UKRAINE: The White Chalk of Days

The White Chalk of Days is an anthology of post-Soviet Ukrainian literature and poetry, edited by Mark Andryczyk. It’s got an interesting mix of styles and subjects – beautiful and ethereal poetry, absurdism, dark satire, touching prose, and my favourite, the short story “Owner of the Best Gay Bar” by Serhiy Zhadan – some down-on-their-luck grifters trying to make it rich by opening the first and only gay bar in town, despite not knowing either anyone gay or how to run a bar.

The anthology’s introduction is valuable too, covering the recent generations of Ukrainian writers – those writing samizdat in the late Soviet era, the creative flourishing of the 90s, and the influence on and from other Eastern European literary scenes (particularly Poland). It’s a neat, well translated collection, and a good introduction to current Ukrainian writers.

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