Leipzig Has Read Ukraine

Leipzig Has Read Ukraine

Ukrainian publishers and authors have presented Ukraine at the Leipzig Book Fair which was held on March 13-16, 2014. Participation of Ukrainians in the Fair for three years on end became possible due to the focus program "Tranzyt – Literature from Poland, Ukraine and Belarus", aiming at the joint promotion of Polish, Ukrainian and Belarusian literatures in Germany. The project of promotion of Ukrainian literature and presentation of Ukrainian books was supported by the charitable program "Modern Culture" (charitable project "Small Projects on Presentation of Ukrainian Culture Abroad") of Rinat Akhmetov Foundation for Development of Ukraine. The Leipzig Book Fair is the second largest book fair in the world after the Frankfurt Book Fair. This year it was attended by 2180 publishers from 42 countries of the world. During the literary festival "Leipzig Reads", held simultaneously with the Fair, 3200 events at 410 locations involving 3000 authors took place. According to the event organizers, this year the Leipzig Book Fair and the festival "Leipzig Reads" were visited by a record number of people – more than 237 thousand.

Semenchuk, manager of the project "Leipzig Reads Ukraine": This year our stand, events, writers were clearly in the limelight. For me the main victory of three years is the evident increase in Ukrainian presence on the German-speaking literary market. It is expressed not only by new books but also by cooperation between institutions and Germans' better awareness of Ukrainian culture in general.

The Leipzig Book Fair was attended by 13 Ukrainian writers: Yuri Andrukhovych, Andrey Kurkov, Serhiy Zhadan, Irena Karpa, Kateryna Babkina, Tymofiy Havryliv, Natalka Sniadanko, Marjana Savka, Oleh Shynkarenko, Yaroslav Hrytsak, Oleksandr Kabanov, Oksana Forostyna and 3 publishers: Anetta Antonenko, Eleonora Simonova, Zinaida Bakumenko. Ukraine presented 15 events among which there were 6 autograph sessions during which more than 100 autographs were signed, 4 literary readings, 3 discussions and a presentation of the literary collection about EuroMaydan that were attended by about 1500 people. More than 3000 people and about 60 mass media visited the Ukrainian stand during 4 days of the Fair. 6 publishing houses presented their books at the stand: "Calvaria", "Nora-Druk", "Family Leisure Club", "Folio", "Pyramid", "Smoloskyp" and "Vydavnytstvo Staroho Leva" ("Old Lion Publishing House"). NGO "Publishers' Forum" prepared and published 200 almanacs with excerpts from works of Ukrainian writers, and 50 leaflets with separate texts of each author. All almanacs and leaflets were distributed at the stand that also indicated the interest of German-speaking readers in Ukrainian literature.

Liubko Deresh, writer:
The Ukrainian delegation impressed with its diversity: it included luminaries of the German-speaking scene, such as Yuri Andrukhovych, Andrey Kurkov, Serhiy Zhadan. New names were also opened to Germany: Kateryna Babkina and Oleh Shynkarenko. As usual "quiet Odyssey" Tymofiy Havryliv was worth of admiration. He is well-known to Swiss German-speaking readers for his philosophical prose. Marjana Savka and Irena Karpa represented two polarities of femininity, but both of them were bright and attractive. Tirelessness of Iryna Slavinska completes this image and inspires to be so active at any time and place as she always is.

The greatest interest among visitors was aroused by the discussion "EuroMaydan and Changes Caused by It in Ukraine and Europe" with Taras Lyuty, Yuri Andrukhovych, Andrey Kurkov, Irena Karpa, Iryna Slavinska involved. The event set a record of attendance at the Fair events – more than 400 visitors, among whom there were journalists, public figures, historians and political scholars, attended it. The curator of the program "Tranzyt – Literature from Poland, Ukraine and Belarus" Martin Pollack moderated the discussion. He closely follows the situation in Ukraine. Participants of the discussion, that also took part in the EuroMaydan events, were telling real stories and refuted the claim that in Ukraine radical extremists came to power.

Martin Pollack, curator of the program "Tranzyt – Literature from Poland, Ukraine and Belarus":
It is true that there are far-right forces in Ukraine. But show me the country where there are no such forces! At Maydan they fought together with leftists, democrats, with all those who rebelled against the representatives of an old system, against tyranny and corruption.

Taras Lyuty, philosopher:
The EuroMaydan events confirmed Ukraine's aspiration to be a part of Europe. Ukrainians developed immunity. Searching for Europe, they managed to find Ukraine as it is. We formed a very powerful society which is based not on ethnic issues but on social preferences. We stand on the basis of civil society which will not be torn apart by artificial myths about language and history. This is the society which does not speculate on the past but looks to the future.

