Lviv BookForum will take place 6–9 October with all events available free to view here. Mixing acclaimed Ukrainian writers with world-renowned literary figures, the co-curated programme will share essential stories and facilitate a global conversation around the biggest questions of our time. Part of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture devised jointly by the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute, the full programme is listed below.
When the first Russian rockets fell on Kyiv on February 24 2022, novelist, essayist and writer Andrey Kurkov started keeping a diary. His entries – providing a first-hand account of what it’s like to live through an active conflict – were published in the book Diary of an Invasion. Kurkov’s writing chronicles the terrible impact of the conflict through his personal experiences, giving an intimate look at Ukrainian identity and the day-to-day lives of his fellow citizens. He and Jonathan Franzen – author of six novels including The Corrections, and five works of nonfiction – discuss their work, the role of literature during war, and the responsibility of the artist in times of conflict. Chaired by the Guardian’s chief culture writer Charlotte Higgins.
Can books about past wars prepare for future wars? Conversation about the similarities and differences between the war in the Balkans and Russia's war against Ukraine. About this in a conversation between Bosnian writer Ozren Kebo and Ukrainian writer and translator from Bosnian Kateryna Kalytko.
“It's been written that the past is a foreign country. Nonsense. The past is my home country. The future is a foreign country, full of strange faces, I won't set foot there,” says the narrator of Time Shelter, the 2023 International Booker Prize winning novel by Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov (he will join remotely). Hopelessness about the future feeds the beasts of the past. The violent consequences of this turn are all too obvious: Russia is waging “a war not only for territory, but also for time,” as Gospodinov has put it, seeking to drag Ukraine and Ukrainians into a warped vision of the past.
But it is precisely Ukrainians’ commitment to and hope in the future that sustains them in their fight, bolstered by the memory of generations past. Can memory serve as an antidote to invented histories, thereby “holding the past at bay”? How can the stories we tell and read shape our understanding? Georgi Gospodinov, writer and translator Ostap Slyvynsky, and literary scholar and translator Uilleam Blacker speak with historian Katherine Younger about our stories and dreams of the past and memory's role in shaping the future.
How do we define when a war is won? Is it simply victory on the battlefield? A return of territory and lives saved? Or does victory also include the more intangible, such as the protection of our humanity and trust in the world, and the ability to still feel happiness and love in the aftermath of tragedy and trauma?
Philosopher, writer and translator Vakhtang Kebuladze, journalists Slavenka Drakulich (she will join remotely) and Anne Applebaum (she will join remotely), and Maksym Yakovliev look at what happens after war is over. They talk to the journalist and essayist Tetiana Oharkova about how we should communicate with people who have survived war, whether it’s possible to feel happiness after trauma, and whether wars represent new beginnings.
In 1948, the United States of America enacted the Marshall Plan, an initiative to provide foreign aid to Western Europe to help it recover after the Second World War, and to boost the world economy. A panel of experts discuss how a modern version of the Marshall Plan from countries across the world is needed in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
The war has, and will continue to have, long-reaching and long-lasting effects outside the borders of the country economically. Historian Timothy Garton Ash, journalists Emma Graham-Harrison and Sevgil Musaeva, and human rights lawyer Oleksandra Matviichuk examine how the war is affecting money, investment and more. From looking at the long-term dangers of a peace on Russian terms to what Ukraine has to offer to the world and what can be done to communicate Ukraine's economic potential, the group will argue that supporting Ukraine's reconstruction and the full restoration of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity can stabilise global food and energy markets. Journalist Kristina Berdinskikh chairs.
Encounter: The Ukrainian-Jewish Literary Prize ™ is designed to be based on the common centuries-old experience of Ukrainians and Jews, which has found expression in fiction and non-fiction literature. The prize is awarded annually for the most influential work of fiction and non-fiction (in 2023 - fiction) that promotes Ukrainian-Jewish understanding, helping to strengthen the position of Ukraine as a multi-ethnic society and embodying the motto "Our stories are incomplete without each other". The award ceremony will be held with the participation of Ukrainian writer Sofia Andrukhovych, whose novel Amadoka won the 2023 prize; Marjana Savka, editor-in-chief of The Old Lion Publishing House; Olha Mukha, curator of congresses, committees and new centers of PEN International; Oksana Forostyna, Co-founder at Yakaboo Publishing, editor, translator and writer; Natalia Feduschak, communication director of the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter.
The Maidan Revolution - or Revolution of Dignity - took place in Ukraine in February 2014 at the end of the Euromaidan protests. Deadly clashes between protesters and state forces in the capital Kyiv culminated in the ousting of elected President Viktor Yanukovych and a return to the 2004 Constitution. An expert panel of contributors explores its significance as a turning point in Ukrainian history. With Kateryna Kalytko, Vitalii Portnykov and Antin Borkovski.
Speakers to be announced.
How do you take a whole group of people, destroy their identity and force a new one on them? That is Russia’s aim in Ukraine. What methods do they use; does it work, and how does it compare to other examples across the world and in history?
Through the war with Russia, Ukraine has emerged as an unexpected hero in a battle for freedom in Europe – a battle few could have predicted. The conflict has led many, inside and outside of the continent, to rethink the political and moral ideas that we have taken for granted since the Second World War ended.
Using literature and the ways in which it helps us make sense of critical points in history and how colossal changes affect people's ways of thinking and feeling, a panel discusses ideas of heroism and how literature can help these sceptics of Ukraine understand its quests and feats. Writer Kateryna Kalytko, filmmaker Iryna Tsilyk, writer David Toscana and novelist Taras Prokhasko will also talk to writer Sasha Dovzhuk about how literature can help people feel with Ukrainians and learn from the mistakes of the past.
