I WILL DIE IN A FOREIGN LAND

I Will Die in a Foreign Land paperback cover.jpg

A PORTION OF THE AUTHOR PROCEEDS FROM

I WILL DIE IN A FOREIGN LAND WILL BE DONATED TO THE UKRAINIAN RED CROSS

  • 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

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.

PRESS

I Will Die in a Foreign Land wins 2022 Young Lions Fiction Award (press releases in LitHub and Publisher's Weekly

I Will Die in a Foreign Land is the July 2022 Book of the Month for A3C Reads

Barnes & Noble lists I Will Die in a Foreign Land as Best Books of the Year (So Far) 2022

"10 books to read about Ukraine" NPR

"Debut Novel About Ukraine Receives Attention, Acclaim" Publishers Weekly

I Will Die in a Foreign Land on CBS Sunday Morning

The New York Public Library chooses I Will Die in a Foreign Land as a Best Book of 2021 

"The 27 Best Historical Fiction Novels of 2021" Cosmopolitan

I Will Die in a Foreign Land featured in The Washington Post Book Club Newsletter

"18 Books from Small Presses You'll Love" Buzzfeed 

"12 Must-Read Books of October" Chicago Review of Books 

"6 Debut Books You Should Read This October" Debutiful

"Most Anticipated for October 2021" The Millions

INTERVIEWS

"Writing a Revolution: Ukraine's Maidan Uprising" Kalani Pickhart with Lydia Wilson of New Lines Magazine 

Steve Goldstein interviews Kalani Pickhart for The Show on NPR affiliate KJZZ

"Who Will Bury Me if I Die in a Foreign Land" with Katya Apekina, Electric Literature

"The Historical Present" with Aram Mrjoian, Chicago Review of Books

"5 Questions with Kalani Pickhart" with City Lights

"Love in Times of Terror: A Conversation with Kalani Pickhart" with Sonya Bilocerkowycz, Los Angeles Review of Books

"Kalani Pickhart on Writing the Complexities of the 2013 Ukrainian Protests"with Mitzi Rapkin on LitHub's First Draft Podcast

Christina D'Antoni interviews Kalani Pickhart for Hayden's Ferry Review

PRAISE 

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."
—Jennifer Morrison, A3C Reads
"I Will Die in a Foreign Land is the July 2022 Book of the Month for A3C Reads"

 

“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.”
—Catherine Lacey, Young Lions Fiction Award judge, and author of Pew, The Answers, and Nobody Is Ever Missing, in Lit Hub
"Kalani Pickhart has won the NYPL’s Young Lions Fiction Award."

 

“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.”
—BN Editors, The Barnes & Noble Review
"Best Books of the Year (So Far) 2022"

 

"What makes the breakout success of I Will Die in a Foreign Land even more compelling is its backstory: it was an unagented and unsolicited manuscript written by a writer who is not of Ukrainian ancestry that fell into the right hands at [Two Dollar Radio] by happenstance."
—Claire Kirch, Publishers Weekly
"Debut Novel About Ukraine Receives Attention, Acclaim" (May 04, 2022)

 

"Kalani Pickhart has won the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, given annually to a work of fiction by a writer aged 35 or under, for I Will Die in a Foreign Land."
—Michael Schaub, Kirkus
"Kalani Pickhart Wins NYPL Young Lions Award" (6/17/2022)

 

"Do you want to know more about the crisis in Ukraine? Do you want to read a lesbian activist love story? Do you want to know what happens to a KGB spy turned protest street pianist? Then this is the book you're looking for!"
—Fisher Nash, Carmichael's Bookstore (Louisville, Kentucky)

 

"I Will Die in a Foreign Land chronicles what Ukrainian protests looked like in 2013 and 2014, as demonstrators pushed for closer ties with NATO and the European Union."
—Rina Torchinsky, NPR
"Read these 6 books about Ukraine"

 

