I Will Die in a Foreign Land

I Will Die in a Foreign Land


Brought to you by Penguin.

Winner of the New York Public Library Young Lions Award
Best Book of the Year -New York Public Library, Cosmopolitan, Independent Book Review

In 1913, a Russian ballet incited a riot in Paris at the new Théâtre de Champs-Elysées. "Only a Russian could do that," says Aleksandr Ivanovich. "Only a Russian could make the whole world go mad."

A century later, in November 2013, thousands of Ukrainian citizens gathered at Independence Square (Euromaidan) in Kyiv to protest then-President Yanukovych's failure to sign a referendum with the European Union, opting instead to forge a closer alliance with President Vladimir Putin and Russia. The peaceful protests turned violent when military police shot live ammunition into the crowd, killing over a hundred civilians.

I Will Die in a Foreign Land is a novel that follows four individuals over the course of a volatile Ukrainian winter, as their lives are changed forever by the Euromaidan protests. Katya is a Ukrainian-American doctor stationed at a makeshift medical clinic in St. Michael's Monastery; Misha is an engineer originally from Pripyat, near Chernobyl, who has lived in Kyiv since his wife's death; Slava is a fiery young activist whose past hardships steel her determination in the face of persecution; and Aleksandr Ivanovich, a former KGB agent, climbs atop a burned-out police bus at Independence Square and plays the piano. As Katya, Misha, Slava, and Aleksandr's lives become intertwined, they each seek out love, redemption and meaning during a tumultuous and violent period.

In this dazzling debut novel, Kalani Pickhart blends narrative, folklore, journalism and Slavic history to create a moving story of beauty and love in a time of terror, I Will Die in a Foreign Land is an ambitious, intimate, and haunting portrait of human perseverance and the will to survive.

"I tore through I Will Die in a Foreign Land... nothing has given me such a profound impression of what Ukrainians have endured as this intensely moving novel." Ron Charles, Washington Post

© Kalani Pickhart 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022


  • Powerful debut ... an impressive feat of empathy ... a rich, multilayered story [that] will resonate with a wide range of readers, and provide illuminating insight for those hoping to learn more about the current conflict.

About the author

Kalani Pickhart

Kalani Pickhart was selected as an inaugural 2022 New Voices Literary Fellow for the Sun Valley Writer's Conference, and has been the recipient of fellowships from the Virginia G. Piper Center and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Intelligence for Eastern European and Eurasian Studies. I Will Die in a Foreign Land has been recently long-listed for the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award and has been named a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award. Kalani currently lives and writes in Phoenix, Arizona.
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