Ukraine at the Czech festival “Literature Night”

The Czech festival “Literature Night” 2020 took place in 55 cities across the Czech Republic as well in 5 other countries.

The Literature Night (Noc literatury) festival is held annually to increase public interest in contemporary European literature and its currents of thought and creativity. It also points out the importance of multilingualism and the importance of translations from large and small languages. This year, the Literature Night took place in 55 cities across the Czech Republic and in 5 countries.

“This year’s Literature Night festival in Prague was one of few events in the Czech literary and publishing industry having taken place in the usual “offline” format. The Literature Night is usually one of the most visited literary events in the Czech Republic. This year, however, the coronavirus pandemic has made some changes in the cultural life of the country, but even so, almost 200 people came to дшіеут ещ an excerpt from V. Rafeenko’s book in Prague (bearing in mind that due to the quarantine restrictions max. 20 people could attend one reading at a time.) In addition to Prague, the Ukrainian passage was also read in Hradec Králové, Pisek, Železna Ruda and others”, said Perebyinis Eugene, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Czech Republic.

During the festival, famous actors of cinema and theater read excerpts from selected translated and published books within current year by European authors. On October 7, Volodymyr Rafeenko’s novel “Long Times” represented Ukraine. Excerpts from the Czech translation by Tereza Khlanova and Kateryna Gazukina were read by actor Igor Orozovych.

Volodymyr Rafeenko is a Ukrainian writer, a representative of modern Ukrainian postmodernism, who was born in Donetsk and wrote in Russian until 2018. Having moved to Kyiv region in 2014, he learned Ukrainian, later started writing in Ukrainian. In 2018, the novel “Long Times” was shortlisted for the Taras Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine, and the author received the Visegrad Eastern Partnership Literary Award. In 2019, he published his first novel in Ukrainian “Mondegrin (songs about death and love)”. He is the author of poetic and prose works, including novels, short stories, poems and poems in prose.

“We choose books in collaboration with embassies and translators. We try to take their opinion into account as to which book to present. First of all, we choose from books that have been published in Czech translation over the last two years and reflect current ideas and creative ideas. I understand well why Ukraine, where the military conflict has been going on for six years, is represented by a book about the war, which is an important topic that we, Europeans, have no right to forget.

Nevertheless, next time I would gladly listen to an excerpt from Ukrainian piece of literature, rather less complex, or even humorous, book to get to know your country from a different perspective”, commented Adriana Krasova, an employee of the Czech Centers and coordinator of the Literature Night.

In 2019, Ukraine became the first participant of the Festival from non-EU countries. This year the participation was organized due to the cooperation of the Ukrainian Institute and the Embassy of Ukraine in the Czech Republic. The Ambassador added:

“This project had not only literary but also political importance for us, as for the second year in a row Ukraine is the only country that is not a member of the EU, but participates in the festival. Agree, it is already symbolic. It was our first project, jointly implemented with the Ukrainian Institute. I hope, however, that this is just the beginning of our fruitful cooperation in the future. “

The project has been organized by the Czech Centers since 2006.Adriana Krasova described the idea of presenting Ukrainian literature at the festival: “Last year, we contacted Ukraine with a proposal to join the festival in the context of the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership, as the Czech Republic is at the origins of this initiative. Ukrainians are the second largest group of foreigners in the Czech Republic, so, of course, we are interested in their literature. Last year, the popularity of Ukrainian readings was pretty high, so we wanted Ukraine to take part in the festival again. In general, we like to work with small or less-known literature. Apart from Ukrainian literature, Roma literature was also presented at the festival.”

The project has been organized since 2006. The project is implemented by the Czech Centers in collaboration with the EUNIC cluster Prague (Association of National Cultural Institutes of the EU Countries), foreign embassies in the Czech Republic and the Labyrint publishing house.

Photos: Filip Šach