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Kurkov's diaries begin on the first day of the pro-European protests in November 2013, 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 Kurkov's diaries begin on the first day of the pro-European protests in November 2013, 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.


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Kurkov's diaries begin on the first day of the pro-European protests in November 2013, 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 Kurkov's diaries begin on the first day of the pro-European protests in November 2013, 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.

30 review for Ukraine Diaries

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    In late October 2012, a Ukrainian friend of mine told me a joke. “Mike”, he said, “Putin goes to predictor. Yes?” “…Yes. Predictor, sure.” “Putin says, ‘say me please, what will happen in ten years?’ Predictor says, ‘there will be war with Ukraine.’” “Hmm.” “Putin says, ‘oh. It is not interesting. Say me please, how much will hamburger in Moscow cost in fifteen years?’ Predictor says, ‘…ten hryvnia.’” I laughed at the joke (hryvnia, by the way, is Ukrainian currency), felt vaguely unsettled by what I In late October 2012, a Ukrainian friend of mine told me a joke. “Mike”, he said, “Putin goes to predictor. Yes?” “…Yes. Predictor, sure.” “Putin says, ‘say me please, what will happen in ten years?’ Predictor says, ‘there will be war with Ukraine.’” “Hmm.” “Putin says, ‘oh. It is not interesting. Say me please, how much will hamburger in Moscow cost in fifteen years?’ Predictor says, ‘…ten hryvnia.’” I laughed at the joke (hryvnia, by the way, is Ukrainian currency), felt vaguely unsettled by what I, as an American, interpreted as its bellicose nationalism (after all, I was not a supporter of the Russian government, but surely there wouldn't be a war), and then forgot it. Looking back on myself at that time, which was only a half-decade ago, I come to a strange conclusion: I didn’t really believe that things happened. I didn’t phrase it to myself that way, of course, wasn’t conscious of it, but I was missing some sense of the essential volatility and transience of all things. I thought of life as eternity; and when earlier that year I walked around the city of Donetsk with my friend Paul, I believed that I would be able to go back there as many times as I wanted. An infinite amount of times, perhaps. Moreover, I’m almost certain that I haven’t really and truly learned the lesson. A little over a year later, of course, I realized that the joke had been in some sense true. Yanukovych refused to sign the EU association agreement, a young journalist named Mustafa Nayeem called on his Facebook friends to join him at Maidan Nezalezhnosti in the center of Kyiv, and the rest is history. Or not exactly. There has been so much disinformation about what happened during those months that it’s valuable to read a subjective account (and hopefully Kurkov’s won’t be the only one translated into English). It contains many of the pleasures of reading someone’s informal letters, including a lot of humor. Mikolayev, for example, is described as “a peaceful mafia town of drug addicts and medium-sized companies.” But above all, it’s valuable to learn how one intelligent, observant person was thinking of the events taking place at the time. If the fact that Kurkov was born in St. Petersburg and speaks Russian fluently debunks for readers some of the sillier but pernicious myths about cultural division in Ukraine, all the better. Take the book for what it is, and remember what Orwell wrote towards the end of Homage to Catalonia: "beware of all accounts of the Spanish Civil War, including my own..." Kurkov feels justifiable pride in his country for the accomplishment of Maidan, but it is not an uncomplicated or unworried pride, nor the devotion of blind allegiance. He has a nightmare about Tymoshenko, who has just been released from prison:Yesterday, Tymoshenko said she had no intention of withdrawing her candidacy and that she was already supporting Poroshenko enough by constantly buying his sweets…After that, I had an awful dream: on President Tymoshenko’s orders, the members of Pravy Sektor were being arrested in the middle of the night, and those who managed to escape took refuge in the forest. Tymoshenko had full powers, in spite of a return to the 2004 constitution, and her prime minister- completely under her control- turned obediently whenever she yelled ‘Hey!’ at him.He worries about how all of this revolutionary energy will be used, now that the revolution has (tentatively) been won, how its gains will be safeguarded and built upon, and offers what I think is a very perceptive insight into Putin’s motivations:Thousands of Maidanistas and members of the self-defense have already begun military training. When the radio announces this news, the sense that war is imminent is only intensified. Before, the news was bad, focusing on sad events. Now it is bellicose and full of enthusiasm… The fact is, though, that revolution radicalises normal citizens, and- once radicalised- those citizens hardly seem accountable for their own actions. We need time. The country needs a period of calm, like all convalescents. But there is no calm, for the moment, because next door to us is Putin, who…will do all he can to prove to the people of Russia that a government cannot be changed through revolution…And later, after the annexation of Crimea, Putin has to find a way to make Europe and the United States accept the annexation. There is only one way…foment a civil war in Ukraine and encourage pro-Russian activists- armed, of course- to march on Kyiv…Which reminds me that perhaps people in the west, if for no other reason than self-interest, would have been well-served to pay more attention to events in Ukraine around this time; after all, it couldn’t have hurt to have learned who Paul Manafort was, a few years earlier. Then again, to be fair, I’m not certain that anyone could have guessed at the time that Putin had an entirely different idea about how to make the United States accept the annexation, an idea whose audacity still leaves me a bit in awe.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kalina Stamatova

