Walking into a bookstore, contemporary reader follows a number of steps. First, one needs to choose a section of the shop to dive into, then carefully inspect the shelf in order to pick an appealing title that would, at the same time, not sound too embarrassing, then, finally, bring the book to the counter. The selection process is influenced by a myriad of factors — the light, easy access to the shelves and space arrangement. New items or bestsellers are often placed on a separate stand towards the front, while classics that hasn’t been recently revamped by a Hollywood still…


For someone who’s never worked with archives getting used to it might be quite a challenge, albeit an exciting one. I try the deep waters with a walk to Kharkiv’s Korolenko library. I lose already at the entrance, because I don’t have a pen. And you need to write quite a lot of things with a pen here! (good for motor skills).

The first thing that I learn is that Artificial Intelligence has no power here. Granted there is a computer, and you can order one part of materials through electronic system, there is the whole other part which can…


Do you have books that you shouldn’t have re-read?

@https://checkitout.com.ua/p847748156-the-master-and.html

Every year in May, always in May, when the first really warm days bring the first really warm “sparrow” storms, thunders and lightnings, I open Bugakov’s “Master and Margarita.” I usually read a couple of chapters in the beginning to set the mood. It suffices to remember the feeling of freshness, humor, and witchery. This year though is so strange in so many ways that, stranded on a deserted island of my rented flat thousands of kilometers from home, I went on and read the whole thing. Like one starts to read a school diary while cleaning up and ends…


photo by V. Grivina

I’ve spent two months in Bergamo. The first getting to know the university, walking round, eating ice-cream in Gelateria Romana and looking at the Alps from Venetian walls of the old town. The second month I spent in quarantine learning about the town from apocalyptic international news, or deciphering Italian posters in supermarkets. Every time the car with a loudspeaker passed on the street, I thought ‘see, you haven’t learnt Italian good enough, and now you’re missing some important information and probably going to die.’ …


Photo made by Viktoria Grivina

Back in early February when I moved into my university-managed apartment, two things became clear instantly . First, that I hit the jackpot with the view — overlooking the old city with its green hills and venetian gates. Second, that my room, besides a gorgeous view, was also situated on the first floor right in front of the yard, containing rubbish bins, and with them — all sorts of life.

Irony and symbolism did not escape me. The high and low of marble columns and trash, what better way to learn your neighbours than see them stealth in the dead…


Apparently I have zero extra-sensorial abilities, or else why would I find myself in Lombardy in 2020. Even worse, I’m terribly naive, as I stupidly hoped that after suffering a difficult climate of Scotland, karma would pay me back with something warm, nice and continental. Like Bergamo. One can only laugh at the idea now. As I arrived in my wonderful apartment overlooking the old town in the beginning of February, my Chinese neighbours said exactly three words before disappearing in their room for good. …


In early March one day before Italian government posed a ban on traveling inside the country, I met up with my university colleague and took a day trip from Bergamo to Milan. The viral situation in both cities was the same, and I had a feeling that we wouldn’t be able to travel for some time soon.

I bought a mask just in case — the cheapest useless kind to be sure because there were no others left — but felt quite stupid to wear it. Milan’s magnificent train station was not very busy, and very few people were wearing…


A curious experience of traveling from Lombardy to Veneto on the day Italian epidemic started

As a Ukrainian it would probably make more sense for me to write a horror story about Ukrainians who on return from Wuhan, China attempted to avoid being burnt and stoned by other Ukrainians. But this is a beginning of another epic story, as by virtue of my scholarly advancement in February, 2020 I found myself living or — as the rest of the world sees it — dying in Northern Italy.

Before the whole virus epidemic began I planned to study, write and enjoy…


Or What Kept Us From becoming Our Best Selves in the Past Year

I love drawing conclusions. I imagine myself as Robert De Niro in the finale of the Irishman, just sitting in an armchair in an empty nursing home ward musing on a tragic grandeur of the past. But given that my personal most prominent achievement of 2019 was when I folded one particularly controversial semester paper into a pretty fancy X-mas tree, I would much rather reflect on the general state of things.

And because there have been too many beautiful pieces of culture to distract a decent…


Nikolai Gogol’s contribution to literary canon is indisputable with The Overcoat, a symbol of Russia’s fiction, or Dead Souls, the symbol of its rather boring and unsexy slavery. Not many know, though, that the symbol of all things Russian, Gogol was, in fact, a migrant. From Ukraine.

Born just 200 km from my hometown, the most mysterious writer of his time has, quite interestingly, a mysteriously difficult dialogue with his former home. Why is that, you’ll ask? Well, let’s see.

Chapter 1. It’s Quite a Funny Story? No.

Vik's Culture Atom

Writer and a urban researcher from Kharkiv, Ukraine

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