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October 25, 2006


Aidan Kehoe

It’s worth mentioning that the book is available in English.


It seems to me that Kurkov is most qualified to talk about Russian-language literature in Ukraine. It would have been helpful to interview someone who actually writes in Ukrainian, which seems to be undergoing a real renaissance right now. It's especially important to get this right when language use is so politicized, like it is in Ukraine. Do you know for a fact that Kurkov reads Ukrainian literature?

I'm a little disappointed in this, especially because Kurkov sounds pretty dismissive of Ukrainian-language writing and says all the typical things that Russians say in Ukraine in general: Those Ukrainians are getting uppity and ignoring the great Russian traditions, trying to cut off the great Imperial Russian history of Ukraine, etc.

If you were writing a piece about literature in Quebec or the Basque country, would you interview only Montreal English-language writers or Spanish-language writers in Bilbao?


So Franck, which part of "Kurkov believes Ukrainian writing is more vibrant than the current Russian literature scene" sounded dismissive to you?

And where does Kurkov say "Ukrainians are getting uppity and ignoring the great Russian traditions"?

If you were commenting on a piece, would you discuss what's actually in it, or simply project your own resentments instead..?


"Kurkov describes this generation of writers as being in a learning phase, intoxicated by its own freedom and the radical changes of society, uninterested in its soviet history, producing what he calls ‘sex, drugs and rock & roll’ writing. "

Sounds pretty dismissive to me.

It sounds to me like you have your own resentments.

You've also almost totally ignored the political dimensions of language in Ukraine, and don't even name a single Ukrainian-language author. You seriously expect me to believe you couldn't find a single Ukrainian-language author in Kiev to talk to?


There are hundreds of Ukrainian-language writers living in Kyiv (not Russian-language Kiev, btw), franck. The thing is Kurkov is the best and the most successful Ukrainian writer living in Kyiv. Others, like Andrukhovych or Deresh, live elsewhere (Ivano-Frankivs'k and L'viv in this case).

There is nothing dismissive of Ukrainian-language literature in what you quote. It may sound dismissive of the new generation of Ukrainian authors though. No matter what language they use.

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A lot will come out over time but the truth has been out there for a long time as well but that doesn't give you what you want so this dance just goes on and on.

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He thinks the Orange Revolution changed the mentality of Ukrainians, making them less passive and politically indifferent, but adds; ‘I have no illusions, it was essentially a bourgeois revolution’. He talked to us affably and optimistically about Russian and Ukrainian writing in Ukraine, cultural policy and the national arts scene. He also spoke about censorship, saying “there are no clean politicians in this country, unless they are very young or very unimportant.”

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