Notes on some bookshops in Kiev

Here are some remarks on bookshops I ambled round yesterday.


First of all, it was ‘Knigarnya’ at 47 ul L’va Tolstogo.  Inside it was quite a nice clean modern shop, but unfortunately all the books were in Ukrainian, rather than Russian.  I think there were some English books in the far reaches of the back room; there was also a granny selling vegetables outside.

Then I made my way further down L’va Tolstogo and came to the Litera ‘book supermarket’, which also had a nice park opposite it.


They had a pretty decent selection of Russian fiction on the first floor, and it wasn’t too strangely organised; also some books of lit crit (really literaturavedenie) in the sub-basement, together with books in Russian.  The address is…ul L’va Tolstogo 11/61.

After that I made my way to Khreshchatyk, where I found the following corpse:

Nothing so depressing as a dead bookshop...

But then I found something more interesting on ul Bogdana Khmel’nytskogo:


That was very nice:  clean, bright, friendly staff, decent selection of Russian fictiomn and also some books in English.  I completely overlooked the lockers you’re supposed to put your bags in to prevent you nicking stuff and nobody told me off.  I also came across H P Lovecraft looking a bit embarrassed to find himself in a prestigious-looking series of collections of works by ‘classic’ foreign authors:

H P Lovecraft shares his corner of the table with Jane Austen and (less bizarrely) the Marquis de Sade

Lovecraft is one of those writers who seems a great deal better in a foreign language because the poor translator has to decide what this garbage means and even render it into something resembling coherent prose in the target language.  Dostoevsky is the pre-eminent member of this tribe, with Dickens not so far behind.

The ‘book club’ thing apparently means there’s a card which gives you a discount, like France loisirs as I recall.

After that, my way led through the permanent anti-Timoshenko demonstration:

They don't like Yulia

I think their points were:

i)  Timoshenko was personally liable for Ukraine’s oil [and gas?] debt to Russia;

ii)  she had bought her English father-in-law a motorcycle.

Then the ‘Znaniya’ shop at Khreshchatyk 44 was gloomy and old-style:

The ‘we love Yulia’ faction favoured brighter  colours than  their opponents:

Crimeans believe Timoshenko


After that I failed to find any sign of the alleged bookshop in the ‘Globus’ shopping centre.  And on my way back to base I had a look in ‘Akademkniga’ at ulitsa B Khmel’nitskogo 42:

Reminiscent of the good old days...

That was real old-style, with the books displayed behind the counters so that they were safe from potential purchasers.  And since this was the shop of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, they were very largely in Ukrainian!

So that concludes my account of a journey through the bookshops of Kiev, conditioned as it was by my not speaking Ukrainian and this computer not speaking Russian.

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