Culture, Travel & Sport

‘A theatre of ideas’: Bringing Ukrainian writers to the world

‘This programme is an act of defiance, a challenge to those who would curtail free expression and the tolerant exchange of ideas, and a catalyst for global change’.

As Ukraine’s sportsmen and women have already demonstrated over the past seven months with their inspirational performances at various international events, there’s more than one way to fight a war, and writers from across the world will this week open a new literary front at the Lviv BookForum.

This will be the 29th edition of the forum, Ukraine’s biggest literary festival, aiming to create a civic space for a free and tolerant exchange of ideas between writers and readers around the world.

The hybrid programme blends 40 writers and thinkers in 15 conversations encompassing art in times of conflict, memory, gender equality, loss, corruption, imperialism, and hope.

Acclaimed Ukrainian writers will join international authors in a series of curated conversations, all broadcast online in English, Spanish and Ukrainian in partnership with leading literary charity Hay Festival.

“Through our online events, we will bring Ukraine to the world, offering a wider audience to these essential stories, while facilitating an exchange of new ideas with their international contemporaries. This programme is an act of defiance, a challenge to those who would curtail free expression and the tolerant exchange of ideas, and a catalyst for global change,” says Cristina Fuentes La Roche, the Hay Festival’s international director.

Supporting Ukrainian writers

Programme highlights include Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood in conversation with Ukrainian psychologist Yurii Prokhasko; Turkish writer Elif Shafak in conversation with Ukrainian novelist Kateryna Kalytko; 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.

“Putin’s war is an attack on democracy and freedom, not just in Ukraine but around the world,” says Atwood. 

“In joining the Lviv BookForum and Hay Festival programme, I support Ukrainian writers and readers as they share their work. May this theatre of ideas and talent inspire more to raise their voices and share their gifts.”

Oliver Bullough, a British writer, adds, “it says so much about what Ukrainians are fighting for that they’re going ahead with a festival of free speech in wartime.”

Lviv BookForum will take place October 6-9 with all events available free to view here.

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