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The Sky Unwashed Online Download 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."


I must admit, I was initially drawn to this book because I myself derive from 100% Ukrainian lineage. As such, Zabytko's subject matter interested me. I thumbed through the book and thought "Hey, I've gotta read this." The story centers around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 26th, 1986. The fallout from this tragedy is said to have been the equivalent of eight Hiroshimas! Yet, as though the tragedy in itself were not bad enough, the government at that time chose to suppress information to the residents of villages surrounding Chernobyl, and to the nation at large. Folks were kept in the dark concerning the actual extent (and far-reaching effects) of the radioactive contamination. As a result, much PREVENTABLE damage was done to people at the time, and even to the children that would be born to those who survived. The Unwashed Sky focuses on the situation facing the widow Marusia Petrenko, her son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren. By the time they flee their village of Starylis, it is too late. Their lives will never be the same. Marusia decides to return to Starylis. She is not even aware that it has been declared a "forbidden zone"... all that she knows is that this is her village, the only home she's ever known, and since everything dear has been torn from her, this feeling of "home" may be the only thing she can yet embrace as her own. She returns, and finds that her only companion is an old mangy cat. She keeps a perpetual fire, hoping that the smoke from her chimney will tell others of her presence. And slowly, some of her old friends do begin to trickle back. One by one, these old women (and one man), drawn by the same sense of a need to belong to their beginnings, return to rebuild their lives. These tenacious Starylis "babysi" band together and draft a letter of demands that causes the Chernobyl officials to cede to their requests, and admit to certain wrongdoings, however late in the day! (Even then, they grant the women's wishes only because of how good this will look in the newspapers). Zabytko paints a sensitive, touching picture of this time of loneliness and desolation, of undeserved and unwarranted hardship... a time when even the dirt rejected seed and the water tasted of metal. I loved the authentic Ukrainian vernacular running through the book... I could hear my own grandmother clearly. A wonderful testimony of the enduring power of the human spirit and its will to survive... a point made all the more sobering when one considers the nonfictional source of the author's inspiration. In an interview with Rebecca Brown, Irene Zabytko said: "I hope that anyone who reads it comes away with the feeling that despite the cultural exoticisms,

we're still part of one planet, and the endurance of the human spirit persists in all."

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