Where Currents Meet: Frontiers in Post-Soviet Fiction of Kharkiv, Ukraine

Where Currents Meet: Frontiers in Post-Soviet Fiction of Kharkiv, Ukraine

Where Currents Meet: Frontiers in Post-Soviet Fiction of Kharkiv, Ukraine

Where Currents Meet: Frontiers in Post-Soviet Fiction of Kharkiv, Ukraine


Ukraine's eastern city of Kharkiv is a historical home of modern Ukrainian culture, but its vibrant bilingual literature has been persistently overlooked as a subject of study, often in Ukraine itself. In this refreshingly creative and incredibly timely book, which combines insights from both memory studies and border studies, Tanya Zaharchenko decisively moves "shimmering" Kharkiv from the margins to its rightful place at the center of our attention. A required read for anyone seeking to understand the remarkable cultural and linguistic diversity of today's Ukraine. The significance of Zaharchenko's book derives from its novelty, the sophisticated and accomplished nature of its argumentation, and its graceful style. As a detailed, theoretically justified study of a literary locality, Where Currents Meet breaks new ground. Most importantly, it is an exceptionally timely book: it models a way of writing about the Ukrainian and Russian components of cultural experience in Ukraine's East that sees them as elements of a continuum, not as antagonistic parts of cultural entities whose centers are elsewhere. A rare example of brilliantly written literary research about Serhiy Zhadan and the post-Soviet fiction of Kharkiv, going far beyond close reading and towards a deeper understanding of the cultural and historical convulsions of contemporary Ukraine. A landmark publication for our understanding of boundaries and frontiers, memory and identity as recurrent topics in the major works of young East European writers. Eastern Ukraine more often than not has been a place about which people speak on the basis of firmly held beliefs rather than knowledge and experience. As a consequence, voices from Eastern Ukraine become lost in a cacophony of politically driven polemics, Tanya Zaharchenko offers an invaluable corrective to what is assumed to be collective wisdom. By telling the story of a remarkably bright literary explosion in Kharkiv, she demonstrates the complexity of identity in a place where currents meet, and have done so for decades. This is an important book.


When literature is considered in the light of memory, it
appears as the mnemonic art par excellence.

Renate Lachmann (2004)

As happens at times, this book grew out of my PhD dissertation, “Where the Currents Meet: Frontiers of Memory in the Post-Soviet Fiction of East Ukraine,” which was completed at the University of Cambridge in 2014. The last day of February was my chosen deadline for unloading its softbound copies at the Board of Graduate Studies in a partly triumphant and partly anticlimactic local ritual known as submission. The week before, Ukraine’s Maidan uprising claimed its largest number of victims yet. The bloodshed continued for several days. February 2014 saw the Maidan movement’s most fatal time.

Shortly afterwards, Twitter released a stunning visualization of all tweeted mentions of Ukraine from February 1 to February 25. It consists of pulsating red graphics that overlay a world map. They start off as small, fairly unassuming dots, but toward the end of the month, they seem to cover the globe. Ttis explosion may well be one of

Twitter Data, Twitter post, February 26, 2014, 9:13 a.m., http://twitter. com/twitterdata.

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