Contemporary Ukrainian literature is in a period of great vibrancy and innovation. The term “contemporary Ukrainian literature” can vary in meaning, but unless its timeframe is specified it generally refers to works written since Ukrainian independence in 1991. Greater freedom and openness in Ukrainian society and expanded contact with writers from other countries have accelerated the development of Ukrainian literature and opened the door to treatment of subjects that had been taboo under communism. It has also led to stylistic innovations drawing from such movements as postmodernism or the neo-avant garde.
Today’s Ukrainian writers make use of a richer palette of language, including profanity and Surzhyk (a non-standard sociolect blending elements of Ukrainian and Russian). A proliferation and blending of genres has come hand-in-hand with the refinement of techniques such as the use of shock. Eastern Europe’s longstanding tradition of socially conscious literature has taken new form in current contemplations of social problems and historical memory.
The pathos that typified socialist realism is largely a thing of the past in Ukrainian literature. Many works are celebrated for their brilliant use of irony, their re-examination of values, and their treatment of subjects that were off-limits in Soviet times. Access to foreign authors, previously banned works by Ukrainian writers of the 1920s-1930s, as well as the literature of the Ukrainian diaspora, have further spawned stylistic diversity.
The world of contemporary Ukrainian literature has been enriched by a number of festivals and poetry slams, and the Lviv International Book Fair is now one of the world’s largest.
For many decades, beginning in 1961, the highest honour bestowed by Ukraine on its writers was the Shchevchenko National Prize. In recent times, Ukrainian writers have also been named laureates of a number of international and newly established national prizes (Coronation of the Word, The Fakel [Torch] Publishers Literary Prize, BBC Book of the Year).
Many works by contemporary Ukrainian writers have been translated into a multitude of foreign languages. Since the early 1990s a number of anthologies of Ukrainian literature in translation have appeared. Many contemporary Ukrainian writers are translated into Polish, German, and French.
Up to now, Anglophone readers have not had sufficient access to high-quality translations of contemporary Ukrainian literature. It is a part of the mission of Glagoslav Publications to see that important works from Ukraine are widely available to the English-speaking public.
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