Read these 6 books about Ukraine


At Kramers, an independent bookstore in Washington, DC, many books on Russia and Ukraine are out of print. The books started rolling off the shelves just over a week ago as the world braced for a Russian invasion of Ukraine, said chief executive Llalan Fowler.

“People definitely chose Russian books more, like Putin’s People and that kind of title,” she told NPR. “A lot of the books that are available to us about Ukraine and Russia, their relationships and their history are already out of stock at our supplier.”

Many customers walk into the store knowing what they want, she said. But if you don’t know what to look for first, here’s a roundup of books on Ukraine you might want to dive into.

I will die in a foreign landby Kalani Pickhart

Pickhart’s debut novel is on Fowler’s to-read list. Named one of the New York Public Library’s Best Books of 2021, I will die in a foreign land chronicles what Ukrainian protests looked like in 2013 and 2014, as protesters demanded closer ties with NATO and the European Union.

Pickhart told KJZZ’s “The Show” last month that the book has gained more attention as tensions have risen between Russia and Ukraine.

“I think a lot of people are looking for more information and wanting to kind of understand the conflict in a way that’s sort of digestible, basically trying to get a sense of the emotional motion of what’s going on,” said Pickhart.

strokes of luckby Yevgenia Belorusets

A fictional book on Fowler’s list, strokes of luck, translated from Russian by Eugene Ostashevsky, is a collection of short stories about women living in the aftermath of the war in Ukraine. Belorusets, a Ukrainian writer, focuses on ordinary life – florist, cosmetologist, card player, among others.

Hip Hop Ukraine: Music, Race and African Migration, by Adriana Helbig

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Helbig, who chairs the music department at the University of Pittsburgh, saw African musicians rapping in Ukrainian during the Orange Revolution in 2004. The revolution followed a presidential election, which many have called corrupt and fraudulent.

Through ethnographic research on music, media and politics, Helbig’s book delves into the world of urban music, hip hop parties and dance competitions, and interracial encounters between African immigrants and locals.

Jews and Ukrainians in Russian Literary Frontiers: From the Shtetl Fair to the St. Petersburg Bookstoreby Amelia Glaser

This book, which covers much of the 19th century and part of the 20th century in Ukraine, explores how those who work and write in Russian, Ukrainian and Yiddish communicate and collaborate in places like commercial markets and fairs. Glaser’s study seeks to show that Eastern European literature was much more than just a language and culture.

Red Famine: Stalin’s War Against Ukraine, by Anne Applebaum

This book delves into the famine in Ukraine created by Joseph Stalin in the early 1930s as he sought to destroy the Ukrainian national movement. Nearly 4 million Ukrainians died and many were arrested by the Soviet secret police.

On NPR’s Fresh Air, Applebaum, historian and journalist write about the war in Ukraine for Atlantic, explained how Vladimir Putin and Stalin saw Ukraine in the same way: “as a vector of ideas that could undermine or threaten it”.

Midnight in Chernobyl, by Adam Higginbotham

Higginbotham, a journalist, has spent years investigating the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. In his book, he explores the design flaws and Soviet secrecy that contributed to the explosion, as well as efforts to contain the damage. He spoke to Fresh Air about the novel in 2019.

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