List of donation links related to the invasion of Ukraine

(Note: I am not Ukrainian. I have verified these to the best of my ability. Mix of Ukrainian and international orgs. This list is being continually updated. Inclusion of an org is not an endorsement of all their activities or positions but rather indicates that I believe they are working on the ground right now.)

UPDATE: The official ways to donate to Ukrainian government funds (the ones on bank.gov.ua), including the separate funds for humanitarian and military aid, are now on a single website which includes credit card options: https://war.ukraine.ua/support-ukraine/

General Humanitarian:

The National Bank of Ukraine has opened a fundraising account run by the Ministry of Social Policy for those affected by the war. https://bank.gov.ua/en/news/all/natsionalniy-bank-vidkriv-rahunok-dlya-gumanitarnoyi-dopomogi-ukrayintsyam-postrajdalim-vid-rosiyskoyi-agresiyi

Emergency Response/Medical:

Ukrainian Red Cross–The donation page is in Ukrainian hryvnias, not dollars https://redcross.org.ua/en/donate/

The following organizations are coordinating together: Razom, Nova Ukraine, United Help Ukraine, Revived Soldiers Ukraine, Sunflower of Peace, and Euromaidan-Warszava. https://razomforukraine.org/razom-emergency-response/

Food Aid:

https://wck.org/

Journalism:

Zaborona Media (https://zaborona.com/en/) fund for various journalistic needs here: https://2402.org/
Kyiv Independent: https://www.gofundme.com/f/kyivindependent-launch

Refugees:

The US portal to donate specifically for refugees from this war to UNHCR, the UN refugee commission. There may be a different fund for it in your country: https://give.unrefugees.org/220224ukr_emer_d_4983/

HIAS is supporting Right to Protections, their partner org in Ukraine: https://act.hias.org/page/6048/donate/1

Letjaha, activist collective in Poland driving people from the border and finding housing. Newer but seems to be doing good work. https://zrzutka.pl/en/xk4xmf

For those in Ireland to pledge rooms and housing: https://registerofpledges.redcross.ie/#/

For those in the UK to offer housing and sponsor visas for a family: https://homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk/

Defense/army related funds:

The Ukrainian Army’s crowdfunding bank account [in Ukrainian, instructions are in English]: https://bank.gov.ua/ua/news/all/natsionalniy-bank-vidkriv-spetsrahunok-dlya-zboru-koshtiv-na-potrebi-armiyi

Return Alive fund which “provide[s] material and technical assistance to the Armed Force” https://savelife.in.ua/en/

LGBT Military is an org of queer soldiers and veterans started in 2018. Their website is here with donation details on their Facebook page.

Jewish Community:

Hesed Ukraine: http://www.kievhesed.org.ua/en/
The Jewish Federation has a Ukraine-specific fund: https://connect.shalomdc.org/ukraine-emergency-fund

Queer/LGBTQ+ Community:

To help queer refugees and those in Ukraine: https://qua.community/news/aid-network/

To donate via QUA to Fulcrum, an organization on the ground in Lviv, select the “Direct Help LGBTQ in Ukraine” here. https://www.paypal.com/donate/?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=ZNS7FXC4VLPYE

Disabled Community:

Fight for Right is a Ukrainian NGO that supports people with disabilities and has provided evacuation services for 90 disabled Ukrainians and their loved ones as of March 15th. https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-disabled-ukrainians

Children:
https://voices.org.ua/en/

Volunteers:

Ukrainian Volunteer Service coordinates volunteers within Ukraine. They assist civilians and soldiers both, with “special attention to helping elderly and disabled people” according to a friend who has seen them in action. https://secure.wayforpay.com/payment/uvs_support

Additional note on how to help antiwar protesters in Russia:
While Ukrainians are suffering most right now, the repression of antiwar protesters in Russia is scary. The OVD Info organization has been supporting protesters in Russia with legal aid since 2011. Donate to help Ukraine first, but you can also donate to OVD Info’s efforts here: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ovd-info/

Free Ivan Golunov

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of translating an investigative report on corruption in Moscow by Ivan Golunov, “The penthouse family.” Unfortunately, he has recently been arrested on trumped-up drug charges in that same city. His editors are confident he is innocent and being persecuted due to an as-yet-unreleased article (unrelated to the Moscow mayoralty).

