Neither breaking news nor military victories cement a nation in the global consciousness. Only through its culture may a nation’s voice truly be heard, says Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko
Article by: Oksana Zabuzhko
Ukraine has become visible to the world—yet it’s still not heard, stressed prominent Ukrainian writer and cultural ambassador Oksana Zabuzhko during her speech that opened the 2023 Lviv Media Forum in Ukraine.
The narratives and common vocabulary about Ukraine need to be revised, she said, outraged by definitions of Ukraine, such as “a former Soviet republic” by media or a “brotherly state to Russia” by intellectuals. Both fail to grasp key Ukrainian history.
While some translations of Ukrainian books have recently appeared in the world languages, the reviewers often portray authors as coming “out of nowhere” rather than as a new generation emerging after classical Ukrainian literature.
“If authors weren’t translated, it doesn’t mean they didn’t exist,” said Zabuzhko, urging a reconsideration of common stereotypes about Ukraine. She praised events like a recent presentation of the English translation of the old Ukrainian drama “Cassandra” by Lesya Ukrainka in London’s Omnibus Theatre, saying that a nation becomes heard only through its culture.
Here is an adapted version of Zabuzhko’s speech.