The Rooster House : My Ukrainian Family Story

It’s a pleasure to share with you that my memoir, The Rooster House, will be published in English on June 27th, 2023 by Abrams Press. The book tells my family history across four generations as I search for traces of my great-uncle who disappeared during the 1930s, and explore Ukraine’s complex relationship with its Soviet past. It’s also a story about family ties that survive conflicts and turmoil.

As the publication date nears, I will share more details. In the meantime, here is a publisher’s summary.

In 2014, the landmarks of Victoria Belim’s personal geography were plunged into tumult at the hands of Russia. Her hometown Kyiv was gripped by protests and violent suppression. Crimea, where she’d once been sent to school to avoid radiation from the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, was invaded. Kharkiv, where her grandmother Valentina studied economics and fell in love; Donetsk, where her father once worked; and Mariupol, where she and her mother bought a cherry tree for Valentina’s garden all became battlegrounds.

A naturalized American citizen then living in Brussels, Belim felt she had to go back. She had to spend time with her aging grandmother and her cousin Dmytro. She had to unravel a family mystery spanning several generations. And she needed to understand how her country’s tragic history of communist revolution, civil war, famine, world war, totalitarianism, and fraught independence had changed the course of their lives.

The Rooster House is a beautifully written memoir of a family, a country’s past, and its dangerous present. It is about parents and children, true believers and victims, gardens and art, secrets and tragedy.

You can pre-order on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

I wrote the book before the war in Ukraine was even a possibility in my mind, and as I was finishing in December of 2020, I thought that it would be a snapshot in the history of Ukraine–and that of my family. And yet re-reading the manuscript now, I distinctly feel the echoes of the war and the continuity between the past and the present.

I hope that readers will enjoy the story and find resonance with their own searches and pilgrimages. The Rooster House is about one Ukrainian family, but its themes of love, courage and resilience are universal.

The Rooster House has been translated into ten languages, and the Spanish version titled Mi Ucrania will be published by Lumén on October 23rd, 2022. The Norwegian, Swedish, and Dutch versions are likewise going to be published this fall. I can’t wait to share this book with you and to hear your thoughts.

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97 Comments

  • Cornelia Blimber: Congratulations! What a fantastic news. I will order this book as soon as it is available at Athenaeum Bookshop. September 2, 2022 at 7:34am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: The Dutch translation will be here in the Netherlands already in 2022? Then I will by a Dutch copy.
      Did you approve of the translation? September 2, 2022 at 7:44am Reply

      • Victoria: Yes, it’s coming out sooner. I haven’t seen the translation yet, but I know that the publisher selected a good translator, so I have confidence in it. September 2, 2022 at 7:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! I hope that you will like it. September 2, 2022 at 7:50am Reply

      • Elena: I’m so impressed with you, over and over again . I remember reading your posts on makeupalley and wishing you pursue a career in perfumery or publishing. You did both ! I wish you the best and I’m planning to buy your book. September 2, 2022 at 10:42am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you so much, Elena! September 10, 2022 at 7:05am Reply

    • Wendy: Congratulations! You can pre-order in U.S. from the evil empire, Amazon. September 2, 2022 at 10:57am Reply

  • Karen A: Many many congratulations! September 2, 2022 at 8:18am Reply

  • Marilyn Stanonis: I can’t wait! What a wonderful reading journey it will be! September 2, 2022 at 9:05am Reply

    • Victoria: I can’t wait for it to be published. I hope that you’ll enjoy it. September 2, 2022 at 9:12am Reply

  • Elizabeth J: Wonderful news, Victoria. I’ll recommend your book for purchase by the Chicago Public Library.

    Best wishes to you and your family. September 2, 2022 at 9:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! September 2, 2022 at 9:12am Reply

  • Fazal: So this book is one of the projects that had been keeping you busy during the past few years. Hope to read it!
    Also if you don’t mind me asking, you have used the last name Frolova as a journalist but here the last name is Belim. Is the choice of ‘Belim’ a tribute to something or is it your pen name as a book author. September 2, 2022 at 9:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I chose this pen name in the honor of my great-grandmother (it was her last name.) She was the one who encouraged me to write and shared many stories that went into the book. September 2, 2022 at 9:12am Reply

  • Damiana: Congratulations, Victoria! I will be looking for it. September 2, 2022 at 9:15am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! September 2, 2022 at 9:30am Reply

  • matty1649: Congratulations on your book being published x September 2, 2022 at 9:19am Reply

  • Hamamelis: It seems a sad but also very fortunate timing that you could write it before the war, and it is so important everyone learns more about Ukraine, and the courage and resilience of its people. I am looking forward toreading the Rooster House. I am curious how the title will be translated in Dutch, but I may read it in English which I usually prefer. But maybe I can’t wait and will read it in Dutch. The Dutch version will make a wonderful Christmas present! September 2, 2022 at 9:24am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s called Rode sirenes in Dutch. Yes, it’s bittersweet to re-read it now, but I felt that my story helps to understand the current war. Ultimately it’s a story of one family and how it survived various historical events. September 2, 2022 at 9:30am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Hamamelis! I found the book on the Athenaeum website. ”Rode Sirenes” will be available on 8 – 11- 2022.
      Uitg. De Arbeiderspers, 25 euro.
      They don’t mention the name of the translator. September 2, 2022 at 10:03am Reply

