Translate this: non-fiction that will help you understand Ukraine


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

We continue our series about Ukrainian books that should be translated so that the world can better understand the history and culture of our state, and, therefore, all those who formed the invincible spirit of a nation that is not giving up the struggle for its independence and democratic values. This piece is devoted to non-fiction.

This publication is sponsored by the Chytomo`s Patreon community. Join here

Pavlo Stekh – Over a Precipice, in Rust / Павло Стех «Над прірвою в іржі»

  • Stekh P., Over a Precipice, in Rust. – Tempora, 2018. – 204 p.
  • ISBN: 978-617-569-383-4
  • Sale of rights:

An artistic report from a means of transport many rich foreigners find exotic – suburban electric trains. Old, dirty and shabby – they are a relic of the past, but the state is always lacking either money or attention to say goodbye to them. The author traveled in different directions, listened to conversations, made notes, to put together the image of an average Ukrainian, who is gradually being covered with a layer of red dust of everyday issues and money-seeking problems. The electric train is a closed space for family fights, political debates and scandals – all those sincere conversations that usually happen between occasional travel companions.

Mykola Riabchuk – From Malorosia to Ukraine / Микола Рябчук «Від Малоросії до України»

  • Riabchuk M., From Malorosia to Ukraine. – Krytyka, 2000. – 303 p.
  • ISBN: 966-7679-11-X
  • Sale of rights:

During its fierce information war, russia has adopted a range of nonsense ideas, such as the creation of Ukraine by Lenin. This book, by a Ukrainian publicist and honorary president of PEN Ukraine, is an effective antidote to this absurdity. The author breaks down stereotypes in the perception of Ukraine by Western historians and politicians, delves into the past, exploring the transition of «Ukrainian society to the general imperial (russian) structure», analyzes cultural and civilizational contradictions that have prevented Ukraine from choosing between the western and the eastern direction of its development for centuries. The book by Mykola Ryabchuk is a thorough historical and socio-cultural study that impresses with the author’s erudition and his desire to clearly outline «our European orientation».

Alisa Lozhkina – Permanent Revolution / Аліса Ложкіна «Перманентна революція»

  • Lozhkina A., Permanent Revolution. – ArtHus, 2019. – 544 p.
  • ISBN: 978-617-7799-06-0
  • Sale of rights:

Curator and art critic Alisa Lozhkina gives an author’s view on the development of contemporary Ukrainian art, which was closely connected with socio-political processes. In an effort to «combine into a coherent narrative the history of the development of domestic art practices from the birth of modernism to the present day», the author not only writes about all the diversity of visual arts, but also mentions cinema, literature, music, theater, important cultural institutions and more. Keeping the chronology, Lozhkina describes the artistic life not only of Kyiv, but also of Odesa, Kharkiv, Poltava, Lviv, which creates a holistic picture, speaks of the longevity of the processes. Despite the volume of the book, the information in it is presented as intelligibly and concisely as possible. Permanent Revolution is an ideal publication for an introduction to Ukrainian art and further immersion in it.

Ukrainer – Who are we? National Communities and Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine / Ukraїner «Ким ми є? Національні спільноти та корінні народи України»

  • Who We Are: National Communities and Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine. – NGO “Ukraїner”, 2021. – 672 p.
  • SBN: 9786176425939
  • Sale of rights:

The popular media project Ukraїner, which explores and discovers authentic Ukraine, has published a second book — the physical embodiment of its expeditions across the country. In the focus of the publication are national communities, as features of Ukraine’s diversity and indigenous peoples. It will be interesting for a foreign reader to learn that representatives of different ethnic groups, religions, and speakers of different languages ​​have lived in peace in our country, because Ukraine is a country that values ​​the uniqueness of its citizens and resists any oppression. The Ukrainian team has been collecting material for several years, researching more than 30 national communities. Among them: Gagauz, Azov Greeks, Austrians, Roma, Jews, Czechs, Cubans, Nigerians and others.

