Monday, August 08, 2022

For A Crust of Bread

For A Crust of Bread / ed. by Sonia Morris; 
trans. from the Ukrainian by Roma Franko
Toronto: Language Lanterns, c1998.

This is the last volume of the Women's Voices in Ukrainian Literature series from Language Lanterns. As they say, "In this volume, seven of the authors from volumes I through IV explore the intersect between marriage and social values in the class society of the day.".

Two of those authors are Lesya Ukrainka and Hrytsko Hryhorenko, who I talked about in yesterday's review. The others are Olena Pchilka, Nataliya Kobrynska, Lyubov Yanovska, Olha Kobylianska, and Yevheniya Yaroshynska. As always, you can find biographical information on each at the publisher's website. 

The focus of this collection is marriage and all its repercussions in women's lives. The publisher notes that not all of the stories are equal in their literary merit but that they've been included because of the spotlight they shine on this theme. I found that this collection was very readable and I was engaged by each of the stories. Whether they were lighter tales of flirtation and unexpected love or very sad, depressing ones of tragedy or missed chances, each one had something to recommend it. 

I found the title story, by Nataliya Kobrynska, especially memorable -- the characters are so distinct and terrible that the trajectory of this story seems unavoidable. Fortunes rise and fall, and the bitterness and selfishness of the various players is both understandable and unfortunate. This one really looks at the relationships between women, in reference to their marital and economic status, and what it does to female interactions (no sisterhood found here!) This story had the feel of a French novel in a way, and the main characters do travel to Europe from their Western Ukrainian setting. 

But each story was illuminating in its own way. This was a really good read, with lots to learn and consider in it. I appreciate this series and now only have a couple more left to encounter. 

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