Book Release with Stanislav Aseyev and Volodymyr Rafeyenko


Wednesday, April 27, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Zoom (registration required)

HURI's publications program presents the first two installments of the Harvard Library of Ukrainian Literature Series:

*Please note that this event will take place in Ukrainian, with simultaneous translation into English. Registration is required. Register now

As the war in Ukraine rages on and refocuses on the east, Ukrainian literature can help us understand the Ukrainian people, their long endurance of war, the nature of the Donbas, and the fluctuations of language and identity in Ukraine. In Isolation, a work of journalistic essays, and Mondegreen, a novel, address the beginning stages of the current war, a period when Russia annexed Crimea and Russian-backed separatists proclaimed the "People's Republics," displacing millions of people as they fled violence and Russian control; a period that claimed thousands of lives as the war continued, largely forgotten, for eight years. 

At this event, Stanislav Aseyev and Volodymyr Rafeyenko will discuss their books and take questions from the audience. 

About In Isolation

In Isolation: Dispatches from Occupied Donbas
By Stanislav Aseyev
Translated by Lidia Wolanskyj

In this exceptional collection of dispatches from occupied Donbas, writer and journalist Stanislav Aseyev details the internal and external changes observed in the cities of Makiïvka and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Aseyev scrutinizes his immediate environment and questions himself in an attempt to understand the reasons behind the success of Russian propaganda among the working-class residents of the industrial region of Donbas. 

In this work of documentary prose, Aseyev focuses on the early period of the Russian-sponsored military aggression in Ukraine’s east, the period of 2015–2017. The author's testimony ends with his arrest for publishing his dispatches and his subsequent imprisonment and torture in a modern-day concentration camp on the outskirts of Donetsk run by lawless mercenaries and local militants with the tacit approval and support of Moscow. For the first time, an inside account is presented here of the toll on real human lives and civic freedoms that the citizens of Europe’s largest country continue to suffer in Russia's hybrid war on its territory.

Available in paperback, hardcover, and electronic copies. (Contact us directly to order hardcover copies.)

About Mondegreen

Mondegreen: Songs about Death and Love
By Volodymyr Rafeyenko
Translated and introduced by Mark Andryczyk

A mondegreen is something that is heard improperly by someone who then clings to that misinterpretation as fact. Fittingly, Volodymyr Rafeyenko’s novel Mondegreen: Songs about Death and Love explores the ways that memory and language construct our identity, and how we hold on to it no matter what. The novel tells the story of Haba Habinsky, a refugee from Ukraine’s Donbas region, who has escaped to the capital city of Kyiv at the onset of the Ukrainian-Russian war. His physical dislocation—and his subsequent willful adoption of the Ukrainian language—place the protagonist in a state of disorientation during which he is forced to challenge his convictions. Written in a beautiful, experimental style, the novel shows how people—and cities—are capable of radical transformation and how this, in turn, affects their interpersonal relations and cultural identification. Taking on crucial topics stirred by Russian aggression that began in 2014, the novel stands out for the innovative and probing manner in which it dissects them, while providing a fresh Donbas perspective on Ukrainian identity.

Available in paperback, hardcover, and electronic form.

About the Authors

Stanislav Aseyev is a Donetsk-born Ukrainian writer and journalist. He is the author of a collection of poetry, a play, and a novel. Under the penname Stanislav Vasin, he published short reports in Ukrainian press about the situation on the ground following the outbreak of Russian-sponsored military hostilities in Donbas. Arrested and unlawfully imprisoned by separatist militia forces for “extremism” and “spying,” Aseyev was held captive and subjected to mistreatment and intermittent torture for over two and a half years.

Volodymyr Rafeyenko is an award-winning Ukrainian writer, poet, translator, literary and film critic. Having graduated from the Donetsk University with a degree in Russian philology and culture studies, he wrote and published entirely in Russian. Following the outbreak of the Russian aggression in Ukraine’s east, Rafeyenko left Donetsk and moved to a town near Kyiv where he wrote Mondegreen: Songs about Death and Love, his first novel in the Ukrainian language, which was shortlisted for the Taras Shevchenko National Prize, Ukraine’s highest award in arts and culture. Among other recognitions, he is the winner of the Volodymyr Korolenko Prize for the novel Brief Farewell Book (1999) and the Visegrad Eastern Partnership Literary Award for the novel The Length of Days (2017).