"Kalani Pickhart's timely debut novel, I Will Die In a Foreign Land, is about the 2014 Ukrainian revolution which provided a pretense for Russia to annex Crimea. The story follows the experiences of several characters whose lives intersect as the country's political situation deteriorates. There's a Ukrainian-American doctor, an old KGB spy, a former mine worker, and others, and these episodes are interspersed with folk songs, news reports and historical notes. The effect—kaleidoscopic but never confusing—provides an intimate sense of a country convulsing, mourning, and somehow surviving."
—CBS News, "The Book Report: Recommendations from Washington Post critic Ron Charles"
(Watch the full video on CBS News, February 6, 2022).

 

"I Will Die in a Foreign Land tells the harrowing story of the Ukrainian conflict in 2014. Raw and emotional, Pickhart expertly displays the emotional passion and patriotic values at the root of the conflict, centered around the intersection of four main characters... Pickhart does what the media couldn’t: she puts names and faces to the stories of violent conflict. She reminds the reader that every journalist who disappeared is your friend who loudly states their opinion, that every mother is a woman with a backstory of love and life and pain before she moved into her new role... It’s apparent from the beginning that there is an underlying thread, a ribbon of truth connecting them all, and Pickhart makes sure the reader stays on long enough to find out what it is."
—Alexandra Barbush, Independent Book Review
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

"Ukraine’s struggle against Russia engulfs the world today, and Pickhart’s novel has proven hauntingly germane in its portrayal of the ever-widening gyre and the innocents destroyed at its center."
—Amy Gustine, Cleveland Review of Books
"Brevity Creates Breadth: A Review-Interview with Kalani Pickhart on I Will Die in a Foreign Land"

 

"Eight years before the recent Russian invasion, a popular uprising in Kyiv overthrew the old Moscow-backed government in favor of moving toward the European Union—an act for which Russia has been punishing Ukraine ever since. It is those events that inspired Kalani Pickhart’s recent novel, I Will Die in a Foreign Land. Hailed as one of the best books of 2021, it has found renewed relevance in the aftermath of the invasion. In this podcast, she joins New Lines’ Lydia Wilson to discuss what first drew her to the story, the relationship between fiction and journalism, and how the long history of Russian aggression against Ukraine led to the current crisis."
—New Lines Podcast, March 11, 2022
"Writing a Revolution: Ukraine’s Maidan Uprising — with Kalani Pickhart"

 

"Everyone should read this book right now. Wow, Kalani Pickhart taught me so much about the complicated and messy recent history of Russia, Ukraine and their neighbors. Told in news briefs, intimate character narratives, old recordings sent to a long lost daughter, “songs” and nonfiction snippets, this is the most unique and touching novel I have ever read. For anyone who wants to know more about the continuing struggles and wars in Ukraine but with the heartbeat if a novel this is the book for you. I Will Die in a Foreign Land, tore my heart out, stitched it back together again and fed my compassion and understanding for people caught up in continuous uprisings and war."
—Danica Ramgoolam, Townie Books (Crested Butte, Colorado)

 

"I tore through I Will Die in a Foreign Land. It’s terrific. I’ve been following the alarming news about Putin’s machinations along the Ukrainian border, but nothing has given me such a profound impression of what Ukrainians have endured as this intensely moving novel."
—Ron Charles, Washington Post
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

"Pickhart’s story deemphasizes the sequence of political events to focus on the humanity of those who get caught up in them. We feel the pain of a truncheon blow from Ukraine’s Berkut special police, the anxiety when a friend is disappeared by unknown forces and the conflict within a spy forced to betray their people while also trying to save them. ‘I Will Die in a Foreign Land’ carries substantial emotional weight, and I’m glad the universe put it in my hands. It is crisply written, and I flew through the book. It also has helped me to understand better the context behind Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war. If you’re up for a novel that’s as unique as it is of the moment, you should read this book."
—Michael P. Ventura, Books on GIF
(Review #181: I Will Die in a Foreign Land by Kalani Pickhart)

