Selecting new Ukrainian literature : the August 2017 Slavonic item(s) of the month

The University Library’s Ukrainian-language holdings have nearly doubled in recent years, from 2,500 or so titles when I first arrived in 2010 to about 4,500 now.  We buy books mainly on history and culture, with literature and philology among our main accession areas.  Selecting new literary titles, however, is often rather a challenge.

Selecting books on literature is one thing.  It is easy enough to spot, where offered, good academic titles produced by respectable presses.  A recent (and ongoing) stand-out example is the Istoriia ukrains’koi literatury (History of Ukrainian literature; 758:65.c.201.5(1-4)) set produced by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, of whose 12 projected volumes we have the four already published.  These – shown in the photo – cover the 10th century to 1830 (v. 1-3) and the work of Taras Shevchenko (v. 4).

Selecting literary titles of past authors is usually also straightforward because the value of their literary contribution is normally known.  Similarly, buying new titles by established current writers (Zabuzhko, Zhadan, Matios, Andrukhovych, to name a few) is also easy.  Determining which books to buy by modern writers less firmly established, however, is something I always find rather tricky.

There are lots of ways in which to try to determine whether or not a modern literary title should be purchased.  We look at the publisher and use the internet to read up about the author and track down any reviews about their work in general and the book in question.  A complicating factor, however, is the need to select quickly, often before much has appeared about the book, due to issues with supply.  Here are a few recently received novels now in the catalogue:

From left to right, these titles are:

  • Infektsiia (Infection; C213.c.762) by Stepan Protsiuk.
  • Kil’ka rokiv zymy (Several years of winter; C205.d.2057) by Valentyn Terlets’kyi.
  • Vertep : roman pro Maidan (Vertep : a novel about Maidan; C205.d.2058) by Olena Zakharchenko.
  • Tut i teper’ (Here and now; C205.d.2059) by Iren Rozdobud’ko.

Suggestions about new literary titles to look out for and acquire or literary prize news and relevant blogs to follow are always welcome, as are any suggestions for new books from Ukraine at all, to slavonic@lib.cam.ac.uk

Mel Bach

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