Modern Ukrainian fiction in English

Ukrainian literature did not start with the breakup of the Soviet Union though novelists writing in Ukrainian certainly came to the fore post-the Soviet Union.

A Ukrainian novel

However before looking at the 20th-21st century Ukrainian authors, I would like to mention several Ukrainian novelists that we tend to know as Russian novelists, because they wrote in Russian and the Russians claimed them but who were, in fact Ukrainian: Nikolai Gogol, Mikhail Artsybashev, Isaac Babel, Mikhail Bulgakov, Nikolai Ostrovsky, Anna Akhmatova and Ilf and Petrov. The French writer Irène Némirovskywas also Ukrainian. This article has more on the topic.

One of the first published writers in Ukrainian was Hryhorii Kvitka-Osnovianenko. His best-known novel Marusia was translated into English while his novel Oksana was translated into French but both are very difficult to obtain.
Iryna Vilde was one of the first twentieth century prose writers, writing in Ukrainian to receive any acclaim. None of her work has been translated into English but a short story collection has been published in German as Das grüne Tor and is available.

The first grouping here is authors who were mainly or entirely first published during the twentieth century, prior to the break-up of the Soviet Union. Note that, during the Soviet era, many/most of them would have written in Russian and that the translations into English were mainly published by Soviet presses and that the books are now quite difficult to find. All of these with English titles were published in English. Where there is a link to an author, it is to an article about him/her. Where there is a link to a title, it is to a review (however brief) of the book. Author names are in bold. If you want just the post-Soviet authors/works, go here.

Ivan Bahriany
Тигролови (The Hunters and the Hunted)

Oles Berdnyk
Bernyk was a science fiction writer who got into a lot of trouble with the Soviet authorities
Прометей (Prometheus)
черный папирус (Black Papyrus)
Apostle of Immortality (story collection)

Viktor Blyznets
Земля світлячків (In the Land of the Living Lights) (stories)

Ivan Bodnaruk
Покоління зійдуться (The Generations Will Get Together)

Dmytro Chub
So This Is Australia (collection of short stories)
He also wrote a biography of Shevchenko, translated as Shevchenko the Man

Anatoliy Dimarov)
Через місточок (Across the Bridge)
В тіні Сталіна (In Stalin’s Shadow) (collection of four novellas)

Oleksander Dovzhenko
Зачарована Десна (The Enchanted Desna)

Volodimir Drozd
Дорога до матер The Road to Mother)

Volodymyr Gzhytsky
Ніч і день (Night and Day)

Andrii Holovko
бур’яни (Weeds) (novel)
Червона хустина (The Red Kerchief) (stories)

Yevhen Hutsalo
A Prevision of Happiness and Other Stories

Igor Kaczurowskyj (Ihor Kachurovsky)
Шлях невідомого (Because Deserters Are Immortal) (my review)

Borys Kharchuk
A Measure of life and a Measure of Death (stories)

Illia Kiriak
Сини землі (Sons of the Soil)

Olha Kobylianska
В неділю рано зілля копала (1908) (On Sunday Morning She Gathered Herbs)
But… the Lord is Silent : Selected Prose Fiction

Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky
Тіні забутих предків (Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors) (my review)
Дорогою ціною (At a High Cost)
Fata Morgana (Fata Morgana)

Volodymyr Malyk
Посол Урус-шайтана (The Cossack Ambassador)

Dmytro Mishchenko
Сіверяни (The Siverianians)

Yurii Mushketyk
Жорстоке милосердя (Cruel Mercy)

Vsevolod Nestaiko
Тореадори з ВасюківкиTwo (Toreadors from Vasukovka Village)

Theodore Odrach
Вошадь (Wave of Terror) (My review)

Teodosii Osmachka
Ротонда душогубців (Red Assassins)

Valerian Pidmohylny
Місто (The City) (My review)
Невеличка драма (A Little Touch of Drama)

Mykola Ponedilok
Смішні сльозинки (Funny Tears)

Mariia Pryhara
Козак Голота (The Cossack Holota)

Rostyslav Sambuk
Ювелір з вулиці Капуцинів (The Jeweller from Capuchins Street)

Natalka Sniadanko
Колекція пристрастей (Collection of Passions) Excerpt

Vasyl Sokil
And Then There Was Glasnost (novellas (Вікна виходять на захід (Windows Facing Westward); Така довга ніч (A Night so Long))

Mykhailo Stelmakh
Кровь людская– не водица (Let the Blood of Man Not Flow)

Vasyl Symonenko
Rose Petal Wine (collection of his stories) summary by publisher

Hryhir Tiutiunnyk
Холодная мята (Cool Mint)

Zinaida Tulub
В степу безкраїм за Уралом (The Exile) (My review

Mykola Vinhranovskyi
Літній вечір (Summer Evening)

