Dhe President of the Writers’ Association PEN Ukraine, Andrei Kurkov, has qualified the call for a boycott of Russian writers and publishers from the beginning of March. He knows that not all Russian authors support Vladimir Putin and his aggressive policies, Kurkov told the Evangelical Press Service (epd). That’s why he proposes a “white list” with the names of those Russian cultural workers who are not afraid to raise their voices against Putin and the war in Ukraine: “Let’s support those who support us.”
At the same time, the Russian-speaking Ukrainian writer objected to accusing PEN Ukraine of “hate speech”. Also, nobody in Ukraine burns the books of Tolstoy, Pushkin or Dostoyevsky. “Ukraine doesn’t burn any books at all,” said Kurkov, who was born in St. Petersburg in 1961 and has lived in Kyiv since childhood. “Instead, the Russian army is burning and bombing Ukrainian museums, churches and memorials.”
There was also criticism in Germany
As long as the war lasts, there will be no talks between representatives of culture and literature from Russia and Ukraine, as suggested by the Salon du Livre de Paris, said Kurkov. Instead, PEN Ukraine organized online discussions about the war with US and UK colleagues.
In early March, together with other Ukrainian literary associations, PEN Ukraine called for a boycott of Russian authors, books and publishers because Russian literature contained state propaganda. The International PEN Association criticized the call for a boycott. There was also criticism in Germany.
Kurkov, who is currently in western Ukraine, appealed to German publishers to bring out as many books on Ukraine as possible. It is important to arouse interest in Ukrainian literature and non-fiction books about the country so that German readers can learn to understand Ukrainian history. He recently published the novel “Grey Bees” (Diogenes, 2019), a story from the embattled Donbass.
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