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Podcast: A Small, Stubborn Town
New book interview with Andrew Harding
Andrew Harding with Svetlana Martsynkovska at her home in Rakove
Listen to my interview with Andrew Harding for the New Books Network about A Small, Stubborn Town: Life, death and defiance in Ukraine (Ithaka, 2023) via your preferred app:
New Books Network (Megaphone)
From 2-13 March 2022 - only a week into Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine - Russian forces tried and failed to take and hold Voznesensk, a small but strategically important town 80 kilometres northwest of Mykolaiv.
Looking back, the commander (call sign "Formosa") of the 300 professional Ukrainian troops that repulsed the attacks with the help of civilian volunteers concluded that this "one small, decisive and improbable victory … almost certainly saved Ukraine from a larger encirclement and most likely from the prospect of defeat".
In A Small, Stubborn Town, Andrew Harding tells the story of the battle for Voznesensk through the eyes of its participants - from Formosa to 32-year-old mayor Yevhenii to the "archipelago of stranded, pensionless pensioners" like Svetlana and Mikhail eking out a living and redefining their identities through war.
Although he has been reporting from the front line in eastern Ukraine for the BBC since March 2022, Andrew Harding is the BBC’s Africa correspondent and has lived in Johannesburg since 2009. Africa was the subject of his two previous books - The Mayor of Mogadishu and These Are Not Gentle People (later turned into the award-winning radio series Blood Lands)- but he began his career in Moscow and Tbilisi and has covered conflicts in Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Abkhazia, and Kosovo.
For my Writers’ Writers tip sheet, he chose Invasion: Russia’s Bloody War and Ukraine’s Fight for Survival by Luke Harding (Guardian Faber Publishing, 2023) and Grey Bees by Andrey Kurkov (MacLehose Press, 2021).