Volodymyr Vladko
Science fiction writer
Нащадки скіфів (Descendants of the Scythians)

Volodymyr Vynnychenko
Записки кирпатого Мефістофеля (Notes of a Pug-Nosed Mephistopheles)
Чорна Пантера і Білий Медвідь (Black Panther and Polar Bear) (drama)

Ostap Vyshnia
Hard Times a selection of his work) (summary by publisher

Yuri Yanovsky
Байгород (Bayhorod) (summaryВершники (The Horsemen)
Байгород (Bayhorod) (summary

Maik Yohansen
Подорож ученого доктора Леонардо і його майбутньої коханки прекрасної Альчести у Слобожанську Швайцарію(Dr. Leonardo’s Journey to Sloboda Switzerland with his Future Lover, the Beautiful Alcesta )

Pavlo Zahrebelny
Дума о бессмертном (From the Point of View of Eternity)

Vasyl Zemliak
Лебедина зграя (The Swan Flock)
Зелені млини (Green Mills)

I will also mention Oles Honchar who wrote in Russian and was a committed Soviet supporter but wrote a couple of interesting novels which I have reviewed: Людина і зброя (Man and Arms) and Собор (The Cathedral), the latter being of particular interest. Other works of his appeared in English, including Прапороносці (Standard-Bearers), Прага (Golden Prague), Тронка (Tronka), Циклон (The Cyclone), Берег любові (The Shore of Love) and Твоя зоря (Your Dawn).

Many Ukrainians as well as Russians perished in the Soviet terror. Borys Antonenko-Davydovych is one. Three of his books have appeared in English: Смерть (Duel), За ширмою (Behind the Curtain) and Between the Trenches : Selected Prose Fiction.

Before the Storm : Soviet Ukrainian fiction of the 1920s is an interesting collection of stories from that era.

However, a lot has been published since the fall of the Soviet Union and that is when the most interesting Ukrainian work appears. The following is a brief introduction to some of these writers in a fairly random order, with the three most interesting (in my view) contemporary novelists who have been translated into English appearing first. As above, where there is a link to an author, it is to an article about him/her. Where there is a link to a title, it is to a review (however brief) of the book. Author names are in bold.

Andrey Kurkov is certainly one of the most interesting authors writing in Ukraine today. His books translated into English include:
Бикфордов мир (The Bickford Fuse) (review in The Guardian)
Милый друг, товарищ покойника (A Matter of Death and Life ) ( (review at the Complete Review)
мерть постороннего (Death and the Penguin) (my review)
Игра в отрезанный палец (The Case of the General’s Thumb) (review at the Complete Review)
Добрый ангел смерти (The Good Angel of Death) (review in The Guardian)
Остання любов президента (The President’s Last Love) (review in The Guardian)
Закон улитки(Penguin Lost) (review at the Complete Review)
Ночной молочник (The Milkman in the Night) (review in The Guardian)
Садовник из Очакова (The Gardener from Ochakov) (My review)
Серые пчелы (Grey Bees) (my review)

His Twitter account is well worth following to see what is going on in Ukraine.

Yuri Andrukhovych has also had several books translated into English.
Московіада (The Moscoviad) (My review)
Перверзія (Perverzion) (my review)
Рекреації (Recreations) (my review)
Дванадцять обручів (Twelve Circles) (brief review at the TLS)

Serhiy Zhadan has been described as an anarchist but despite or because of that, several of his works have been translated into English.
Депеш Мод (Depeche Mode ) (review at the Complete Review)
Anarchy in the UKR (very brief review by Nordic voices)
Ворошиловград (Voroshilovgrad) (my review)
Mесопотамія (Mesopotamia)
Інтернат (The Orphanage (My review)

Other post-Soviet fiction writers

Emma Andijewska
Роман про добру людину (A Novel about a Good Person)

Sophia Andrukhovych
Фелікс Австрія (Felix Austria)

Yevgenia Belorusets
Lucky Breaks (stories – review in Washington Post)

Artem Chekh
Точка нуль (Absolute Zero) (my review)

Larysa Denysenko
Сарабанда банди Сари (The Sarabande of Sara’s Band) (summary by publisher)

Volodymyr Dibrova
Пельце; Пентамерон published together in English as Peltse, Pentameron (Review by LA Times)

Maryna and Serhiy Dyachenko have published several fantasy novels in Ukrainian/Russian/English. See Wikipedia link for more details
Vita Nostra (Vita Nostra) – My review

Marjana Gaponenko was born in Ukraine but now lives in Germany and writes in German. One (Wer ist Martha? Who is Martha?) has been translated into English My review

Lyubov Holota
Епізодична пам’ять (Episodic Memory)

Yuriy Izdryk
Воццек & воццекургія (Wozzeck) (brief reviews on Jstor)

