Eugenia Kononenko: Російський сюжет (A Russian Story)

The latest addition to my website is Eugenia Kononenko‘s Російський сюжет (A Russian Story). This is the last in my Ukrainian marathon and, despite the title, certainly one that deals best with the issue of Ukrainianness (the word is used in the book). We follow the story of Eugene (Zhenia) Samarsky. He is named Eugene after Eugene Onegin, a book that plays a role in this novel. While at university, Eurgene goes to a party where everyone is speaking Ukrainian and which converts him to being a key user and supporter of the language. While waiting for an application for a scholarship to a US university he moves to the house of his dying uncle in the country and takes over the house when the uncle dies. There he gets involved with two sisters – Olga and Tatiana – named, of course, after the sisters in Eugene Onegin. When he gets involved in a Eugene Onegin-like real life story, things go wrong and he is off to the United States where he meets and marries an Irish-American Russian literature teacher. What makes this book interesting is the role of language. Eugene “discovers” Ukrainian at a party one evening and is converted and will continue to examine its role. There is also the issue of the influence of Russian literature on Ukraine and, with a few Russian teachers in the book, this becomes an issue, particular in comparison with the literature of a smaller country like Ukraine. This was an excellent book to finish my Ukraine marathon and one well worth reading.

Leave a comment