The conflict in the Ukraine through the perspective of one of our Ukrainian authors.

During this year’s World Book Day words fail us. With Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine war has returned to the heart of Europe. We here at novum publishing condemn the actions of Russia unequivocally. At the same time, we realize that we are privileged. We can hardly imagine the kind of suffering our Ukrainian neighbours are experiencing on a daily basis. To understand the situation better, we have talked with our author Viktor Korobko whose short story collection ‘The Story of life … and Not Just That’ was published in 2020.

What he had to tell us, deeply moved the members of our team. To show solidarity, we have decided to donate all proceeds from our online store on World Book Day to our Ukrainian authors. Aside from this monetary gift, we hope that Viktor’s words can shine a light on the bravery and perseverance of the Ukrainian people.

‘We are okay’

In these hectic times, we reach Viktor via e-mail. His 81-year-old mother and him have just arrived in Moldavia, while his wife and children have found refuge in Romania. All of them, Viktor says, are ‘okay’. When Russian troops started opening fire on a military base that’s only 3 kilometres outside of his hometown of Odessa, Viktor left the Ukraine for the first time on the 24th of February. His family found shelter in the city of Vulcănești in the south of Moldavia. They then decided to move on to Romania, where they rented an apartment in Bucharest at the beginning of March. Meanwhile, Viktor returned to the Ukraine to meet his mother at the border to Moldavia, from where his e-mail reached us.

What war means

What does Viktor want us Europeans to know? ‘War means that the eyes of your children turn serious – like the eyes of grownups. Their eyes become sad. And wet.’ Viktor’s children where trembling as he asked them to seek shelter underground. ‘War also means a nomadic life and, in our case, – luckily – to continue living.’ Apart from that, nothing remains except for ‘disaster, destruction, dirt and death.’

In the current climate, Viktor finds, fear and desperation rule supreme. A resolution to the conflict however would need the return of calm and prudence. As a Karaite Viktor finds solace and peace when reading the Psalm of David. Other than that, he can only follow news bulletins; fiction tires him out. His own literary pursuits were put on the back-burner. ‘I tried to write, but nothing good came of it. That’s the reality.’

The principle of hope

Viktor’s story is one of many. Over four million Ukrainians have fled their home, for the largest part women and young children. The challenge, which Europe faces, is to offer them realistic prospects, until the war finds its end.

War puts a stop to civilised behaviour. Where destruction occurs daily and propaganda rears its ugly head, the hope in the power of truth and decency can never be lost. The written word is a powerful tool to counter lies and half-truths. Our thoughts are with the courageous Ukrainian – and Russian – authors and creative artists who are brave enough to put pen to paper in these uncertain times. Our thoughts are also with those – like Viktor – whose words have been suppressed by the everyday atrocities. As a publisher we will do everything in our power to nurture their voices so the may rise again. In the meantime, and always, the belief in a peaceful world is our guiding principle.

About the author

Viktor Korobko was born and raised in Odessa and is married with four children. He began writing poetry in the 1990s and published his first novel in 2015. He has since published four more works and enjoys walking, cooking, and fishing.

About the book

Title: The Story of Life… and Not Just That
Author: Viktor Korobko
Plot: Viktor Korobko’s ‘The Story of Life…and Not Just That’ is a collection of engaging short stories which ruminate on the philosophical implications of power, greed and modern life

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