Artem Chapeye

Ordinary People Don’t Carry Machine Guns: Artem Chapeye writes a book for a French-speaking audience


You see an error in the text - select the fragment and press Ctrl + Enter

The book “Les gens ordinaires ne portent pas de mitraillettes” (“Ordinary People Don’t Carry Machine Guns”) by a Ukrainian writer and soldier Artem Chapeye (real name Anton Vodianyi) has been released in France. The book was published by Bayard and translated by Iryna Dmytrychyn.


“This book, primarily written for a foreign audience, hasn’t been released in Ukrainian because it is an introductory book. The French find it deeply moving,” wrote the author on his Facebook page.


He also shared a book review published in the newspaper Le Monde. The book tells about the unexpected changes caused by the war in a person, as well as the emotions it evokes, such as shame and guilt.



Le Monde writes, “The writer reflects on various forms of shame, including second-hand shame (also known as Spanish shame or vicarious embarrassment), when he goes to the recruiting office and enlists in the military. He is leaving behind a wife, two children, and a job. Chapeye writes about the unbearable pain in the eyes of his older son, who was nine years old when his father went to the front line.” The review quotes the author, “My little one, if I run away now, I won’t be able to look you directly in the eyes.”


RELATED: Artem Chapeye’s novel The Ukraine was published in the UK and the USA in 2023


This book is soon to be available in English, translated by Zenia Tompkins of the TAULT agency (The Tompkins Agency for Ukrainian Literature in Translation). “The day after Russia invaded his country, Ukrainian writer Artem Chapeye decided to join the army. This spontaneous choice would shape the subsequent months and years of his life, and potentially his entire life. Written on the front lines, this story is about an ordinary man who would never have had to carry an assault rifle if the war hadn’t been declared. His involvement in the resistance contradicted his political beliefs and could disrupt his family life. In a sharp and intimate text, the author tells about the emotional everyday life of a soldier and questions how our choices shape our identity in the context of an armed conflict, as well as in every moment of life when fate changes,” the annotation states.


You can buy the book for €17.00.


RELATED: Soldier Artem Chapeye: If I hadn’t gone the first day, I would have gone a week later


Main image: collage of photos on Artem Chapeye’s Facebook page


Translation: Kateryna Liushyn

Editing: Tanya Mykhaylyshyn