 

"These are well-rounded characters whose story arcs underscore cause and effect, the power of the arts, repercussions of bottled-up grief, the brother/sisterhood of humanity, and the importance of love and perseverance in a world of terror run amok."
—Lanie Tankard, On the Seawall
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

“Sometimes, fiction does a better job of getting to the heart of a subject than nonfiction. This unusual novel takes place during the 2014 Maidan protests that ended in bloodshed and precipitated the removal of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych. It follows several characters as they participate in the protests and learn to live with unimaginable loss in the midst of violent upheaval and repression.”
—Eileen Gonzalez, BookRiot
“BOOKS FOR UNDERSTANDING RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE”

 

"Rooted in historical events, the novel follows four unforgettable characters finding their way amidst the violence and turmoil, striving to live and not just survive. So gorgeous and oh so very timely."
—Literary Hub: Joelle Herr, The Bookshop (East Nashville, TN)
"Shelf Talkers: Booksellers from The Bookshop Share Their Favorites" 

 

"Pickhart’s characters are rich and real, flawed and scared, brave and noble. They betray and they are betrayed, sexually and politically and in every other way. They are shaped by individual choices and the terrible choices forced on them by history. They’re humans caught in a current.... By telling stories of those who live in history but refuse to fully succumb to it, Pickhart recuperates the humanity of the people of Ukraine and celebrates their lives as human beings, not as footnotes to someone else’s history."
—Brian O’Neill, Necessary Fiction
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

“Camera-eye perspective of the Ukraine Euromaidan protests—if John Dos Passos and John Reed joined Pussy Riot—rich, variegated characters, tense plot. A must read for anyone inclined toward world literature.”
—ABA Indie Next List: Conor Hultman, Square Books (Oxford, MS)
I Will Die in a Foreign Land is an ABA Indie Next List pick for November 2021

 

"A debut that is as thoughtful as it is explosive."
—Wendy J. Fox, BuzzFeed 
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

"Pickhart’s narrative provided background that helped me understand current events, and — bonus — it was a compelling story. I especially was moved by how deep the characters’ connections ran, and those ties were not fully revealed until the end."
—Kris Wiley, The News Review
"Discover a classic read"

 

"Via a chorus of voices infused with folklore, this novel follows four individuals during a volatile Ukrainian winter, as their lives become intertwined and are forever changed by the protests triggered by their president's alignment with Russia instead of the EU in 2013."
—New York Public Library
"Best Books for Adults 2021"

 

"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... I Will Die in a Foreign Land is 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."
—Callum McLaughlin, BookBrowse
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

"2021 was a badass year for indie press books. This isn’t anything new. Indie presses are always pushing boundaries, bending genres, breaking new ground, and changing the scope of the literary landscape... here is this year’s roundup of Impressive Indie Press Books of 2021."
—Joe Walters, Independent Book Review
View I Will Die in a Foreign Land on the "35 Impressive Indie Press Books of 2021"

 

"This novel spans a whole century, starting in 1913 with a ballet that starts a riot and picking up in 2013—which, TBH, feels like it was a hundred years from now. It's told from multiple perspectives and points in history, giving you a fully immersive experience that's perfect for a winter read."
—Adrianna Freedman & Leah Marilla Thomas, Cosmopolitan
"Best Historical Fiction Novels of 2021"

 

"Since 1991, Ukraine has experienced three revolutions, and Pickhart elegantly captures how these events build up inside a person, giving many Ukrainians an acute awareness of the self as both agent and consequence of history. For a man like Aleksandr Ivanovich, who wears insignia of the fallen Soviet empire to the 21st-century revolution, each uprising bleeds into the next. The book’s structure enhances this duality through short, fragmented chapters, folk songs, news clips, and a chorus of Kobzari bards; history is rendered diffuse and polyphonic, a tapestry of actors, concerns, and subplots. In our conversation, Pickhart discussed the elaborate form of her novel and the shifting relationships between revolution’s heroes and aggressors, its insiders and outsiders."
Sonya Bilocerkowycz, author of On Our Way Home from the Revolution, speaks with author Kalani Pickhart about her debut novel I Will Die in a Foreign Land, for The Los Angeles Review of Books

