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"A Hunger Must Cruel" is a must read for anyone interested in Eastern European history, particularly the history of Ukraine. Surprisingly, very little information is available regarding the Great Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933, but since the Ukrainian independence in 1991 the facts have started to come out. The Ukrainian famine was planned by the Soviet Union and its gang of communist ideologists, agitators, propagandists and apologists in order to destroy the Ukrainian people and their opposition to the Soviet Union. Millions of innocent men, women and children died of starvation while the Soviet NKVD/KGB shock troops destroyed crops and forcibly took food from people's homes. The tragedy of the Ukrainian Famine rivals the Jewish Holocaust, a fact resented by some, yet it still remains largely unknown. It was deliberately suppressed during the Soviet era, and publicly denied in the U.S. by such notorious news reporters, as Walter Duranty of the NY Times, who, incredibly, won the Pulitzer Prize for his often distorted and false "news reporting". A massive drive is currently under way by Ukrainians in the U.S., Canada and Europe to posthumously strip Walter Duranty of the Pulitzer Prize he did not deserve, and the Pulitzer Committe is reviewing all the facts. No Pulitzer Prize has ever been revoked before.
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Although A Hunger Most Cruel contains writings on a topic of great importance, Stalin's terror famine, something seems to be lost in translation of these three Ukrainian authors' works. The major issues are all included in some form or another about Stalin's decision to encourage "voluntary" collectivization of Soviet farms, which set off a chain of events resulting in a famine that killed millions (per page 284, 7,000,000 persons). But its importance is inversely proportional to its readability. A kind of stiff, old-style writing is a constant throughout the book (though less so in the third part), separated into sections by author. My favorite story, "Lucky" Hanna, written by Olena Zvychayna, is about a wife and mother who has fled her village after being labeled a kulak (rich peasant farmer) and is later befriended by a kind woman. One day the woman tells her that she is lucky for having thus far survived the famine, not knowing the fate if Hanna's family. While sleeping outdoors one night, Hanna, her husband, and her daughter, assumed dead, are placed in a truck filled with corpses. They escape. The husband dies (she is forced to leave him). And Hannah attempts to abandon her daughter in a marketplace in hopes that a rumor she heard was true - orphaned peasant children are picked up and taken care of. Too late, she changes her mind, and so spends the rest of her life in search of her child.Read more ›
The Taras Shevchenko Prize of the Ukrainian S.S.R. was awarded to the first two authors in this collection; little is known of the life of the third author, however, reading her works leaves little doubt about the excellence of her writing abilities. Input by three authors (Anatoliy Dimarov, Yevhen Hutsalo, and Olena Zvychayna) gives perspectives on the Holodomor that are insightful; their stories are poignant and personal--and, the impressions left will linger and last longer than the time spent in reading them. Each of the three authors is introduced by way of a Biographical Note. A one-page Glossary defines certain words within the text; Ukrainian words used in the story are anglicized by the "s" ending. A Hunger Most Cruel (The Human Face of the 1932-33 Terror-Famine in Soviet Ukraine) is Ukrainian Short Fiction in English published in 2002 by Language Lanterns Publications (winner of the first annual Vesna Festival Arts Award).
As a brief background, the word Holodomor means in Ukrainian murder by starvation. In fact, the second story in this collection by Yevhen Hutsalo is entitled Holodomor: Murder by Starvation. All six of the stories in A Hunger Most Cruel are historical fiction based on true events, which really happened and which are recorded and documented in the annals of history. Following this review is a brief description of Holodomor. For much more detailed, accurate information, please visit the Encyclopedia of Ukraine.
Born in Myrhorod (Poltava region), Ukraine in 1922, Dimarov lived during the years of the horrendous Holodomor that starved millions.Read more ›