A Biography of a Chance Miracle :: Tanja Maljartschuk

In editing

A Biography of a Chance Miracle


Translated from Ukrainian by Zenia TOMPKINS

A Biography of a Chance Miracle explores the life of Lena, a young girl growing up in the somewhat vapid, bureaucracy-ridden and nationalistic Western Ukrainian city of San Francisco. Lena is a misfit from early childhood due to her lack of disdain for everything Russian, her propensity for befriending forlorn creatures, her aversion to the status quo, and her fear of living a stupid and meaningless life. As her friends enter college, Lena sets forth on a mission to defend the abused and downtrodden of San Francisco – be they canine or human – armed with nothing more than an arsenal of humor, stubbornness, chutzpah and no shortage of imagination. Her successes are minimal at best, but in the process of trying to save San Francisco’s collective humanity, she may just end up saving her own. At first glance a crazy and combative girl, Lena just may be the salvation that the Ukrainians of San Francisco sorely need.

With haiku-like precision, Tania’s deceptively simple writing style blends surrealism and magical realism with satirical wit, occasionally outlandish humor and poignant social commentary. The German literary media has described her depictions of contemporary Ukraine as full of humor and absurdity, but “more exact and harsher” than those of her peers, comparing her to the 19th-century Russian satirist Saltykov-Shchedrin and hailing her as “a name to be remembered.” This work, her most provocative to date, was a finalist for the 2012 BBC Book of the Year Award in Ukraine, has been lauded as “simply ingenious” by fellow Ukrainian authors.


  • Pages: Pending
  • Trim size: 5″ x 8″ (127mm x 203mm)
  • ISBN
    Hardcover: 978-4-908793-41-7
    Ebook: 978-4-908793-42-4
  • List Price: Pending
  • Cover: Joe Reimer

In editing

  • Scheduled for publication in mid-2018

About the author
Tania Maljartschuk is one of the most prolific, creative and audacious young authors currently writing in Ukrainian, who, despite her young age, stands shoulder to shoulder with the two internationally recognized powerhouses of contemporary Ukrainian literature, Serhiy Zhadan and Oksana Zabuzhko. A Biography of a Chance Miracle is Tania’s first novel and one of seven published books of prose, and has been translated into German and Belarusian. She has had short story collections published in German and Russian, and individual stories of hers have appeared in various English, German, Polish, Slovenian, Russian, Bulgarian, Czech, Belarusian and Romanian journals and anthologies. She is a winner of the Joseph Conrad Korzeniowski Literary Prize and the Kristal Vilencia Award, and has received grants and fellowships from German, Austrian and Polish arts foundations.
Other of her works are available online, including “Canis Lupus Familiaris” and “The Demon of Hunger.”

About the translator
Zenia Tompkins holds graduate degrees in Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures from Columbia University, and in Islamic Studies from the University of Virginia, with professional experience in both academia and the private sector. She began translating fairly recently, when her husband joined the U.S. Diplomatic Corps. She is currently working on Tania’s newest novel Forgottenness, as well as works by other Ukrainian authors.