A humorous Ukrainian writer who has nothing to laugh about
It was my view that thousands of people are trapped between the Russian army and the Ukrainian army, with nowhere to go, and I want to give voice to those people.
In the book, your two main characters only deal with daily life; They don’t care about politics or war.
people just want to survive. And people adapt to war, if it is not destroying them personally. I went there three times, and I noticed that even children could tell which rocket or mine exploded, just by the sound of it. War became something normal, part of life.
Given that you’ve watched the conflict up close, did you ever foresee this attack?
No, until several weeks ago, I didn’t think it was realistic. And then I saw that Putin grew old very quickly, and started talking like Stalin before his death. Putin dreams of re-creating the Soviet Union, and he considers everyone who does not love Russia, but considers the Russian language a traitor. And he likes to kill traitors.
Understand Russia’s attack on Ukraine
What is at the root of this attack? Russia considers Ukraine to be within its natural sphere of influence, and it has been alarmed by Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the possibility of the country joining NATO or the European Union. While Ukraine is part of neither, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
Since 2014, what effect has the turmoil in Ukraine had on literature in the country?
Before the war, there was no war literature. It was mostly sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – and crime stories. But this war produced a parallel literature – literature written by war veterans, by volunteers. Those writers are probably already on the front lines.
If Ukraine survives, it will create even more militant literature. And that doesn’t mean that literature will get better. This simply meant that literature would be more politicized – much like Soviet literature, but with a different kind of propaganda or patriotic ideas.
It sounds like evolution concerns you.
This happens because, in Russia, traditionally writers have been serving the government and its ideology. But writers in Ukraine are serving themselves and their readers. I mean the government never took any interest in what the author was writing. So we had a lot of books about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, and not a lot about Ukrainian history.
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