Oksana Zabuzhko, Iza Khruslinska – The Ukrainian Palimpsest / Оксана Забужко, Іза Хруслінська «Український полімпсест»

  • Zabuzhko O., Сhruslinska I. The Ukrainian Palimpsest. Oksana Zabuzhko in a Conversation with Iza Chruslinska. – Komora, 2014. – 408 p.
  • SBN: 978-966-97346-9-3
  • Sale of rights:

Oksana Zabuzhko is, without exaggeration, a cult Ukrainian writer who has long been part of the pantheon of contemporary classics.  Her family story is the past of Ukraine, with its deep wounds of revolutions, repressions and most importantly — a story of indomitable spirit. The story is told by Zabuzhko, answering questions from Khruslinska’s interview. As a result, the reader is presented with an intellectual conversation about the roots, formation of personality, creativity in difficult socio-political conditions, iconic cultural figures who influenced Zabuzhko. The book contains a lot of history, literature, philosophy of life, and the writer’s incredible energy.

Pavlo-Robert Mahochiy, Vladislav Hrynevych – Babyn Yar: History and Memory / Павло-Роберт Магочій, Владислав Гриневич «Бабин Яр: Історія і пам’ять»

  • Babyn Yar: History and Memory / Edited by Vladyslav Hrynevych and Paul Robert Magocsi. – Кyiv: DUKH I LITERA, 2016. – 328 p.
  • SBN: 978-966-378-535-6
  • Sale of rights:

In September 1941, in Kyiv, in the historic place called Babyn Yar, the Nazis killed nearly 34,000 Jews in the span of a few days. During the next few years of occupation, Roma, Ukrainian national activists, and Soviet prisoners of war were executed at the same site. According to the authors, more than 100,000 people died in Babyn Yar. It was a crime against humanity. According to the co-author Vladislav Hrynevych, «Babyn Yar became one of the most traumatic places in the Ukrainian experience of World War II». The book, created by scholars from Israel, Canada, the Netherlands, the United States, Ukraine, and France, provides versions of events before, during, and after the tragedy, citing documentary sources and professional research. This is a painful but necessary reading for Holocaust prevention.

Diana Klochko – 65 Ukrainian masterpieces. Recognized and unseen / Діана Клочко «65 українських шедеврів. Визнані й неявні»

  • Diana Klochko D., 65 Ukrainian masterpieces. Recognized and unseen. – ArtHus, 2019. – 256 p.
  • ISBN: 978-617-7799-04-6
  • Sale of rights:

For more than a month, barbaric shelling by the russian occupiers has been destroying Ukraine’s cultural heritage. Theaters and museums are being destroyed… That is why today we must remind the world of the masterpieces that Ukraine has, not only of national significance. This book by art critic Diana Klochko tells about the masterpieces of the leading museums of Kyiv, the Lviv Art Gallery, the Odesa, Kharkiv, and Khmelnytsky art museums. From ancient icons to the Cossack Mamaj, from Narbut’s symbolism to Malevich’s Suprematism, from Ukrainian variations on French Impressionism to Yakutovich’s unique graphics, the publication will reveal the rich history of Ukrainian visual art, which to one degree or another has almost always been closely linked to the European and global context.

Olena Braichenko, Maryna Hrymych, Ihor Lylo, Vitaly Reznichenko – Ukraine. Food and History / Олена Брайченко, Марина Гримич, Ігор Лильо, Віталій Резніченко Україна. Їжа та Історія

  • Braichenko O., Hrymych M., Lylio I., Reznichenko V. Ukraine. Food and History. – їzhak, 2021. – 288 p.
  • ISBN: 9789669788238
  • Sale of rights:

The battle for the nationality of borscht has become an integral part of Ukrainian cultural diplomacy. In this regard, it is possible to ironize, but, by and large, the creation of associative series for foreigners, which would not have the words «war» or «Chornobyl» – is important. The book Ukraine. Food and History offers interesting and high-quality content. From photos to texts and recipes — all this is the work of researchers who talk about the traditions of Ukrainian cuisine, its regional features.

