Ithaka Press, an imprint of Bonnier Books UK, is to publish Viv Groskop’s new memoir – with the author to donate all proceeds from the book to PEN International.

Ithaka Press Publishing Director Sarah Braybrooke acquired world English language rights from Cathryn Summerhayes at Curtis Brown.

One Ukrainian Summer is a memoir about falling in love and coming of age in the former USSRIn the Autumn of 1993, Viv is about to turn 21 and is on a study year abroad, supposedly immersed in the language, history and politics of a world that has just ceased to exist: the Soviet Union.

Instead, she finds herself immersed in Bogdan Bogdanovich – Gift of God, son of Gift of God – the lead guitarist of a Ukrainian punk rock band. At parties, gigs and dive bars, Viv and her new friends argue over whose turn it is to buy cigarettes, the best places to find Levi’s jeans and whether beer counts as a soft drink. No-one debates the merits of speaking Ukrainian over Russian, the precise location of the border or the undeniable brightness of the future. Of course good times are here to stay. Because the Soviet Union is finished. Isn’t it?

A poignant and often comical account of coming-of-age in the time after the Cold War and before Putin, One Ukrainian Summer is a love letter to a unique moment in history.

Sarah Braybrooke said: ‘This is a very special book: Viv’s voice is accomplished, her wit is razor-sharp, and her ability to evoke an elusive time and place is second to none. This is a no-holds-barred story about searching for adventure and finding more of it than you could ever have imagined. It’s also a book that makes the history of a complex region intelligible and illuminates its culture. I am in awe of Viv for choosing to donate all her proceeds to writers at risk and I can’t wait to see how readers respond to her memoir.’

Viv Groskop is an award-winning writer, comedian, playwright and broadcaster. She has two Masters degrees in Russian Studies and is a former judge of the International Booker Prize. She has had seven radio plays produced, and is the author of six books including How to Own the Room (also a hit podcast with over two million downloads) and The Anna Karenina Fix, an internationally best-selling guide to Russian literature. A contributing editor at Russian Vogue for ten years during the 2000s, she has spent extended periods of time in Kyiv, Odesa, Yalta, Moscow and St Petersburg. A fluent Russian-speaker-in-rehab, she also speaks some Ukrainian and Surzhyk.

Viv said: “The summer of 1994, I turned twenty one, was living in the former Soviet Union and was madly in love with the lead guitarist in a band who called themselves “Ukraine’s answer to Red Hot Chilli Peppers.” They came from central Ukraine, from Zelenskyy’s home town. One Ukrainian Summer is a memoir about the intense passion and boundless stupidity of my youthful self, set during that short-lived time of hope and optimism immediately after the fall of the Iron Curtain. 

“It’s funny and bittersweet and also my way of saying sorry to my friend Misha who told me a long time ago, “Vivka, don’t learn Russian, learn Ukrainian.” Thirty years on, at a time when thousands of Ukrainian voices have been silenced by war, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to donate all the author proceeds for this book to PEN International for writers at risk. Thanks to my agent Cathryn Summerhayes and the team at Curtis Brown who are also donating all fees associated with One Ukrainian Summer.”

PEN International is a charity registered in the UK as International P.E.N. (Reg. No. 1117088). Viv Groskop confirms that 100% of the income earned by her from this book will be donated to PEN International for their global work supporting writers at risk. Find out more:

One Ukrainian Summer publishes in hardback, audio and eBook on the 23rd May 2024.