Conclusions: literature. Oleksandr Mykhed

Conclusions: literature. Oleksandr Mykhed

For the third year in a row, at the end of December, Svidomi conducts summary broadcasts on our Ukrainian Instagram page, where we tell what has changed in Ukraine over the year in various areas: the military, culture, medicine, education, judiciary and politics.. 

We are talking about literature together with Ukrainian writer Oleksandr Mykhed.

Reading skills of Ukrainians 

This year, Ukrainians may have lost their taste for literature, art, and cinema, though some managed to regain it. It is my story - for months, it was difficult for me to focus on books and watch movies. And step by step, I had to look for the meaning of reading literature. And if someone else is trying to return to reading, I advise you to try to read what you liked as a teenager. It worked for me. More precisely, returning to Stephen King, whom I admired as a teenager, gave me an impetus to read again.

Another interesting trend is how some people, in their newfound Ukrainian identity, are forced to reconsider their attitude towards Russia, its classical literature and their habit of reading translations into Russian. 

The discovery of Ukrainian classics

In 2022, many Ukrainians have redefined the concept of hybrid war and Russia's activities over the past eight years. There is a convergence of epochs: classical Ukrainian works from the school curriculum, which seemed too tragic, are now perceived as documentary evidence of a struggle lasting for centuries.  And the tragic fates of classical Ukrainian female and male writers are becoming evident and relevant to the present. 

Literature on social networks

Poems and documentary evidence can work well on social networks. Something that captures a particular emotion, a state. Something that can be forgotten over time. The initial feelings from an event can be quickly lost, but literature helps to feel them again. More extensive forms of literature require a completely different environment.

However, the experience that millions of Ukrainians go through must be recorded. And even if a person has never tried to write, their attempt to tell their own life story has a huge chance to be interesting to many readers. Now is the time for such reports and documents of the era.  

After all, the war is the most documented when there are many records of Russian crimes. And this documentary background will be used during the trials of the perpetrators of genocide.

Nobel Prize in literature

Ukrainians have won many literary awards this year. As always, there were many hopes that the Nobel Prize in Literature would go to a Ukrainian author. However, we should focus on something else — on long-term institutional support of literature: the publishing industry, bookstores, translation program into other languages, international cultural diplomacy, international literary festivals, residencies, and library purchases. These are all components of the path to the Nobel Prize, which Ukrainians dream of.  

We have something to surprise the world. We have something to talk about. Therefore, the issue of the Nobel Prize in Literature is only a matter of time and long-term planning and implementation of strategic steps.

The Fairy Tale by Mykhed, "The Cat, the Cockerel and the Locker"

This book is for those who are ready to talk to their children or for grown-up children who would like to talk to their adult parents. I keep repeating: I think parents should read this fairy tale first and only then choose whether it is suitable for the child. 

I tried to create a story without unnecessary literary complications and to talk about the most terrible things in the most straightforward words. I tried to preserve the memory of the emotion of the de-occupation of the Kyiv region, the key nodes, without which it is impossible to imagine a conversation about the Russian occupation of Ukrainian territories.

Our memory displaces certain events, but we cannot forget and move on until the war is over until the tribunal is held. 

Ukrainian authors enter the international market

The global world becomes interested in Ukraine during turning points and tragedies, as it happened during the Orange Revolution or the Revolution of Dignity. These bursts of interest did not have a lasting impact on the development of culture — spot exhibitions, spot projects.

However, after the Maidan, Ukraine launched essential long-term strategies for institutional support of culture — book publishing, cinema, and cultural initiatives. And when the full-scale invasion began, Ukrainian culture was ready to present an incredible amount of excellent "content" to the world.

Specific features of Ukrainian book publishing

Book publishing is a long game. And those agreements on translations of Ukrainian authors signed this year will have results in the second half of 2023. Or even in 2024. And based on the results of how these books will show themselves in the global market, it will be clear what will happen with the next wave of translations.

But it is already apparent: Ukrainian voices have managed to broadcast our narratives.

Authors and books recommended by Oleksandr Mykhed

  • Vasyl Stefanyk (all short stories)
  • Hrygir Tiutiunnyk (short stories, diaries, letters, except novels)
  • Vasyl Stus (all works)
  • Mykhailo Kotsyubynsky (all works)
  • Zemlia (Earth) by Olha Kobylianska
  • Garden of Gethsemane by Ivan Bahrianyi