In collaboration with the Frankfurt Book Fair and the PEN Center, the Berlin International Literature Festival, which takes place from September 7 to 17, 2022, has launched a call for cultural institutions to participate in a global reading of the Ukrainian literature on September 7.
The readings mark solidarity with Ukraine during the war, while creating the opportunity to discover authors from the country.
Beyond their acclaimed literary work, many of them are politically involved in their country.
“Today I woke up early in the morning and saw eight missed calls on my mobile phone. They were from my parents and some friends. […] I felt a cold uneasiness. I called my cousin, because her beautiful voice always has a calming, courageous and rational effect on me. She just said, ‘Kyiv was bombed. A war has broken out.'”
Written on February 24, 2022, these words were the first entry in Evgenia Belorusets’ war diary. The artist’s and photographer’s famous diary was exhibited at the Venice Biennale, as part of the Ukrainian pavilion; his observations were also published in the weekly Der Spiegel.
Beyond his diaries, Belorusets is the author of several books, including his latest collection of short stories, “Lucky Breaks”. Originally published in Ukraine in 2018, the German translation won a major literature prize in 2020 and the English translation was published in March 2022. It depicts women from the Donbass region, many of whom fled when war broke out there in 2014.
This author first left his mark in Ukraine by co-founding in the 1980s a group of poets called Bu-Ba-Bu (burlesk–balahan–bufonada; burlesque–farce–buffoonery), promoting experimental and nonconformist poetry that revolt against the official doctrine of socialist realism as well as any dogmatic seriousness in the literary genre.
His novels, including “The Moscoviad”, “Perversion” and “Recreations”, have been widely translated. His essays also explore cultural identities and his pro-Ukrainian and pro-European views. He has also translated several works of world literature into Ukrainian, from Shakespeare to Rilke to American poetry of the Beat Generation.
A poet, a novelist, an essayist and an activist: Yurii Andrukhovych
Yurii Andrukhovych is also well known in the German-speaking world for his commitment to building ties between Ukraine and the European Union, which has earned him several prestigious honors in Germany, including the Goethe Medal (2016) and the Hannah Arendt Prize (2014) .
When Oksana Zabuzhko’s provocative novel “Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex” was released in 1996, it sparked controversy among critics and readers, but also spent a decade at the top of the country’s bestseller lists, becoming ” the most influential Ukrainian book in the 15 years of independence,” according to a 2006 poll.
It tells the story of a woman who wishes to free herself from Ukrainian conventions imposed on women, exploring in the process certain aspects of the country’s cultural identity, while Ukraine was in the process of redefining itself through independence. It is now among the most translated works of new Ukrainian prose in the world.
At the European Parliament on International Women’s Day, Zabuzhko pays tribute to the resilience of Ukrainian women
She was vice-president of the Ukrainian branch of the PEN center from 1995 to 2010.
On March 8, 2022, Zabuzhko addressed a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, becoming the first person who is neither an EU citizen nor a civil servant to do so.
Author of 12 collections of poetry and 7 novels, Serhiy Zhadan is described as the “star poet of rock” Ukraine.
Serhiy Zhadan has ‘rock star status’ in Ukraine, while contributing directly to humanitarian aid in conflict zones
His latest prose work, “The Orphanage: A Novel,” centers on civilians living in a conflict zone in eastern Ukraine. Other acclaimed novels by Zhadan include “Depeche Mode” and “Voroshilovgrad”.
Beyond his literary work, he is also renowned for his political activism. His charitable foundation Serhiy Zhadan provides humanitarian aid to frontline cities, and he continued to organize aid in his hometown of Kharkiv after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24. His commitment has been rewarded with prestigious awards, including the 2022 Peace Prize of the German Association of Publishers and Booksellers and the Hannah Arendt Prize.
The author, born in 1977 into a Jewish family, lost most of his hearing at the age of 4 due to mumps. He was a teenager when his family found asylum in the United States in 1993, when they faced anti-Semitism in Ukraine.
Overcoming the challenges of his youth, Kaminsky rose to prominence with his poetry, written in English, his second language.
Kaminsky’s ‘Deaf Republic’, which explores wartime oppression and humanity, has been hailed as ‘a 21st century classic’
Her poetry collections, “Dancing in Odessa” (2004) and “Deaf Republic” (2019), have been widely acclaimed. The latter was selected as the best book of the year by several publications in 2019 and was also a finalist for the National Book Award. That same year, Kaminsky was named one of the “12 Artists Who Changed the World” by the BBC.
Edited by: Brenda Haas