May 01, 2023

Four Books

Duel, book cover.

Borys Antonenko-Davydovych
Translated from the Ukrainian by Yuri Tkacz (Glagoslav; $24.99; 200 pp.)

This short, grim, fine novel (titled Death, Смерть, in Ukrainian), first published in 1927, describes the Bolshevik officer Kost Horobenko crushing resistance in early 1920s Ukraine. Horobenko is mistrusted by fellow officers for his former advocacy of Ukrainian causes, namely the country’s independence. But now, with Leningrad's brutal retaking of Ukraine, he means to be more severe than his comrades. “The fact of the matter is, Kost,” he says to himself, “that you are marching against the village. The Ukrainian village… Together with these incomprehensible people, you must now strike the very target which you only very recently built with your own hands as a secure shield. You must shatter this target to pieces so that no trace of it remains. You must shoot at your former self, Kost!”

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