11 Ukrainian Literary Classics You Must Read

| ©StockSnap/Pixabay
Maria Sibirtseva

Most Ukrainian classics are taught in secondary school and there are many reasons why. These are stories about life, dreams, and love. These are books that should be read at least once by anyone interested to learn about Ukrainian culture.

Kobzar by Taras Shevchenko

Kobzar is the name of the first collection of works by the prominent Ukrainian poet and artist Taras Shevchenko. He was given permission to publish the collection in 1840, which was of great importance because Ukrainian literature had been banned from printing presses. The collection quickly gained extreme popularity, and soon people started to call Shevchenko “Kobzar” or “folk singer.”


The Forest Song by Lesya Ukrainka

This fantastic drama is three acts and was written in 1911 by Lesya Ukrainka, a Ukrainian writer and a public activist. The Forest Song uncovers the problems in the relationship between man and nature, which is often acute and often not harmonious. It delves into the native perception of the world and the ancient mythological thinking of Ukrainians. Seven years after being published, the play was performed in the Kiev Drama Theater.

Tiger Trappers by Ivan Bahrianyi

A romantic adventure that intertwines the autobiographical facts of the author Ivan Bahrianyi, Tiger Trappers was published in 1944 in the Ukrainian periodical called Late Hour. The author, as an eyewitness, depicts the violence in the hell of concentration camps and the humiliation of human dignity that took place. This unique work highlights revolutionary events throughout its pages. No one can remain indifferent to the story when the ideals of the state are considered more important than the life of a person.


Kaidash’s Family by Ivan Nechuy-Levytsky

Kaidash’s Family by Ivan Nechuy-Levytsky is a realistic story, that shows how private-owned instincts lead people to moral impoverishment. Absurd actions of the main characters, captivating plot and familiar situations, make it one of the classics of Ukrainian literature. Written from the unique perspective of a peasant in Ukraine in late nineteenth century, the novel is one of the best pieces to read at least once.

Eneïda by Ivan Kotliarevsky

This Ukrainian poem, written by Ivan Kotlyarevsky, is based on the plot of the classic poem of Roman poet, Virgil. Eneïda was the first monument of Ukrainian literature that was created in spoken form of the Ukrainian language. The poem brilliantly depicted Ukrainian life and culture in the eighteenth century.


Stolen Happiness by Ivan Franko

Many Ukrainian classics were first published in periodicals due to censorship issues; many were re-published later as books. Stolen Happiness of Ivan Franko was not an exception. The author participated in numerous competitions and tried to attract public attention to his art. Luckily for him, the play was recommended to the Lviv Theatre by a literary committee. It was edited and finally performed in 1893. Since then, the drama has taken an honorary place in local school programs and theaters.

Shadows of the Forgotten Ancestors by Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky

Shadows of the Forgotten Ancestors tells about the love between a Ukrainian Romeo and Juliet. The work features the life and culture of the Hutsul community living in the Carpathian Mountains in the late nineteenth century; it depicts their harmony with nature, traditions and customs, mixed beliefs in Christianity and pagan rituals, and family rivalries.


Ukraine in Flames by Alexander Dovzhenko

Alexander Dovzhenko, a Ukrainian writer, film director and painter, devoted this book and film to the events of the Second World War and the fate of the peasants. According to Dovzhenko, Ukraine in Flames is about the invincibility of power and the spirit of Ukrainian people, as well as the importance of having confidence in claiming victory over the enemy. Through long dialogues, inherent to the drama genre, viewers and readers can observe the psychology of the main character’s actions.

Martyn Borulia by Ivan Karpenko-Kary

In this satirical work, Ivan Karpenko-Kary comments on contemporary social orders as bribery in bureaucracy and the judicial system. The moral is to remain a decent person in all life situations, no matter the temptation. Interestingly, the plot of the comedy Martyn Borulia was based on the lives of the Tobilevich family (the real surname of the writer is Tobilevich). For example, his father, who for a long time served as the steward of the landed estates, decided to obtain recognition of nobility.


I (Romance) by Mykola Khvylovy

In the novel I (Romance), Khvylovy reveals the psychology of dreamers and romantics of the civil war era. The main character is “I am” or the young chekist (an employee of the Soviet state security organizations). The story is a confrontation between good and evil taking place in the character’s bifurcated soul. The peculiarity of I (Romance) is the synthesis of illusion and reality. Quite often, it is difficult for the reader to distinguish if the events described are fiction and reality.

Marusia Churai by Lina Kostenko

Ukrainian culture shines in this historical drama by famous contemporary author Lina Kostenko. The author conducted incredible research before writing the book in order to illustrate seventeenth century Ukraine as precisely as possible. The story revolves around the indestructibility of the Ukrainian people, who live in a rich spiritual world.


culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Keen to explore the world?

Our passionately curated premium small-group trips are an invitation to connect with like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.