Skip to content

New Publication: Ukraine — A Spring for the Thirsty: Conversations about publishing Ukrainian literature in Translation

December 9, 2022

Thanks to indefatigable Arthur Thompson, we have a unique new volume, Ukraine–A Spring for the Thirsty.

Four translators and five publishers talk about how Ukrainian books are currently translated, marketed and distributed, and what they think will happen in the future.

The book was written to give Ukrainian publishers and writers some insight in to the motivations of English-language publishers of translated fiction, with a view to getting more rights sold and increasing the number of Ukrainian books available in English.

The topics covered in the conversations include:

  • The imbalance of translated languages around the world and how this affects commissioning
  • How editors and publishers choose which books to translate – and what turns them off
  • Notable Ukrainian books and famous authors
  • The translation process
  • The history of Ukrainian literature
  • The financial support available to publishers and translators – grants, subventions and institutional support
  • Translators and publishers as ambassadors for Ukraine and the Ukrainian language
  • The readership for translated literature
  • Undertranslated authors and genres from Ukraine
  • Pitching books to publishers
  • Distribution channels, including Amazon
  • Metadata, and why it’s important
  • Publishing fellowships and cultural trips
  • The relationship between academia and translation work

Anyone who is interested in translating and publishing will find this a fascinating and comprehensive volume. A .pdf version is available here.


Happy Publication Day: Voices of Freedom: Contemporary Writing from Ukraine

November 22, 2022

From the publisher’s website:

Voices of Freedom: Contemporary Writing From Ukraine is a collection of Ukrainian writing that aims to introduce the English-speaking world to some of the most iconic living writers whose work is shaping contemporary Ukraine. These are leading intellectuals and moral authorities for the Ukrainian people, whose voices and opinions have helped to synchronize the internal compasses of Ukrainian society in the struggle for the freedom of their country. Through poetry, short stories, and essays, this collection demonstrates that the desire for freedom and the struggle to achieve it is a theme that cuts across generations of Ukrainian writers, and is a central preoccupation of Ukrainian society. 

This collection demonstrates the unique style and artistry of contemporary Ukrainian literature over the past 50 years. The curated poetry is an instant reaction to the events taking place today, which speaks directly to this current moment and the national psyche. The short stories sensitize readers to Ukraine’s indivisible history and the present. These are accounts about the memory of generations, choices and transitions, self-irony, friendship, love, and the powerful significance of home. These stories and novellas represent a single continuous story showing the paths, lives, and values of the Ukrainian people who have amazed the world with their courage. The essays showcase the voices of contemporary Ukrainian intellectuals, providing analysis and reflection on what is happening in the present, showing historical connections and parallels, and shedding light on the origins and triggers of the war on the mental level.  The collection that follows is the story of Ukraine, in the voice of Ukrainians. 


Proceeds from the sale of this collection will support the cultural community and humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, namely Razom for Ukraine or Hospitallers Medical Battalion. 

The collection includes my translation of Oksana Zabuzhko’s Deportation.

ASEEES Member Spotlight: “I searched in vain for female experts”

August 4, 2022

In the months leading to the February 24 Russian invasion, I was working on several exciting translation projects. I had gone to Almaty to teach at a writers’ workshop and launched a volunteer-run English language review of literature from Kazakhstan, The Alma Review. I watched my friends in Kazakhstan grapple with many of the same colonial legacies as Ukrainians have had to work through and began planning for a Ukrainian-Kazakhstan writers’ exchange in the summer-fall of 2022.

The full-scale invasion shelved these plans and violently re-oriented the lives of many friends, family members, and colleagues.

Professionally, I was struck, painfully and immediately, by the casting of women exclusively as victims. I wrote at the time, as I searched in vain for female experts on various broadcasts:

War has a very specific place for women: right before ‘and children,’ following the number of civilian casualties. This place is on TV: the outrage that confronts a Prime Minister, the tears that cannot be fought back, the unraveling, lachrymose femininity.

Rejecting it felt like treason.

On radio and TV, Ukrainians spoke accented English and struggled with subject-verb agreements. They were cast as desperate dispossessed others, who deserve sympathy and charity. Not as fellow citizens. Or equal human beings capable of nuance, analysis, expertise. Aspiration.

Read more here.

Help Put CASSANDRA on a London Stage!

July 18, 2022

It is real! The Live Canon ensemble, led by the incredible Helen Eastman, is producing Lesia Ukrainka’s revolutionary Cassandra!

We need your support to give a platform to Ukrainian theatre and stage this monumental work for the first time in the UK.

We plan a two-week run of the production at London’s Omnibus theatre in October 2022, and additional performances in Oxford and Bristol. In total, we need to raise £40,000. We are actively seeking grant funding to raise half of this sum, but we need your support to raise the first £20,000. If 200 people donate £100, we’ll be there! (Or 160 donations of £100 if all are eligible for giftaid boost of 25%!)

Here are our fundraising targets for July and August:

£5,500 by the end of July 2022: £3,000 for the theatre, £2,500 for first instalment to creatives and project manager.

£14,500 by the end of August 2022: £2,500 for second instalment to creatives and project manager, £2,500 for set and costumes, £9,000 for first instalment to actors and stage managers, £500 for marketing.

Please help spread the word! Every donation counts.

Perks for your donations!

– Donate £250 or more to receive a free ticket to the production

– Donate £500 or more to receive a free ticket + signed copy of Nina Murray’s translation of the play, published by Harvard University Press

– Donate £1,000 or more for 2 tickets for press night + drinks reception and signed copy of Nina Murray’s translation

– Donate £3,000 or more for all of the above + come to watch a rehearsal and have lunch with the company!

