The events of the novel The Night Reporter take place in Lviv in 1938. Journalist Marko Krylovych, nicknamed the “night reporter” for his nightly coverage of the life of the city’s underbelly, takes on the investigation of the murder of a candidate for president of the city government.
While doing this, he ends up in various love intrigues as well as criminal adventures, sometimes risking his life. Police Commissioner Roman Obukh, who was suspended by administrators from the murder investigation, aids him in an unofficial capacity. Meanwhile, German, and Soviet spies become involved, and Polish counterintelligence also takes an interest in the investigation. The picturesque and vividly described criminal world of Lviv of that time appears before us – dive bars, batyars, and establishments for women of ill repute.
The reader will have to unravel riddle after riddle with the characters against the background of the anxious mood of Lviv’s residents, who are living in anticipation of war. The Night Reporter is a compelling journey into the world of the enthralling multicultural past of the city.
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Ukrainian writer Yuri Vynnychuk was born in 1952 in Stanislav, Ukraine. The city is now called Ivano-Frankivsk (affectionately known as “Frankivsk” by the local inhabitants). Vynnychuk’s father was a doctor for the anti-Stalinist and anti-Nazi Ukrainian partisans during World War II; his uncle on his mother’s side Yuri Sapiha was killed by the Soviet secret police (the Cheka) in 1941. Vynnychuk was named in memory of his murdered uncle. In 1973 Vynnychuk completed the Stanislav Pedagogical Institute where he developed the reputation of a prankster. At that time he became involved in student publications as well as in the literary underground. In 1974 the KGB conducted a search of his house but found no materials that would have incriminated him in the eyes of the Soviet regime. In order to avoid inevitable arrest, he moved to the larger city of Lviv, where he hid at apartments of several friends, constantly covering his tracks from the all-seeing eye of the KGB.
Until 1980 Vynnychuk was blacklisted and not allowed to publish in official sources. Till then he published works under the names of various other writers and ghost wrote books on occasion. He eked out a living from the honoraria from his various pseudonymous publications, a practice which, by habit and by design, he continues to this day. During the 1980s he held readings of his works in the apartments of friends and became well-known for his satiric poetry and stories about a mythical country called Arcanumia – a land where the streets and, in fact, everything, are paved with fecal matter. Any association of Arcanumia with the Soviet Union or Soviet Ukraine, of course, would have been purely coincidental. “The Island of Ziz” (“Ostriv Ziz”) is the best-known story from this cycle. From 1980 on, Vynnychuk was allowed to publish his articles and translations in the Ukrainian periodical press. He made a number of enemies among the Soviet literary establishment for his merciless attacks against hack writers. In 1987 Vynnychuk was instrumental in the creation of a stage singing and performance group “Ne zhurys’!” (Don’t Worry!), which rose to swift popularity in Ukraine. After a tour to Canada and the United States in 1989, Vynnychuk decided to leave the group and devote his time exclusively to literature. Off and on he has continued to participate in concerts with the group. Under Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika-perebudova and subsequent Ukrainian independence, Vynnychuk emerged from the underground (always keeping one foot there even to this very day) to occupy an eminent place in the new Ukrainian literature. His collection of fantastic stories The Flashing Beacon (Spalakh; 1990) sold out almost immediately. He also published a collection of poetry Reflections (Vidobrazhennia; 1990) and compiled and edited two anthologies of Ukrainian fantastic stories from the 19th century. His pulp fiction novellas Maidens of the Night (Divy nochi, 1992) and Harem Life (Zhytiie haremnoie, 1996) enjoyed extraordinary popularity. His love of storytelling and of his adopted hometown is combined in several volumes – Legends of Lviv (Lehendy Lvova, 1999), Pubs of Lviv (Knaipy Lvova, 2000), and Mysteries of Lviv Coffee (Taiemytsi lvivskoi kavy, 2001). His fantasy novel Malva Landa (the heroine’s name) appeared in 2000 and a collection of fantastic tales Windows of Time Frozen (Vikna zastyhloho chasu) in 2001. And his novel Spring Games in Autumn Gardens (Vesniani ihry v osinnikh sadakh, 2005) won the 2005 BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year Award. His collection of autobiographical works, Pears a la Crepe (Hrushi v tisti, 2010) also was nominated for the BBC Prize. His book Tango of Death won the 2012 BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year Award and has been garnering an extraordinary amount of attention both in Ukraine and in European circles, particularly in German and Czech translations.
A collection of short stories The Fantastic Worlds of Yuri Vynnychuk is also available from Glagoslav.
Alla Perminova is a practicing literary translator, an independent researcher and an educator based in Barcelona, Spain. She received her doctoral and postdoctoral degrees in translation studies from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv where she worked as a full professor for 15 years. She is Oleh Olzhych National Literary Contest first prize winner (1997), Fulbright senior scholar (The Pennsylvania State University, 2012-2013), the co/author of 70 scholarly articles, co/translator and/or editor of 15 books, presenter of over 30 talks at international conferences. Her personal philosophy as a translator and a researcher is discussed in her book A Translator’s Reception of Contemporary American Poetry (in Ukrainian, 2015), in which she promotes the reception model of literary translation.
Michael Naydan is Woskob Family Professor of Ukrainian Studies at The Pennsylvania State University and works primarily in the fields of Ukrainian and Russian literature and literary translation. He has published over 50 articles on literary topics and more than 80 translations in journals and anthologies. He has translated, co-translated or edited more than 40 books of translations, including Selected Poetry of Bohdan Rubchak: Songs of Love, Songs of Death, Songs of the Moon (Glagolsav Publications, 2020); the novels Sweet Darusya: A Tale of Two Villages and Tango of Death (both with Spuyten Duyvil Publishers, 2019); Nikolai Gumilev’s Africa (Glagoslav Publications, 2018); Yuri Andrukhovych’s cultural and literary essays, My Final Territory: Selected Essays (University of Toronto Press, 2018); and Abram Terz’s literary essays, Strolls with Pushkin (Columbia University Press, 2016). His novel about the city of Lviv Seven Signs of the Lion appeared with Glagoslav Publications in 2016. He has received numerous prizes for his translations including the George S.N. Luckyj Award in Ukrainian Literature Translation from the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies in 2013.
Endorsements and Review Quotes
“If you think all East European novels are long, slow, and heavy, you have not encountered any of Yuri Vynnychuk’s historical crime stories. Set in 1938 in the Ukrainian city now known as Lviv, they read like novels set in Chicago or Los Angeles by Raymond Chandler or Mickey Spillane. The central character in The Night Reporter is Marko Krylovych, an investigative journalist who does his research after sunset in the drinking dens of Lviv. The book is written almost entirely in dialogue—quickfire exchanges with few speeches. Description is short and crisp. The story is about gangsters, corruption and murder. The women are beautiful and as ruthless as the men.” Edward James, Historical Novel Society
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