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The Museum of Abandoned Secrets Paperback – October 9, 2012
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About the Author
Oksana Zabuzhko was born in 1960 in Ukraine. She made her poetry debut in 1972, but her parents’ blacklisting during the Soviet purges prevented her first book from being published until the 1980s. She earned her PhD in philosophy from Kyiv Shevchenko University and has taught as a Fulbright Fellow and writer-in-residence at Penn State University, Harvard University, and the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of seventeen books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, which have been translated into fifteen languages and have garnered numerous awards. Her novel Field Work in Ukrainian Sex was named “the most influential Ukrainian book for the fifteen years of independence.” She lives today in Kyiv, where she works as a freelance writer.
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Top Customer Reviews
Novel 1: a black comedy -- sprawling, picaresque -- about the romance of two Gen X intellectual yuppies in the year 2003 in the corrupt, materialistic and chaotic post-Communist upper crust Ukrainian society -- and
Novel 2: a sad, lyrical World War II and Cold War novel about two middle class lovers serving as soldiers in a tiny forest-based guerilla unit in the WWII Ukrainian insurgent army that fought the Poles, the Nazis, the Russian Communists, the Italians -- well, virtually everyone -- in an attempt to create a free Ukraine.
Since the book is really two novels rather than one, it clocks in at 678 pages. The two novels are tied together by the narrator -- one of the two yuppies -- who is a prominent television journalist making a film about the lives of the romantic couple in the tiny guerilla unit and their tragic ultimate fate. She enters a love affair with a descendant of one of the two ill-fated forest guerillas.
The two novels are different in style.
The social comedy -- think a longer version of Nikolai Gogol's "Dead Souls" in its themes -- or Zadie Smith's "White Teeth" -- constitutes a sweeping, hilarious panorama of Ukrainian society after being freed from centuries of multiple wars and dictatorships. The stories are amusing, classic FSU (Former Soviet Union) stories -- the moral and intellectual confusion of people in a country where the rulers, flags, official language and approved national religion changed every few generations as a new conqueror marched through.Read more ›
The writing is all over the place in this novel and the narration is very difficult to follow. Plus the author is trying to tell two stories in one book which makes it an exceedingly long book. If you know nothing about Ukraine from WWII to present day there are many things in this novel that will simply go over your head.
At times when reading this novel I thought I could not go on and finish it but I managed to make it through. Was it worth it? That I'm not sure of. I gave it 3 stars because much of the writing is beautiful and lyrical but it is very difficult to follow.
Although this book is a TOME I got a big kick out of it, particularly as despite having a smattering of historical knowledge of the mid-20th century Ukraine, I tend to have a vague Balkanized image of the Soviet empire's still newly-independant former colonies. I also enjoy the author's Proustian writing style, her humorous meditations on her country's social development, the artful revelations of the simultaneous persistance and wilfull ignorance of history, and the elegaic way Zabuzhko handles the dreams of Aidy, Lolly's lover, in which he lives out the doomed romance of the partisan lovers: his namesake Adrian and his aunt Gela.
The translation is highly readable, but the tale is so long I sometimes lost the thread and had to go back - even then it wasn't always easy! However my real problem has more to do with my own ignorance I guess; even for someone with a smattering of knowledge about the postwar resistance movements against communism, Ukrainian historical geography needs a little elucidation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Artfully written, but the stream-of-consciousness writing requires a commitment on the part of the reader to stick with the multi-layered, time-travel love stories around which... Read morePublished 10 months ago by macu
Magnificent use of language. Especially impressive in a translation. The book is long; I was relieved to arrive at the end. Very much enjoyed the insights into life in the Ukraine. Read morePublished 22 months ago by jan jackson
A masterful and prescient coming-of-age story of a sort that is set in both present-day (2009) and WW II-era Ukraine, this novel centers on a mid-life video-journalist and her... Read morePublished 23 months ago by GrebeWatcher
It's ok. The writing is beautiful. The imagery is exceptional but the storyline is so complex and convoluted. I can't follow the movements back and forward in time. Read morePublished 23 months ago by jolev