Sofia Cheliack, Bookforum program director, at the 2022 Opening Ceremony.
While this year’s Lviv BookForum will be our 30th edition, we have chosen to mark the milestone by looking to the future with purpose.
This weekend, 5–8 October, we gather more than 50 storytellers in Lviv – our journalists, our historians, our poets and our novelists – to illuminate this moment with our truth and imagine a better tomorrow. Under our theme, Writing the Future, our program of 30 events will see acclaimed Ukrainian writers join international authors in hybrid conversations, aiming to create a civic space for a free and tolerant exchange of ideas. With the support of our digital partners Hay Festival, this edition will be streamed live, free to the world.
There are dynamic pairings as bestselling Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov talks to award-winning novelist Jonathan Franzen and cartoonist Art Spiegelman talks to scholar Oleksandr Mykhed. Engaging panel discussions explore the big questions of war as writer Pankaj Mishra, journalist Alan Rusbridger and philosopher Yermolenko Volonko explore decolonisation; poets Ben Okri and Halyna Kruk join doctor Rachel Clark on the power of words; lawyer Philippe Sands, literary critic Tamara Hundorova, musician Pavlo Vyshebaba and essayist Rebecca Solnit discuss the changing global order; and reporter Luke Harding, policy analyst David Rieff, poet Yaryna Chornohuz and journalist Svitlana Povaliaeva discuss documenting conflicts.
And we commemorate those we have lost. There are events to celebrate the lives of our friends and writers Victoria Amelina and Volodymyr Vakulenko, both killed in the past year, but whose writing continues to echo around us and impact the world.
Thirty years ago, could our founders have imagined that this would be our future role, a space for commemorating writers stolen from this world too soon?
Established in 1993, just two years after Ukraine became an independent country, Lviv BookForum has grown with the flourishing of Ukrainian literature. In these years, our events have forged cultural connections, tackled uncomfortable questions, and celebrated and shared Ukrainian writers and their essential works.
With each new edition came growth and the emergence of new creative talent, as Ukraine at last fulfilled its promise as a country of global significance. Guests on our stages have included Nobel laureates and bestsellers, from Margaret Atwood to Arundhati Roy.
Of course, our founders could have never imagined the nightmarish context of our 2023 edition. But if they had, they certainly would have hoped that our role would be as it is: defenders of free expression, promoters of hope. In this way, we are fulfilling our promise to Ukrainian readers first made all those years ago.
And so, unlike earlier editions, this year’s event will not be measured in ticket sales or numbers of new books launched. Here, as everywhere else, our aim is a future. Please join us, in solidarity and in hope.
You can find the schedule to this year’s event here: https://www.hayfestival.com/lviv-bookforum.
Sofia Cheliak is programme director of Lviv BookForum as well as a TV host, cultural manager, translator from Czech into Ukrainian, and PEN-Ukraine member. She was awarded the Metaphor Prize in 2016, Lviv City Best Culture Manager Award in 2018 and was named one of Kyiv Post’s “30 under 30” in 2019.