The Sky Unwashed Online You can Download on this link Early on an April Saturday in 1986 in a farm village in Ukraine, widow Marusia Petrenko and her family awake to a day of traditional wedding preparations. Marusia bakes her famous wedding bread-a korovai-in the communal village oven to take to her neighbor's granddaughter's reception. Late that night, after all the dancing and drinking, Marusia's son Yurko leaves for his shift at the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl.
In the morning, the air has a strange metallic taste. The cat is oddly listless. The priest doesn't show up for services. Yurko doesn't come home from work. Nobody know what's happened (and they won't for many days), but things have changed for the Petrenkos-forever.
Inspired by true events, this unusual, unexpected novel tells how-and whyMarusia defies the Soviet government's permanent evacuation of her deeply contaminated village and returns to live out her days in the only home she's ever known. Alone in the deserted town, she struggles up into the church bell tower to ring the bells twice every day just in case someone else has returned. And they have, one by one/ In the end, five intrepid old women-the village babysi-band together for survival and to confront the Soviet officials responsible for their fate. And, in the midst of desolation, a tenacious hold on life chimes forth. Poignant and truthful and triumphant, this timeless story is about ordinary people who do more than simply "survive."
Reviews A short book, that can be read in one day, The Sky Unwashed is a highly important book in two respects. Foremost, this is one of the first full pictures we got about what really happened to the residents in the Chernobyl region and Kiev in April, 1986, albeit in fiction, but borne out now in articles and TV documentaries. Secondly, the lyrical beauty and masterful storytelling should
elevate this novel to the stature of high literature. It is almost a year since this book came out and I read it, but it still haunts me. There are several themes interwoven and coalescing in the overriding struggle for life versus death's inevitability, the largeness of the nuclear accident, its cataclysmic proportions versus the helplessness of mankind or of the individual, of course another metaphor for the big Soviet Union and the communist ideal versus the individual. Although ironically the political and scientific disasters are of mankind's creation. The novel plays out in snapshots: We see people working at the factory before the nuclear accident because it looks like a better life or the best alternative; the aftermath of the accident, the government putting people on buses in a hurry, telling them they can go home in a few days, but to leave everything behind; a skin rash or a burn or a breathing problem, just that, a denial of radiation sickness; Marusia and her friends planting a garden.
What can a person do when faced with a moral dilemma over which they seem to have no control and from which there is no escape, where it doesn't matter whether you are a hero or a coward, because you will die anyway? The novel asks this in several ways and on several levels, and the answers are as different as the personalities involved.
The grandmother Marusia, her daughter-in-law Zosia, and two grandchildren crowd the hospital in Kiev, where her son, Zosia's husband, lays dying, people crammed into hallways for weeks fight over blankets and food and toys, the train station is stampeded. Zosia escapes the hospital for awhile to watch a parade, to look at clean streets and flowers, and to try pretend that it's all a bad dream, even while plotting to get her children out of Kiev. Marusia takes a different route. She and other elderly women friends go back to their village and live life on their own terms with the time they have left. This is where the novel really takes its philosophical wing and its song. It is the heart and soul of the book.
As the sky becomes dirty and unnaturally clouded over Chernobyl, a society's vision gradually becomes clear and unclouded. One makes the inevitable connection to the collapse of the Soviet Union a few years later. We will never really know for sure, but the issue of handling nuclear energy safely is one that is relevant to everyone on the planet. ==================================================
very once in awhile you come upon a book that gets into the marrow of your psyche and won't let you go. "The Sky Unwashed" is such a book. I finished it more than a week ago and I have yet to stop thinking about Marusia and the rest of the villagers in Starylis. For these people, who lived within close proximity to the Chernobyl nuclear plant at the time of the accident there in April 1986, life was irrevocably altered. The way of life that they had known through famine, revolution and war was destroyed with one badly managed stroke of 20th century technology. To enter these people's world is to get a glimpse into the tragedy there that news stories and detailed reports failed to capture. "The Sky Unwashed" awakens anew a poignant awareness that all of the day's headlines have at their core the real-life pathos of individual experience. Irene Zabytko has indeed written a remarkable story. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of this book in your hands as soon as possible.!
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