Tamara Hundorova – Transit culture. Symptoms of Postcolonial Trauma / Тамара Гундорова «Транзитна культура. Симптоми постколоніальної травми»

  • Hundorova T., Transit culture. Symptoms of Postcolonial Trauma. – Hrany-T, 2013. – 548 p.
  • ISBN: 978-966-465-292-3, 978-966-465-389-0
  • Sale of rights:

Tamara Hundorova, a respected Ukrainian literary critic and professor, analyzes popular Ukrainian culture in general and literature in particular, in terms of their transit, i.e the unique quality that emerged due to the «coincidence of subjective feelings, environment, and movement that is constantly changing all dispositions». Ukraine as a young state needs its own cultural codes, new bridges. Tamara Hundorova’s book is about the creators of new narratives, features of postcolonial discourse in modern Ukrainian literature, kitsch stars, with the help of which our country broke away from the USSR, and many more interesting and important things

Andriy Dostlev, Lia Dostleva – I am still ashamed to throw away food. My grandmother told me about the Holodomor / Андрій Достлєв, Лія Достлєва «Мені досі соромно викидати їжу. Бабуся розповідала мені про Голодомор»

  • Dostlev A., Dostleva L., I am still ashamed to throw away food. My grandmother told me about the Holodomor. – Rodovid, 2019. – 104 p.
  • ISBN: 978-617-7482-35-1
  • Sale of rights:

In the language of modern visual art, or more precisely — post-photography, the authors of the project raise the topic of historical memory, traumatic experience that affects the formation of several generations. The Holodomor was the genocide of the Ukrainian people, a mass famine, artificially created by the USSR in Ukraine in 1932-1933. It caused millions of victims. According to the authors of the art project, which appeared in the form of a photo book, they sought to illustrate and understand their sense of shame, which arises from the excess of what our grandparents lacked so much — food. For two months, Andriy and Lia Dostleva documented traces of all the food they threw away. Then collages were made of it to leave a mark in the physical space from the pain of collective trauma.

Katarzyna Kwiatkowska-Moskalewicz – Kill the Dragon. Ukrainian Revolutions / Катажина Квятковська-Москалевич «Вбити дракона. Українські революції»

  • Kwiatkowska-Moskalewicz K., Kill the Dragon. Ukrainian Revolutions. – Choven, 2016. – 224 p.
  • ISBN: 978-966-97668-0-9, 978-83-8049-271-4
  • Sale of rights:

Polish reporter Katarzyna Kwiatkowska-Moskalewicz spent ten years documenting events in Ukraine that in one way or another affected the country’s socio-political life. Her book covers the period from the Orange Revolution of 2004 to the beginning of russia’s occupation war in 2014 — a time that has become significant for the modern direction of development of an independent state. In the best traditions of Polish literature, Kwiatkowska-Moskalewicz tells the stories of people who oppose forces that can crush, that stand in the way of any light of life. But despite the losses, Ukrainians continue to defend their freedom. Kvyatkovskaya-Moskalevich’s book is also about the phenomenon of those who strive to survive.

Mykola Riabchuk – Nationalist Lexicon and Other Essays / Микола Рябчук «Лексикон націоналіста та інші есеї»

  • Riabchuk M. Lexicon of a Nationalist and Other Essays. – Old Lion Publishing House, 2021. – 216 p.
  • ISBN: 9786176798453
  • Sale of rights:

A collection of journalism on various, but undoubtedly relevant, topics. There is an article about the preconditions for the Revolution of Dignity, with the author’s hope for the victory of those who defended Ukraine’s pro-European course, and reflections on Ukrainian radical nationalism, which has become one of the favorite stamps of russian propaganda, and essays on «mechanisms of enslavement of colonialisms». Finally, this is a book on Ukrainian-russian relations. Whatever Mykola Riabchuk writes about, he does so with ease, an appropriate share of humor and a constant depth of thought, which will certainly help to understand at least some subtleties of the Ukrainian nation.

