20.02.2024 Events, Literature

Oksana Zabuzhko with Halyna Hryn – Encounters with Polish and Ukrainian Literature

S4E4 and all video recordings are available on our YouTube.

Encounters with Polish Literature is a video series for anyone interested in literature and the culture of books and reading. Each month, host David A. Goldfarb will present a new topic in conversation with an expert on that author or book or movement in Polish literature. More about the Encounters with Polish Literature series and the timeline.

Oksana Zabuzhko (b.1960) is one Ukraine’s most important contemporary writers, the author of more than twenty books of different genres (poetry, fiction, non-fiction). She made her poetry debut at the age of 12, but, as her parents had been blacklisted during the Soviet purges of the 1970s, it was not until perestroika that her first book saw the light of day. She graduated from the department of philosophy of Kyiv Shevchenko University, obtained her PhD in the philosophy of the arts, and has worked as a research associate for the Institute of Philosophy of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. In the early 1990s she lectured in the USA as a Fulbright Fellow and a Writer-in-Residence at Penn State University, Harvard University, and University of Pittsburgh. Since the publication of her novel Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex (1996), which in 2006 was named “the most influential Ukrainian book for the 15 years of independence,” she has been living as a freelance author.

Zabuzhko has established herself as the country’s leading public intellectual, and has for years been listed by the media among Ukraine’s top 100 most influential people. Since 2013 she, along with her partner, artist Rostyslav Luzhetsky, have operated a small publishing house promoting quality non-commercial literature.

Zabuzhko’s books have been translated into Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, Estonian, French, Georgian, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Swedish. Among her acknowledgements are MacArthur Grant (2002), Antonovych Prize (2009), the Ukrainian National Award the Order of Princess Olha (2010), Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine (2019), the French National Order of the Legion of Honor (2023). and many other national and international awards. Her opus magnum, The Museum of Abandoned Secrets (2010), won Angelus Central European Literary Prize for the best novel of Eastern and Central Europe (2013), and.her recent work, The Longest Journey (2022), a book-long essay on the cultural and historical background of the current Russo-Ukrainian war, won in Ukraine The Book of the Year, and has been translated into 9 languages.

In this episode, we discuss what she has been doing since the full-scale Russian invasion began on February 24, 2022, her extensive time in Poland and touring Europe since then, and we talk about her most influential work Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex as well as some of her more recent short work, and her 2022 essay about the war written for a Western audience, but not yet fully translated into English, “The Longest Journey.”

Oksana Zabuzhko in English Translation

Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex. Tr. Halyna Hryn. Las Vegas: Amazon Crossing, 2011.

The Museum of Abandoned Secrets. Tr. Nina Shevchuk-Murray. Las Vegas: Amazon Crossing, 2012.

“Oksana Zabuzhko’s ‘The Longest Journey.’ An excerpt.” Oksana Zabuzhko and Kate Tsurkan. The Kyiv Independent. November 11, 2023.

“No guilty people in the world? Reading Russian Literature after the Bucha Massacre.” Times Literary Supplement. April 22, 2022.

Selected Poems. Ed. Askold Melnyczuk with McKenzie Hurder. Tr. Marco Carynnyk, Askold Melnyczuk, Michael M. Naydan, Wanda Phipps, Lisa Sapinkopf, Douglas Burnet Smith, and Virlana Tkacz. Medford, Mass.: Arrowsmith Press, 2020.

Your Ad Could Go Here. Ed. Nina Murray. Tr. Halyna Hryn, Askold Melnychuk, Nina Murray, Marco Carynnyk, and Marta Horban. Las Vegas: Amazon Crossing, 2017.

Halyna Hryn has served as President of the Shevchenko Scientific Society since 2018 and has been the editor of the journal, Harvard Ukrainian Studies at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute since 2005. She earned her Ph.D. in Slavic Literature from the University of Toronto and has taught language and culture courses as a Lecturer at Toronto, York University, Manitoba, Harvard, and Yale. She translated Oksana Zabuzhko’s “Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex” and many of the stories in “Your Ad Could Go Here” for Amazon Crossing, which won best translation prizes from both the Association for Women in Slavic Studies and the American Association for Ukrainian Studies, as well as “Peltse and Pentameron: Two Novels by Volodymyr Dibrova” for Northwestern University Press among other works. Her book, “Literaturnyi iarmarok”: Vyznachennia ukraïns´koho modernizmu (The Literary Fair: Ukrainian Modernism’s Defining Moment) is forthcoming in Ukrainian from Krytyka in 2025.

Bartek Remisko, Executive Producer

David A. Goldfarb, Host & Producer

Natalia Iyudin, Producer

Photo courtesy of Halyna Hryn (Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute and President,

Shevchenko Scientific Society in the U.S.)

Lead image: Oksana Zabuzhko (author)

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