The creation of heroic narratives has been widespread in art and literature across time and cultures. This panel will explore how we mythologize in the modern world, what stories we expect, and whether heroes still satisfy our aesthetic sensitivity in the 21st century.
Emma Antoniuk, philosopher and writer Vakhtang Kebuladze and journalist Peter Pomerantsev explore how we mythologize in the modern world, what stories we expect, and whether heroes still satisfy our aesthetic sensitivity in the 21st century. Chaired by poet Olena Huseinova.
Indian essayist Pankaj Mishra (he will join remotely) and journalist Nicola Careem join Ukrainian philosopher Volodymyr Yermolenko to explore the ways Russia's assault on Ukraine has forced Europe to confront its colonial past and present. Chaired by Ukrainian journalist Sevgil Musaieva.
Words have immense power, and in times of difficulty they can encourage, inspire and offer hope, helping shape thoughts, emotions and actions. Join writers Ben Okri, Rachel Clarke and Halyna Kruk in conversation live at Lviv BookForum 2023 in Ukraine with historian Olesia Khromeichuk on the power of books and writing in conflicted times.
Okri is a Nigerian-born British poet and novelist considered one of the foremost African authors in the post-modern and post-colonial traditions; he won the Booker Prize for his novel The Famished Road in 1991. Clarke is a British palliative care doctor and writer and formerly a current affairs journalist. Kruk is a Ukrainian writer, translator, educator and literary critic.
This special event at Hay Castle celebrates the start of Ukraine's largest book festival Lviv BookForum 2023, themed Writing the Future. This year's event is streaming live to the world thanks to a digital partnership with Hay Festival, funded by Open Society Foundations. Find out more here.
Words have immense power, and in times of difficulty they can encourage, inspire and offer hope, helping shape thoughts, emotions and actions. Writers Ben Okri (he will join remotely), Rachel Clarke and Halyna Kruk talk to historian Olesia Khromeichuk about the power of books and writing in conflicted times.
Okri a Nigerian-born British poet and novelist considered one of the foremost African authors in the post-modern and post-colonial traditions; he won the Booker Prize for his novel The Famished Road in 1991. Clarke a British palliative care doctor and writer and formerly a current affairs journalist. Kruk is a Ukrainian writer, translator, educator and literary critic.
Language is both extremely powerful, and has limitations. Is there a way to speak and write about our living and our dead in an adequate way, particularly during extreme experiences?
War can both engender clamour and silence. Some people feel it imperative to talk about every life lost and every building destroyed, channelling their emotions into creative expression. For others, war means silence, stripping them of their ability to vocalize trauma and their experiences.
Journalist Luke Harding, writer David Rieff, poet and combat medic Yaryna Chornohuz and Svitlana Povaliaeva explore the emotional and professional space between experiencing and narrating war. Chaired by journalist Tetyana Ogarkova, the panel will discuss who can write about war, how conflict should be written about and the challenges of doing so, and what books can teach us about war.
Russian imperialism, and how Russian writers have contributed to building the myth of the country is the topic of academic Eva Thompson’s book Imperial Knowledge: Russian Literature and Colonialism. Published in 2000, the year in which Vladamir Putin became president, the book and its topic hold even greater relevance now.
Thompson is joined by novelists Oksana Zabuzhko and Elif Batuman and poet Paata Shamugia to discuss why literary critics failed to see Russia as a colonial power, whether Russian imperialist discourse differs from colonial discourse in Western literary traditions, and the role Ukraine can have in helping people re-read Russian literature through a lens that takes the current conflict into account. The discussion is chaired by the Guardian’s chief culture writer Charlotte Higgins.
The war in Ukraine is causing large amounts of damage to the environment. Weapon systems and mass burials are causing soil contamination, while Russia’s destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant has devastated entire ecosystems in southern Ukraine, raised the risk of waterborne diseases and destroyed irrigation systems and farmlands, threatening global food security. Russian shellfire near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant fuels fears of a nuclear catastrophe.
The shadow of history also looms over the conflict’s environmental effects; the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power station was a catalyst for the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union, and cultural revolution in Ukraine.
Lawyer and writer Philippe Sands, literary critic Tamara Hundorova and writer Rebecca Solnit (she will join remotely) talk to writer Sasha Dovzhuk about how Russia’s actions are affecting the global ecology and whether international law can prevent a new ecological catastrophe.
Babyn Yar, a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, was the site of massacres carried out by Nazi Germany's forces during its campaign against the Soviet Union in World War II. On 29–30 September 1941 alone, some 33,771 Jews were killed. Other victims of massacres at the site included Soviet prisoners of war, communists and Romani people. An expert panel gathers to remember the tragedy and honour its victims.
Dr. Paul Robert Magocsi, Chair of Ukrainian Studies, University of Toronto; Board Member, Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (Toronto, Canada). Dr. Vladyslav Hrynevych, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Kyiv, Ukraine). Dr. Ihor Schupak, Director, Tkuma Ukrainian Institute for the Study of the Holocaust and of the Museum of Jewish Memory and the Holocaust; Board Member, Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (Dnipro, Ukraine). Dr. Yegor Vradiy, Assistant Director of the Tkuma Ukrainian Institute for the Study of the Holocaust and of the Museum of Jewish Memory and the Holocaust (Dnipro, Ukraine).
Moderator: Oksana Forostyna, Europe's Futures Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna (Kyiv, Ukraine).
As well as public and political life, conflict has a significant impact on peoples’ private lives. Families change, circles of friends decrease or expand, colleagues change, and even complete strangers can come to be extremely close.