Literary bridge to Warsaw. Ukraine became the “guest of honor” at the book fair in the Polish capital

Literary bridge to Warsaw.  Ukraine became the “guest of honor” at the book fair in the Polish capital

48 Ukrainian publishing houses and a stand with an area of ​​200 meters are the largest representation of Ukraine at foreign international book exhibitions in the last year. The Warsaw Book Fair, which ended on May 28, gave the Ukrainian program and delegation a special status. Read UP.Kultura in Telegram. What does this mean for the Ukrainian book and its creators, how does this reflect the decline of state support for Ukrainian book printing at home, and why the winner of the Dragoman Prize was not announced in Warsaw – this is what UP.Zhyttya tells about from the Polish capital. Loudly declare yourself and… your problems “Ukraine is an honored guest”, – these are the words that greeted the guests of the International Book Fair in Warsaw from May 25 to 28. The path to the Ukrainian stand passed by the shelves of Polish bookstores, on the shelves of which were Russian classics in Polish translation. Somewhere in another part of the building, there is a small stand of Belarusians – they present “independent” publishing houses. Ukraine was the guest of honor at the book fair in Warsaw. Photo: Olena Lysenko The Ukrainian stand is especially crowded. Each publisher came here with his own goal. Mykola Kravchenko, director of the Nora-Druk publishing house, shares his observations: “Some are focused on selling books and supplying them to the European market, while others are focused on finding potential partners and selling rights.” Since 2005, “Nora-Druk” has been trying to enter the Polish market and find partners here. So far it has not been possible to do this. The small publishing house “Motorny ravlyk” focuses on the sale of books in Warsaw. “The interest in Ukrainian books is lower compared to last year. But the Warsaw Fair gives publishing houses recognition. At such events, you can see who is who,” says director of the publishing house Lyubov Baz. they are not about selling books: “The Warsaw Fair is not about selling books. It is about publishers having the opportunity to present their books to foreigners. Copyrights are bought and sold here. Ukrainian publishing houses have something to be proud of and something to show to Europe.” Oleksandra Koval, director of the Ukrainian Book Institute, which organized the stand and program, says that the purpose of participation in such a fair is to make Ukraine recognizable abroad. “Every action, every step outwards by publishers, UICs, writers, and translators should bring Ukraine closer to better recognition in the world. Until now, our presence in the media space has been limited due to the presence of Russian narratives. At a fair like Varshavskyi, writers and publishers from readers to find out their needs. Being an honored guest at it is a different scale. Last year we were here with a small 20-meter stand. This year we have 200,” says the director of UIC. Oleksandra Koval (right). Photo: Olena Lysenko Ukraine has two stages for events – “Lviv” and “Kyiv”. Our publishing houses and authors had a total of 58 events – at their own stand under the slogan “Millions of Bridges” and as part of the Ukrainian-Polish festival “The Power of Words – Polish-Ukrainian Literary Dialogues”. Yuriy Andruhovich, Yaryna Chornoguz, Ostap Slyvinsky, Vakhtang Kebuladze, Svitlana Taratorina, Art Artonyan and many others had their performances. They talked about the war, books and help that Ukraine expects from the West in the near future. In order for Ukraine to have such a wide representation, in addition to the UIC, a considerable number of institutions joined the organization: the History and Culture Foundation, the Polish Book Institute, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland, the Embassy of Ukraine in Poland, the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ukrainian Institute. The Polish Foundation of History and Culture provided Ukraine with a stand free of charge. It was at the Warsaw Fair that Oleksandra Koval talked about the biggest problems of Ukrainian book publishing at the moment: the number of bookstores in Ukraine has decreased by a third, half of the libraries do not work, library funds are not replenished. How to solve these problems is still being considered. Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Ruslan Stefanchuk came to the fair’s opening ceremony. Ukrainian publishers had the opportunity to ask him an important question that worries the book community. Namely, the director of the “Textbooks and manuals” publishing house, Serhii Hapyuk, asked the speaker of the parliament why the adopted law banning the import of Russian books and their translation has not been signed by the President for almost a year. Stefanchuk promised to solve the problem in the near future. Dragoman Prize on hiatus At this year’s Warsaw Book Fair, the winner of the Drahoman Prize translation award was to be announced. However, it did not work out. Usually, the winner is awarded in April, but due to the potential danger, the finalists refused to go to Kyiv. The announcement of the winner was supposed to take place in Warsaw, but it was canceled due to a lack of funds for the prize money. The Ukrainian stand was particularly crowded. Photo: Olena Lysenko Oleksandra Koval explained rather plainly: “Drahoman Prize is an expensive pleasure for the budget of our institutions.” The director of the UIC did not specify what efforts were made or to whom they turned in order to find 2,000 euros for the winner. The Drahoman Prize is awarded annually to the best translator from Ukrainian into world languages. The award was founded by the UIC together with the Ukrainian Institute and the Ukrainian PEN. Oleksandra Koval tells what the funds were not enough for: “The funds were only partially