Maria Matios: Солодка Даруся (Sweet Darusya)

The latest addition to my website is Maria Matios‘s Солодка Даруся (Sweet Darusya). The novel is set among the Hutsul people in the Carpathians and is told in reverse chronological order, starting in the 1960s . Sweet Daryusa is so called because the locals consider her foolish and because she is mute. \We learn that she is not as stupid as they think and that she can talk if she wants to. Indeed, she frequently talks to her late father at his graveside. She occasionally suffers from extreme pain caused by eating sweets or even hearing them mentioned, which she cures by immersing herself in the river. Things change when an itinerant drymba seller moves in with her and looks after her but get worse when he is arrested by the Soviet authorities. We move back to the 1930s/40s where we meet her parents who are devoted to one another till one day Matronka, the wife, disappears. We also learn that of the various occupiers of the region, the Russians are the worst . Andrey Kurkov said it was one of the finest post-independence Ukrainian novels and I certainly would not want to disagree with him.

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