How can a country at peace suddenly be plunged into war? What compels hitherto peaceable citizens to take up arms and kill one another? In For Want of a Fir Tree: Ukraine Undone, Frédérick Lavoie tells Artyom, a four-year-old child he saw lying in his little blue coffin on a January afternoon in 2015, about the sequence of events that led to his death. In doing so, and in travelling the country from one side to the other, talking to people from all walks of life in both camps, Lavoie tells a compelling story of a land drawn into conflict through misadventure, misjudgment, mistrust, and a legacy of ancient historical resentments with a tenacious hold on their populations. It is a cautionary tale whose truths and whose lessons resonate far beyond these specific events, these particular borders.
Frédérick Lavoie is a freelance foreign correspondent born in 1983 in Chicoutimi, Canada, who has worked for a number of media in Canada, France, Belgium and Switzerland. His most recent book explores contemporary Cuba and investigates the release of Orwell's classic 1984 there. His critically acclaimed essay Ukraine à fragmentation (2015) was shortlisted for the Prix des Libraires 2017. His book Avant l'après: voyages à Cuba avec George Orwell was nominated for a Governor General Award in 2018. He divides his time between Montreal and Mumbai.
Donald Winkler is a Montreal-based translator of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. He is a three-time winner of the Governor General's Award for French to English Translation, most recently, in 2013, for Pierre Nepveu's collection of verse, The Major Verbs.
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