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Ukrainian Literature Book Club • Conversation with Andrey Kurkov (Author of Grey Bees)

July 6, 2022 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

The UNC Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies is pleased to invite you to a virtual book club on Ukrainian literature, co-presented by the Regulator Bookshop. The goal of the book club is to highlight translated works by contemporary Ukrainian writers and create a community of readers interested in Ukraine’s history and culture.

The book club will kick off on June 9th with Andrey Kurkov’s internationally acclaimed novel Grey Bees and meet every week through June. Each meeting will have a guest speaker; the schedule is listed below. Andrey Kurkov will speak to the club on July 6th. Zoom links for the meetings will be shared with the book club members in advance. Readers from anywhere in the world are invited to join.


MEETING SCHEDULE (all times are in EST)

June 9, 1 PM • Kickoff and conversation with Lviv-based historian Yaroslav Hrytsak, professor at the Ukrainian Catholic University

June 16, 12 PM • Conversation with Uilleam Blacker, translator and professor of comparative literature at University College London

July 6, 1 PM • Q&A with Andrey Kurkov, the author of Grey Bees

Little Starhorodivka, a village of three streets, lies in Ukraine’s Grey Zone, the no-man’s-land between loyalist and separatist forces. Thanks to the lukewarm war of sporadic violence and constant propaganda that has been dragging on for years, only two residents remain: retired safety inspector turned beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich and Pashka, a rival from his schooldays. With little food and no electricity, under constant threat of bombardment, Sergeyich’s one remaining pleasure is his bees. As spring approaches, he knows he must take them far from the Grey Zone so they can collect their pollen in peace. This simple mission on their behalf introduces him to combatants and civilians on both sides of the battle lines: loyalists, separatists, Russian occupiers and Crimean Tatars. Wherever he goes, Sergeyich’s childlike simplicity and strong moral compass disarm everyone he meets. But could these qualities be manipulated to serve an unworthy cause, spelling disaster for him, his bees and his country?

Born near Leningrad in 1961, Andrey Kurkov was a journalist, prison warder, cameraman and screenplay-writer before he became a well-known novelist. He received “hundreds of rejections” and was a pioneer of self-publishing, selling more than 75,000 copies of his books in a single year. His novel “Death and the Penguin,” his first in English translation, became an international bestseller, translated into more than thirty languages. As well as writing fiction for adults and children, he has become known as a commentator and journalist on Ukraine for the international media. His work of reportage, “Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kiev,” was published in 2014, followed by the novel “The Bickford Fuse” (MacLehose Press, 2016). He was recently profiled in the New York Times Magazine: Link.



July 6, 2022
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
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