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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Yuri Andrukhovych

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Title: Таємниця
Author: Yuri Andrukhovych
Genre: Novel
Written: 2007
Length: 383 pages
Original in: Ukrainian
Availability: Geheimnis - Deutschland
  • Таємниця has not yet been translated into English

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Our Assessment:

B : interesting memoir

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Eurozine . 28/6/2007 Tymofiy Havryliv

  From the Reviews:
  • "The most human, the best, and the most successful sections in the book are those where the interviewed self talks about his relationship to his father. As is the portrait of the father, made up of mosaics scattered throughout the book, from which one can infer a deep affection. In these sections, The Secret has a poetic feel. The Secret is probably one possible metaphor for "My Life", the baring of the private, the intimate, all the way into fantasies, in which femina and phallus celebrate a kind of mystic union -- or at least would like to celebrate one. Honesty is to be respected. Through its honesty, Andrukhovych's autobiography distinguishes itself from those of his colleagues from the preceding generation, in which they stylized themselves as martyrs and heroes. As such, The Secret steers well clear of such heroic kitsch." - Tymofiy Havryliv, Eurozine

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Таємниця is presented as a novel, but barely feels as such. For one, it is in the form of a dialogue -- an interview, really, in which a 'Yuri Andrukhovych' responds to the questions of a German literary journalist whose name is Egon Alt. Each of the seven parts of the book presents the dialogue recorded during one of the seven days they spent together. In his preface Andrukhovych notes that Alt eventually sent all the (unedited) material back to him, and it is Andrukhovych himself that has shaped the final version (which, he claims, involved only limited editorial intervention -- tidying things up, as it were, to make their conversations presentable). Andrukhovych also reports that Alt (conveniently) died in a car accident; in a nice touch, Andrukhovych says he went to pay his respects at Alt's grave when he was next in Berlin, but couldn't find anything resembling it -- it was as if he never existed, he writes. (Surely one can -- or should -- also read something like alter ego into the name .....)
       'Yuri Andrukhovych' is the subject being interviewed, and what he recounts over these seven days is his life story, one that appears identical to that of the author of this novel. The reasons for couching it in this fictional form aren't entirely clear, though it does allow Andrukhovych some additional liberties. Still, it can largely be read as straightforward autobiography.
       Таємниця does cover it all, in fairly close detail, and that makes it an interesting document of the times, beginning with his childhood and youth in the still Soviet Ukraine and then his stint in the army (which was almost impossible to avoid at the time, though fathers who already had two children were freed from the obligation -- Andrukhovych was already married but only had one child at the time, after desperately hoping for twins ...). From cultural influences to the bizarre power-structures of military life, Таємниця offers insight into Eastern European life that aren't that familiar abroad. Andrukhovych also chronicles his writing-career, which began at a time when some stories still only made their way from hand to hand in typewritten copies. While most of the names from the Ukrainian literary scenes mentioned here remain widely unknown abroad, one at least gets a good sense of his own career arc, and the success of Bu-Ba-Bu and all that followed.
       Eventually, Andrukhovych went abroad, including to Moscow (as also described in Московіада) and (Western) Europe; in one section, then, Andrukhovych also drops the interview-pretense for the most part as he writes about his father, including what he'd recount to him about abroad.
       Among the most appealing sections is the final one, as Andrukhovych and Alt ramble through Berlin and speak more generally about contemporary European life.
       The dialogue-format gives a certain looseness to the text, and it moves at a nice pace for such a long book. Still, it is very site-specific; for those unfamiliar with recent Ukrainian history and/or Andrukhovych's writings, some parts may be slow going. Conversely, Таємниця is obviously of great interest to anyone who has read much Andrukhovych, or other authors from Ukraine's very interesting contemporary literary scene.

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Таємниця: Reviews: Yuri Andrukhovych: Other books by Yuri Andrukhovych under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Ukrainian author Yuri Andrukhovych (Juri Andruchowytsch, Юрій Андрухович) was born in 1960.

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