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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for The Ukraine
Book cover for The Ukraine

Translated by Zenia H. Tompkins

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.

Book cover for The Ukraine
Book cover for The Ukraine

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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.”

“Artem Chapeye shares with us a brilliant screenshot of Ukrainian life. This prose deserves all our attention.”

“Going beyond headlines of war and strife, Artem Chapeye’s The Ukraine parts the veil to offer an earthy, humane look at the people and places of Ukraine. Chapeye is a Ukranian native and traveling journalist, and his compendium of short stories and “creative nonfiction” dates from 2010-2018, documenting local struggles (and in some cases, eerily presaging the future). The Ukraine‘s fiction entries focus on the quotidian: an old village woman venturing to Kyiv to sell potatoes while dodging nosy police officers; a former hoodlum dealing with the stresses of being a father; a downtrodden courier obsessed with acquiring the latest smartphone. For these characters, today is hard enough. These stories capture people’s travails with rough affection and humor. But the true meat of Chapeye’s powerful collection is its numerous creative nonfiction segments, chronicling his travels across Ukraine. His visits to regions already wracked by clashes between government forces; Russia-friendly separatists and corrupt local authorities provide sobering context for the current war with Russia. There are vibrant details, too, as of repairmen forced to use a rusty Russian motorcycle chain to replace the chain on a damaged Japanese motorcycle, and of a car battery that’s used to power a single light bulb for warmth in the dead of winter. Chapeye’s interviews and unlikely friendships with political pundits, brash truck drivers, hardscrabble country folk, and committed militants give a human face to Ukraine’s woes. Each subject is handed ample opportunity to voice their disappointments and fears about what Ukraine is and where it’s going. The result is 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.”

“Artem Chapeye shares with us a brilliant screenshot of Ukrainian life. This prose deserves all our attention.”

“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 Ukraine” rests foremost in its ability to transcend the narrative that history has forcibly imposed on it.”

“Chapeye blends memoir and fiction in this eclectic study of life in Ukraine. Written between 2010 and 2018, the stories offer candid, darkly funny observations on topics ranging from domestic squabbles to rural life and crime.”

“Chapeye’s portrayals elevate and honor the seemingly mundane. His sheer perceptiveness renders each story deeply resonant.”

“[A] fierce, kaleidoscopic blend of short stories and nonfiction… By scrutinizing Ukraine’s foibles alongside its strengths, Mr. Chapeye reveals why these proud, defiant people captured the world’s attention two years ago, and why they deserve continued support.”

“As Chapeye’s first book published in English, “The Ukraine” is notably far from an optimistic account of a united nation. What the book does do, however, 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.”

“Combining travel account, reportage and memoir, the collection wrestles with the multiple complexities, contradictions and tensions of a country that, like any other, has to reckon with the likes of poverty, discrimination and the insidious reach of clientelism.”

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 has authored 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 has spent approximately 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 in translation 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.