sometimes Ukrainians dream of europe

Pomerantsev_ua_468wPeter Pomerantsev at Eurozine:

The journey of contemporary Ukrainian literature starts with violent vomiting on a Moscow side street. Otto von F, the hero of Yuri Andrukhovych's novel The Moscoviad (1993; English translation, 2008) has been on a binge (beer, champagne, vodka, meths, madeira) during the final days of the Soviet Empire, boozing his way through a psychotic city of monarchist madmen, terrorists and thieves, ranting at the great symbols of Russian might: “This is the city of a thousand-and-one torture chambers. A tall advance bastion of the East, in anticipation of conquering the West. The city of Bolshevik Imperial architecture with the high-rise ghosts of people's commissariats. It only knows how to devour.”

Otto is a Ukrainian student poet, resident in the dorm of the gigantic, jagged, neo-gothic tooth of Moscow State University, sensing “the slow bursting of the Empire's seams, with countries and peoples crawling apart, each of them now acquiring independent relevance”. If Ukrainian writers once wrote about the great capital with a mixture of fear and awe, Andrukhovych's hero drunkenly gobs and waves two fingers at it: his very name, Otto von F, announces his European superiority to the barbarous Russian East.

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