On Our Shelves Now
A stunning debut collection of fiction and creative nonfiction— irreverent and unglorified; loving and tender; uncomfortable and inconvenient—by a Ukrainian writer currently fighting for his country in Kyiv.
Includes the celebrated title story "The Ukraine," which was published in the New Yorker in 2022.
The Ukraine is a collection of 26 pieces that deliberately blur the line between nonfiction and fiction, conjuring the essence of a beloved country through its tastes, smells, and sounds, its small towns and big cities, its people and their compassion and indifference, simplicities and complications.
- In the title story, Chapeye facetiously plays with the English misuse of the article “the” in reference to Ukraine, capturing a country as perceived from the outside, by foreigners. That pseudo-kitsch, often historically shallow, and not-quite-real Ukraine resonates because of its highly engaging and brutally candid snapshots of ordinary lives and typical places.
- In “One Soul per Home” an elderly woman laments that the men are dying and the young are leaving for the cities, changing the face of her small town;
- In “The Unscrupulous Spirit of the Provinces,” a couple of unspecified gender get stoned and go to church; and in “False Premises,” a man romanticizes his younger years working for a Soviet fishing fleet only to reconstruct his nostalgia in the face of Putin’s Russia.
The Ukraine conveys to readers a place that Chapeye and his countrymen are currently fighting for with their lives. The book features a preface by the author, which he composed on his phone from the front lines.
About the Author
An author of both creative nonfiction and popular fiction, ARTEM CHAPEYE was born and raised in the small Western Ukrainian city of Kolomyia and has spent much of the last twenty years living in Kyiv. He is the author of two novels and four books of creative nonfiction, and is a co-author of a book of war reportage. A four-time finalist of the BBC Book of the Year Award, his recent collection The Ukraine was one of three finalists in the award’s new nonfiction category in 2018. Artem is an avid traveler who spent close to two years living, working, and traveling in the U.S. and Central America—an experience that has greatly informed his writing. His work has been translated into seven languages, and has appeared in English in the Best European Fiction anthology and in publications such as Refugees Worldwide, translated by Marian Schwartz. Artem is a past recipient of the Central European Initiative Fellowship for Writers in Residence (Slovenia) and the Paul Celan Fellowship for Translators (Austria), as well as a finalist of the Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism. He serves on the board of PEN Ukraine.
ZENIA TOMPKINS is an American literary translator and founder of The Tompkins Agency for Ukrainian Literature in Translation (TAULT, tault.org). Her published books include adult fiction, adult nonfiction,and children’s. Zenia’s work as a translator and promoter of Ukrainian literature has been featured by The New York Times, The New Yorker, Poets & Writers, BBC Radio, National Public Radio, and Public Radio International. She is devoting 2023 and 2024 to working exclusively with Ukrainian authors who have enlisted in Ukraine’s armed forces since the Russian invasion. Since its inception in 2019, TAULT has worked with over one hundred of Ukraine’s top and emerging authors.
"The characters in The Ukraine, a collection of stories by Artem Chapeye, are tough, brave, funny, wounded people who find fellowship even though they’re not often looking for it. . . . The beauty of [the book] rests foremost in its ability to transcend the narrative that history has forcibly imposed on it." —The Washington Post
"A refreshingly frank portrait of his native country"—The Irish Times
"What the book does . . . is rally against viewing Ukrainians as simply numbers, fleeting headlines, or statistics on a screen – something that is needed more than ever. The Ukraine reminds the reader that behind every Ukrainian is a story." —The Kyiv Independent
"Artem Chapeye shares with us a brilliant screenshot of Ukrainian life. This prose deserves all our attention." —Andrey Kurkov, author of Grey Bees and Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv
"The Ukraine is a startling and genuinely delightful set of stories from a writer now serving in Ukraine’s Armed Forces. Artem Chapeye writes with warmth and brilliance, giving us ‘the Ukraine’ that in all its complexity, comedy, and beauty the author is now fighting to defend." —Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment and Missionaries
"The Ukraine—with the definite article—becomes code for the gritty reality of the country. At the same time, the [title] story is a kind of love letter to that gritty reality." —The New Yorker
"Chapeye represents a modern-day Ukrainian counterpart to classic American writers like Mark Twain or O. Henry, capturing the dignity and respect his characters might not get but nonetheless long for and deserve. . . . Chapeye’s portrayals elevate and honor the seemingly mundane. His sheer perceptiveness renders each story deeply resonant." —Kate Tsurkan, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Candid, darkly funny observations." —Ella Creamer, The Guardian
"In his remarkable collection of stories . . . [Chapeye] offers a refreshingly frank portrait of his native country. . . . Chapeye’s faith in the reader’s intelligence is matched by his deep empathy for his fellow citizens as they struggle with the unheroic task of making ends meet." —Michael Cronin, The Irish Times
*"[A] powerful collection . . . an expansive, absorbing portrait of an imperfect land that’s worth cherishing for its complexity and contradictions. The Ukraine is a deft, humane, and empathetic text that contemplates a nation’s ever-shifting fortunes." —Foreword, starred review
"A unique vision of Ukraine, with and without the "the," Artem Chapeye's book is also a tender and melancholic confession of love, to a beloved and to a homeland by turns, a confession made all the more poignant by the premonition of death." —Liliana Corobca, author of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize winner The Censor's Notebook and, forthcoming, Kinderland
"Journalist Chapeye’s gritty and perceptive debut collection gathers fiction and essays written from 2010 to 2018 to portray everyday life in Ukraine. The atmospheric opener, “Pan Ivan and the Three Bears,” follows a group of adventurous hunters through the frigid Sheshul Mountains. A stranger invites them to his cabin, where he recites three epic tales about man versus wild beasts. The broken family in the heart-wrenching “Sonny, Please...” struggles to survive in Kyiv amid poverty and strife between a grandmother and her alcoholic grandson. The nonfiction entry “Marmalade” describes an illegal excursion to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, where “self-settlers” have chosen to call the forbidden irradiated landscape home. Chapeye, who has since enlisted in the Ukraine Armed Forces and wrote the book’s introduction from the front lines of the war against Russia, remarks that his entire family now lives in a tent city after evacuating Kyiv. Embedded within each character-driven piece is evidence of the passion, solidarity, and resilience of Ukrainian people. Chapeye’s grim stories resonate." —Publishers Weekly