The theme of EuroMaydan, the role of writers in it continued at the Ukrainian stand in the form of presenting the almanac "Maydan. Ukraine. Europe" with Serhiy Zhadan involved. The current political situation in Ukraine was the main topic for discussion at the stand. The idea to collect wishes for Ukraine from the visitors of the Fair was also very successful. This project caused a real media explosion – dozens of Europeans with cameras, journalists and just the visitors willing to leave their messages for Ukraine always gathered near the Ukrainian stand.

Marta Chavaha, coordinator of the project "Leipzig Reads Ukraine":
We collected 7 two-meter long posters on which guests of the stand left about 500 wishes. This is unique material for an exhibition. This is a kind of quintessence of what Europe thinks about Ukraine now. Here one can find inscriptions not only in German and English, but also in Belarusian, Georgian, Armenian. Of course, in such a way many Ukrainians from diaspora sent greetings to their compatriots. It was pleasant to see the words of support from Russians too.

The professional discussion "Translating Ukraine: German Experience" within the Book Platform project was also a part of the program.
Participants of the discussion, among whom there were members of the translation union "Translit" Claudia Dathe and Sofia Onufriv, coordinator of the "Tranzyt" program Kateryna Stetsevych, writer and translator Tymofiy Havryliv, writer and editor of the "Vydavnytstvo Staroho Leva" ("Old Lion Publishing House") Marjana Savka, were speaking about the presence of Ukrainian literature in Germany and presented the results of the translations studies.

Iryna Lepska, manager of the Book Platform project in Ukraine:
Such professional discussions, during which it is possible to analyze the achieved results and to examine prospects of the translation process development, are always very valuable. During the discussion the participants once again emphasized that for the effective promotion of Ukrainian literature abroad it was necessary to establish a specialized institution as it had happened in other European countries. Ukrainian literature and culture deserve to be known to as many foreign readers as possible.

Organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair were positively impressed with the quality of design and the effective work of the Ukrainian stand. They addressed NGO "Publishers' Forum" with the offer to organize the Ukrainian stand in Frankfurt under the conditions favorable for Ukrainians. Nowadays the Frankfurt Book Fair remains the largest platform for concluding effective agreements and signing long-term contracts, especially with respect to translations. Of course in the nearest future NGO "Publishers' Forum" plans to start preparing for the new project. The participants of the Fair from NGO "Publishers' Forum" also had an important meeting with a representative of the committee on the application "Heidelberg – City of Literature UNESCO" Molli Hiesinger. The German city Heidelberg applies for the city of literature status simultaneously with Lviv. But instead of the expected cold competitiveness, friendly benevolence dominated in the meeting. Molli assured that their committee would sincerely support the victory of Lviv.

Molli Hiesinger, lecturer of trainings for publishers and booksellers:
It is not that important whether one more German city will win this title. It is important for the network of cities of literature UNESCO to contain cities of different countries. That is why we will be really glad if Lviv achieves this status having beaten Heidelberg.

Within 3 years of the program 21 Ukrainian writers and 12 publishers visited the Leipzig Book Fair. 30 events involving them took place. 19 new books were translated into German. The three-year program "Tranzyt – Literature from Poland, Ukraine and Belarus" ended. There is no information about new projects of the Leipzig Book Fair that aim at the promotion of Ukrainian literature in Germany. But the work of coordinators of the "Tranzyt" program did not end. They have every intention of continuing the cooperation with Ukrainian colleagues to provide a possibility of further participation of Ukrainians in the Fair.

Kateryna Stetsevych, coordinator of the program "Tranzyt – Literature from Poland, Ukraine and Belarus":
I hope that next year the Ukrainian stand will be at its usual place. We will do everything possible to further contribute to the popularization of Ukrainian writers in Germany, to the promotion of Ukrainian books among German readers.

Oleksandra Koval, President of NGO "Publishers' Forum": As a result of the three-year program I can say that the participants of "Tranzyt" have not bypassed the Leipzig Book Fair as they bypass and forget hubs, transport interchanges, but plan to return here in the following years. EuroMaydan, Heavenly Hundred, Russian occupation – all these issues caused an unprecedented interest in Ukraine that was also transmitted to the events held within "Tranzyt". I am really sorry that it is not our wonderful writers and publishers who caused a stir by their books, but I believe that even if Germans discover Ukraine and its literature through our tragic and dramatic events, they will not be disappointed. We will be ready to present the next year visitors of the Fair with new emotions. And I believe that they will be positive.

Organizer of the project "Leipzig Reads Ukraine": NGO "Publishers' Forum"

Partners of the program "Tranzyt – Literature from Poland, Ukraine and Belarus":
Leipzig Book Fair
Robert Bosch Foundation
Rinat Akhmetov Foundation for Development of Ukraine
Book Institute
Polish Institute
Translation union "Translit"
Book Platform project
Eastern Partnership Culture Programme of the EU

«Publisher'sForum» P.B. 6644, Lviv, 79005, Ukraine Tel./fax: 032-276 46 94E-mail: presa@bookforum.com.ua bookforum.ua



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