By Sophie Pinkham
A precise writer’s interesting trip into the guts of a stricken region.
Ukraine has rebuilt itself over and over within the final century, affected by an identical conflicts: corruption, poverty, substance abuse, ethnic clashes, and Russian aggression. Sophie Pinkham observed all this and extra during ten years operating, touring, and reporting in Ukraine and Russia, over a interval that integrated the Maidan revolution of 2013–14, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the resultant conflict in jap Ukraine.
With a willing eye for the darkish absurdities of post-Soviet society, Pinkham offers a dynamic account of latest Ukrainian lifestyles. She meets―among others―a charismatic healthcare professional supporting to soft the transition to democracy at the same time he struggles together with his personal drug dependancy, a Bolano-esque paintings gallerist at risk of public nudity, and a Russian Jewish clarinetist agitating for Ukrainian liberation. those interesting personalities, rendered in a daring, unique variety, bring an indelible effect of a rustic at the brink.
Black Square is critical studying for somebody who needs to benefit not just the political roots of the present clash in Ukraine but additionally the private tales of the folk who dwell it each day.
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Extra resources for Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine
Kiev was exciting, full of change and opportunity, but there were also many people about Alik’s age who were dying of overdoses, or jumping off buildings, or crashing their cars, or falling into rivers, or losing their minds. Then people started to die of AIDS. Alik got a job working for an international NGO that was bringing HIV treatment to Ukraine. THE LIFE STORY OF OSTAP, a Ukrainian man I met through Alik, is a case study of the drug-addicted children of perestroika. Ostap was from Chernigiv, in northern Ukraine.
Another popular conspiracy theory was that HIV was invented by American pharmaceutical companies; this stopped people from taking HIV medications when they finally became available. Some drug users knew about HIV but didn’t worry about it much. Drug addiction shortens your perspective; if you’re in withdrawal, it’s hard to think about anything but your next fix. By the late 1990s, there was a marked increase in HIV rates among army conscripts and pregnant women, two groups that were tested routinely.
Some of the Russians—Vadim, Irina, and Olya—offered to take some of us Americans out to a club. We went to the center of the city, which looked to me like a bigger, glitzier, orientalized Paris, and through Red Square—where, a decade later, the conceptual artist Pyotr Pavlensky would nail his scrotum to the cobblestones—past the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral and Lobnoye Mesto, which I was told was the place where people used to be executed, though this was just a myth, and where Pussy Riot would stage one of their first performances, a few years later.
Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine by Sophie Pinkham