      • Hamamelis: Hi Cornelia! I hope you are well. Thank you for letting me know about when the Rode Sirenes will be available. In time for Sinterklaas and Christmas. September 2, 2022 at 12:22pm Reply

  • Rhinda: I will definitely read your story Victoria and recommend it to my county library.
    It takes courage to tell a family story. September 2, 2022 at 9:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, that would be wonderful. September 2, 2022 at 9:31am Reply

  • Barbara: I look forward to reading this – and will recommend it to my book group. I love your writing and I’m so glad that you and your blog are back Victoria. September 2, 2022 at 9:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Barbara! September 4, 2022 at 8:18am Reply

  • Michele Brown: Dear Victoria, I am so excited 👏 to read your book when we can purchase it in the USA. As I’ve said previously, I love history and have come to appreciate the people of Ukraine and what they’ve been through just by following your newsletters. I too, will recommend my local library purchase your book. So grateful for your talented writing. 🌻🫶 September 2, 2022 at 9:47am Reply

    • Victoria: That’s so kind of you. Thank you very much, Michele! September 4, 2022 at 8:18am Reply

  • Dorothy Van Daele: Congratulations! September 2, 2022 at 9:56am Reply

  • Hanh-Trang: Congratulations! I shall look forward reading your book. Through reading your newsletters, I am certain it will be a fine and interesting book. The resiliency of the Ukrainian people as embodied by your family is what will see them through these difficult times. September 2, 2022 at 9:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! The resilience has definitely been on display in Ukraine over these past few months. September 10, 2022 at 6:58am Reply

  • Aurora: What an achievement, Victoria, anticipating reading it. I love the cover, is it Ukrainian embroidery? September 2, 2022 at 10:21am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s based on an embroidery pattern. Thank you for your kind words! September 10, 2022 at 6:59am Reply

  • carole: I can’t wait to read this-Congratulations! I know you can’t judge a book by its cover but I love the cover. You’ve generously shared your family’s history with us over the years – I can’t wait to learn more. Hope there are some pictures, too 🙂 September 2, 2022 at 10:33am Reply

    • Victoria: I also love the cover.
      There will be more stories in the book. September 10, 2022 at 7:00am Reply

  • Marsha Smith: Is it going to be sold in America? I always enjoyed your stories about your family. September 2, 2022 at 10:43am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I added the links for pre-orders. September 10, 2022 at 7:00am Reply

  • Kate: Congratulations Victoria! I’m looking forward to reading this immensely. September 2, 2022 at 11:03am Reply

  • Debi: Congratulations. I love the story already. Will figure out how to get it in India. Is there an ebook version too? September 2, 2022 at 11:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Debi. It will be sold in India too, and there will be an ebook version as well as an audio book. September 10, 2022 at 7:01am Reply

      • Debi: Ebooks are more convenient for me. I get distracted with audio. Looking forward. September 10, 2022 at 4:17pm Reply

  • Muriel: Congratulations Victoria !! What a wonderful achievement. The force and courage of the Ukrainian people, their pride of their country, all stem from histories like the one of your family. I am also looking forward to reading your book and discovering your family’s stories!
    Warm kisses September 2, 2022 at 11:41am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Muriel! September 10, 2022 at 7:01am Reply

  • AndreaR: Bravo, Victoria! Can’t wait to read this. Beautiful cover and intriguing title. September 2, 2022 at 12:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Andrea! September 10, 2022 at 7:01am Reply

  • Toni: Hugs and kisses. You write so beautifully and we are grateful that you are willing and able to share your story in this book. Congratulations! September 2, 2022 at 12:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: How kind, Toni! Thank you. September 10, 2022 at 7:02am Reply

  • Hamamelis: Hi Cornelia! I hope you are well. Thank you for letting me know about when the Rode Sirenes will be available. In time for Sinterklaas and Christmas. September 2, 2022 at 12:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: The timing is good, for sure. September 10, 2022 at 7:06am Reply

  • Johanna: Congratulations! What wonderful news. My husband’s family is Ukrainian, and it sounds as if it will make the perfect present for him (and then I get to read it!). So looking forward to reading more of your lovely words. September 2, 2022 at 12:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! Hope that both of you will like it. September 10, 2022 at 7:06am Reply

  • Alityke: Congratulations!
    From your writings about your family on here I know your book will be beautifully written as well as enthralling.
    Your use of the name Belim as your nom de plume is a beautiful & touching tribute to your great grandmother.
    The book will be not only be a tribute to your family but to the Ukrainian people. As such it will be an IMPORTANT book in educating the wider world in why the survival of an independent Ukraine is a must.
    I shall pre-order as soon as I can & recommend to as many people as I possibly can September 2, 2022 at 1:12pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you!
      It meant a lot to me to pay a tribute to my great-grandmother, so I decided to use that last name. September 10, 2022 at 7:07am Reply

