The novel Seven Signs of the Lion is a magical journey to the city of Lviv in Western Ukraine. Part magical realism, part travelogue, part adventure novel, and part love story, it is a fragmented, hybrid work about a mysterious and mythical place. The hero of the novel Nicholas Bilanchuk is a gatherer of living souls, the unique individuals he meets over the course of his five-month stay in his ancestral homeland. These include the enigmatic Mr. Viktor, who, with one eye that always glimmers, in a dream summons him across the Atlantic Ocean to the city of lions, becoming his spiritual mentor; the genius mathematician Professor Potojbichny (a man of science with a mystical bent and whose name means “man from the other side”); the exquisite beauty Ada, whose name suggests “woman from Hades” in Ukrainian, whose being emanates irresistible sensuality, but who never lets anyone capture her beauty in a picture; the schizophrenic artist Ivan the Ghostseer, who lives in a bohemian hovel of a basement apartment and in an alcohol-induced trance paints the spirits of the city that torment him; and the curly-haired elfin Raya, whose name suggests “paradise” in Ukrainian and who becomes the primary guide and companion for Nicholas on his journey to self-realization.
The hero is summoned to the land of his ancestors to find the “seven signs of the lion” in a mysterious quest. The multicultural and unique architectural aspects of the “city of lions” with its medieval old town dating back several centuries is showcased. Part cultural history, the novel deals with the legends and myths surrounding the city and its environs. Anglophone readers will be introduced to a country, a people and a culture that largely remain undiscovered for them.
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