Please sign this petition for his release and spread the word of his arrest!

Firebird – Elizabeth Wein

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 10.15.06 PMThis novella was written specifically for teenage dyslexic readers, so it uses more dyslexic-friendly language, length, and formatting, while diving into some tough subject matter and using sophisticated narrative strategies. The book is framed as the written testimony of Nastia, a Soviet pilot in World War II who is accused of treason. She gives an account of her wartime experiences and the incident that led her to be accused.

A “the lady or the tiger” ending leaves readers uncertain as to Nastia’s eventual fate. Is she shot as a traitor or released? This also subtly gives the readers a clue that life in the USSR is not always as Nastia (the loyal daughter of Communist Party members) makes it out to be.

There’s a lot of information on the female pilots of World War II (Nastia is not a bomber pilot or Night Witch, but rather a fighter pilot). Wein clearly outlines her sources for different parts of the story in an author’s note. She is also about to release a nonfiction book on the pilots called A Thousand Sisters.

Part of the plot goes back to the Russian Civil War (which Nastia’s parents and her mentor the Chief participated in) and the fate of the Romanov sisters. I think the story would have been stronger without the somewhat implausible Romanov link, but I also think a lot of young readers will enjoy that aspect and after all, the book is directed at them.

The Chief and Nastia are great characters–indeed, characterization is a major strong point of the book. The Chief is a tough woman who wears her elaborate makeup as a shield and rebuilds her life over and over again. I read her as asexual or aromantic (or both) because of comments she makes about how loyalty has meant more to her than love in her life.

Nastia is an enthusiastic and idealistic young person. She worries, however, that her courage is not sufficient. She also experiences no romances over the course of the story, but in her case, this is less about fundamental aspects of her character and more about the circumstances she finds herself in. She is unquestioning of the Soviet system (and may even be playing up her loyalty to it, given the circumstances in which she writes her account). She deals with period-typical sexism, from being turned away from a recruiting office in the early days of the war to her otherwise supportive father not wanting her to learn to fly. Ultimately, she faces a dangerous choice–should she return to Soviet territory after ending up behind enemy lines?

The climax of the story was a little bit rushed, after being foreshadowed in the first pages, and I wanted a bit more out of those scenes. There were also a few details I thought were implausible, such as the Romanov link at the end and the letter Nastia’s father is able to send her from besieged Leningrad telling her of the horrors of the blockade–surely a letter from a besieged city to a serving airwoman would have been censored?

However, the novella as a whole is very strong. Wein commits to the quasi-epistolary nature of the novella, showing everything from Nastia’s point of view while leaving room around the edges for the things Nastia wouldn’t say or think. The reader does have to go in with some knowledge of the Soviet Union because of how deeply the novella is in Nastia’s point of view, which might be an issue for younger readers.

The details of wartime are fascinatingly portrayed and the author’s note is highly informative. Ultimately, I enjoyed this novella most for the characters, and found myself hoping that somehow against the odds, Nastia would be acquitted. The fact that we never find out her fate is daring for a YA/MG novel, but the author of Code Name Verity has never shied away from narrative sophistication or tearing up readers’ hearts.

Very happy to announce…

…that my translation of Marina Tsvetaeva’s play Fortune (the original of which I reviewed in this post) will be published this October in Cardinal Points, Volume 8. This is the literary journal of the Brown University Slavic Department.

I’d like to thank my patrons on Patreon, my bilingual beta readers Anatoly Belilovsky and Eugenia Bronfman, my Russian teachers at Georgetown, Erik of XIX век who publicized the translation in its earliest days, and the editor of Cardinal Points, Boris Dralyuk (bdralyuk on WordPress). It wouldn’t have been possible without you all!

