Raven by Vasyl Shkliar

Raven by Vasyl Shkliar

Raven by Vasyl Shkliar

Ukrainian fiction

Translator – Sj Speight and Stephen Komarnychyj

Orginial Title – Залишенець.

Source – Review Copy

When I was offered chance to read Vasyl Shkliar ,I was happy after reading about him and what he does .Vasyl Shkliar is considered the father of the modern Ukrainian novel .Vasyl Shkliar was born in Hanzhalivka in the centre of Ukraine ,his grandfather was a Cossack Warrior ,who too like this novel fought in the Ukrainian Uprising  against the Soviets in 1920 .Shkliar went to a school in a nearby town and spent his summers like many youths in his day working on the farm .He eventually went to university and became a journalist ,whilst doing this he was covering the assassination of a well-known Chechen leader .This later became the basis of his first novel  which in part was based  on this event .The Black Raven was published in 2009 and won the Ukrainian book award that year .

Veremii’s gang has reappeared in the Hunskyl forest and comprises of 80 infantry and 30 cavalry ,with two maxim machine guns and 5 lewis guns .The bandits  made a sudden raid on Zlatopol in broad daylight ,robbed the local executive committee telephone exchange and captured the chief of police ,who , by some accounts is believed to work for them .It is known  that it is the custom among the bandits that when the leader dies one of them takes his name ,but there is  reason to believe that the chieftain ,Veremii was not killed and continues his bloody business .Efforts are being made to confirm this .

The authorised officer ,Diakonov

One of the reports from 1921 from the soviets .

 

The book Follows A gang of Ukrainians that are fighting against the Soviets in 1921 .The gang is led by a man they call the Raven ,he was a former Tsarist officer ,he is described as thirty years with a black beard and long black hair with deep-set eyes and uncompromising .The group of bandits he leads is about 300 infantry men , 75 cavalry and heavily armed bandits ,they operate in zvenyhocodka ,Cherkassy and shpola forests .We see this band of men causing trouble in these regions we follow their  story as they initially do well ,but then things start to go wrong ,  but at the end of every chapter we follow the soviet attempts to capture these men ,in the form of reports as  ravens gang as they wreak havoc .We see how the gang gets on .We follow the highs and lows of this uprising against the Bolsheviks .we feel the dirt and hunger at times ,the power struggles ,mistrust and also how good comrades can be .Also what it meant to be a Cossack !

Raven passed through villages ,forests and fields to reach the Bohunovi farm by evening .Which was just at the edge of the lebedyn forest .It had grown dark early for ,which was laid up at Yevdosia’s Saint Varvava had increased the night , but not the day ,The silver German pocket watch ,which the raven took out of his pocket .

Indicated it was only 5pm  night had already begun to fall

Things get hectic and the raven is constantly moving later in the book

 

This book was very eye-opening as I had never heard of this uprising in Ukraine against the soviets ,but also the divides it caused to everyday life .I also felt this book given the time it came out and the fact the Shkliar was writing the book for 13 years before it was published ,just as the face of modern Ukraine was developing .Although he has said it wasn’t about the events at the time of writing but the fact the history had echoed the present .Now to the spin on this book it has caused sparks ,a polish director refused to be involved in a project to film the book  ,I believe this film is still being made as an interview here shows and also a number of people protested it winning the national book prize .Now I am not overtly political and just found it a ripping good historic novel about what where brave men trying to fight to keep the country free .If you like corners of unknown history and want to discover a totally unknown writer in the west I suggest this is the book for you .

August 2013
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