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The May meeting of the Central European Book Club

Graphics with the cover of Artem Czekh's book.

16 May, 6 pm


On Tuesday, May 16, at 6 pm we invited you for a discussion about “Absolute Zero” by Artem Chekh. “Absolute Zero” is an inconspicuous book, but inside it is violent, written against the grain and out of spite.


We accompany the protagonist and the narrator in his anti-heroic adventures in the army, which he joins as part of the general conscription in April 2015. We follow him and his comrades from the motorised infantry battalion, who, before they are sent to the frontlines, move around Ukraine as part of their recruit training. We experience military absurdities that jeopardise the health and lives of conscripts.


Chekh wrote a book that shows from the inside the process of gradual withdrawal from naive childhood fantasies about war, which boys romanticise, thinking about fame and heroism.

What is remarkable about this novel is a brilliant observation: the experience of economic poverty is not only a sign of the poorly supplied and organised Ukrainian army, this “total disorder and absolute mess”, but also a deeply internalised social experience that determines ideological and political choices, as manifested in the attitude of Ukrainians towards the Maidan.


This book is an attempted autobiography and a memoir, sometimes an essay, but also a literary reportage, telling us something important about the existential crisis experience, about the titular absolute zero.


We encouraged you to register for the meeting in advance at the following e-mail address: j.burnatowski@mck.krakow.pl in order to receive access to the text (or fragments thereof) discussed during the Club meeting.


Let’s meet in a common space of reading and talking. Let’s meet at the ICC.

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