Russian and Research: Interview with Among the Red Stars author Gwen C. Katz

Something a little different this time!30122938

Gwen C. Katz‘s debut novel, Among the Red Stars, is out October 3rd! It follows Valka, a Russian teenager who becomes one of the “Night Witches”–an all-female unit of Soviet bomber pilots in World War II. The blurb is vague on the plot, but I believe it involves a daring and unauthorized rescue that flips the damsel-in-distress trope on its head. Anyway, here’s the cover copy:

World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.

Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.

As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.

Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.

Katz kindly agreed to answer a few questions for this blog, with a special focus on her learning Russian and Russian-language sources. Below is the interview:
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Q: I read on your Twitter that you learned Russian for research purposes while writing this book. Tell us a bit about that, and how you became proficient enough to do primary source research.

A: I did four semesters of Russian and then worked independently in preparation for this book. A lot of English speakers rate Russian as a very difficult language but I found it rather intuitive (to read, anyway), possibly just because I have a fair amount of experience with foreign languages by now.

Q: What was the most useful source you accessed in Russian?

A: tamanskipolk46.narod.ru is a great Night Witches fan site with extremely detailed information about the different women that isn’t available in English, such as their ranks and how many missions they flew, along with many stories from their time in the war. rkka.ru has a ton of information about the Red Army, including lots of photos of uniforms and equipment.

Q: What Russian-language source would you love to be able to share with English speakers?

A: Raisa Aronova’s “Ночные Ведьмы” is surely the best history of the Night Witches. It is baffling that it has never been translated.

(Maya’s note: Raisa Aronova was herself a veteran of the unit.)

Q: How did learning Russian affect how you wrote Valka’s story in English?

A: You always try to emulate the patterns of the language your characters are meant to be speaking, although it’s impossible to capture fully. And of course there’s the bit where Valka mistakenly refers to an American plane as a “V-24.”

Q: The female soldiers and airwomen of the Soviet Union encompassed many different ethnicities. How did you research their diverse experiences?

A: The Soviet Union was a much more diverse place than most people realize. So I was disappointed to discover that Aviation Group 122 was a pretty homogeneous group. The only airwoman of color I was able to find was Kazakh navigator Hiuaz Dospanova. She had an incredible story: barely survived a crash, pronounced dead at the hospital, recovered and lived to fly with the 588th again. Originally she was in this book and she had a big subplot. But her story was too complex for me to give it the treatment it deserved, and my agent decided it should be cut. Maybe I’ll return to her in a future project!

Q: How did you approach including real-life people in your story, and integrating Valka into a well-documented group?

A: The women of Aviation Group 122 were such cool people that early on I decided I wanted to include the real historical figures in the cast instead of making up a supporting cast. This was a big challenge, since it exponentially increases the number of facts you need to check, and ultimately I had to move around a few dates and locations in order to get everyone where I wanted them. But it was a lot of fun thinking about how Valka would interact with all these different people!

Thanks to Katz for a great interview! You can preorder Among the Red Stars.


Katz is also an artist, and has drawn characters Valka (right), Iskra (center), and Pasha (left), pictured above. Check out more art drawn from the story at Katz’s gallery here.

And if you’ve preordered, get a free bookplate with another of Katz’s illustrations here!

1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution – edited by Boris Dralyuk

Boris Dralyuk (bdralyuk here on WordPress) has put together an amazing anthology of contemporaneous writing from the 1917 Russian Revolution and its immediate aftermath. It opens with the suspicious Marina Tsvetaeva’s post-February poem “You stepped from a stately cathedral”–the “you” is Freedom itself, and Tsvetaeva’s not sure she’s all she’s cracked up to be–and ends with Mikhail Bulgakov’s angry, despairing, yet overly optimistic Civil War-era essay “Future Prospects” (he predicts the British will aid the Whites and the Whites will win, but that it will take a long time to restore the standard of living and catch up with the recovering Western Europe). In between are poems and short stories and essays from all over the political spectrum. The quality of the poetry is generally higher than that of the prose (Bulgakov’s article is kind of a mess, and I wonder if it would have been included if not for his later work), but the prose introduces us a variety of lesser-known-in-the-West writers and gives voice to the defeated–as Dralyuk points out, the literature of the Red side really came into its own in the 20’s, outside the scope of this anthology (thus, no Babel, a writer Dralyuk has translated extensively elsewhere).

