Two novelists, among many others – not to mention a host of non-novelists – have thrown in their two cents on the situation in Ukraine from two very different points of view.
Natalka Sniadanko is a Ukrainian writer and translator (of Kafka, Czesław Miłosz, Olga Tokarczuk and Zbigniew Herbert among others). Writing in the New York Times in an article titled “The Myth of a Divided Ukraine”, she writes about the misconceptions being fed people on both sides of the supposed divide:
“In the east, people are terrified of the ‘Orange Plague’; in the west, people are terrified of ‘Donetsk criminals.’ … But those myths are collapsing; that is what the 2014 protests were all about. Both eastern and western camps had a chance at ruling, and both failed. In doing so, they showed Ukrainians that the challenge was not between one region or another, but between the corrupt at the top and the people, whatever region they are from.”
You can read more about Natalka Sniadanko here
In The Guardian Bosnian writer Andrej Nikolaidis has published a much bleaker view of what’s happening and what he sees as being bound to happen even if the Ukrainians “win”. This is based on the experience of his native land in its own bloody conflict in the 90s and how disappointing all the patriotism and Western (EU) promises turned out to be.
“When common people find themselves in the middle of a geopolitical storm – as the citizens of Ukraine do now, or my family back then in Bosnia – the dilemma “is this glass half empty or half full?” is irrelevant: soon, it will be broken.”
Slavoj Žižek described Nikolaidis’s novel The Coming as “an explosive mixture on three levels: a hard-boiled investigation, the story of an impending global catastrophe, and the description of daily life in a small Balkan city. Imagine Dashiell Hammett meeting Umberto Eco, and both of them meeting Orhan Pamuk!” The novel was published by Istros Books in 2012 in an English translation by Will Firth. Istros has also published Firth’s translation of Nikolaidis’s novel The Son.
Read more about Andrej Nikolaidis here
Photo – Destroyed statue of Lenin in Zhytomyr, February 2014, by Andriy Makukha