Markiyan Kamysh
His Оформляндія або прогулянка в Зону (Stalking the Atomic City) about his illegal wanderings in Chernobyl. My review

Margarita Khemlin
Клоцвог (Klotsvog) (review from LA Review of Books)
Дознаватель (The Investigator) (my review)

Eugenia Kononenko
Російський сюжет (A Russian Story) ( My review

Andriy Kokotiukha
Адвокат iз Личакiвської (The Lawyer from Lychakiv Street) (my review)

Sana Krasikov was born in Ukraine but lives in the US and writes in English
The Patriots (review in The Guardian)

Svetlana Lavochkina
She was born in Ukraine but lives in Germany and writes in German
Die rote Herzogin (Dam Duchess) (Review at Spears)

Oksana Lutsyshyna
Іван і Феба (Ivan and Phoebe) (published June 2023

Andriy Lyubka
Карбід (Carbide) (My review)

Tanya Malyarchuk
Біографія випадкового чуда (A Biography of Chance Miracle) (my review)

Maria Matios has had a few works translated into English
Солодка Даруся (Sweet Darusia) (My review)
Апокаліпсис (Apocalypse) (novella)
Майже ніколи не навпаки (Hardly Ever Otherwise) (brief summary by publisher Glagoslav)
The Russky Woman (excerpt by publisher on Facebook) (complete text in English)

Yaroslav Melnyk
Last Day (short story collection)

Yelena Moskovich
Born in Ukraine, emigrated to the US. Writes in English
A Door Behind A Door
The Natashas

Alexei Nikitin
Истеми (Y.T.) (My review)

Taras Prokhasko: The UnSimple (text – Part 1; Part 2) (My review
Necropolis (story) published in Two Lands, New Visions : Stories from Canada and Ukraine

Katja Petrowskaja
Born in Ukraine, emigrated to Germany. Writes in German.
Vielleicht Esther (Maybe Esther) review in The Guardian

Volodymyr Rafeyenko
Мондеґрін. Пісні про смерть і любов (Mondegreen : Songs about Death and Love) (my review)
Долгота днейThe (The Length of Days)

Iren Rozdobudko
Ґудзик (The Lost Button) summary by publisher

Oleg Sentsov: Оповідання/Жизня Life Went on Anyway (stories; review at Kirkus)

Valerii Shevchuk
Птахи з невидимого острова (Birds from an Invisible Island) (review from Maria Burdastykh)
На полі смиренному… (The Meek Shall Inherit) (text)
Око Прірви (Eye of the Abyss) (text: Part 1; Part 2

Vasyl Shevchuk
Григорій Сковорода (Precursor) (summary by publisher
Побратими (Blood Brothers) (text in English)
Breath of Evil
Голос трави (Voice of Grass)

Vasyl Shkliar
Чорний Ворон (Raven’s Way)

Oleh Shynkarenko
Кагарлик (Kaharlyk) (My review)

Oles Ulianenko
Stalinka (text Part 1; Part 2)

Yuriy Vynnychuk
смерті (Tango of Death) (My review)
The Fantastic Worlds of Yuri Vynnychuk (stories)

Ostap Vyshnia
Hard Times a selection of his work) (summary by publisher

Volodymyr Yavorivsky
Марія з полином у кінці століття (The Chornobyl Madonna) review from East-
West Journal)

Oksana Zabuzhko has had two novels published in English.
Польові дослідження з українського сексу (Field Work in Ukrainian Sex ) (My review))
Музей покинутих секретів (The Museum of Abandoned Secrets) (review at Language Hat)

Note that some of her fiction and poetry have also been translated into English

Various online translated short stories can be found here and here

There are various collections of Ukrainian stories of which I would particularly recommend Herstories: An Anthology Of New Ukrainian Women Prose Writers

This list – 9 books on the Carpathians, from political satire to mythical tales – has several Ukrainian novels (also mentioned above)

Translations into other languages (a few random ones I have come across; there are undoubtedly many more)

Kateryna Babkina
Соня (Heute fahre ich nach Morgen)

Liubko Deresh
Культ (Kult – German), Culte – French) (My review)
Поклоніння ящірці. Як нищити ангелів – Die Anbetung der Eidechse oder Wie man Engel vernichtet
Намір (Intent! oder Die Spiegel des Todes)

Irina Kilimnik: Sommer in Odessa

Yaroslav Melnyk (aka Jaroslav Melnik)
Далекий простір (Espace lointain) – French
Маша, або Постфашизм (Macha ou le IVe Reich) – French
Les parias d’Eden:
L’Oiseau qui buvait du lait

Dzvinka Matiyash
Історії про троянди, дощ і сіль (Histoires sur les roses, la pluie et le sel)

Oleksandr Irvanets
Рівне/Ровно (Pralinen vom roten Stern)

Links to other sites on Ukrainian literature on my Ukraine page

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