A Biography of a Chance Miracle
by Tanja MALJARTSCHUK
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 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.
…a wonderful novel by one of the most talented and original contemporary Ukrainian literary voices — Tanja Maljartschuk. You will irresistibly fall in love with the young protagonist, Lena, with her courage to face the harsh realities of life in her country, her charmingly optimistic and occasionally witty stubbornness in opposing the social forces of dominance and governance, and her idealistic determination to create a better world…—Zoran Živković, World Fantasy Award winner
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: 234
- Trim size: 5″ x 8″ (127mm x 203mm)
- List Price: Pending
- Cover: Joe Reimer
- Scheduled for publication in mid-2018
About the author
Tania Maljartschuk is one of the most prolific and audacious young authors currently writing in Ukrainian, whose hallmark style blends searing social commentary with heartwarming humor and an appreciation for the human condition. The author of eight books of prose, her work has been translated into ten languages and is widely available in German. Tanja’s writing has been supported by various governmental and private fellowships from the Chancellery of Austria, the Academy of the Arts of Berlin, the Polish Ministry of Culture and KulturKontakt Austria, among others. She is a past winner of the Joseph Conrad Korzienowski Literary Prize (Poland-Ukraine) and the Kristal Vilencia Award (Slovenia). A Biography of a Chance Miracle, Tanja’s first novel and sixth book, was a finalist for the prestigious BBC Book of the Year Award in Ukraine, an award she subsequently won in 2016 for her novel Forgottenness. Individual stories of Tanja’s are available in English in the anthologies Best European Fiction, Herstories and Women in Times of Change, as well as in literary magazines such as World Literature Today (“The Demon of Hunger”), Words Without Borders, Belletrista (“Canis Lupus Famliaris”) and Apofenie (“Losers Want More”). A Biography of a Chance Miracle is Tanja’s first book to be made available in English; an English translation of her novel Forgottenness is in progress.
About the translator
Zenia Tompkins holds graduate degrees from Columbia University and the University of Virginia and began translating after fifteen years in the education and private sectors. She is the founder of The Tompkins Agency for Ukrainian Literature in Translation (TAULT), a nonprofit literary agency and translation house. This, her first translation, won the 2017 Kovaliv Fund Prize, a biennial American award for best translation of a Ukrainian work. Zenia is proficient in eight languages and translates exclusively from Ukrainian. She currently lives in Latin America as the spouse of a U.S. Foreign Service Officer.