I WILL DIE IN A FOREIGN LAND
WINNER OF THE 2022 NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY YOUNG LIONS FICTION AWARD
"A debut that is as thoughtful as it is explosive" BuzzFeed
"Dazzling" National Book Review
"Terrific... Intensely moving" The Washington Post
2022 Young Lions Fiction Award, Winner.
VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, Longlist.
An ABA "Indie Next List" pick for November 2021.
A Best Book of 2021 —New York Public Library, Cosmopolitan, Independent Book Review
A Must-Read —Debutiful, The Chicago Review of Books, The Millions
A PORTION OF THE AUTHOR PROCEEDS FROM I WILL DIE IN A FOREIGN LAND WILL BE DONATED TO THE UKRAINIAN RED CROSS
In 1913, a Russian ballet incited a riot in Paris at the new Théâtre de Champs-Elysées. “Only a Russian could do that," says Aleksandr Ivanovich. “Only a Russian could make the whole world go mad.”
A century later, in November 2013, thousands of Ukrainian citizens gathered at Independence Square in Kyiv to protest then-President Yanukovych’s failure to sign a referendum with the European Union, opting instead to forge a closer alliance with President Vladimir Putin and Russia. The peaceful protests turned violent when military police shot live ammunition into the crowd, killing over a hundred civilians.
I Will Die in a Foreign Land follows four individuals over the course of a volatile Ukrainian winter, as their lives are forever changed by the Euromaidan protests. Katya is an Ukrainian-American doctor stationed at a makeshift medical clinic in St. Michael’s Monastery; Misha is an engineer originally from Pripyat, who has lived in Kyiv since his wife’s death from radiation sickness; Slava is a fiery young activist whose past hardships steel her determination in the face of persecution; and Aleksandr Ivanovich, a former KGB agent who climbed atop a burned-out police bus at Independence Square and played the piano.
As Katya, Misha, Slava, and Aleksandr’s lives become intertwined, they each seek their own solace during an especially tumultuous and violent period. The story is also told by a chorus of voices that incorporates folklore and narrates a turbulent Slavic history.
While unfolding an especially moving story of quiet beauty and love in a time of terror, I Will Die in a Foreign Land is an ambitious, intimate, and haunting portrait of human perseverance and empathy.
“Political leaders often behave as if they have no idea what a human life even is, as if none of them had mothers or know the sound of a piano or remember the weight of one hand in another. Kalani Pickhart’s I Will Die in a Foreign Land is a wild and prismatic refutation of that tragedy—the ongoing disaster of greed and domination and war.”
author of Pew, The Answers, and Nobody is Ever Missing
"Kaleidoscopic but never confusing...an intimate sense of a country convulsing, mourning, and somehow surviving."
"This novel can only be described as epic... What Pickhart reminds us is that every face in the crowd of a conflict has its own intimate story, and has its own reasons for believing what they believe. The danger we all face is forgetting that democracy is actually the agreement to peacefully disagree... I Will Die in a Foreign Land opened my heart and my mind in new ways."
actress, filmmaker, producer and co-creator of A3C Reads
“Innovative, emotionally resonant, and deeply affecting, this is a more-than-promising debut from a very talented writer.”
“A razor-sharp debut that follows four disparate people during the 2014 Maidan revolution in Ukraine. A novel that is both beautifully poetic and intensely moving, I Will Die in a Foreign Land is the kind of read that feels like a timeless ballad detailing the connections between humankind and the tragedy of war.”
The Barnes & Noble Review
"This big-hearted novel generously portrays the
unforgettable set of characters through their determination to face oppression... It's a stunner"
‘I tore through I Will Die in a Foreign Land... nothing has given me such a profound
impression of what Ukrainians have endured as this intensely moving novel’
The Washington Post
“In many ways, the book feels like an ode to the everyman of
Ukraine. With a deft hand, it celebrates those who strive to heal when the world around them feels broken, and the bravery required to love against the odds... At once a
detailed snapshot of a very specific time and place, and an enduring, universal rallying call for hope in the face of tyranny.”
"Simply breathtaking in its scope. She has taken a large, complex subject and rendered it both tragic and tender”
New York Journal of Books
"So gorgeous and so very timely"
photo by Sydney Cisco
Kalani Pickhart is the author of I Will Die in a Foreign Land, winner of the 2022 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and long-listed for the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award.
She currently lives and writes in Phoenix, Arizona.
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