^ Author photo by Sydney Cisco.
I Will Die in a Foreign Land is an ABA Indie Next List pick for November 2021!
“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)
"A debut that is as thoughtful as it is explosive."
—Wendy J. Fox, BuzzFeed
"In Pickhart’s ardent, sprawling debut, a set of memorable characters attempt to lay bare the truths of recent conflicts in the 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
"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
"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
"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)
"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)
The lives of four people intersect during the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution.
In February 2014, Ukrainian police fired into a crowd of protesters in Kyiv, killing more than 100 civilians who were demonstrating against the nation’s president, Viktor Yanukovych. While Yanukovych would eventually be removed from power, the massacre has been etched into the memories of people across Ukraine and the rest of Europe. The mass shootings, and the protests that preceded it, form the plot of Pickhart’s disquieting debut novel, which follows four people at the center of the demonstrations. There’s Katya, an American doctor treating wounded protesters at a Kyiv monastery; she’s left the U.S. after the death of her young child and the resulting decay of her marriage. She finds herself treating Aleksandr, a former KGB spy who plays piano for the protesters, haunted by his own past as a Soviet who participated in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. Misha, an engineer still mourning the death of his wife, takes part in the protests along with an activist named Slava, his former lover–turned–sister figure: “She wasn’t his, he wasn’t hers, but they were together. For years now, a cobbled family.” As the violence in Kyiv worsens, the characters find their lives thrown into terrible disarray, with Katya’s thoughts returning to her late child and Slava falling in love with a lesbian filmmaker. The novel ends where it must, and Pickhart doesn’t pull any punches; this is an unremittingly dark novel, but it’s never exploitative. Pickhart employs an unusual structure, with switching points of view punctuated by a kind of Greek chorus courtesy of Kobzari, old Ukrainian singers who were killed by the Russian czar for singing in their own language. Innovative, emotionally resonant, and deeply affecting, this is a more-than-promising debut from a very talented writer.
An excellent debut from an author who's bursting with talent.