Kharkiv by Olena ZvychainaKharkiv by Olena Zvychaina


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


Title:KharkivFormat: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


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

KharkivCanadian Book Review Annual 1996Reviewer: Myroslav Shkandrij Kharkiv is the English translation of a story that wasfirst published in Ukrainian in 1947. The story describes German-occupiedKharkiv in the winter of 1941-42 from the point of view of a young woman.Counterbalancing the protagonist’s determination to survive (starvationclaimed some 14,000 lives) are pictures of the profiteering by soldiers. Thetranslation is excellent, capturing the nimble reporting style of the original.Brief notes by the translator provide useful background information. KharkivUkrainian News November 20-December 3, 1996Reviewer: Marco Levytsky In 1939, before the outbreak of World War II, Kharkiv had apopulation of 833,000. It had witnessed years of Stalinist terror during whichpeople were arrested, deported or executed for holdings beliefs contrary tothose of the Stalinist establishment. Among those to perish were theintellectual and artistic Èlite, people known personally by Olena Zvychaina.These years of terror during the interwar period became the subject of most ofOlena Zvychaina’s work in the West. The one exception is "The GoldenStream Out of Hungry Kharkiv," which takes place during the war. This story, it seems, happened either to somebody veryclose to Zvychaina, or perhaps to Zvychaina herself. Nevertheless, the traumasand tragedies of the Stalinist years, compounded by the atrocities of World WarII, had a searing effect on Zvychaina. She became a recluse. Kharkiv was occupied by the Germans on Oct 25, 1941, andthey held the city for 22 months. They city they conquered was in ruins. Theretreating Red Army had destroyed all the power stations, water supply systems,railways and other transportation and communication facilities. 400,000 peoplewere evacuated from Kharkiv to Southern Asia for the duration of the war. Thethousands who were held in NKVD prisons for political, social, religious andother beliefs were executed. During the first three months of 1942, the period duringwhich the bulk of the story takes place, it is estimated that 14,000 people diedof starvation. The Nazis also started their own terror campaign, executing realand supposed Ukrainian nationalists, along with supporters of the previous rÈgimeand Jews. By the time the Soviet army retook Kharkiv, a further 100,000 peoplehad been exterminated by the Nazis and their supporters. The Germans alsotransported 60,000 people to work in the forced labor camps in Germany. Zvychaina’s “Kharkiv,” which has been translated intoEnglish by J Zurowsky, and published by Ethnic Enterprises Publishing Divisionof Summerland, BC, tells the story of Katrusia, a young Kharkivite, whosehusband disappeared after being impressed into a forced labor brigade and whomust now struggle to feed both herself and her unborn child. In stark andgraphic terms the book describes the terrible effects hunger has on its victimsand the degradation and loss of human dignity that accompanies it. It is a talewhich 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 publishersdecided to leave the translation without an ending as well in order to preservethe works’s integrity. Although this leaves the reader guessing as to how thestory may end, it nevertheless provides an authentic quality to the work, muchas in the case of the “Diary of Ann Frank.” “Kharkiv” is a change of pace for Ethnic Enterprises, best noted forauthor Danny Evanishen’s translations of Ukrainian folk tales like“Zhabka” and the “Raspberry Hut.” But it is nevertheless a compellingread.