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Imprint

  • MacLehose Press
  • Little Brown
  • Maclehose Press

Grey Bees

Andrey Kurkov

8 Reviews

Rated 0

Ukraine, Fiction, Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), Fiction in translation, General fiction (Children's / Teenage)

Ukraine's most famous novelist dramatises the conflict raging in his country through the adventures of a mild-mannered beekeeper. From the author of the bestselling Death and the Penguin.

Ukraine's most famous novelist dramatises the conflict raging in his country through the adventures of a mild-mannered beekeeper. From the author of the bestselling Death and the Penguin.

"A latter-day Bulgakov . . . A Ukrainian Murakami" - Phoebe Taplin, Guardian

Little Starhorodivka, a village of three streets, lies in Ukraine's Grey Zone, the no-man's-land between loyalist and separatist forces. Thanks to the lukewarm war of sporadic violence and constant propaganda that has been dragging on for years, only two residents remain: retired safety inspector turned beekeeper Sergey Sergeyich and Pashka, a "frenemy" from his schooldays.

With little food and no electricity, under ever-present threat of bombardment, Sergeyich's one remaining pleasure is his bees. As spring approaches, he knows he must take them far from the Grey Zone so they can collect their pollen in peace. This simple mission on their behalf introduces him to combatants and civilians on both sides of the battle lines: loyalists, separatists, Russian occupiers and Crimean Tatars. Wherever he goes, Sergeyich's childlike simplicity and strong moral compass disarm everyone he meets.

But could these qualities be manipulated to serve an unworthy cause, spelling disaster for him, his bees and his country?

Grey Bees is as timely as the author's Ukraine Diaries were in 2014, but treats the unfolding crisis in a more imaginative way, with a pinch of Kurkov's signature humour. Who better than Ukraine's most famous novelist - who writes in Russian - to illuminate and present a balanced portrait of this most bewildering of modern conflicts?

Translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk

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Praise for Grey Bees

  • Sergey is at once a war-weary adventurer and a fairy-tale innocent . . . His naive gaze allows Kurkov to get to the heart of a country bewildered by crisis and war, but where kindness can still be found . . . Translated by Boris Dralyuk with sensitivity and ingenuity. - Times Literary Supplement

  • A latter-day Bulgakov . . . A Ukrainian Murakami. - Guardian.

  • A post-Soviet Kafka. - Daily Telegraph.

  • A kind of Ukrainian Kurt Vonnegut - Spectator.

  • Kurkov draws us with deceptive ease into a dense complex world full of wonderful characters.

  • This time, the Ukrainian author of Death and the Penguin, known for his brilliantly dark humour, has written a modern-day odyssey, with a return that is ambiguously hopeful. - Arts Desk

  • A warm and surprisingly funny book from Ukraine's greatest living novelist. - New European Books of the Year

  • Carries top notes of Beckett and Pinter, along with a slug of Kafka. - Strong Words.

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Andrey Kurkov

Born near Leningrad in 1961, ANDREY KURKOV was a journalist, prison warder, cameraman and screenplay-writer before he became well known as a novelist. He received "hundreds of rejections" and was a pioneer of self-publishing, selling more than 75,000 copies of his books in a single year. His novel Death and the Penguin, his first in English translation, became an international bestseller, translated into more than thirty languages. As well as writing fiction for adults and children, he has become known as a commentator and journalist on Ukraine for the international media. His work of reportage, Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kiev, was published in 2014, followed by the novel The Bickford Fuse (MacLehose Press, 2016). He lives in Kiev with his British wife and their three children.

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