Under siege in Ukraine
The latest book from the Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov (best known for his post-Soviet satire Death and the Penguin) is a version of the diary he has been writing since Russian tanks rolled into his country last February: Diary of an Invasion (Mountain Leopard, £16.99). In The Observer last weekend, which published extracts, Kurkov was interviewed by Rachel Cooke. His book, she says, brings the early days of the war vividly to life:
He writes stirringly of the notes people begin leaving in their cars offering lifts to the border; of his sudden longing for the comforting sweetness of honey; of the cigarettes required to bribe Russian soldiers at checkpoints in the east. Here are the kind of stories you don’t see on the television news: a description of the evacuation of dolphins trained to work with autistic children from Kharkiv to Odesa; of the doll talismans (known as oberig or “protectors”) that Ukrainians knit and transport to the front along with warm socks; of the rise of the TikTok star Tetyana Chubar, a tiny, blond, 23-year-old divorced mother of two, who is the commander of a self-propelled howitzer.