Writers, publishers counter war and aggression with culture


Culture of Ukraine

Halyna Tereshchuk
Lviv – Despite combat in the East of Ukraine, economic troubles and hard times for Ukrainians, the traditional Publishers’ Forum began in Lviv. The book market will open on September 11th. Writers and publishers say that culture and education will save the world from aggression. The forum of publishers this year includes 960 events. Radio Liberty will present a book on September 12th. 

Ukrainian writer Andriy Kurkov brought a big loaf of bread to Lviv from Lithuania. The literature artist just returned from Lithuania, where he talked about the situation in Ukraine. The writers, publishers, journalists treated themselves to the bread. This Lithuanian bread has a long shelf life.

“We need to wish our literature to never go stale and for the interest to Ukrainian books to never go stale, not only in Lviv but all around Ukraine as well,” noted Andriy Kurkov.

The West understands Ukraine less than it should

The world is currently watching what is happening in Ukraine. Writer Andriy Kurkov considers it his mission to tell the truth to the world. Austrian writer Martin Pollack wants to find out this truth from his Ukrainian friends. As such, the Forum will unavoidably be a place for discussing the events in Ukraine.

“One of the reasons for the moral crisis in the West is that we understand Ukraine less than we should. This Forum is very important, as here we receive the necessary information. For me, an Austrian writer, it is important to show that culture is more important than war,” says Martin Pollack.

There are no Russian publishers present

Thousands of people of all ages will attend the Forum’s literature meetings and the book fair during these four days. It is expected that about fifty thousand people will come this year, and everyone will take away something useful for themselves. This is why the Forum is so important to Lviv, and this is why [this year] marks its twenty-first event. However, this is the first time it involves no Russian publishers. This was demanded by a group of Lviv activists called Boycott of Russian Books. However, several Russian writers came, including Lyudmila Ulitskaya. The writer told Radio Liberty she had been afraid to cross the Russian-Ukrainian border.

“I was nervous about being unable to cross the border, but everything went very well. We never expected such a situation between Russia and Ukraine. There are many circumstances I find unacceptable – when it turned out that Russian publishers hadn’t been invited, I found that incorrect. There are commercial publishing houses that publish various riffraff, but there are very good publishers who were offended, since they wanted to go but were not invited. This should be changed. There are many people in Russia, especially in the cultural sphere, for whom the current situation is very painful and torturous. We are very sad that politicians are trying to subordinate culture. But culture is always higher,” emphasized Ulitskaya.

The Russian writer came to Lviv to say that the cultural space is above the political one, and that it should be preserved. Otherwise, both Russians and Ukrainians will lose. However, Lyudmila Ulitskaya believes that culture and education are powerful forces that may save the world from the chaos of war and aggression.

Overall, the Forum involves almost 200 publishing houses and over 300 writers from 23 world countries. The book Forum’s program is varied despite financial difficulties.

“The financial situation is very bad, we have to find additional sources. We do not give away invitations, there are very few, we are asking people to buy tickets for 10 UAH to support our Forum,” says the president of the Publishers’ Forum Oleksandra Koval. 

The Forum includes a children’s reading festival, the festival Young Poets’ Republic, a library forum, and an international literature festival. Volunteers are also collecting books for the citizens of the East [of Ukraine].

Source: Radio Liberty

Translated by Mariya Shcherbinina, edited by Andrew Kinder

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