available. We would not be able to rent the premises for awarding the winner, equipment for recording the event, etc. Therefore, the announcement of the laureate has been postponed for the time being. We have not decided whether to announce the name without a ceremony and while we are deciding it. Due to the fact that the cancellation of the award happened a week or a half before the Warsaw Fair, we did not have the opportunity to talk about it with the co-organizers. We need to decide where and when the award ceremony will take place. Nothing has been decided yet – maybe in Frankfurt, maybe in October…” Almost Arsenal and a bit of “bayraktarshchyna” One of the participating publishers admitted to me: “It’s as if you came to Arsenal or BookForum in Lviv – everyone is here, we feel at home.” And Mykola Kravchenko and Bohdan Budny jokingly add: this fair is important because Ukrainian publishers can finally see each other and talk to each other. Photo: Olena Lysenko However, not only the warmth of human communication was important these days in Warsaw. Russia’s war against Ukraine sounded as a refrain at all events and meetings – even at presentations of children’s books. Students of the Ukrainian Academy of Leadership brought the 43-kilogram book “Crime without Punishment” to the International Book Fair in Warsaw. It has more than 6,000 pages, representing the 6,000 children kidnapped by the Russians. One of the students of the Kogut Academy, Kateryna, tells about the book: “According to Yale University, Russia took more than 6,000 Ukrainian children to its territories. These are children aged from 4 months to 17 years. These are official figures. The real numbers are higher, because there are children whom no one does not look for those whose families died or whose parents are still being tortured in the occupation. There are many black lines in the book, because the information about these children is classified.” The students brought the book “Crime without Punishment” to Warsaw. Photo: Olena Lysenko The pixel of the poet Yaryna Chornoguz flashes as a constant reminder of the war, Russian drones and missiles that continue to bomb Ukrainian cities and our defenders who continue to protect these cities. At the opening ceremony, the war poetess (we now have such a term) jokes that after the victory she will wear a pink dress: “I can’t afford to talk about valuable things in civilian clothes, although you have a free country and I want to believe that it will always be like that will be. I can only talk about them in pixels.” Unexpectedly, many people gathered for the presentation of the comic book “Patron Dog and the Sock Monster” published by Ranok. The organizers of the event admitted that they wanted to take the dog himself to the presentation in Warsaw, but failed. However, to set the mood, they turned on one of the hits of the Bayraktar region – “Who owns this district? Pes Patron” played on the Ukrainian stand. Children and adults bought up all the copies of the comic. The authors of comics did not ignore the war. They talked about technofantasy, as well as the topics: “Metaphor or realism – historical comics are discussed: V’yacheslav Bugaiovsky and Dmytro Biryukov – publishers, Kyrylo Malov – author of the comic “Victory” and Marek Oleksitsky – co-author of the series of comics “Bradle”” and “War and fantasy : in search of new worlds”. From the Ukrainian side, this section was represented by Svitlana Taratorina – the author of the novel “House of Salt”, as well as Maria Shahuri, from the Polish side – the author of “The Witcher” Andrzej Sapkowski and Rafal Kosik. They talked about how fiction allows you to survive the war and its challenges, to hide from reality and vice versa – to try to change it. Photo: Olena Lysenko The success of fantasy and comics is indisputable, Svitlana Taratorina says in the comments: “I always had the impression that fantasy is a marginal genre. But it is not so. Fantasy sometimes talks about very serious topics. When you write about the future, then the genre of fiction is most appropriate. With the war, the genre of post-apocalyptic, heroic fantasy, and alternative history became popular. The panel on fiction and war at the fair was very important. Fantasy is both talking about important events and states through metaphors and a certain escapism when you escape into fictional world from reality”. I pass shopping malls around which teenagers, children and adults are standing, sitting and almost lying under the scorching sun. I ask where this long line leads. One of the teenagers replies: “We want the autograph of the writer Veronika Marchak. She’s cool.” I did not notice such queues for autographs of Ukrainian authors, although after the presentation of the Polish translation of the novel “Radio Night” Yuri Andruhovych did not even have time to sign the book for all those who wanted it – there were so many of them. Andruhovych’s publishing house in Poland “Czytelnik” admits that this book received the most reader attention and sales during the fair. And its author “doesn’t need to be introduced in Poland, because he is well-known here,” said Jerzy Kiselewski, moderator of the “Radio Nochi” presentation. Yuriy Andruhovych signed books for fans. Photo: Olena Lysenko The author himself, when asked whether the full-scale invasion changed anything for him as one of the most translated authors abroad, answers that his “Moscoviada” received a new life after February 24, 2022. “The successes of our armed forces have calmed the Europeans. When they see that we are holding on and doing well, they start to be less interested in us. But I think that the victory will be another big explosion of interest in Ukrainian books in Europe,” Andruhovych adds. Read also: The director of the Ukrainian Book Institute told how many bookstores and libraries are currently operating in Ukraine

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