A poet and novelist whose work has been variously compared to Rimbaud, Charles Bukowski and Irvine Welsh, Serhiy Zhadan’s first novel Depeche Mode depicts Ukrainian youth during the turbulent 1990s. Described by the author as “a book about real male comradeship,” the novel follows the unemployed narrator and his friends, Jewish anti-Semite Dogg Pavlov and Vasia the Communist, on their adventures around Kharkiv and beyond.
Against a background of social disintegration, slowly eroding Soviet mores and rapidly encroaching Western culture, the three comrades drink gratuitous amounts of vodka and embark on a quest to find their missing friend Sasha Carburetor to tell him about the suicide of his one-legged stepfather. Despite containing some darker themes, Depeche Mode takes an irreverent look at life; Zhadan is not afraid to mix philosophical musings and grotesque narrative with moments of slapstick comedy.
Serhiy Zhadan is one of the key voices in contemporary Ukrainian literature: his poetry and novels have enjoyed popularity at home and abroad. His poetic style and masterful wordplay have led critics to dub his trademark approach “verbal jazz”, a description that reflects his unique authorial voice. Zhadan stands as a witness to a time of great social change through the eyes of Ukraine’s dispossessed youth. His work explores the changes he has witnessed as a representative of the immediate post-Soviet generation in Ukraine. Never one to bow to convention, since giving up university teaching in 2004 Zhadan was involved in 2006’s Orange Revolution. Writing is just one of his many interests, which also include singing in a band, translating poetry and organising literary festivals.