Black Square by Sophie Pinkham
Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine

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A glibness, too, can crop up. Pinkham dispenses with the natural-gas wars that have dominated Russo-Ukrainian relations in the post-Soviet era in a half-paragraph — and, within it, glosses the Holodomor, the murder of untold millions of Ukrainians during the collectivization of the 1930s.
-NY Times

Synopsis

A distinctive writer’s fascinating journey into the heart of a troubled region.


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 more 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.

 

About Sophie Pinkham

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Sophie Pinkham's writing on Russia and Ukraine has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, n+1, the London Review of Books, and Foreign Affairs, among other publications. She lives in New York. Deborah Feingold
 
Published November 1, 2016 by W. W. Norton & Company. 293 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Black Square
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on Sep 17 2016

Pinkham humanizes the people she met and befriended, and she recognizes that, if anything, a protest that led to warlike conditions has left the future even murkier than before. First-rate reporting, research, and writing in a debut that will make readers care as much as the author does.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Andrew Meier on Nov 25 2016

A glibness, too, can crop up. Pinkham dispenses with the natural-gas wars that have dominated Russo-Ukrainian relations in the post-Soviet era in a half-paragraph — and, within it, glosses the Holodomor, the murder of untold millions of Ukrainians during the collectivization of the 1930s.

Read Full Review of Black Square: Adventures in P... | See more reviews from NY Times
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