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Literary Focus: Ukraine

On the role of books and writing in war times with authors Stanislav Aseyev (Ukraine), Tanja Maljartschuk (Austria), Sasha Marianna Salzmann (Germany), Aleksandr Skorobogatov (Belgium). Music by Oleg Lysenko. In English.

Theater aan het Spui - Zaal 1
€15 | DenHaagPas €12,50 | T/m 30 jaar / Ooievaarspas €7,50.

More than a year after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we took stock with authors Stanislav Aseyev (Ukraine), Tanja Maljartschuk (Austria), Sasha Marianna Salzmann (Germany) and Aleksandr Skorobogatov (Belgium). Journalists Franka Hummels and Simone Peek talked to them about the role of writing and poetry in times of war. Virtuoso accordionist Oleg Lysenko played some musical contributions.

Writer Lisa Weeda, compiler of the programme, opened Literary Focus: Ukraine from 19:30 in the foyer of Theater aan het Spui with a conversation with journalists Floris Akkerman and Geert Jan Hahn. Based on books about Ukraine, they talked about their impressions. Hahn reports for Dutch media on Eastern Europe. Among other things, Akkerman is editor-in-chief and reporter at NRC on the war in Ukraine. They have been presenting BNR Perestrojkast, their podcast on current topics from Eastern and Central Europe, since 2019.

The programme continued in Zaal 1 with a first performance by accordionist Oleg Lysenko playing two movements from Victor Vlasov's suite Five Views on Gulag State. In collaboration with writers' organisation PEN Netherlands, an empty chair was visible on stage symbolising journalists who cannot speak out or publish because they have been imprisoned.

Franka Hummels then spoke with writers Sasha Marianna Salzmann and Aleksandr Skorobogatov, both of whom also read from their work. Simone Peek talked to writers Tanja Malyartschuk and Stanislav Aseyev. Malyartschuk also recited from her work. Aseyev requested Nina Targan Mouravi, who translated his book The Torture Camp on Paradise Street from Russian into Dutch,to recite an excerpt from it.

Accordionist Oleg Lysenko then performed two more movements from Vlasov's suite. The programme will conclude with the short film Monument for murdered writers and journalists 2022, a project by Theatre of Wrong Decisions, Committee To Project Journalists and writers' organisation PEN International.

How do you report on an invasion that is not yet over? What can fiction and poetry mean for a nation whose sovereignty is threatened?

Long a blind spot in our Western European minds, Ukraine is now in the full spotlight. At lightning speed, we learn all kinds of things about the country. What do authors who have known, described or travelled the area all their lives actually say about Ukraine? What does literature and poetry add to the story about Ukraine and the surrounding countries?

Bookstore De Vries van Stockum was present in the lobby with a stand offering books by participating authors of this programme, among others — including signing opportunities!

Literary Focus: Ukraine was developed by writer Lisa Weeda, who wrote a portrait of her Ukrainian family in her debut novel Aleksandra.

Day ticket: also visit the afternoon programme The World According to Cusk featuring Rachel Cusk!
Literary Focus: Ukraine was preceded Sunday 12 March from 14:30 hours in Theater aan het Spui by the, also English spoken, festival programme The World According to Cusk (with top author Rachel Cusk).
A reduced price day ticket for both festival programmes on 12 March was available.