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.