 

"The book is gripping, the stories of the characters wrap around each other like vines, and around the reader—choking and pulling them through. Pickhart uses the device of the Kobzari folk singers whose lyrics function like a Greek chorus, weaving together the pain of the individual characters and placing it in a broader cultural context."
Katya Apekina, author of The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish, speaks with author Kalani Pickhart about her debut novel I Will Die in a Foreign Land, for Electric Literature

First Draft: A Dialogue on Writing podcast | 11/15/2021

Host Mitzi Rapkin and Kalani Pickhart in conversation about writing the complexities of the 2013 Ukrainian Protests in Pickhart debut novel I Will Die in a Foreign Land.

'I Will Die in a Foreign Land': Novel offers insight into Ukrainians' struggle against Russia | 2/9/2022

Steve Goldstein, host of KJZZ's The Show, spoke with author Kalani Pickhart about her recently published novel focused on what Ukrainian protesters experienced in the previous decade, I Will Die in a Foreign Land.

 

"Russia is again amassing troops on the Ukrainian border. There are threats of more sanctions from the US and the EU, but those come with a tacit understanding that there is likely little that the world can do to stop Putin should he decide to invade. It is within this frightening context that Kalani Pickhart’s extraordinary novel, I Will Die in a Foreign Land, enters the scene. The novel itself is a beautiful pastiche of forms: novelistic plots mix with songs and folktales, manifests of passengers killed in downed planes or in the melee of protest, diaries and recordings, all working to build a feeling, the urge for a democratic voice to speak against violence and despair. Kalani and I discuss the burden of writing true in a work of fiction, and so much more!"
—Chris Holmes, Burned By Books podcast: An interview with Kalani Pickhart | 12/31/2021

 

"Phoenix author Kalani Pickhart’s debut novel is a fascinating, genre-bending ride through the 2013 protests in Ukraine that led to a deadly winter and, ultimately, the Ukrainian Revolution... It’s a gripping take on modern historical fiction that will be especially compelling to those interested in Eastern European politics."
—Leah LeMoine, PHOENIX magazine
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

"I’d sure like to be a part of the decision-making process for the Pulitzer or the National Book Award right now. If I had any say in it, I Will Die in a Foreign Land by Kalani Pickhart would win. I don’t say that lightly... The exploration of love and its many complicated facets is the driving force of I Will Die In a Foreign Land. The inciting incident is the protest and the desire for human rights and dignity inherent in that action, but I’d argue the real gem of the story is love. This may sound trite, but it’s not—at least not in Pickhart’s deft writerly hands."
—Mandy Shunnarah, Hot Off the Shelf
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

"Pickhart’s characters are alive. You can almost touch them and hear their unique voices. She perfectly fleshes out the individuality of the major characters and those around them with such precision that no one speaks or thinks the same. The movements and decisions of the characters follow real events of the times, making the novel appear like a documentary. By doing this she captures the reader’s interest, and a chronology of important events is listed in the book to help us better understand the flow of the narrative."
—Eunice Barbara Novio, Litro 
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

"What author Kalani Pickhart has achieved is a novel that is at once tragic and beautiful. Taking a variety of mediums, from non-linear storytelling, newspaper accounts, and ancient Ukranian folk songs, at times it seems the novel’s main protagonist is [Ukraine] and the characters are simply there to flesh out this complex region of the world... I Will Die in a Foreign Land is simply breathtaking in its scope. Pickhart’s storytelling is flawless with nothing gratuitous or superfluous. She has taken a large, complex subject and rendered it both tragic and tender by reminding the reader that in the end, the individual life touched by conflict is what really matters."
—Cynthia A. Graham, New York Journal of Books
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

