Maria Miniailo

The Children of Grad (2022)


Translated by Michael Pursglove and Natalia Pniushkova.

The Children of Grad is a novel about the pupils of the Grey Willow Boarding School in the town of M., whose destinies cross suddenly one year in the mid-nineties, shortly after Ukraine achieved independence from the Soviet Union. Unable to accept the difference between the real world and their dreams of a perfect life, Vitka, Slavik, Akim and Miwa one day flee from ‘Old Lady Willow’ in search of the mysterious Grad, a place where there are no rules and all children are happy. The Children of Grad is a story about how difficult it is to be a child in the cruel world of adults. It is a novel for and about everyone who was forced to grow up early.

ISBN: 978-1-915241-03-0 Categories: , Tags: , , ,

Praise and Poems

This deceptively simple translation of Maria Miniailo’s second novel begins as a touching portrayal of childhood innocence, surviving against the odds in conditions of familial and institutionalised neglect. But the emotional drama of this extraordinary coming-of-age story builds steadily, through vivid and increasingly disturbing events, to a stark and lyrical peak with haunting echoes of Dostoevsky, William Golding and Olga Tokarczuk.   Naomi Foyle


In the evenings, when fog descended onto the town of M. (it was not in vain that it won the fame of being the foggiest town in the country!), I looked out the windows of the ‘Old Lady Willow’, at the viscous mist, in which the crowns of trees could hardly be seen, and thought about my life. The present seemed to me one continuous hopelessness, slumbering behind an old high fence . . . Slavik liked to repeat that ‘we all came to this world with a purpose’, and I kept wondering, what was my purpose . . . I wanted to become a traveller, I wanted to make a lot of money and I wanted to leave the grey, foggy town of M. where people were born only to die one day.

‘Vitka, the good life is where we happen not to be,’ Slavik laughed, listening to my reflections. But I didn’t know how it was out there. And even more so, neither did I know where this mysterious ‘there’ was, and that’s why it attracted me more and more every day.


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