Know About the Vita Nostra

There is really no way to approach Vita Nostra, but in an elliptical way, so commit yourself. To guide you, imagine that Hogwarts opened a satellite campus at the Harry Haller Magic Theater in Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse and hired Kafka, Dostoevsky and Rod Serling to supervise the program. This circumstance is likely to cause one of the three reactions of the readers: stupor, terror or magnetic attraction. If you look at the backbone of the recent novel by the famous Ukrainian authors Marina and Sergey Dyachenko, you will have a complete measure of all three, and just like the famous five stages of grief, you may break them all or all and more than once.


Vita Nostra begins quite simply with the fact that the teenager Sasha Samokhina collides with a strange man who exerts an inexplicable influence on her. The girl’s uninvited Mentor persuaded her to enroll in the Institute of Special Technologies, much to her confusion and dismay about her mother. Once there, the lesson plan is opaque to say the least and academic failure leads to unpleasant consequences for the students’ families.


The Novel belongs to an expanding Ukrainian Genre known as Fantastyka, which encompasses science fiction, fantasy, horror and folk traditions. Much of this has not yet been translated into English. This particular example could call both Piers Anthony’s macroscope (1969) and Jonathan Lethem’s when she climbed on the table (1997) a prehistory in the field of Science Fiction, just like Jose Luis Borges’ fictions (1944) and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s snapshots (1962) of the literary sphere. Congratulations to the translator Julia meitov Hersey, whose task could not be easy, given the complexity and sophistication of Vita Nostra.


I realize that this is a little boring, but if you are fascinated by the phrase “time is a grammatical concept”, you will plunge into the cherished whirlwind of this book from the first page.

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