"The risk in war and revolution is that human kindness will be extinguished forever, but Kalani Pickhart shows the ways that our loves affect us more deeply and permanently than the ever shifting forces of history. This makes a political struggle that might be a bit confusing for western readers much more accessible—we all know what it’s like to experience love and loss. It also personalizes the conflict. After all, why do we fight, if not to avoid burying the ones we love?"
—Rufus Hickok, Ordinary Times 
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

"Blending folklore, journalism, and a quartet of interwoven narratives, Kalani Pickhart’s debut novel, I Will Die in a Foreign Land, takes place during the 2013-14 Ukrainian Revolution amidst a wave of winter protests. Set in Kyiv at the heart of the civil unrest, the novel is orchestral and electrifying, with its main characters—Katya, Misha, Slava, and Aleksandr—orbiting around its central location."
—Aram Mrjoian, Chicago Review of Books 
(Read the full interview with author Kalani Pickhart)

 

"Set in Ukraine during a pivotal winter, Pickhart follows four individuals during the Euromaidan protests. The four cannot be more different, but they are united by the same desires to survive and make something of themselves. While expansive, this is an intimate portrait of the human condition, proving that even in the darkness, there is hope."
—Adam Vitcavage, Debutiful
"Six Debut Books You Should Read This October"

 

"The sort of ambitious debut novel that makes you sit up and take notice, Kalani Pickhart’s sprawling and rambunctious portrait of the 2013 Ukrainian protests that led to the killing of over a hundred civilians announces an exciting new voice in fiction. Unfolding with the assurance and daring of a much more seasoned writer, I Will Die in a Foreign Land will appeal to readers of history and tragedy alike."
—The Chicago Review of Books
"12 Must-Read Books of October"

 

"In Pickhart’s debut, which is set during the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, four people's lives overlap, intersect, and irrevocably change in the face of personal, political, and historical turmoil."
—Carolyn Quimby, The Millions 
"The Millions Most Anticipated (October)"

 

"In Pickhart’s ardent, sprawling debut, a set of memorable characters attempt to lay bare the truths of recent conflicts in [Ukraine]... This bighearted novel generously portrays the unforgettable set of characters through their determination to face oppression. It’s a stunner."
—Publishers Weekly, Starred review
(read the full Publishers Weekly review here)

 

"The lives of four people intersect during the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution... Innovative, emotionally resonant, and deeply affecting, this is a more-than-promising debut from a very talented writer."
—Kirkus, Starred review
(read the full Kirkus review here)

 

"In this sweeping debut novel, readers are transported inside the 2013–14 Ukrainian battle to maintain independence under pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych.... an unforgettable reading experience and a critical lesson in ongoing global history."
—Courtney Eathorne, Booklist

 

"The historical novel I Will Die in a Foreign Land is a love letter to Ukraine, its people, and its ability to rise up from piled catastrophes."
—Eileen Gonzalez, Foreword

 

"Protests that sparked the 2014 revolution in Ukraine provide the context for Pickhart’s dazzling debut novel. Drawing from the folkloric oral history of Ukraine and fusing it with the reporting from journalists, Pickhart focuses on a quartet of characters at the center of a Kyiv protest against the president in which more than 100 people were massacred. Pickhart fully develops these intersecting characters, from an American doctor to a former KGB spy, deftly changing points of view, all of which is enhanced by a chorus of past Ukrainian singers killed by a Russian czar."
—The National Book Review
(Read the full review of I Will Die in a Foreign Land)

 

"I Will Die in a Foreign Land is sweeping, touching, and powerful."
—Superstition Review

 

"Love triangles, grieving parents, sex trafficking, the KGB, Chernobyl, the Euromaidan protests—I Will Die in a Foreign Land has it all. This bold, intricate novel is as rich and complex as the Ukrainian history it describes with such precision and longing. In spite of their unspeakable personal and political tragedies, the people in this book will fill you with hope for a better world long after you turn the last page."
Maria Kuznetsova, author of Oksana, Behave! and Something Unbelievable

