Book Notes: Luko Dashvar’s Milk with Blood

Yes, book notes! I managed to read something. This is good.

My initial search for contemporary Ukrainian literature worthy of the name produced no results but I didn’t give up and consulted a specialist. The specialist (also known as Dad) gave me a list of titles, and I’m happy to report that, apparently, the problem wasn’t with the literature but with the publishing industry. The combination of weird noms de plume, horrendously written promotional blurbs, off-putting titles, and vulgar cover art conceal wonderful books.

Take Luko Dashvar’s Milk with Blood. “Luko’s” name is actually Iryna Chernova. A perfectly normal name that sounds nothing like the mildly obscene pen name. Talking about obscene, I will spare you from having to see the cover art of this novel. Suffice it to say that I’d be embarrassed if anybody saw me holding the book. And I don’t embarrass easily. And the title? Oh, lordy.

But the novel itself is excellent. Very Ukrainian, very intense. The female protagonist is what I’ve been looking for in a character for years. Strong, stubborn, very complicated, and not given to clucking like a headless chicken about her insecurities.

I don’t think it will ever be translated because half of the joy of the novel is in the language. But let me tell you, the story is excellent. It’s hard to surprise me with a plot anymore but this one. . . came completely out of left field. World War II is mentioned, and most of the action happens in the USSR. These two things are enough to put me right off a book. But “Luko” (brrr, that pen name) writes about them in a way that does not annoy me.

I will proceed down the list, squinting at the cover art because it does the books no favors.

2 thoughts on “Book Notes: Luko Dashvar’s Milk with Blood

  1. Has it been translated into Russian? Or any other good Ukrainian novels?

    Cannot read Ukrainian, but would love to read modern (or not modern) good Ukrainian literature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, no translation.

      But I do highly recommend the Ukrainian modernist writer Volodimir Vinnychenko who has been translated into Russian. He’s an absolutely amazing writer.


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