The Post-Chornobyl Library
Ukrainian Postmodernism of the 1990s
Academic Studies Press 2019
New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Eastern European StudiesNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Russian and Eurasian StudiesNew Books Network October 29, 2019 Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed
Tamara Hundorova’s The Post-Chornobyl Library: Ukrainian Postmodernism of the 1990s (Academic Studies Press, 2019) is a compelling study of the literary changes that mark Ukrainian literature at the end of the 20th century. As the title of the book prompts, a starting point—or rather a triggering moment for further metamorphoses—is the Chornobyl catastrophe. However, this trajectory is further complicated by the collapse of the Soviet Union. The two events—different in its nature and affects—produce a unique environment for literary, ideological, and political responses. Tamara Hundorova looks at the literary process from the perspective of postmodern dialogical shifts. But what are the premises of Ukrainian postmodernism? How does it develop vis-à-vis its numerous “foreign” counterparts? How does the Soviet past shape the specificities of Ukrainian postmodernism? In The Post-Chornobyl Library, postmodernism is discussed in terms of traumas. As Tamara Hundorova argues, in Ukrainian literature postmodernism, which is characterized by multiple masks, roles, and functions, provides tools for dealing with traumas: ecological, ideological, existential, private and public. Postmodernism also evokes apocalyptic themes; however, the sense of end or exhaustion is complemented by new “replenishments.” According to Tamara Hundorova, the carnivalesque becomes one of the most productive devices to engage with the traumatic. The Post-Chornobyl Library offers an insightful examination of how literature responds to traumas and engages with restorations, re-discoveries, and vitalities.