Black Square: Adventures in Post-Soviet Ukraine by Sophie Pinkham

By Sophie Pinkham

A particular writer’s interesting trip into the guts of a bothered region.

Ukraine has rebuilt itself over and over within the final century, suffering from an identical conflicts: corruption, poverty, substance abuse, ethnic clashes, and Russian aggression. Sophie Pinkham observed all this and extra during ten years operating, touring, and reporting in Ukraine and Russia, over a interval that integrated the Maidan revolution of 2013–14, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the resultant conflict in jap Ukraine.

With a willing eye for the darkish absurdities of post-Soviet society, Pinkham offers a dynamic account of up to date Ukrainian lifestyles. She meets―among others―a charismatic health practitioner supporting to delicate the transition to democracy at the same time he struggles together with his personal drug habit, a Bolano-esque artwork gallerist at risk of public nudity, and a Russian Jewish clarinetist agitating for Ukrainian liberation. those interesting personalities, rendered in a daring, unique type, bring an indelible influence of a rustic at the brink.

Black Square is important examining for somebody who needs to profit not just the political roots of the present clash in Ukraine but additionally the non-public tales of the folks who dwell it each day.

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By Sophie Pinkham

A particular writer’s interesting trip into the guts of a bothered region.

Ukraine has rebuilt itself over and over within the final century, suffering from an identical conflicts: corruption, poverty, substance abuse, ethnic clashes, and Russian aggression. Sophie Pinkham observed all this and extra during ten years operating, touring, and reporting in Ukraine and Russia, over a interval that integrated the Maidan revolution of 2013–14, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the resultant conflict in jap Ukraine.

With a willing eye for the darkish absurdities of post-Soviet society, Pinkham offers a dynamic account of up to date Ukrainian lifestyles. She meets―among others―a charismatic health practitioner supporting to delicate the transition to democracy at the same time he struggles together with his personal drug habit, a Bolano-esque artwork gallerist at risk of public nudity, and a Russian Jewish clarinetist agitating for Ukrainian liberation. those interesting personalities, rendered in a daring, unique type, bring an indelible influence of a rustic at the brink.

Black Square is important examining for somebody who needs to profit not just the political roots of the present clash in Ukraine but additionally the non-public tales of the folks who dwell it each day.

2 maps

Show description

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But drugs had become easily available, carried across newly open borders, sold under the noses of the corrupt, dysfunctional police, or made at home from poppies or chemical precursors. Alcoholism had been the scourge of the Soviet Union and the Russian Empire before it, but easily accessible drugs were a novelty, the vice of a new world. Teenagers boiled marijuana in milk in their parents’ kitchens, drinking it from glass bottles. LSD promised a world that was no more insane than the real one and perhaps more enjoyable.

I was thinking: Christopher Columbus, Lewis and Clark didn’t worry about getting raped! On the other hand, I was not Christopher Columbus, or Lewis and Clark. My father had recently sent me an email asking if I was sure it was safe, and whether my trip would keep me from applying to graduate school. Lewis and Clark never went to graduate school! But I didn’t say that to my father. MY FIRST GLIMPSE of Russia was through the fogged-up window of a tour bus: a stand of birches, slender and pale beside the long highway.

The AIDS Conference wasn’t always so inclusive; it started as a strictly scientific event. In 1989 activists from the American group AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP, pushed their way into the conference, carrying their SILENCE = DEATH posters. ACT UP was famous for its direct actions in the United States, where members were often arrested during acts of civil disobedience. Over the years ACT UP members infiltrated the New York Stock Exchange, chaining themselves to the VIP balcony to protest the price of the only AIDS drug approved for use; marched to the White House carrying the casket of a dead ACT UP leader; and put an enormous condom over Senator Jesse Helms’s house in Arlington, Virginia.

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