Writers including Nobel prize-winning Abdulrazak Gurnah and Booker prize winner Margaret Atwood will appear alongside Ukrainian authors at Lviv BookForum, which is partnering with Hay festival to broadcast its events around the world.
Lviv BookForum is Ukraine’s largest book festival, and will take place in person and online from 6-9 October. As digital partner, Hay will broadcast all the festival’s 15 events free online, and has also curated a number of events with an international digital audience in mind.
Hay festival’s international director Cristina Fuentes La Roche said the festival’s programme was full of “voices to examine and inspire”.
“This programme is an act of defiance, a challenge to those who would curtail free expression and the tolerant exchange of ideas, and a catalyst for global change,” she added.
The programme includes Atwood in conversation with Ukrainian psychologist Yurii Prokhasko, Turkish writer Elif Shafak in conversation with Ukrainian novelist Kateryna Kalytko and Israeli anthropologist Yuval Noah Harari and British storyteller Neil Gaiman in conversation with Ukrainian journalist Sevgil Musayeva.
Gurnah will discuss post-colonialism with Ukrainian historian Olena Stiazhkina and Mexican activist Lydia Cacho. Also appearing will be neurosurgeon Henry Marsh and lawyers and activists Larysa Denysenko and Philippe Sands.
Gaiman said that going ahead with the festival at this time was a “a brave act of resistance and allows writers like me to stand in solidarity with the writers and the readers of Ukraine”.
Marsh, who has been visiting Ukraine and working with neurosurgical colleagues there for 30 years, said the event was a “wonderful expression of the fact that Ukraine is indeed part of Europe, historically and culturally”.
Lviv BookForum curator and journalist Sofia Cheliak said the programme was “built to tackle uncomfortable questions, to which there may not be an unequivocal answer.
“This is a space for writers and readers to ask questions and tell their stories, a conversation that runs in defiance of the evil that seeks to squash our freedom,” she added.
All events will be broadcast free online, with Ukrainian and English subtitles available live, and Spanish subtitles to be added post-event.
Fuentes La Roche said: “Through our online events, we will bring Ukraine to the world, offering a wider audience to these essential stories, while facilitating an exchange of new ideas with their international contemporaries.”
Lviv is the largest city in western Ukraine and the sixth largest in the country, and has remained largely safe from fighting.
The partnership between Hay festival and Lviv BookForum is part of the UK/Ukraine Season of Culture, which is supported by the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute.
The full programme can be seen at the Hay festival website, where all events will also be broadcast.