41khcvusayl-_sx324_bo1204203200_In the poetry section, the undoubted standout is Peter France and Jon Stallworthy’s translation “Spring Rain,” a beautiful poem from the hard-to-translate Boris Pasternak. It’s a lyric about the rain and the crowd going to the theater, but it’s also about the feelings evoked by the February Revolution, feelings of amazement, pride, and beauty. Stallworthy and France really unfolded the genius of Pasternak’s poetry for me, and even if I have a few quibbles here and there, I am in awe of their ability to make the translation a great poem in English in its own right. Their version of the poem ends:

“Not the night, not the rain, not the chorus
shouting “Hurrah, Kerensky!” but now
the blinding emergence into the forum
from catacombs thought to have no way out.

Not roses, not mouths, not the roar
of crowds, but here, in the forum, is felt
the surf of Europe’s wavering night
proud of itself on our asphalt.”

Alexander Blok is represented here by “The Twelve” and “The Scythians”, the latter in a rhyming translation by Alex Miller. Though it depends on the opposition of East and West which normally drives me crazy, and though its language is dated in places–the term “slit-eyed” recurs–it’s a powerful piece, a plea for peace and a threat all in one, calling on war-torn Europe to “hear the summons of the barbarian lyre” which is simultaneously “the ritual feast and fire/of peace and brotherhood!”

“You have forgotten there’s a love on Earth
that burns like fire, and like all fire, destroys…

…We love raw flesh, its colour and its stench.
We love to taste it in our hungry maws.
Are we to blame, then, if your ribs should crunch,
fragile between our massive, gentle paws?”

The prose section is, as I said, more mixed. Privshin’s “The Blue Banner”, mentioned in the Wuthering Expectations review of the anthology and translated by Lisa Hayden of Lizok’s Bookshelf, was definitely a discovery. Though I was initially frustrated with its folksiness and slice-of-life style, it soon shaped up into an interesting allegory as the hapless main character travels to revolutionary Petrograd, winds up jailed by the Bolsheviks on transparently false charges of “marauding”, hears of a plan to recruit “godly” thugs to save Russia, and later becomes a marauder in truth (albeit that his gang consists of his delusional self and one drunk guy). The author was a nature writer and he represents the city itself as a deadly place full of traps both physical and moral.

I also enjoyed the humorous stories of Teffi–I couldn’t help but do so, even when the humor was really not my sort of thing. “The Guillotine” was translated by Rose France, and satirizes the middle class, obsessed with trivialities and minor inconveniences but seemingly indifferent to their own doom. At the end, the guillotine victims, distressed by the lack of orderly queuing, think about forming a union–“Why should it only be other people who enjoy the perks of being guillotine operators?” It’s a dark commentary on human nature, but very  funny. “A Few Words About Lenin” was also translated by Rose France, and it’s a very cutting portrait of a party and a politician who are unscrupulous and also incompetent–failing to anticipate events or spot agents provocateurs, unable to deal with situations not described by Marx and Engels. She also goes after their taking advantage of their supporters’ illiteracy, describing a soldier who, hearing the slogan “Down with annexations!” believes it refers to a woman named Anne Exations. I have no doubt that something like this anecdote must have happened (unlike the joke about soldiers in 1825 thinking that the Constitution they were demanding was the wife of Constantine) but, much like that joke, it’s not actually funny when you think about it. Anyway, my personal gripe about political and actual illiteracy not being funny aside, Teffi’s wit and powers of observation are wonderful.

Yefim Zozulya’s “The Story of Ak and Humanity” is a great satire on dictators, their arbitrariness, sentimentality, illogic, and ultimate insignificance (“But the people, among whom there were some good men, some of indifferent quality and some very poor human material–they continue to live to this day as if Ak had never existed and there had never been any perplexing problem about the Right to Life.”). The name “Council of Public Welfare” in the story is clearly a mix between the Soviets, or more literally Councils, of 1917 and the Committee of Public Welfare from the French Revolution. The translation was done by Emma Goldman’s partner, the anarchist Alexander Berkman.

