Over the weekend, the Conference of International Book Fair Directors, which represents a wide swath of international book fairs, issued an open letter condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The letter reads, in part, "As the creator of platforms where publishers, writers, agents, translators and illustrators can interact and engage openly and where free expression and critical voices are cherished, we categorically deplore the Russian regime’s use of force. We cannot remain either silent or indifferent to Russia’s transformation of Ukraine into a killing field. We, therefore, resolve to suspend contact with any Russian state institutions and agencies and invite publishers and authors from Ukraine to exhibit in our fairs at no cost."
The letter was signed by the directors of the international book fairs in Bologna, Brussels, Frankfurt, Warsaw, Prague, Guadalajara, Jerusalem, Gothenburg, Sao Paulo, Bogota, Taipei, Seoul, Leipzig and Budapest.
Chytomo, a Ukrainian website covering books and the media market, launched an English-language version of its site last week and it features several stories, including a list of books for "urgent translation," new poetry inspired by the war, and diary entries from within Urkaine. A catalogue from the Ukrainian Book Institute also offers a pdf of New Books From Ukraine, a catalog of books for possible translation.
The Georgian publishing house Shemetsneba, published an instant anti-war children's picture book Flower of Peace, written by Mouhammad al Akous and illustrated by Lia Bukhnikaskvili. The book is available in Georgian, Ukrainian, English, Arabic, and Turkish.
Finally, members of the Ukrainian publishing community have put on uniforms and are serving as soldiers fighting the Russian invasion and posting about their experiences on social media. These include Witalij and Dmytro Kapranov, twin brothers and the bestselling authors of popular erotic fantasy novels based on Ukrainian folklore, who also run the publishing company, Green Dog. Others include Artem Chapeye, a well-known author of essays, novels and children’s books, and Adrii Ovcharuk, manager of the bookstore of the Old Lion Publishing House in Lviv and the Book Space book festival.
“I’m thinking about all the ‘anti-war’ books I’ve read by Remarque and Hemingway,” Chapeye reflected online. “The WWII memoirs, novels like Catch-22 are essentially irrelevant after you’ve got bombs falling on your kids.”
Ovcharuk expressed a similar sentiment: “I feel I’m now living in some hybrid world of [Jaroslav Hašek’s] The Good Soldier Švejk and [Franz Kafka’s] The Castle. Still, we will win. We have to. We have no other choice.”
At least one writer is known to have been killed in the war. Iryna Tsvila died on February 27 during an attack near Kyiv. Tsvila, a member of Ukraine’s nationalist political party, was a veteran who fought in the war in Ukraine’s Donbas region and had recently published Voices of War, a collection of stories from Ukrainian veterans, coauthored with Volodymyr Yermolenko.