Mykhailo Vynnytskyi – Ukrainian Maidan, russian War / Михайло Винницький «Український Майдан, російська війна»

  • Wynnyckyj M. Ukraine’s Maidan, Russia’s War. A Chronicle and Analysis of the Revolution of Dignity. – Old Lion Publishing House, 2021. – 560 p.
  • ISBN: 9786176798866
  • Sale of rights:

The unity of Ukrainian society in the struggle against the russian occupiers continues to amaze the world. Since the end of 2013, according to sociologist Mykhailo Vynnytskyi, the transformation of inert citizens of the post-Soviet country into a nation with its own ideals has begun. The author of the book talks about the political preconditions for the Revolution of Dignity, in particular about the regional differences of Ukrainians, the language issue, and describes the development of the revolution up to the beginning of the 2014 war. Step by step, Vynnytsky describes the path of Ukrainians to inspired patriotism and selfless volunteerism, to building a country in which dignity and justice are very real, not just symbolic.

Natalia Humeniuk – The Lost Island / Наталя Гуменюк «Загублений острів»

  • Gumenyuk N. The Lost Island. Tales from Occupied Crimea. – Old Lion Publishing House, 2020. – 312 p.
  • ISBN: 9786176795940
  • Sale of rights:

«Crimea has become a political laboratory where the limits of international law and the militarization of consciousness are being tested». By «swallowing» russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, the world community has given a signal to the aggressor that it is possible to act even more brazenly and brutally. Sanctions did not stop the war… Before it began, Ukrainian journalist Natalia Humeniuk sought to make visible the stories of people who found themselves in the occupation, suffered political repression and personal loss. But above all, The Lost Island is a collection of reports on Crimea, the first of which was written in 2014 and devoted to the «voting for independence» fabricated by the russian occupiers. According to the сanons of reportage, the author presents the facts and perspectives of various people — participants or witnesses of the so-called «russian spring» in the Crimea. All this is worth paying attention to, because russia can use the same scenario in many other countries.

Olia Hnatiuk – Courage and Fear Оля Гнатюк «Відвага і страх»

  • Hnatiuk O., Courage and Fear: DUKH I LITERA, 2015. – 496 p.
  • SBN: 978-966-378-404-5
  • Sale of rights:

«I wanted to show the relationship between heroes of different nationalities, heroes who were destined to survive the war in occupied Lviv». the author says in the preface. The time and space of the book by Olia Hnatiuk are full of thematic complexity, because in 1939, according to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, Lviv, along with other western Ukrainian lands, became a part of the USSR, before which the city was ruled by Poland and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Despite all the historical perturbations, the inhabitants of the city, some using courage and some guided by an instinctive desire to survive, together faced the Second World War. That is why in Hnatiuk’s story, Ukrainians help Poles, who then look for food for Jews in the ghetto. Courage and Fear is a book about those who have had to live in difficult times and choose between humanity and adaptation to the circumstances that eradicate humanistic gestures. 

Olga Kari – Squash compote / Ольга Карі «Компот із патисонів»

  • Kari O., Squash Compote. – Komora, 2020. – 384 p.
  • ISBN: 9786177286645
  • Sale of rights:

The Ukrainian 1990s were a period of dramatic changes. The country finally gained independence, but still had no particular idea of ​​what to do with it. It was a time of rapid, and in most cases illegal, enrichment of some and impoverishment of others, shortage of goods and at the same time the emergence of new attributes of the epoch — chewing gum, Barbie dolls, Chinese or Turkish clothes… Olga Kari talks about her childhood in a turbulent period, remnants of which Ukrainians still carry with them like a broken suitcase. Poor but smart, Ukrainians experimented with products, saved on everything and doubted that their state had chosen the right political path. But they managed to build the present, which they are already defending for the sake of the future.


Read also: Ukrainian books about the war for urgent translation


що більше читаєш – то ширші можливості