In Ukraine’s Grey Zone, the no-man’s-land between loyalist and separatist forces, there lies a village of three streets. Thanks to the war of sporadic violence and constant propaganda that has been dragging on for years, only two villagers remain: retired safety inspector turned beekeeper Sergey, and Pashka, his old enemy from his school days.
With little food and no electricity, under the ever-present threat of bombardment, Sergey’s one remaining comfort is his bees. As spring approaches he knows he must take them far from the Grey Zone so that 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, and wherever he goes Sergey’s childlike simplicity and strong moral compass disarm everyone he meets. But could he be manipulated to serve an unworthy cause, spelling disaster for him, his bees and his country?
Described as a post-Soviet Kafka and Ukraine’s greatest living novelist, Kurkov’s style is “spare and effective, drawing us with deceptive ease into a dense, complex world full of wonderful characters” – Michael Palin
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