Ukrainian storytelling will be brought to a global audience of millions this year through an expanded partnership between Ukraine’s largest literature festival, Lviv BookForum, and leading literary charity and global ideas platform Hay Festival.
Over the next 12 months, Hay Festival and Lviv BookForum will co-produce events to showcase Ukrainian artists across Spain, Mexico, Peru, Ghana, India and the UK, plus at the next edition of Lviv BookForum in October where Hay Festival will broadcast sessions to the world as digital partner once more.
Supported by Open Society Foundations, this ambitious new partnership aims to create multiple civic spaces for the tolerant exchange of ideas between writers and readers around the world, acting as catalysts for change through the exercising of free expression.
First, a series of six events have been taking place at Hay Festival in Wales, 25 May–4 June, with 12 Ukrainian writers and thinkers confronting the most pressing issues of storytelling in conflict:
• Historian Olesya Khromeychuk in conversation with doctors Henry Marsh and Rachel Clarke on living with day-to-day conflict, Sunday 28 May.
• Spoken word collective Landschaft – Grigory Semenchuk, Ulrike Almut Sandig and Sascha Conrad – with their exhilarating fusion of techno, poetry and film, Thursday 1 June.
• Yeva Skalietska on the powerfully moving true story of a young girl fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, You Don't Know What War Is, Friday 2 June.
• Human rights lawyer and director of the Centre for Civil Liberties in Ukraine Oleksandra Matviichuk, discusses her Nobel Peace Prize-winning work, Friday 2 June.
• Writers Victoria Belim (The Rooster House: A Ukrainian Family Memoir) and Kevin Jared Hosein (Hungry Ghosts) on identity, colonialism and class struggles, Friday 2 June.
• Poets Halyna Kruk and Serhiy Zhadan on documenting the war first-hand and grappling with its impact, meaning and consequences in real time, Saturday 3 June.
• Six-member ska ensemble Zhadan and the Dogs with a night of music to provoke, entertain and invigorate, Saturday 3 June. Explore the upcoming events and book tickets at https://www.hayfestival.com/lviv-bookforum
.Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said:
“With freedom of expression under maintained attack globally, Hay Festival is committed to developing its platforms for constructive exchange through storytelling. After the success of our Lviv BookForum partnership last October, we are focussed as a charity on expanding this work further, opening access to our growing audience of curious minds and influential stakeholders.”Lviv BookForum curator and translator Sofia Cheliak said:
“Last year, when it seemed that the world had stopped for us, and we would never be able to organise literary festivals in Ukraine again, the partnership with Hay Festival became a great hope and support. In cooperation, we can spotlight Ukrainian voices and spread the values of the democratic world for which we have been fighting since 2014. One must have the courage to face dark times, but as the Ukrainian writer Ivan Bahriany, who luckily survived the repressions of the Soviet Union, said: 'Brave people are always fortunate'. We thank our partners Hay Festival and Open Society Foundation for the courage to stand with Ukraine.”
Last October’s Lviv BookForum in Ukraine – eight months after the Russian invasion – reached a digital audience of millions via the Hay Festival partnership, generating 29 million engagements online and media coverage around the world with El Pais, Deutsche Welle, El Universal, Hindustan Times, the Guardian, The Times, The Sunday Times, La Presse, Foreign Policy, Literary Hub, C-SPAN, CBS News, Monocle 24
Programme highlights included Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood in conversation with Ukrainian psychologist Yurii Prokhasko; Turkish writer Elif Shafak on art in times of conflict; Israeli anthropologist Yuval Noah Harari and British storyteller Neil Gaiman in conversation with Ukrainian journalist Sevgil Musayeva; Ukrainian historian Olena Stiazhkina with Tanzanian-born British novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah and Mexican activist Lydia Cacho on post-colonialism; and British historian Margaret MacMillan with Ukrainian historians Serhii Plokhy and Yaroslav Hrytsak on hope.