    Bought this book on a recent trip in Ukraine. It was surprisingly hard to find Ukrainian books in English there, so this one was kind of a compromise. Don't know if I would have bought it, had I had more of a choice, but I ended up loving it. It's a great bit of prose, and one that helps you better understand how the Euromaidan unfolded. I'd actually say the book gives an insight into the Ukrainian psyche that would otherwise be hard to obtain (especially given the lack of English translations of Bought this book on a recent trip in Ukraine. It was surprisingly hard to find Ukrainian books in English there, so this one was kind of a compromise. Don't know if I would have bought it, had I had more of a choice, but I ended up loving it. It's a great bit of prose, and one that helps you better understand how the Euromaidan unfolded. I'd actually say the book gives an insight into the Ukrainian psyche that would otherwise be hard to obtain (especially given the lack of English translations of Ukrainian authors). The book (combined with the Chernobyl series I started watching around the same time) made me go down some weird Ukrainian rabbit hole and with the recent elections, I'm definitely keeping an eye on Ukraine and its politics.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I am a great fan of Andrey Kurkov's mystery novels set in the Ukraine, most notably Death of a Penguin and Penguin Lost -- both of which feature a cute penguin named Mischa. Ukraine Diaries is a day by day diary of the events in Ukraine beginning with the protests at the Maidan late in 2013 and continuing on to the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the fomenting of violence by the Russian security agencies in the mostly Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine, a.k.a. Donbas Region. What characterizes t I am a great fan of Andrey Kurkov's mystery novels set in the Ukraine, most notably Death of a Penguin and Penguin Lost -- both of which feature a cute penguin named Mischa. Ukraine Diaries is a day by day diary of the events in Ukraine beginning with the protests at the Maidan late in 2013 and continuing on to the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the fomenting of violence by the Russian security agencies in the mostly Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine, a.k.a. Donbas Region. What characterizes this book is the same dark humor to be found in the author's mysteries. Toward the end, he says "there's an old Ukrainian proverb that I often hear: 'If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.'" On another occasion, he writes:There are too many different groups, incapable of getting along; some revolutionaries are demanding a free apartment, others aproof of residence, and yet others help in finding a steady job in Kiev. They took Kiev, didn't they? They got rid of [ex-President] Yanukovych. Now they want to be rewarded. But isn't a normal country, freed from corruption, the greatest prize any normal citizen could ask for?It is easy to be sardonic when your adopted country (Kurkov was born in Russia) is controlled by thugs and looters, and Karkov was sardonic enough to be in danger during the revolt. Ukraine Diaries is well worth reading for a day by day picture of a revolution that, one supposes, is still going on. Putin is like a Gila Monster that, once he bites into your skin, just keeps chewing until all the toxin is worked in.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    A little long in the tooth given the last entry is from 2014,this is nonetheless a stark reminder of how Vladimir Putin pretty much achieved all he wanted to do in Ukraine earlier this decade while his countrymen continue trading in the City of London and Wall Street and newspapers and websites everywhere eagerly anticipate a 2018 World Cup that really shouldn't be taking place in Russia at all. The diary format is a great reminder and introduction to events and Kurkov's descriptions of daily lif A little long in the tooth given the last entry is from 2014,this is nonetheless a stark reminder of how Vladimir Putin pretty much achieved all he wanted to do in Ukraine earlier this decade while his countrymen continue trading in the City of London and Wall Street and newspapers and websites everywhere eagerly anticipate a 2018 World Cup that really shouldn't be taking place in Russia at all. The diary format is a great reminder and introduction to events and Kurkov's descriptions of daily life really add colour to his views on the political situation. In the end, central and western Ukraine broke free temporarily of the Russian yoke but at the expense of a literal arm and a leg in Crimea and the Donbass region. The style is as effortless as that of his tremendous novels and he is a warm hearted humanist and public intellectual of the first order.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Julian Douglass

    Good account of what has happened in Ukraine during the Madian Revolution in 2013-14. Starts off with a good concise recap of what happened in his eyes, but then kinda dissolves into a day by day account of what is going on in his life during the crisis. Interesting book to get a different perspective of the chaotic events in Ukraine.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    As it happened.

