“Grey Bees” is among the best books of 2022 according to The New Yorker


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The novel “Grey Bees” by Ukrainian writer Andriy Kurkov was included in the list of the best books of 2022 according to The New Yorker. The list was published on the website of The New Yorker.

“Grey Bees” is a novel published in 2018 by the Ukrainian publishing house Folio. It was translated into Ukrainian by Kateryna Isayenko, into English by Borys Dralyuk (Deep Vellum publishing house). The novel tells about the life of people during the war in Eastern Ukraine.


“Little Starhorodivka, a village of three streets, lies in Ukraine’s Grey Zone, the no-man’s-land between loyalist and separatist forces. Thanks to the lukewarm war of sporadic violence and constant propaganda that has been dragging on for years, only two residents remain: retired safety inspector turned beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich and Pashka, a rival from his schooldays. With little food and no electricity, under constant threat of bombardment, Sergeyich’s one remaining pleasure is his bees. As spring approaches, he knows he must take them far from the Grey Zone so they can collect their pollen in peace. This simple mission on their behalf introduces him to combatants and civilians on both sides of the battle lines: loyalists, separatists, russian occupiers and Crimean Tatars. Wherever he goes, Sergeyich’s childlike simplicity and strong moral compass disarm everyone he meets. But could these qualities be manipulated to serve an unworthy cause, spelling disaster for him, his bees and his country?” says the abstract of the book.


“In loving detail, Kurkov, a Kyiv-based novelist, describes Sergeyich’s care for his bees, his nighttime preparations, his careful rationing. But when the shelling becomes too much for Sergeyich’s bees (and maybe for Sergeyich), he embarks on a journey in his trusty old Lada, travelling through Ukraine proper and eventually to Crimea, where an “inspection” of one of his beehives by the russian security service leaves his bees in an altered state, looking sickly and gray. Although grounded deeply in the disturbing reality of war, “Grey Bees” sometimes has the feeling of a fable”, The New Yorker notes.


The novel was included in the shortlist of “BBC Books of the Year 2018” and has been translated into English, German, French, and Danish. Also based on the motives of the book, there are performances of the same name in the theater on Podil in Kyiv.


Andriy Kurkov is a Ukrainian writer of russian origin, screenwriter, former president of Ukrainian PEN. The author of the novels and short stories “The Bickford Fuse”, “Friend of the Deceased”, “Death and the Penguin”, “The President’s Last Love”, “The Milkman in the Night”, “Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv”, “Maidan Diaries”, “Grey Bees”, as well as story books, children’s works and film scripts. Andriy Kurkov’s works have been translated into more than 40 languages.


Before, The New York Times recommended “Grey Bees” for translation in 2022 in the USA.


At the beginning of 2022, the shooting of Dmytro Moyseyev’s film “Grey Bees” based on the novel by Andriy Kurkov began.


Featured image: Folio