About Live Canon

The Live Canon ensemble specialise in working with verse and have performed all over the world from Broadway to Abbey Road.

The production of Cassandra will be directed by Helen Eastman, whose work has included The Cure at Troy (Delphi International Festival and world tour), Bridgetower (Hackney Empire and UK tour), Fair (Trafalgar Studios) and Bicycle Boy (GDIF and Uk tour), and advising on many contemporary productions of Ancient Greek plays, most recently Paradise, by Kae Tempest at the National Theatre.

The set and costume designer for the production will be Neil Irish (English Touring opera, New Wolsey, Guildford Shakespeare Company).

The Everyday and Invisible Histories of Women: A Review of Oksana Zabuzhko’s Your Ad Could Go Here by Emma Pratt

July 10, 2022

The team at Punctured Lines are grateful to Emma Pratt for her review of Oksana Zabuzhko’s Your Ad Could Go Here (trans. Nina Murray and others).

This review was planned before the war broke out and was delayed, among other things, by my inability to focus on much when it did. I am thankful to Emma for her patience with this process and for bringing Zabuzhko’s work to the attention of our readers. Please donate here to support Ukrainian translators and here to support evacuation and relief efforts.

Although the stories have been translated by a number of translators, Nina Murray’s editing unifies them. Unlike Zabuzhko’s novel, The Museum of Abandoned Secrets, which has stream-of-consciousness narration, the short stories in Your Ad Could Go Here are written in more traditional prose and are therefore easier to read, while being full of interesting digressions and parenthetical remarks. This book is an excellent introduction to Zabuzhko’s writing and contemporary Ukraine. The buzz around her is well-deserved, and her work merits a wider audience in English, particularly as Ukraine tragically fills the headlines.

Punctured Lines

Please visit Punctured Lines to read more.

Punctured Lines

We at Punctured Lines are grateful to Emma Pratt for her review of Oksana Zabuzhko’s Your Ad Could Go Here (trans. Nina Murray and others). This review was planned before the war broke out and was delayed, among other things, by my inability to focus on much when it did. I am thankful to Emma for her patience with this process and for bringing Zabuzhko’s work to the attention of our readers. Please donate here to support Ukrainian translators and here to support evacuation and relief efforts.

Oksana Zabuzhko’s Your Ad Could Go Here by Emma Pratt

Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko’s third book in English, Your Ad Could Go Here (trans. Nina Murray et al., Amazon Crossing, 2020), is a collection of short stories, some of which were previously published in various English-language journals and anthologies. The collection is edited by Nina Murray, the translator of Zabuzhko’s novel The Museum…

View original post 1,747 more words

Virtual Reading: Oksana Zabuzhko “We, The Deported: A Coda”

May 9, 2022

Jill! – a YouTube channel dedicated to translators and their work – featured my reading of Oksana Zabuzhko’s “We, the Deported: A Coda.” The reading was part of the channel’s May spotlight on war writing from Ukraine and Russia. Thanks to translators Dmitri Manin and Anna Krushelnitskaya for bringing this series together on such quick notice.

The series is named Jill! As in, no Jack required, and also as nod to Suzanne Jill Levine, the literary scholar, poet, and the translator we have to thank for numerous works by luminaries such as Cristina Rivera Garza, Julio Cortázar, Guadalupe Nettel, and Manuel Puig, among many, many others.

The channel spotlights women, trans, and/or nonbinary translators or translators of women, trans, and/or nonbinary authors, with updates every Wednesday. Please, subscribe – it makes me sad to see they only have 87 followers as of the time of this post.

New Translation in The White Review

April 26, 2022

My grandmother had hemp – cannabis – growing in her vegetable patch. I doubt anyone had planted it there on purpose – more likely it came as a self-seeding weed. Back when my grandmother was still alive, I must have been ten or so, a man came to the house and said, ‘Aunt Nyura, OK if I go to your garden?’ As it became obvious, my grandmother did not have much of a choice in the matter: if she had said no, he would just have come back at night, or climbed in there in broad daylight, which would have been even scarier. The pretence of asking permission implied, at least symbolically, a commitment to honour someone else’s boundaries. Fragile as they were, those boundaries were all that kept her safe. The prophets of imminent emptiness carried away my grandmother’s hemp and whatever she thought about the subject. 

Alina Zubkovych, “Emptiness and the Shape it Takes”

Reading for Ukraine at Prairie Lights – Now on Video

April 24, 2022

A recording of this reading – which was the miraculous occasion of yours truly appearing on the same roster as Marilynne Robinson – is now available here.

Please consider supporting the Ukrainian defense effort by donating to one of the organizations on this list.

On Being Translated…

March 30, 2022

A selection of my poems appears in the March issue of the online journal Daktyl. Thanks to the wonderful Айжарық Сұлтанқожа and Ksenia Rogozhnikova, the poems have found new incarnations in the Kazakh and Russian languages respectively. The two translators chose different poems–which makes me even happier: not one, but two people responded to my work!

The stories that reveal the soul of Ukraine –

March 26, 2022

I spoke to BBC Culture a few days ago: Read now in United Hours about the ineradicable humor of the Ukrainian literature and other thoughts. Irony walks behind the coffin of the Empire. Read the full essay here.

Punctured Lines

Post-Soviet Literature in and outside the Former Soviet Union

Russophone Kid Lit

Independent reviews of Russian-language books for children and young people

Arachne Press

Spinning stories since 2012

Planet of the Blind

It's not as dark as you think...