  7. 5 out of 5

    George

    This is an important book for anyone who wants to learn more about the events in Ukraine that have taken place over the past several months. I trust the veracity of the narrative as it is in line with articles I have read and stories I have heard from my Ukrainian friends, and Andrey Kurkov's voice is one of civilian honesty and concern, and not overwhelming politics. In actual fact it is highly cynical of politics - though the author's own views become clear - and it does not look to preach to u This is an important book for anyone who wants to learn more about the events in Ukraine that have taken place over the past several months. I trust the veracity of the narrative as it is in line with articles I have read and stories I have heard from my Ukrainian friends, and Andrey Kurkov's voice is one of civilian honesty and concern, and not overwhelming politics. In actual fact it is highly cynical of politics - though the author's own views become clear - and it does not look to preach to us. It would be somewhat insulting, I think, to recommend this collection of diary entries as "gripping" or "fascinating". What I would say to anyone thinking about reading this book, instead, is that these published 'Dispatches from Kiev' seem to reflect the reality that so many Ukrainians have been living through. Crucially, the text looks for our understanding of the issues that their country faces. Ukraine Diaries is humane and intimate, being the unique product of its author, a husband, father, and novelist living in Kiev--and it is unmissable for those that have taken a genuine interest in Ukraine and its future.

  8. 4 out of 5

    John Defrog

    I’m generally a fan of Kurkov’s novels, so I was keen to pick up this translation of his diaries regarding current events in Ukraine, from the start of the Euromaidan protests in November 2013 to the annexation of Crimea and the subsequent separatist uprisings in the east up to around mid-2014. People unfamiliar with Kurkov’s work might expect some serious, detailed investigative journalism about the Ukraine/Russia situation or at least a rabid anti-Putin diatribe. However, this is more of a sob I’m generally a fan of Kurkov’s novels, so I was keen to pick up this translation of his diaries regarding current events in Ukraine, from the start of the Euromaidan protests in November 2013 to the annexation of Crimea and the subsequent separatist uprisings in the east up to around mid-2014. People unfamiliar with Kurkov’s work might expect some serious, detailed investigative journalism about the Ukraine/Russia situation or at least a rabid anti-Putin diatribe. However, this is more of a sober document of daily life in Kiev during a time of political corruption, upheaval and the anguish of watching your country rip itself apart (with some outside help) in real time, with no idea how events are going to play out. Kurkov is an observer, not a participant, but he’s not detached either. And while he makes no secret about whose side he is on, he reports on events with admirable restraint and mild sarcasm. It’s a compelling read for anyone who wants to get a better sense of what happened in Ukraine during this period and what was (and arguably still is) as stake.

  9. 4 out of 5

    F

    Very moving - easy to read, in the sense that his style is relaxed, uncomplicated, mixing everyday details with the big events. For me it really brought home that strange mood where despite the upheavals and worries and demonstrations and political unrest, life for most people just carries on. For a lot of the time, you block out the unpleasant things, but nevertheless they insist on grabbing your attention and impinging on your daily life whether you want them to or not -they demand attention, Very moving - easy to read, in the sense that his style is relaxed, uncomplicated, mixing everyday details with the big events. For me it really brought home that strange mood where despite the upheavals and worries and demonstrations and political unrest, life for most people just carries on. For a lot of the time, you block out the unpleasant things, but nevertheless they insist on grabbing your attention and impinging on your daily life whether you want them to or not -they demand attention, but so often you feel completely powerless to do anything to influence what it going on. So, whilst 'easy to read', there were also moments where I had to put the book down, and try to deal with my emotions, in turmoil as I tried to deal with being confronted with the realities of life in Ukraine over these past months, so clearly and dispassionately depicted by Kurkov.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter Kobryn

    A contemporary account by the author of the upheaval experienced in Ukraine that started at the Euromaidan towards the end of 2013 and then was further escalated by the Russian invasion of Crimea all written from his viewpoint as a resident of Kiev and a Ukrainian of Russian heritage. The immediacy of his reports and the suffocating insecurity and concern about what may happen, the loss of certainties because of the Russian aggression in Crimea and the personal fears for his family’s wellbeing a A contemporary account by the author of the upheaval experienced in Ukraine that started at the Euromaidan towards the end of 2013 and then was further escalated by the Russian invasion of Crimea all written from his viewpoint as a resident of Kiev and a Ukrainian of Russian heritage. The immediacy of his reports and the suffocating insecurity and concern about what may happen, the loss of certainties because of the Russian aggression in Crimea and the personal fears for his family’s wellbeing are pin sharp in their impact and even without my added engagement owing to my heritage this is a compelling read of day to day life turned upside down by factors outside of ordinary citizen’s control.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sergiy

    I actually like this book better than the three star rating I gave it. I couldn't recommend this to anyone that is not interested in the Ukrainian Maidan revolution. which is the reason for the star getting removed. Interesting perspective and gives a valuable second viewpoint to someone like me, who has only followed the events via online media.

