Lucky Breaks. Yevgenia Belorusets

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Out of the impoverished Ukrainian coal regions known as the Donbass, where Russian secret military intervention mixes with banditry and insurgency, the women of Yevgenia Belorusets’s captivating collection of stories Lucky Breaks emerge from the ruins of an ongoing war. Through a series of unexpected encounters, we are pulled into the ordinary lives of these anonymous women: a florist, a cosmetologist, readers of horoscopes, the unemployed, cardplayers, a witch who catches newborns with a mitt. One refugee tries unsuccessfully to leave her broken umbrella behind as if it were a sick relative; another sits down on International Women’s Day and can no longer stand up. With a mix of humor, verisimilitude, the undramatic, and a profound irony reminiscent of Gogol, Belorusets threads these tales of ebullient survival with twenty-three photographs that form a narrative in lyrical and historical counterpoint.