Sarabande is a novel presented mostly through the rapid-fire interactions of the characters in one-on-one situations or in small groups. Most of the novel revolves around the male protagonist, the journalist Pavlo Dudnyk, who takes his schoolhood friend Sara Polonsky as his second wife.
Sara, who blossomed from an inconspicuous overweight adolescent into a vivacious woman, used to mock him in school with the nickname “Underbutt” for his bony derriere that always needed padding on the classroom chairs. When Pavlo moves in with Sara, he doesn’t realize at first that he’s also “married” into her extended family, Sara’s band of Polonskys, with their myriad quirks and manifestations of peculiar behavior.
The novel presents a number of small slices of life and is filled with lively repartee. There are many comic moments, and the novel is saturated with a great amount of word play and humor. It gives the reader a good deal of insight into the everyday lives, loves and tribulations of Ukrainians living today.
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Having worked in legal offices of various levels of importance, including anti-corruption organization Transparency International, Larysa Denysenko entered the world of literature with her first publication Amusing Flesh and Blood, which won her the grand prize in the Ukrainian national competition Coronation of the Word in 2002. Since then seven of her titles, including three children’s books, have been released and received national awards and high praise in the press. Denysenko’s main literary strengths lie in her masterful examination of the human mind and her down to earth characters, both of which are cloaked in plenty of humour.
Denysenko was born in Kyiv in 1973 in the family of the Lithuanian-Greek origin. She learned the Ukrainian language when she began working for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice at the age of 23. Her academic achievements include graduating from the Law Department of Kyiv National University, the Central European University in Prague, and from courses on drafting legislation at the Dutch Ministry of Justice. Denysenko has also worked on Ukrainian television and wrote for her column in the Women’s Journal and two weekly magazines, Profile and Focus. Aside from writing, her main passion is human rights advocacy, which she puts into practice by representing civil clients in the European Court of Human Rights.
Endorsements and Review Quotes
“The Sarabande of Sara’s Band is a magical novel. It propels the reader on a raft of laughter while managing to simultaneously provoke and satisfy.” Marla Johnson, Editor’s Pick/World Literature Today
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