Ukrainian literature will be brought to a global audience of millions in the hybrid Lviv BookForum programme, broadcasting online 5–8 October in partnership with literary charity Hay Festival.
This will be the 30th edition of Lviv BookForum, Ukraine’s biggest book 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 – part in-person and part in virtual live appearances – blends 50 writers and thinkers in 30 conversations and performances encompassing art in times of conflict, memory, gender equality, loss, corruption, imperialism, and hope.
Lviv BookForum curator and journalist Sofia Cheliak said: “Last year, when we started cooperation with Hay Festival, we put on a programme of events with faith in a quick victory. The second year of the war makes us question our faith in the future, but thanks to the support of our friends and partners, we continue to work to make it happen for each of us. We hope that the thoughts and ideas that will be born during this year’s discussions will become the foundation for our future happily ever after.”
Hay Festival international director Cristina Fuentes La Roche said: “With freedom of expression under attack globally, here is a programme of voices to engage and inspire. Through our online events under the theme Writing the Future, we will bring Ukraine to the world again this October, continuing to broaden the audience for these essential stories, while facilitating an exchange of new ideas. This partnership and this programme is an act of solidarity, a stand for free expression and the tolerant exchange of ideas, and a catalyst for global change. Please join us.”
Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “It is a privilege to continue our collaboration with the Lviv BookForum team, supported by Open Society Foundations. By coming together to offer different perspectives through literature, art, ideas, and creative expression, we can find truth and hope. In working with Lviv BookForum, we are providing a new place for curiosity to thrive. In a time of war and polarity we want to provoke collective conversations that create a better world. Please join us.”
Programme highlights include dynamic pairings as bestselling Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov talks to award-winning novelist Jonathan Franzen and cartoonist Art Spiegelman talks to scholar Oleksandr Mykhed. Engaging panel discussions explore the big questions of war as writer Pankaj Mishra, journalist Alan Rusbridger and philosopher Yermolenko Volonko explore decolonisation; poets Ben Okri and Halyna Kruk join doctor Rachel Clark on the power of words; lawyer Philippe Sands, literary critic Tamara Hundorova, musician Pavlo Vyshebaba and essayist Rebecca Solnit discuss the changing global order; and reporter Luke Harding, policy analyst David Rieff, poet Yaryna Chornohuz and journalist Svitlana Povaliaeva discuss documenting conflicts.
There are special events to commemorate the lives and work of Ukrainian writers Victoria Amelina and Volodymyr Vakulenko, both killed in the past year. Meanwhile, an opening night event sees Ukraine’s leading poets share new work.
As digital partner for the second year running, Hay Festival will broadcast these conversations free online in English, Spanish and Ukrainian at hayfestival.org/lviv-bookforum to a global audience of millions, while bolstering the programme with a specially curated strand of online events pairing international writers with their Ukrainian counterparts.
The event marks a culmination of work between the two organisations over the past year, supported by Open Society Foundations, which has seen Ukrainian literature shared through events and projects with audiences in Ghana, Hong Kong, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Spain, India and the UK.
Lviv BookForum’s partnership with Hay Festival takes place with the support of Open Society Foundations, while Lviv BookForum is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Event partners also include BookAid International, PEN Ukraine and IWM Institute for Human Sciences.
President of PEN Ukraine Volodymyr Yermolenko said: “Culture during the war is possible and is necessary. Major Ukrainian writers and cultural figures are on the frontline, in the army, or helping the army as much as they can. Some of them are no longer with us, killed by Russian inhumane cruelty. Culture has always been an attempt to preserve life and memory even during the times when we face the proximity of death. Ukrainian culture today is engaged, to win this war, to protect life, to reflect upon the present, past, and future of the world. Book Forum is another attempt to keep this struggle.”
Historian Olesya Khromeychuk said: “The global solidarity that has emerged as a result of Russia’s full- scale attack on Ukraine has been one of our most powerful weapons of defense. It is in this spirit of solidarity that partnerships such as the one between Lviv Book Forum and Hay Festival emerged. They facilitate a cultural dialogue that is long overdue and bring Ukraine’s vibrant literature closer to global audiences.”
Writer Oleksandr Mykhed said: “Each year, Lviv BookForum discussions are a great intellectual challenge. The opportunity to outline the time in which we are together. And it is beyond important that for the second year in a row, the partnership with Hay Festival will allow viewers from all over the world to experience this atmosphere.”
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Speakers include novelists Andrey Kurkov, Jonathan Franzen, Elif Batuman, Halyna Kruk and David Toscana; essayists Rebecca Solnit and Pankaj Mishra; filmmaker Iryna Tsilyk; YA star Jonathan Stroud; cartoonist Art Spiegelman; poets Svitlana Povaliaeva and Pavlo Vyshebaba; Nobel Prize-winner Oleksandra Matviichuk; scholar Oleksandr Mykhed; journalists Alan Rusbridger, Ed Vulliamy, Charlotte Higgins, Christina Lamb, Vitaly Portnikov, Tetyana Teren and Luke Harding; writers Taras Prokhasko and Andrii Lyubka; philosopher Yermolenko Volonko; poets Ben Okri, Yaryna Chornohuz and Paata Shamugia; doctor Rachel Clark; policy analyst David Rieff; historians Timothy Garton Ash and Anne Applebaum; philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy; lawyer Philippe Sands; plus commemorations for Ukrainian writers Victoria Amelina and Volodymyr Vakulenko, recently killed in the war.