 

“I Will Die in a Foreign Land is an antidote to safe or insular fiction. Kalani Pickhart casts her gaze both outward and inward, to decades of fractious history and the ways loss marks the human heart. How does a person, or a nation, endure and transform? The novel asks big questions and offers up answers written with an unerring sense of character and astonishingly beautiful language.”
Caitlin Horrocks, author of Life Among the Terranauts, This Is Not Your City, and The Vexations

 

"Kalani Pickhart’s I Will Die in a Foreign Land hums with the intensity of a live wire. Told in intertwining strands of folklore, history, audio recordings, story, and song, the novel offers a complicated and often brutal portrait of Ukraine’s recent past. An innovative and electric debut: Pickhart writes with vividness, empathy, and unforgettable insight."
Allegra Hyde, author of Eleutheria and Of This New World

 

"I Will Die in a Foreign Land beautifully illustrates the palimpsest of history, both on the global scale, as old wars give way to new, and the personal, as old loves give way to new. This novel perfectly captures the tragedy and romance of those willing to die for their beliefs."
Ayşe Papatya Bucak, author of The Trojan War Museum

 

"Beseeching and beautiful, I Will Die in a Foreign Land is an ode to the inescapable difficulty of being both an individual and a citizen of the world. Rich with grief, folklore, and political will, Kalani Pickhart has written a novel of such intricacy that each moment expands and contracts to encompass more than time itself allows. It moved me deeply."
Adrienne Celt, author of Invitation to a Bonfire, The Daughters, and the forthcoming End of the World House

 

"Kalani Pickhart's I Will Die in a Foreign Land is of the best kind of protest novels: one that makes you cry, and then makes you mad as hell. It is so far the best artistic treatment of the Euromaidan and Crimean situation, at turns tense, melancholy, and over-abundantly compassionate. This book is both the napalm and the bandages in one."
—Conor Hultman, Square Books (Oxford, MS)

 

"Kyiv, Ukraine, 2013. Katya, Misha, Slava, and Alexsandr Ivanovich all orbit around a makeshift medical clinic at the center of violent protests in debut author Kalani Pickhart's I Will Die in a Foreign Land. This book illuminated much about the period for me, and it did so because I was so thoroughly invested in its compelling characters. How Pickhart manages to construct such a solid and compelling story amid the chaos of the events portrayed (and even incorporates Slavic history and folklore) is unfathomable to me, but she does. You will care about these characters, you will agonize with them over the choices they are forced to make, and you will put this book down, haunted and grieving, but also inspired."
—Lisa Swayze, Buffalo Street Books (Ithaca, NY)

 

"In a powerful rendition of Ukraine’s troubled past and recent events Kalani Pickhart draws readers into the lives of characters who converge around the 2013 violent repression of demonstrations in Kyiv... With a fresh, bold narrative style that joins reportage and deep character study, Pickhart delivers a series of provocative set pieces that underscore the weight of historical memory and the toll of Russian domination. An eye-opening novel by a stunningly talented writer."
—Lori Feathers, Interabang Books (Dallas, TX)

 

"Set in motion by the Ukrainian Revolution of 2014 and a particular demonstration in Kyiv, Pickhart’s debut novel weaves its way through the lives of four main characters: Katya, an American doctor who has fled the US and her failing marriage to treat wounded protesters in a converted monastery; Aleksandr, a pianist and former Soviet agent who is suffering from a potentially fatal injury; Misha, a widower and an engineer who is searching for his friend, fellow protester, and erstwhile lover, Slava, an activist. As the narrative unfolds, we see how each of the characters, major and minor, are held in a web, every action or inaction rippling throughout."
—10/19/2021 newsletter, Longfellow Books, Portland, ME

 

