As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine escalates, support for Ukraine and its people continues to grow. Some people are curious to learn more about the history between Russia and Ukraine and what led to this conflict; others are simply curious to better understand Ukraine itself. Below are five books, including both nonfiction and novels, that showcase Ukraine’s unique culture.
The Ukrainian-born chef presents “a gorgeous love letter to the food of her homeland” with this vibrant and varied collection of recipes (SAVEUR).
Nothing depicts a country quite like its food, and in Mamushka, Ukrainian-born chef Olia Hercules shows readers her corner of the world, from Kiev to Kazakhstan. Featuring more than 100 recipes for fresh, delicious foods, plus stories about her upbringing and family traditions, Mamushka is “a gorgeous love letter to the food of her homeland” (SAVEUR).
“Forget what you think you know about Ukrainian food; with OIia Hercules, it's fun and colorful.” —Epicurious
Hip Hop Ukraine
“This is a unique and admirable book that traces a complex trail from hip hop created by African migrants in Ukraine through remote African-American influences to their origins in Uganda and back again.” —Slavic Review
While Ukraine’s heritage is closely tied to Russia’s, there are also other immigrant populations adding to its culture. In Hip Hop Ukraine, Adriana N. Helbig uses music as a lens to view African immigration in eastern Ukraine.
“A well-conceived study of the role and significance of hip hop in Ukraine. It joins the ranks of other very timely chronicles on the impact of hip hop in various societies around the world.” —Allison Blakely, Boston University
Babushka's Beauty Secrets
Raisa Ruder has spent her life making people beautiful—and she owes her secret techniques to her Ukrainian grandmother, or babushka. As you might expect from a wise Ukrainian woman, these techniques don’t require expensive lotions or botox. Instead, pantry staples are used to naturally brighten skin, shrink pores, plump up your lips, and much more.
This Ukrainian novel has a particularly timely plot centered around a drunken teacher’s fantastical scheme to dig a tunnel to Hungary, forcing the European Union to let Ukraine’s entire population in. Though this story seems particularly dark at the current moment, the book’s quixotic shenanigans make it a hilariously tragic read.
Three small streets known as Little Starhodivka are in Ukraine’s Grey Zone, a no-man’s-land between Ukrainian and Russian frontlines in Donbas. Only two residents remain, beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich and Pashka, his frenemy.
As spring nears, Sergey knows his bees need to leave the Grey Zone so they can collect their pollen. But embarking on this seemingly simple mission is full of dangers.