Sky Above Kharkiv


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Dispatches from the Ukrainian Front

Serhiy Zhadan; Translated from the Ukrainian by Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler

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From Ukraine’s leading writer-activist comes an intimate account of resistance and survival in the earliest months of the Russian-Ukrainian war
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Serhiy Zhadan took to social media to coordinate a network of resistance workers and send messages of courage to his fellow Ukrainians. What began as a local organizing effort exploded onto the international stage as readers around the globe looked to Zhadan as a key eyewitness documenting Russian atrocities.
In this powerful record of the war’s harrowing first four months, Zhadan works day and night in Kharkiv to evacuate children and the elderly from suburbs that have come under fire. He sends lists of life-saving medications to the West in the hopes of procuring them for civilians, coordinates food deliveries, collects money for military equipment, and organizes concerts. He shares photographs of the open sky—grateful for every pause in the shelling—and captures images of beloved institutions reduced to rubble. We’ll restore everything. We’ll rebuild everything, he writes.
As the days pass, the city empties. Friends are killed. And when images of the Bucha massacre are released, Zhadan’s own voice falters: I’m speechless. Hang in there, my friends. Tomorrow, we’ll wake up one day closer to our victory. An intimate work of witness literature, this book is at once the testimony of one man entering a new reality as he writes and the story of a society unified in its fight for the right to exist.

Serhiy Zhadan is Ukraine’s beloved literary and activist voice. He has received the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought, the German Peace Prize, and several international literature prizes. His previous books include Mesopotamia; The Orphanage; and What We Live For, What We Die For: Selected Poems. He lives in Kharkiv. Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler translate contemporary Ukrainian and Russian literature.

“[Zhadan] upholds the tradition, now extinguished in the West, of the poet as both rebellious celebrity and national hero. . . . His social media dispatches from summertime Kharkiv—still under fire, still surviving—have the flavor of poetry.”—Sophie Pinkham, New York Review of Books
ISBN: 9780300270860
Publication Date: May 16, 2023
208 pages, 5 x 7 3/4
33 color illus.

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