The Chukchi Bible is a collection of the myths and tales of Yuri Rytkheu’s own shaman father. The stories compose both a moving history of the Chukchi people who inhabit the shores of the Bering Sea, and a beautiful cautionary tale, rife with conflict, human drama, and humor. We meet fantastic characters: Nau, the mother of the human race; Rau, her half-whale husband; and finally, the dark spirit Armagirgin, who attempts to destroy nature’s harmony by pitting the two against each other. The Chukchi Bible moves through Arctic tundra, sea, and sky—and beyond—introducing readers to an extraordinary mythology and a resilient people, in hauntingly poetic prose.
Yuri writes with passion, strength, and beauty of a world we others have never understood. A splendid book.
— Farley Mowat
A last, ringing testament to Rytkheu's people: a reworking of their myths, their history, and his own ancestry, in a poetic act of reclamation . . . Rich in the texture and detail of past lives.
— The New York Review of Books
An extended epitaph inscribed on the tombstone of a small nationality. . . . [with] an indigenous genesis myth, a fall from grace and fratricide legends, a Chukchi Deuteronomy, and a prophetlike figure. . . . [with] a heightened sense of nostalgia and . . . the full range of Rytkheu's style, from the lyrical prose of his myths and legends to the down-to-earth idiom of European whalers and merchants.
— World Literature Today
This story by Yuri Rytkheu is a love song to human survival, both physical and metaphysical, a true story about change and endurance, about the essential way to live in the world, about the eternal story while recounting the fleeting one.
— Gioia Timpanelli
Breathtaking, wild, and imaginative . . . so clear, surefooted, vivid and confident . . . They describe the marking of the seasons — the breaking ice, changing light, frost and drift . . . the training of shamans; the passing on of rituals and healing skills.
— The Los Angeles Times