The Lviv BookForum, one of the most prestigious book festivals in Ukraine, has moved online this year and is being copresented by the U.K.'s Hay Festival. The event runs virtually online through the Hay Festival website, with events starting Friday and running through the weekend.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy opened the forum with virtual remarks, and a who's who of global literature and other public intellectuals also made remarks. Among them were 2021 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Abdulrazak Gurnah; anthropologist Yuval Noah Harari; novelists Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and Elif Shafak; historian Margaret MacMillan; journalists Jon Lee Anderson, Misha Glenny, and Peter Pomerantsev; and numerous prominent Ukrainian intellectuals, public figures and writers.
Sharing her thoughts on the event in a prepared statement, Atwood called the war in Ukraine “an attack on democracy and freedom, not just in Ukraine but around the world. In joining the Lviv BookForum and Hay Festival program. I support Ukrainian writers and readers as they share their work. May this theatre of ideas and talent inspire more to raise their voices and share their gifts.”
Neil Gaiman added: “It's an honor and a privilege to be a part of the 29th Lviv BookForum. It's Ukraine's biggest literary festival, and it says a lot that, even in the dark days of a war that should never have been necessary, the festival continues in a brave act of resistance and allows writers like me to stand in solidarity with the writers and the readers of Ukraine. With the help of Hay Festival the programming of the Lviv BookForum can reach millions of people around the world. And that includes you, wherever you are. Come and listen and learn.”
President Zelenskyy's full opening remarks were as follows:
To the participants, organizers and guests of the 29th BookForum:
I sincerely welcome BookForum in hospitable Lviv - an important book publishing event that holds its intellectual front in this difficult time.
For more than half a year, the world has witnessed how Russian aggression has been destroying our territories, Ukrainian culture, language, and books as a symbol of freedom and indomitability of our people. Today, when the Armed Forces of Ukraine are courageously defending their native country from the enemy invasion, it is vitally important for us to preserve our national culture and identity. That is why, on all platforms, we bring the truth to the world about what is happening now in Ukraine, about the Russians' arbitrary actions and crimes against humanity.
I would like to thank our international friends and partners for standing with us in this war. Now you have become ambassadors of Ukraine in the struggle for freedom and democratic values of the whole of Europe. I am sure that together we will win.
I am grateful to the organizers of the forum for their many years of dedication and active citizenship, for their significant contribution to the domestic book publishing sphere and the expansion of cultural diplomacy. I appreciate your efforts to develop Ukrainian European culture, its competitiveness as our contribution to building a common European home.
I wish BookForum participants meaningful communication and implementation of ambitious plans. All the best, victory and peace to everybody.
Glory to Ukraine!