Out of the impoverished Ukrainian coal regions, where Russian secret military intervention mixes with banditry and insurgency, the women of Yevgenia Beloruset’s captivating collection of stories emerge from the ruins of an ongoing war. Through a series of unexpected encounters, we are pulled into the ordinary lives of these anonymous women: a florist, a cosmetologist, readers of horoscopes, the unemployed, cardplayers, a witch who catches newborns with a mitt. One refugee tries unsuccessfully to leave her broken umbrella behind as if it were a sick relative; another sits down on International Women’s Day and can no longer stand up. With a mix of humour, verisimilitude, the undramatic, and a profound irony reminiscent of Gogol, Belorusets threads these tales of ebullient survival with twenty-three photographs that form a narrative in lyrical and historical counterpoint.

Lucky Breaks is Beloruset’s first work of fiction and was given a 2020 Haus der Kulturen der Welt International Literature Award in Germany.

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