Volodymyr Frauenzimmer is a man with a preposterous name and a preposterous past. His Ukrainian mother was a Nazi concentration camp guard who adores
When poor Volodymyr Frauenzimmer discovers that he’s the product of rape and that both his parents are killers, he goes into a funk. As the past catches up to him, his grasp on reality begins to disintegrate. Volodymyr’s descent into madness is halted when, one day, he comes upon the photograph of a fish-eyed man toward whom he feels a visceral revulsion. As Volodymyr discovers the redeeming power of hatred and its capacity to help him cope with his dreadful past, he resolves to kill “fish eyes”—the Exceptionally Great Leader of Russia, a half-Russian, half-German dictator whose name—Pitoon—happens to “rhyme with spittoon.”
In attempting to carry out his plot, the “Jew who was Ukrainian” first turns for advice to Sholom Schwartzbard, the Jewish anarchist who assassinated the Ukrainian nationalist leader, Simon Petliura, in 1926 in Paris, and then to Bohdan Stashynsky, the Ukrainian KGB assassin who killed two Ukrainian nationalist émigrés in 1957 and 1959 in Munich. In extended dialogues, both Schwartzbard and Stashynsky—and their victims—engage Volodymyr in discussions of history, criminality, guilt, and restitution.
As poor Volodymyr is scheming to kill Pitoon, little does he know that he’s the victim of a devious plot devised by Pitoon’s own agents—the seductive Ukrainian communist, Katorga; the tortured Jewish-Russian-German dissident, Putschkin; and the owner of the trendy Moscow restaurant, the Gulag Grill, Dostaevsky. Volodymyr’s fate is sealed. He gets caught, but after a mock trial, the magnanimous Pitoon releases him with the advice that he ask Lenin for guidance. Volodymyr does—only to be told, much to his dismay, that the past is unalterable and that historical guilt doesn’t exist.
The Jew Who Was Ukrainian combines third-person narrative, first-person monologues, play-like dialogues, and excerpts from newspaper accounts to create an absurdly tragicomic picture of the impossibility of life at the intersection of Hitler’s Holocaust and Stalin’s Gulag.
Cervena Barva Press, 2011, 188 pages, $16.00.
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Flippancy features two lovers—both unnamed middle-aged academics—who take turns depicting their empty lives, their unsatisfying relationship, and the absurd interpersonal dynamics of their university department. The other members of the department—Sassafras, Ding, Etwas,
Reviews: Mykola Dementiuk, http://mydem.blogspot.com/2009/08/flippancy.html
Who Killed Andrei Warhol is an absurdist tragicomedy that imagines a friendship between pop artist Andy Warhol and a strait-laced Soviet Ukrainian journalist who arrives in New York at the height of the garbage strike in early 1968 to cover the impending American revolution. As the journalist, Sasha Ivanov, struggles to understand life in New York, he decides that his fellow Ukrainian worker, “Andrei” Warhol, is a socialist realist painter, a proletarian genius, and a passionate Leninist. Ivanov also has an affair with Warhol’s would-be assassin, Valerie Solanas, and gets implicated in intrigues involving the FBI, the KGB, the Communist Party USA, the Black Panthers, and the Students for a Democratic Society. Seven Locks Press, 2007.
Anatoly Filatov is the “whiskey priest,” a despairing Communist true believer, whose world comes crashing down with the collapse of the USSR. Jane Sweet is the foreign-service officer, a Ukrainian-American woman who discovers her identity, as both a woman and a Ukrainian, while liberating herself from her past. The action heats up as Filatov, who is a part-time hit man for the Russian Mafia, kills three American professors in Vienna. The fourth, a cynical Ivy League professor and Soviet émigré, Igor Bazarov, escapes to Kyiv. The four professors stole millions of dollars from the Mafia and invested in a prostitution ring that exploits Ukrainian women. Filatov and Sweet pursue Bazarov throughout Ukraine, and, along the way, Filatov seduces Sweet. As the two close in on Bazarov, Sweet realizes she has been used—and plots revenge in a stunning conclusion. iUniverse, 2005.
A street corner on a brightly lit intersection. Sounds of traffic intermingle with music. Well-dressed men and women walk from left to right and from right to left. They smoke, gesture, stop, look around, linger. Snatches of conversations are heard.
A man in a fedora is standing on the corner. He is leaning against a building, reading a newspaper. He looks at his watch. He stops reading. He looks around. He begins reading again. He paces. He looks at his watch. And so on.
As he becomes visibly more impatient, he slaps the newspaper against his leg, blurts out -- “where the hell are them guys?” -- and storms off.
Also available from Cervena Barva Press: http://www.thelostbookshelf.com/m.html#AlexanderMotyl
Imperial Ends: The Decay, Collapse, and Revival of Empires.
Revolutions, Nations, Empires: Conceptual Limits and Theoretical Possibilities.
Sovietology, Rationality, Nationality: Coming to Grips with Nationalism in the
Will the Non‑Russians Rebel? State, Ethnicity, and Stability in the
The Turn to the Right: The Ideological Origins and Development of Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919-1929. Boulder: East European Monographs, 1980.