Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex by Oksana Zabuzhko (tr. Halyna Hryn)

a nutshell: this spectacular stream of consciousness pours forth from a US-based, Ukrainian-born professor/poet who wrestles with the end of a repressive relationship and, tied into this, the lasting effects of a repressive upbringing

a line: “‘take me’ always means: ‘take me together with my childhood'”

an image: one stunning passage describes the colours that imbue not only individual words but also languages – the electric violet, blue-wine of Italian, the garden greens of Polish, the translucent chicken bouillon broth of English (even waterier in the States) – as she hungers for her own language

a thought: the protagonist chastises herself for not realising on time that her home is her language – it’d always be with her, like a snail’s shell, and there would never be any non-portable home for her

a fact: published in Ukraine in 1996, the book sparked controversy and national fame for Zabuzhko – it topped the bestseller list in Ukraine for more than ten years, making it the most successful Ukrainian-language book of the 90s

 

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