In “The Dragon”, Yevgeny Zamyatin, author of We, which I recently reviewed here, showcases his imaginative powers but doesn’t really tell a complete story–there’s something ultimately unsatisfying about his sketch of a city beset by dragons of the void, who speak in the Bolsheviks’ slangy, casually violent idiom. This piece is translated by Mirra Ginsburg.

Mikhail Zoshchenko’s “A Wonderful Audacity”, translated by Rose France, is built around a simple idea–the country wanted a “strong” government, and in the Bolshevik dictatorship, it got it. Be careful what you wish for. Punchy one and two sentence paragraphs and simple yet vivid rhetoric make his point.

“They were weak; and you cried, “Stronger!”
And now your wish is granted. Kiss the whip that is raised above you.
It’s cruel, you say? Yes, but, on the other hand, it is powerful?
There is a lot of blood, you say?
Perhaps there is. Perhaps there is.
But then again, not so much that we shall drown in it….”

We – Yevgeny Zamyatin

In my quest to remedy my ignorance of 20th century Russian literature, I tackled the grandfather of all dystopian novels, Zamyatin’s We. We tells a story similar to 1984 (unsurprisingly, since Orwell read and reviewed Zamyatin’s book), but where 1984 is concerned with how people break psychologically, We is more about how the main character has long since internalized the rules of his society and how a rebel (a genuine rebel, whereas in 1984 there’s the suspicion that all opponents of the regime are sockpuppets) changes his views.

Zamyatin joined the Bolsheviks in Tsarist Russia and was arrested several times. An engineer, he worked for the Imperial Russian Navy (apparently they didn’t mind his record) and traveled to the UK for his work. He missed the February Revolution due to being in the UK, but returned just in time for October. However, he grew disillusioned with his own party for their censorship, and decided to have We smuggled out for publication in the West.

We‘s dystopia is based on Communism, Taylorism/scientific management, and Christianity (it is remarked several times that the Christian churches were forerunners of the society in We, and the rebels are named after Mephistopheles). I also detected the influence of Plato–the secret police are known as the Guardians. The Big Brother character (or, I should say, prototype) is known as the Well-Doer or the Benefactor depending on the translation. Interestingly, Zamyatin’s protagonist, D-503, actually gets to meet this character face to face.

There’s also a space ship.

D- is an engineer building a space ship for the government, and writing a record of life in the United State (singular, not plural) to be transported to the aliens that the spaceship will presumably meet. But as he falls for the revolutionary I-330, his record becomes ever more exciting–and problematic for him. He believes in the ideology of the United State, and is confused by his attraction to a woman he knows is against it–and, as the book goes on, his own “criminal” actions.

There is a scene in which the revolutionaries attempt to hijack the spaceship, and generally the book is more exciting than the classic dystopian novels. There’s real hope that the state will be defeated, and the cracks are showing by the end, though the main character is lost forever to a forced operation that destroyed his imagination and made him a conformist again.

I have to agree with Orwell that the loose plotting is a flaw–the same effect could have been achieved in many fewer pages. I also felt the portrayal of O-, D-‘s initial lover, was misogynistic, though this may have just been because we’re seeing it through the eyes of D-, who is definitely sexist. I- is a very different sort of female character, so I’m willing to attribute some of the sexism to D-‘s narration.

Upcoming novel about the Women’s Battalion of Death

I wasn’t a huge fan of Amber Lough’s debut novel The Fire Wish, a Middle Eastern-set fantasy novel which I found pedestrian. However, in interviews, she’s revealed the topic of an upcoming book, and it couldn’t be more fascinating.

Though they’re less famous than their WWII sisters, a number of Russian women fought in WWI under the Provisional Government (the government that came after the revolution but before the Bolsheviks). They even had their own units, including the above mentioned Women’s Battalion of Death (“of death” meaning they had sworn not to surrender).

The first woman to serve in the Russian armed forces was Maria Bochkareva, whose story you can read about here.

Anyway, Amber Lough is writing a novel about the female soldiers of WWI Russia. She’s a vet herself, which raises my expectations for the book.

Can’t wait to find out title, release date, etc.