  • Kathy: Good idea, Rhinda – I am looking forward to the book and will also contact our local library about it. September 2, 2022 at 2:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! That’s very kind of you. September 10, 2022 at 7:05am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: Congratulations! I’m really looking forward to reading the book. So excited for you. You’re an amazing writer and I hope you will have more books published in the future. September 2, 2022 at 6:00pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your warm words! September 10, 2022 at 7:06am Reply

  • Marianne: Congratulations on this wonderful achievement; really, on just being you! I’m very much looking forward to this book being available in Australia. September 2, 2022 at 8:21pm Reply

  • Sherrie: Congratulations Victoria! You have such wonderful talents and a beautiful heart. I hope it can be published in China or Taiwan, I’d love to translate it. September 2, 2022 at 10:36pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Sherrie! There will be a Chinese translation as well, to be published in Taiwan. September 5, 2022 at 7:13am Reply

  • Sofie: Congratulations! The timing couldn’t be more on point…
    Beautiful cover.
    Wishing you the best with this work of love. September 3, 2022 at 12:42am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Wow! Very exciting! I‘m looking forward to reading your and your family’s memoir!
    I love the evocative name and, I know: don‘t judge a book by its cover, but who wouldn’t be taken by those sharp roosters, or are they modest peacocks? September 3, 2022 at 12:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you!
      They’re probably in between the two. 🙂 September 10, 2022 at 7:04am Reply

  • Anna: Victoria – congratulations! I am so looking forward to reading this, your posts about your family have been so moving and interesting.

    I saw that you will come to the Gothenburg Book Fair, welcome to Sweden! September 3, 2022 at 1:11pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! Yes, I will be at the Gothenburg Book Fair this month. Hope to meet some of you there. September 10, 2022 at 7:04am Reply

  • Laura: Congratulations, Victoria! Looking forward reading your book❤️ Do you know something about the Finnish translation? I am so happy and excited for you!! September 3, 2022 at 9:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Laura! The Finnish translation will be published in February of 2023. September 4, 2022 at 8:17am Reply

      • Laura: That’s soon, can’t wait! Thank you for letting me know. September 4, 2022 at 8:33am Reply

  • Zazie: Oh Victoria, my heartfelt congratulations!
    Such a meaningful undertaking…

    I am thrilled and can’t wait to read this story, I know it will be beautifully written, interesting, though provoking and, most importantly, filled with beauty and a with profound compassion for humankind.

    Thank you!!!! September 4, 2022 at 5:54am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! Your words mean a lot to me. September 10, 2022 at 7:03am Reply

  • Corina Lymburner: Wow, I’m excited to read it; when will the English version be published? I’d like to recommend it to my book club. September 4, 2022 at 1:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: It will be published in June of 2023. September 5, 2022 at 7:14am Reply

  • Maggiecat: I can’t wait to read this – thank you for sharing this wonderful news! Congratulations! September 4, 2022 at 6:57pm Reply

  • Monika: Congratulations! I’m really looking forward to reading it. I suppose in English, but is there going to be the Polish translation, too? September 5, 2022 at 3:17am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, there will be a Polish translation too. It’s coming out next year. September 5, 2022 at 7:12am Reply

  • Alice: Congratulations! It will be surely very interesting and very well written. September 5, 2022 at 3:54am Reply

  • Lydia: This is wonderful! Congratulations!!
    There isn’t any book I’m awaiting with more eagerness. September 5, 2022 at 3:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! September 10, 2022 at 7:02am Reply

  • Inma: Looking foward to reading your book. I will ask it to the 3 Magic Kings that visit us on January 6th here in Spain.

    What language did you write it originally in? September 8, 2022 at 5:27am Reply

    • Victoria: I originally wrote it in English.

      Hope that you will like it. September 10, 2022 at 6:49am Reply

      • Inma: Hi,
        I’d rather read it in English, then. Is this – The Rooster House – your original writing?

        I am sure I am going to love it. September 14, 2022 at 6:07am Reply

        • Victoria: Yes, I originally wrote it in English. September 14, 2022 at 8:10am Reply

      • My1stGradeTeacher: May I ask why the English version is published last then ? I just wish I could get it earlier 🙂 September 14, 2022 at 11:21pm Reply

        • Victoria: That’s normal for publishing a book, about a year. The other international publishers were just much faster. September 15, 2022 at 3:37am Reply

  • a.: Wow, congratulations, Victoria! I just Googled to learn more and found that your manuscript was “snapped up” in a seven-way auction — even more congrats to you! Not that I’m that surprised — your beautiful, evocative writing has kept me and so many others coming back to your blog for years and years, of course a book of yours would be one that publishers would jump at the chance to print! Can’t wait to read it when it comes out here in the US next year. September 10, 2022 at 5:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much! Hope that you will enjoy it. September 11, 2022 at 7:34am Reply

  • Sariah: Congratulations and l look forward to reading it. September 10, 2022 at 9:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you, Sariah. September 11, 2022 at 7:34am Reply

  • Martha: Just pre-ordered it. Looking forward to reading it. September 13, 2022 at 1:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much, Martha! September 14, 2022 at 4:05am Reply

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