Whenever someone browses through Kinokuniya’s graphic novels section, one expects to walk out with a book on superheroes. It was a surprise when I purchased ‘The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks: Life and Death Under the Soviet Rule’  instead.

With a seemingly plain cover that makes it look like an ordinary school notebook, its content is nothing but that! A collection of stories spanning a 2 year stay in Ukraine and Russia, Award-winning illustrator Igort puts together a visual diary.

This collection of graphic novels sheds light on two moments in recent history. The first on man-made Ukrainian famine of 1932–1933, Holodomor (Ukrainian for “death by hunger”). The second, on the assassination of Award-winning Russian journalist, human rights activist and Vladimir Putin critic, Anna Politkoyskaya.

It also brings attention to the consequences of those moments. In the graphic novels, Igort takes his time to interview survivors and witnesses. With Joseph Stalin’s government being thought as the force behind it, Holodomor resulted in the estimated deaths of up to twelve million ethnic Ukrainians.

Illustrative in nature, the graphic novels condenses text-heavy content and simplifies it for readers to understand the hardships faced living in the USSR.

Looking for something else to read? Check out our review for Growing Up Perempuan here!