Part memoir, part detective story ... Patience is required of the reader, too. The ostensible setup for the book is a search to find the truth about Nikodim. But two-thirds in all we’ve had is a set of dead ends. The interest lies elsewhere, beyond narrative: in the intimate picture of life in rural Ukraine, the snapshots of its brutal history and, above all, the portrait of Valentina and her neighbours.
Barbed by pain, this is a book as poignant as it is timely. And, like the rooster perched so precariously on the kitchen dresser in Borodyanka, it reflects the indestructible strength of the Ukrainian people, who so fiercely hold on to hope.