to achieve imperial supremacy. An authoritative and masterful account of Russian nationalism, this work chronicles the story behind Russia's belligerent empire-building quest.
Mamushka: Recipes from Ukraine and Eastern Europe by Olia Hercules: Featuring personality and panache, this cookbook showcases the cuisine from Ukraine and beyond, weaving together vibrant food with descriptive narratives and stunning lifestyle photography. This is a celebration of the food, flavors, and heritage of Eastern Europe—from the Black Sea to Baku, Kiev to Kazakhstan with over 100 recipes for fresh, delicious, and unexpected dishes.
I'll Never Change My Name: An Immigrant's American Dream from Ukraine to the USA to Dancing with the Stars by Valentin Chmerkovskiy: Chmerkovskiy, the world championship-winning and beloved Dancing with the Stars ballroom dancer invites fans into his life as never before, sharing the experiences, including the failures and successes, that have shaped him, from his early childhood in Ukraine to growing up as an immigrant in the U.S. to his rise to international fame. Inspiring, heartfelt, and compulsively readable Val’s memoir is filled with the moments that have moved and shaped him, and is sure to touch readers’ hearts as well.
Ukrainians of Chicagoland by Myron B. Kuropas: At the beginning of the 20th century, immigrants from Ukraine came to Chicago seeking work, and in 1905, a Ukrainian American religio-cultural community, now officially named Ukrainian Village, was formally established. Filled with images and firsthand accounts of the immigrant experience, this Images of America book is one-of-a-kind.
Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz by Omer Bartov: For more than two decades Bartov, whose mother was raised in Buczacz, traveled extensively throughout the region, scouring archives and amassing thousands of documents rarely seen until now. With hundreds of first-person testimonies by victims, perpetrators, collaborators, and rescuers, this work profoundly changes our understanding of the social dynamics of mass killing and the nature of the Holocaust as a whole. A fascinating and cautionary examination of how genocide can take root at the local level as seen through the eastern European border town of Buczacz during World War II.
Red Famine: Stalin's War on Ukraine by Anne Applebaum: Applebaum proves what has long been suspected: after a series of rebellions unsettled the province, Stalin set out to destroy the Ukrainian peasantry. Devastating and definitive this work captures the horror of ordinary people struggling to survive extraordinary evil. Today, Russia, the successor to the Soviet Union, has placed Ukrainian independence in its sights once more. Applebaum’s compulsively readable narrative recalls one of the worst crimes of the twentieth century, and shows how it may foreshadow a new threat to the political order in the twenty-first.
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