"I have never felt quite so speechless when finishing a book. This debut novel—unassuming in its size and yet sharp and intense in its story—completely caught me off guard. Pickhart depicts the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, where Russia has long kept a tight hold and refused to recognize its status as an independent nation. In 2013, the Ukrainian Revolution and the ongoing War in Donbass broke out, as then-President Yanukovych refused to sign a referendum with the European Union, forging a closer alliance with Russia. This story follows four characters as they fight to secure sovereignty for their country and safety for their loved ones. Pickhart seems to write in the empty space between conflicts, in which life continues despite the hardships of war, and she shows the resiliency of the individual in the face of oppression—the need to find beauty and love amidst destruction. Incredibly complex, heartbreaking, and insightful, this novel is an urgent argument for the presence of humanity in a time of violence."
—Natalie Both, Changing Hands Bookstore, Phoenix, AZ

 

"Off and on, we hear about unrest in Ukraine. Some of us are aware that it involves Russia. Most of us just know it’s way 'over there somewhere.' But it is a real place, inhabited by real people, with lives not much different than hours. This is a novel about four people amidst the greater population: Aleksandr, a former KGB agent now a part of the resistance; Misha, an engineer who lost his wife to radiation sickness; Ukrainian-American doctor, Katya; and Slava, with hardships enough to make her a formidable activist. As we follow their personal stories, they soon find their paths intertwined and what follows is the November 2013 protest in Kyiv… a protest that would be heard around the world. In addition to the lives of our four friends, we hear the comments from a myriad of other people, also from this time and place. For anyone who wants to know what’s 'going on over there,' this is the book to read. It will open your eyes and hopefully your heart."
—Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, Washington

 

"Not an easy read—especially right now. Kalani Pickhart tells the devastating story of Russia's last incursion into [Ukraine] in 2014. Alternating between four characters in a non-linear fashion, we experience the tragic history that Russia has influenced over Ukraine. What's lost in all the madness of history are the stories of the individuals lost to events bigger than themselves; Pickhart has given us a glimpse into these four fictional characters that represent this lost voices. Lyrical and haunting, I learned so much reading this amazing novel."
—Jason Kennedy, Boswell Books, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

 

"This telling of history, woven throughout with song and folklore, which follows the lives of four people during the turbulence of the Maidan protests in Ukraine, is surprisingly intimate and tender."
—Alana Haley, Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

"debut novel from a powerful voice. I Will Die in a Foreign Land is a political novel about protests and the things we have to do to make the world livable, even if it wreaks havoc on our personal lives. this text feels alive as it is interspersed with historical snippets. heavy with loss, Pickhart's book feels deeply sad, even as it aspires toward hope. this novel is for everyone who has ever thrown it all on the line with no assurance that things will work out."
—Douglas Riggs, Bank Square Books, Mystic, Connecticut

 

"A captivating, heartbreaking, poetic, debut novel set during the Euromaidan demonstrations in Ukraine 2013-2014. We follow four characters whose paths cross in the heat of the protests, one of whom, Katya, is a Ukraine-born but Boston-raised physician. Not only a ground-level view of Kiev in the years that shaped the current political situation, but is also structurally innovative and a powerful read."
—Kathy Crowley, Belmont Books, Belmont, Massachusetts

 

"I must admit, I was a bit intimidated by Kalani Pickhart's debut novel, I Will Die in a Foreign Land. I've not read a lot of books about Ukraine, their recent political struggle, and the people who have fought for their home—plus, I just thought it might be devastatingly sad. And of course, it is sad, but more than that, it's absolutely beautiful and clings to hope so desperately that I was left feeling optimism for the characters that people the novel and for Ukraine itself. Pickhart weaves together the history of Ukraine with the stories of four citizens who have come to the Maidan to fight for the country they love. They move in and out of each other's stories in such a lovely way; Pickhart's writing is quiet, understated, and unexpected. I can't wait to read more from her."
—Margaret Leonard, Dotters Books (Eau Claire, WI)