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byOlena ZvychainaTranslated byJ ZurowskyEditorDanny Evanishen

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A woman's story of survival.


Kharkiv is a Ukrainian city that suffered terribly, not only under Stalin, but also during the Nazi occupation in World War II. The story is about Katrusia, a young woman who is caught up in the desperate struggle for survival. This volume is the first-ever English-language translation of this novel.


Written by Olena Zvychaina

Translated from Ukrainian by J. Zurowsky

Edited by Danny Evanishen

Illustrations by Dorene Fehr


112 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches, soft cover, perfect-bound, illustrations.

ISBN 0-9697748-6-9


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From the Publisher

Kharkiv   A woman's story of survival.   Kharkiv is a Ukrainian city that suffered terribly, not only under Stalin, but also during the Nazi occupation in World War II. The story is about Katrusia, a young woman who is caught up in the desperate struggle for survival. This volume is the first-ever English-languag...

Format:Other FormatDimensions:112 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.3 in

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0969774869

ISBN - 13:9780969774860

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Read from the Book

Kharkiv   The wind twirls the snow, wildly carrying snowflakes on his light wings; he plays.... Playing, he instills his own order on the streets.... Here on the corner of Pushkin and Kapluniv Streets, he constructs a complete snow fortress, while on the other side of Pushkin, he conscientiously sweeps the snow, as if with a broom, exposing a slippery and bare, ice-covered spot.... And Frost, the Joker himself, is playing; he pinches the air with, for Kharkiv, an unprecedented low temperature of minus 38 degrees Centigrade....   Down the center of Pushkin Street two women lumber a small sleigh toward Pushkin Cemetery, one harnessed to the sleigh in front, the other pushing from behind.... On the sleigh, tightly fastened with a thick rope, lies a corpse wrapped in a gray blanket.... Its legs hang from the sleigh rigid and unbendable, like two logs.... Two weird, thick stumps protrude from beneath the gray blanket....   This funeral does not arouse any curiosity from the many pedestrians.... Preoccupied, they run quickly past, huddled, hiding as deeply as possible their blue, generally puffy faces beneath the collars of their coats....   On the windswept and ice-covered spots, the sleigh with the corpse slides by itself and the two women run after it, fruitlessly trying to catch up to the corpse, which bravely glides toward the cemetery, having stuck out its weird thick stumps of numb legs....

Editorial Reviews

Kharkiv Canadian Book Review Annual 1996 Reviewer: Myroslav Shkandrij  Kharkiv is the English translation of a story that was first published in Ukrainian in 1947. The story describes German-occupied Kharkiv in the winter of 1941-42 from the point of view of a young woman. Counterbalancing the protagonist’s determination to survive (starvation claimed some 14,000 lives) are pictures of the profiteering by soldiers. The translation is excellent, capturing the nimble reporting style of the original. Brief notes by the translator provide useful background information.  Kharkiv Ukrainian News November 20-December 3, 1996 Reviewer: Marco Levytsky  In 1939, before the outbreak of World War II, Kharkiv had a population of 833,000. It had witnessed years of Stalinist terror during which people were arrested, deported or executed for holdings beliefs contrary to those of the Stalinist establishment. Among those to perish were the intellectual and artistic Èlite, people known personally by Olena Zvychaina. These years of terror during the interwar period became the subject of most of Olena Zvychaina’s work in the West. The one exception is "The Golden Stream Out of Hungry Kharkiv," which takes place during the war.  This story, it seems, happened either to somebody very close to Zvychaina, or perhaps to Zvychaina herself. Nevertheless, the traumas and tragedies of the Stalinist years, compounded by the atrocities of World War II, had a searing effect on Zvychaina. She became a recluse.  Kharkiv was occupied by the Germans on Oct 25, 1941, and they held the city for 22 months. They city they conquered was in ruins. The retreating Red Army had destroyed all the power stations, water supply systems, railways and other transportation and communication facilities. 400,000 people were evacuated from Kharkiv to Southern Asia for the duration of the war. The thousands who were held in NKVD prisons for political, social, religious and other beliefs were executed.  During the first three months of 1942, the period during which the bulk of the story takes place, it is estimated that 14,000 people died of starvation. The Nazis also started their own terror campaign, executing real and supposed Ukrainian nationalists, along with supporters of the previous rÈgime and Jews. By the time the Soviet army retook Kharkiv, a further 100,000 people had been exterminated by the Nazis and their supporters. The Germans also transported 60,000 people to work in the forced labor camps in Germany.  Zvychaina’s “Kharkiv,” which has been translated into English by J Zurowsky, and published by Ethnic Enterprises Publishing Division of Summerland, BC, tells the story of Katrusia, a young Kharkivite, whose husband disappeared after being impressed into a forced labor brigade and who must now struggle to feed both herself and her unborn child. In stark and graphic terms the book describes the terrible effects hunger has on its victims and the degradation and loss of human dignity that accompanies it. It is a tale which graphically illustrates this period of Ukrainian history and, in fact, many periods for the suffering nation which experienced famines throughout.  Zvychaina never did complete the book and the publishers decided to leave the translation without an ending as well in order to preserve the works’s integrity. Although this leaves the reader guessing as to how the story may end, it nevertheless provides an authentic quality to the work, much as in the case of the “Diary of Ann Frank.”  “Kharkiv” is a change of pace for Ethnic Enterprises, best noted for author Danny Evanishen’s translations of Ukrainian folk tales like “Zhabka” and the “Raspberry Hut.” But it is nevertheless a compelling read.