  12. 4 out of 5

    George Wehrle

    The authors diary, from November 2013 to April 2014, living in the center of Kiev. Lots of interesting details, and thoughts on Ukraine. Stories about evenings with friends, getting the kids to school, and the future of Ukraine.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laura Drelshcer

    This personal account gives more insight in the complexity of the Ukraine crisis than any non-fiction article, while also depicting the feeling of impeding doom and everyday life of an Ukrainian family. Really nice and informative read!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    Just added this to the database.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Martinxo

    Must read book for anyone who wants to know what has happened in Ukraine and the brave fight of people against a corrupt government and Russian intervention. Excellent.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Written in the form of a diary, by a Ukrainian writer/novelist, this book chronicles the 2013 uprising in the Maidan against the pro-Russian government of Ukraine. The book provides in-depth detail about daily life during this time, but it is a little hard to follow for the reader who isn't already knowledgeable about Ukraine, since the author references people and places who may not be familiar. However, it provided interesting insight into a pivotal time in history.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chumba Tribes

    The art of diary keeping at its best. Kurkov gives a witness’ account of what happened in his hometown during the Euromaidan and the Russian invasion that followed. A valuable and, more often than not, pretty balanced insight even more so when it comes from a talented author who is ethnic Russian but calls Ukraine his homeland. Read it while I visited Kiev and shortly after which made it even more powerful a read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    Kurkov is a novelist and journalist who lives in Kyiv and was there during Eur0maidan. His reminiscences of the political and social storm in the city over those six months are evocative and manage to be sympathetic to the cause without being hyperbolic. Feels very much like the way that I remember those months - chaotic, heartbreaking, hopeful. A really easy and engaging read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Em

    Kurkov gives an account of 2014 in the form of a diary. A very poignant insight into the history and future of Ukraine ... which will hopefully enjoy its status of independence away from Russia. Would recommend

  20. 5 out of 5

    Justinas Kulys

    Interesting book that shows reality of Ukraine during the Maidan revolution - worth to read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    vittore paleni

    Intelligent day-by-day commentary on the then emerging conflict.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Pep Bonet

    I am not a reader of diaries. I tend to find them boring, lacking the minimum interest. Not everyday there's something interesting to report, even if you only write every week, it's difficult to make them interesting. They are good for the author, but not necessariy to be published. But Kurkov's diaries are different, and this justifies why, while he0's been writing diaries for years, only now has he published a part of them. The reason is that the book covers the whole story of the Maidan revolu I am not a reader of diaries. I tend to find them boring, lacking the minimum interest. Not everyday there's something interesting to report, even if you only write every week, it's difficult to make them interesting. They are good for the author, but not necessariy to be published. But Kurkov's diaries are different, and this justifies why, while he0's been writing diaries for years, only now has he published a part of them. The reason is that the book covers the whole story of the Maidan revolution, with, I imagine, a big question in Kurkov's mind: when are the facts over and can I send the text to the publisher? The subject is exciting and you read wanting to know more. It is not a journalistic book or a book of history; it is rather composed of the author's reflections on his country. You may or may not share his views, but one must admit that the book is well written and serves its purpose. I was somewhat puzzled by the language versions. I knew that it had been under translation while it was being written. Indeed, the diary proper is translated by one translator and the afterword by another. But, further to this, the English version is translated from the French version. And the first publication was in German! I wonder whether it has been published in Russian! N.B.: although the author is Ukrainian, he writes in Russian. He was born in Russia, in the Leningrad province.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Autumn Kotsiuba

