By Oksana Lutsyshyna
Translated by Nina Murray
Ivan and Phoebe chronicles the lives of several young people involved in the Ukrainian student protests of the 1990s—otherwise known as the Revolution on Granite or the First Maidan and investigates the difficulties and absurdities of a society swiftly shifting from subjugation to revolution to post-Soviet rule.
Winner of the 2021 Taras Shevchenko National Prize in Literature
Publication Date: June 6, 2023
Married couple Ivan and Phoebe grapple with questions about family, tragedy, and independence. Although protagonist Ivan tells the story, Phoebe's voice rings through the text. The two reflect on the harrowing aftermath of revolution: torture at the hands of the KGB and each other. Ivan refuses to talk about his pain, while Phoebe recounts her past wounds through poetic monologues. The story bounces between politically charged cities like Kyiv and Lviv and Ivan's small, traditional hometown of Uzhhorod. As characters come to exercise their rights to free speech and protest, they must also reevaluate the norms of marriage and home life. These initially appear to be spaces of peace and harmony but are soon revealed to be hotbeds of conflict and multigenerational trauma.
Through her characters’ vivid voices, Oksana Lutsyshyna creates a his- and her-story of Ukraine: a panoramic view of post-Soviet society and family life through social, political, and economic crises.
Oksana Lutsyshyna is a Ukrainian writer, translator, and poet, author of three novels, collection of short stories, and five books of poetry, the latest of them published in the English translation in 2019 (Persephone Blues, Arrowsmith). For her latest novel, Ivan and Phoebe, she was awarded Lviv City of Literature UNESCO Prize (2020) and the Taras Shevchenko National Award in fiction (2021). She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Instruction in Ukrainian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where she teaches the Ukrainian language and Eastern European literatures in translation.
Nina Murray was born and raised in Lviv. She holds advanced degrees in Creative Writing (Poetry) and English Language and Literature. In 2011, Nina launched her career as a translator with The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko. She has since translated other works by Oksana Zabuzhko, as well those by Lesia Ukrainka, Iryna Shuvalova, Alina Zubkovych, and other writers.
"This well-told tale with rich prose and relatable characters is a good primer on Ukraine." —Kirkus
"Lutsyshyna conveys themes of disillusion and misogyny with a wicked sense of humor and an unflinching view of the characters’ inner pain. This harrowing anti–love story is a winner." —Publishers Weekly