Sliding on the Snow Stone: A memoir, one Ukrainian man’s journey

Visitors to Ukraine will marvel at the magnificence of the Carpathian Mountains in the south-west, or at the many beautiful buildings and churches in Kiev, the country’s capital. Younger visitors may choose to jump on a train down to the Crimea, where a sunshine party atmosphere rivals that of the Balearic Islands.

The warmth and welcome of Ukrainian people is legendary. A native Ukrainian will always endeavour to provide hospitality of the highest quality. But, beyond the 21st century cosmopolitan landscape of Ukraine is a history that will intrigue and interest many.

Published in 2011, Sliding on the Snow Stone is the debut novel of British author Andy Szpuk, and is the epic memoir of one Ukrainian man’s journey through famine, Soviet repression and Nazi occupation during World War 2.

Although Sliding on the Snow Stone tells a tale of struggle, it also paints a portrait of the Ukrainian character. Despite efforts by some of its neighbours to deprive Ukraine of its culture, the Ukrainian language remains strong, and, as a result, there is a wealth of new literature emerging, both from resident Ukrainians and from the children of diaspora all over the world.

Sliding on the Snow Stone‘s main character, Stefan, is 5 years old when chapter one opens, and, like all boys, he loves to play. Despite a catastrophe unfolding around him, he and his friends play at Cossacks, and as supreme horsemen and the bravest of warriors they forge iron into their souls as they fight imaginary battles to defend their land.

As Stefan grows up he learns to love the works of the great Ukrainian author and poet Taras Shevchenko, amongst other writers. Ukrainian culture is rich in storytelling, verse and song. Stefan and his family uphold these traditions.

As he journeys through his early years, with chaos unfolding around him, Stefan keeps his sense of Ukrainian pride with him. And, inside his heart, he carries a resolve to live his life as a Ukrainian, wherever he may be in the world.

Sliding on the Snow Stone is the extraordinary personal account of this man’s life, and for those with an interest in history, is a compelling book.

Article contributed by Andy Szpuk. More information can be found on the author’s web page and also on the book’s Facebook page.