Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine

Black Square Adventures in Post Soviet Ukraine Ukraine has rebuilt itself over and over again in the last century plagued by the same conflicts corruption poverty substance abuse ethnic clashes and Russian aggression Sophie Pinkham saw all th

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  • Title: Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine
  • Author: Sophie Pinkham
  • ISBN: 9780393247978
  • Page: 302
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Ukraine has rebuilt itself over and over again in the last century, plagued by the same conflicts corruption, poverty, substance abuse, ethnic clashes, and Russian aggression Sophie Pinkham saw all this and in the course of ten years working, traveling, and reporting in Ukraine and Russia, over a period that included the Maidan revolution of 2013 14, Russia s annexaUkraine has rebuilt itself over and over again in the last century, plagued by the same conflicts corruption, poverty, substance abuse, ethnic clashes, and Russian aggression Sophie Pinkham saw all this and in the course of ten years working, traveling, and reporting in Ukraine and Russia, over a period that included the Maidan revolution of 2013 14, Russia s annexation of Crimea, and the ensuing war in eastern Ukraine.With a keen eye for the dark absurdities of post Soviet society, Pinkham presents a dynamic account of contemporary Ukrainian life She meets among others a charismatic doctor helping to smooth the transition to democracy even as he struggles with his own drug addiction, a Bolano esque art gallerist prone to public nudity, and a Russian Jewish clarinetist agitating for Ukrainian liberation These fascinating personalities, rendered in a bold, original style, deliver an indelible impression of a country on the brink.Black Square is necessary reading for anyone who wishes to learn not only the political roots of the current conflict in Ukraine but also the personal stories of the people who live it every day.

    One thought on “Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine”

    1. Sophie Pinkham was a moderately privileged New York City girl when in 2004 she volunteered to go to Siberia to work with AIDS patients for the Red Cross. She'd studied Russian in college "on a whim" and didn't quite know what she was looking for, thinking only that she'd find it in the back end of the world. She didn't, but kept looking in Ukraine as it stumbled from crisis to crisis.Black Square is what she saw along the way.Ukraine has had a rough time of it since the USSR splintered in the 19 [...]

    2. Funny, heartbreaking, informative, and original, this book feels like you are traveling through Ukraine with the author as your delightful, soulful companion. The writing is beautiful, the insights are profound, and the characters are unforgettable.

    3. Navigating the Western narrative alongside the reports from the Russian media has been incredibly frustrating in trying to understand the recent conflict in Ukraine. Talking to people in my circle of friends hasn't been much different from reading the news. For those interested in an objective account I couldn't recommend this book more!The mastery of Russian language and simultaneously the impartiality of an outsider put the author in a very unique position of being trustworthy for both sides o [...]

    4. "For vivid and mostly sympathetic images of the "blue and yellow" Ukraine, with its embroidered blouses, mushroom pickers, outsider artists, pre-annexation Crimean nudists, and ethno-nationalist kitsch, with a strange dose of hippie contemporaneity," Pinkham is the one to read. She is intimate, sincere, and unpretentious–the perfect cultural commentator. She excels in letting people speak for themselves."William T. Vollmann on Sophie Pinkham's Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine in [...]

    5. Sophie spent many years travelling across Ukraine, from working with AIDS sufferers to persecuted Crimean Tatars, from Jewish community notices who've never seen a crucifix to Maidan protestors. An important book in demonstrating Ukraine and its politics are complex and multi-layered.

    6. Someone with privilege and no public-health background yups it up in, like, Eastern Europe! You know, "The Ukraine"! This yup came to speak at my university last year and is clearly someone with the right connections, having gotten the hook-ups at the Ivies and now publishing (as a typical out-of-touch "academic"). I read the book anyway and what I got from it were stereotypical views of Slavic people (haha! fur coats and red lipstick and "child-rearing"!) and hipster nonsense (spending time wit [...]

    7. Despite the subtitle, Black Square is not just about Ukraine. It is about the shrapnel the explosive nineties left in Russian and Ukrainian society, from the free travel of drugs that accompanied free borders, to Ukrainians’ struggle with their Soviet inheritance every Victory Day. Through anecdotes from Ukrainian and Russian colleagues and her own travels, Pinkham paints a portrait of Ukraine from the early 2000s to 2015 that, though vivid, falters in its attempt to illustrate a multifaceted [...]

    8. Three-line review: This memoir is a brutally honest if jaded account of Ukraine's recent history, the events leading up to the Maidan Revolution, and the effects the Revolution has had on the country. Told by a Russian-speaking American public health volunteer who worked for several months at a time in Ukraine, this book offers a counter-perspective to the pro-Ukrainian vibe portrayed in the popular documentary "Winter on Fire." While Pinkham weaves in insight and commentary from local friends a [...]

    9. Living in Kiev currently, it was great to hear about my city from someone who has spent some time here and describes the streets and restaurants I know. Beyond that, I had trouble with this book, as it seemed poorly edited and unfinished. Perhaps that was the point of the style, but many of the chapters did not seem to work together, and I am not sure what her conclusions were about her experience/travels, if she had them.

    10. Sophie Pinkham's memoir / history of modern Ukraine really feels like two books that have been spliced into one - one book on the problems of drugs, HIV, poverty, and marginalization of sexual minorities in Ukraine, and one on the revolution and it's aftermath. Both books are revealing and important, but it's hard to find the clear connections between them. This is not necessarily a bad thing; it is in tracing the connections between these that the reader gains the fullest sense of the people an [...]

    11. I would give this 4.5 stars.For all the books about Russia, there has been much less said about Ukraine in comparison, and this is a rare, well written account of a journalist who worked and lived there for quite a while, within which there is some insight into her introduction into the region in the first place (Russian, and then Russia first) . And then it takes us into Maidan, the Russian incursion, war, the struggle from Ukrainians to establish their own identity and language as distinct fro [...]

    12. Author presents a grim picture of Ukraine: punk delirium, notorious sex trade and HIV, political corruption, a sense that nation is under occupation. Her picture is not helped by sentences like this: "Under the Orange Revolution president Yashchenko, Poroshenko had vied with Yulia Tymoshenko for the position if prime minister, but he had also helped found Yunukovich's Party of Regions." Aside from trying to keep the many 'shenkos and 'viches straight in my mind, I found the book interesting and [...]

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