    Ukraine is the country closest to my heart; reading this first-person account of the events of the past few years was hard. One journal entry recorded the beheading of two Ukrainians--on Feb. 27. My birthday. What was I worried about that day? What was I caring, praying, hoping for? Another entry recalled protesters being sprayed with high-pressure hoses; it was on the day that the Orthodox Church celebrates Christ's baptism. I loved this book in the strange way you love something that hurts to r Ukraine is the country closest to my heart; reading this first-person account of the events of the past few years was hard. One journal entry recorded the beheading of two Ukrainians--on Feb. 27. My birthday. What was I worried about that day? What was I caring, praying, hoping for? Another entry recalled protesters being sprayed with high-pressure hoses; it was on the day that the Orthodox Church celebrates Christ's baptism. I loved this book in the strange way you love something that hurts to read. I highly recommend it, though it may be fuzzy for those who haven't followed the crisis closely; in that case, I'd recommend watching the documentary "Winter on Fire" first, free on Netflix.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    This is a good introduction to the current crisis in Ukraine. Having for the most part gotten rid of an incompetent, corrupt government, the country now fights for its survival against pro-Russian separatists. The book is well written and does a reasonable job of explaining some of the country's key historical events that influenced the current situation. While that situation is somewhat dispiriting, there are flashes of dry humour from Kurkov that lighten the mood a little. However, I expect th This is a good introduction to the current crisis in Ukraine. Having for the most part gotten rid of an incompetent, corrupt government, the country now fights for its survival against pro-Russian separatists. The book is well written and does a reasonable job of explaining some of the country's key historical events that influenced the current situation. While that situation is somewhat dispiriting, there are flashes of dry humour from Kurkov that lighten the mood a little. However, I expect that before long eastern Ukraine will go the way of Crimea and that Ukraine as we know it will cease to exist.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark McKenny

    I wanted to know more about what's happening in the Ukraine, and what it could mean for the World, in general. I'm very distressed by what is currently happening, and this book didn't soothe my nerves at all. Such atrocities took place from November 2013 to April 2014 when this diary is written. And the BBC shown hardly any of it. This is a great little book, very interesting to read and written in a relaxed yet formal style (straight to the point). Andrei provides a preface and an afterword, as I wanted to know more about what's happening in the Ukraine, and what it could mean for the World, in general. I'm very distressed by what is currently happening, and this book didn't soothe my nerves at all. Such atrocities took place from November 2013 to April 2014 when this diary is written. And the BBC shown hardly any of it. This is a great little book, very interesting to read and written in a relaxed yet formal style (straight to the point). Andrei provides a preface and an afterword, as well as a general overview of the key persons/events involved. Highly recommend reading, if, like me, you're concerned for your well-being and the freedom of others.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Parker

    A very good book to show the lead up to the Maidan Massacre and the aftermath. I learnt a lot about the city in which I live and feel I understand it a little more now. This is a diary so only shows Kurkov's experiences, but it has made me want to research this more. Obviously it had to be published at some point, but it would be interesting to if it could be updated with an after-afterword (already had an afterword written in June after the elections) so take into account the escalations in the A very good book to show the lead up to the Maidan Massacre and the aftermath. I learnt a lot about the city in which I live and feel I understand it a little more now. This is a diary so only shows Kurkov's experiences, but it has made me want to research this more. Obviously it had to be published at some point, but it would be interesting to if it could be updated with an after-afterword (already had an afterword written in June after the elections) so take into account the escalations in the east and the plane that was shot down.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jane Griffiths

    Interesting. He lives near the (Euro)Maidan, and was able to observe events from his window. When then president Yanukovych was forced to confront, in December 2013, the fact of police brutality against demonstrators, the former presidents of Ukraine were all there: Kravchuk smiled along with Yanukovych, Kuchma looked uncomfortable, and Yushchenko "wore an indifferent expression, as if he wasn't really there". Kurkov: "I drove the children to school, then I went to see the revolution". History, a Interesting. He lives near the (Euro)Maidan, and was able to observe events from his window. When then president Yanukovych was forced to confront, in December 2013, the fact of police brutality against demonstrators, the former presidents of Ukraine were all there: Kravchuk smiled along with Yanukovych, Kuchma looked uncomfortable, and Yushchenko "wore an indifferent expression, as if he wasn't really there". Kurkov: "I drove the children to school, then I went to see the revolution". History, as it happened.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Paul Taylor

    A real time summary of the scandalous events in Ukraine. This book will have a short shelf life as for all but the individuals affected history will most likely see Russia's aggression as a side show in the great game.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Burke

    I'm a huge fan of his works of fiction so I was excited to read a snapshot of his life during a difficult period of history for his homeland. Well worth a read if only to get a different perspective on this year's events.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Peter Bahchevanov

    Nicely written (and translated) account of the events and daily life in Ukraine from the beginning of the Euromaidan, through the annexation of Crimea, finishing with the events which lead to the conflict in the country's East.

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