One day he was afraid that he should die at forty-seven and was in a hurry to finish all his business. Today his name belongs to the classics of Ukrainian literature. He does not use Facebook because he appreciates the time, and emphasizes: Ukraine will never be monolingual. About the author’s “I”, the popularization of our literature abroad, the collapse of Russia and writers, whom journalists turn into experts in everything – the way Yurii Andrukhovych himself sees it in the section “Who is…” from Opinion.
About childhood without dreams to become a writer
The man, who is today named as a patriarch of modern Ukrainian literature, in his childhood and adolescence, did not dream about writing since that was not the best time to represent yourself as a new author.
“That is, I could not dream of becoming a writer, because nobody would have printed me anyway. That is, I would still write because I wrote all kinds of stories since I was five, I spoke since I was nine months old; therefore, I was doomed to “master the word”. However, being a writer means being published. Therefore, I thought this way: writing is one thing, it’s for me and for my closest friends.”
About himself as an author
After all, Andrukhovych had become a writer, moreover, one of the most significant in modern Ukrainian literature.
“I have already formulated certain maximalistic principles in this regard, they are difficult to keep in practice, but I try and seek it. One of them is to tell stories in a written form that haven’t yet been told in Ukrainian language or to formulate what was not formulated in Ukrainian. In this regard, one can say with some exaggeration that I see myself as a non-Ukrainian writer who writes in Ukrainian. However, I am a Ukrainian both in nationality and in accordance with my principles. I’m just talking about belonging to a certain literary tradition.”
About Andrukhovych, who is “first and foremost a poet”
According to him, to speak so about somebody means to praise this person very high. Therefore, does not call himself this way in order for it not to look like boasting.
“It’s maybe old-fashioned, but I believe that writing any prose can be scheduled and organized, but you can’t plan poems. You just have to wait for them. Only in this case, there is a sense to write poems when they came on their own“
About the expectation of death at 47
It may seem a fiction, but Andrukhoych really believed that he could die at that age. This was his fortune predicted that was read from his hand when the writer was about thirty.
“Well, it wasn’t so clearly articulated, but back then I was told that I have to settle down all my business and everything that was conceived by the age of forty-seven. A lot of years had passed, and when I was already forty, all this was recalled in full.”
About unpopularity of Ukrainian authors abroad
Andrukhovych is convinced: our authors have long been able to write no worse than foreign ones, however, there is a reason that does not allow Ukrainian writers to “break” into the world market.
“We still don’t have enough translators in different countries of the world who are sufficiently fluent in Ukrainian to translate the original works of Ukrainian authors from the original language.”
“I have repeatedly said that the state should create scholarships for foreigners, invite them to live in Ukraine a year or more, studying Ukrainian. After all, then they not only learn the language, but also begin to understand the mentality and many different contexts, and all of this is necessary for a translator. There must be a realization that culture requires big investments.”
About the absence on social networks
Today, almost all modern authors can be found on Facebook, but you won’t find Yurii Andrukhovych in this list: the patriarch saves his time, which he lacks so much.
“Sometimes I regret that I don’t have accounts on social networks, because sometimes there is a specific need to inform as many people as possible about certain events. However, social networks would take a lot of effort and time, which I already lack. In my absence on Facebook, there is no great idea that social networks are harmful, and I do not want to have anything to do with them. I write so little, and then I would not write anything at all, because I would sit and talk with myriads of friends.”
About writers who become political experts
Andrukhovych is not surprised by this, on the contrary, according to him, this is not a Ukrainian but a global trend.
“Once I and my colleague, a Spanish poet, exchanged views on this topic. So, she, as for me, explained this phenomenon quite amply: “Unlike the true experts who speak balanced and boring, we speak brightly and in metaphors. And the media needs it.” Journalists like to appeal to us because our formulations draw attention to publications. We give them metaphorical one, zen bursts.“
About the Maidan
Reflecting on the “victories” and “defeats” of the Revolution of Dignity, the patriarch of Ukrainian literature emphasizes: Maidan hasn’t passed in vain, after all, it succeeded. I succeeded because it has fulfilled the main task – it removed Yanukovych from power and turned us away from Russia.
“Next there is post-Maidan” whether – whether”, however, it is a completely different story. Maidan just paved the way to struggle, which can be won and lost. The victory to Maidan lies in the fact that this alternative has appeared at least. If there was no Maidan, or if it was defeated, then no alternative would exist for us, and today we would thrive inside the ‘Russian world’.”
About the collapse of the Russian Federation
Once to a question, when Ukraine will be able to return annexed by Russia Crimea, Andrukhovych replied: after the collapse of the Russian Federation. Later, the author explained: it will finally happen when the democratic western world ceases to believe in Dostoevsky.
“This is, of course, a metaphor, but you can’t even imagine how significant is this, that is Russian classical cultural heritage, factor in promoting Russian interests on the world arena. If millions of people on Earth would not love Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, the same Dostoevsky, then Russia would have long been eliminated by joint efforts, like a giant tumor on the body of mankind.”
About Ukraine, where everyone will speak Ukrainian only
You can dream about our country as a state, where everyone speaks state language only, as much as you want. However, in reality, according to Yurii Andrukhovych, Ukraine will never be monolingual.
“This contradicts not only its nature, in particular, its location, but also the general world tendencies from which we can’t and don’t have to isolate. Therefore, I would better dream of something else: about such a Ukraine, which, despite being bi- or even multilingual, will have the Ukrainian language as a dominant in all regions, cities and in all spheres without exception. That it would be dominant on the streets, squares, institutions, firms, podiums, restaurants and coffee shops, in sports, show business, education, science, and cosmonautics. That it would be spoken by models and officers, politicians, big bosses and their secretaries, the security of the president and the president himself, and in the end – even the oligarchs.”
About why he does not write about the war
Answering this question, it seems that Andrukhovych predicted recent discussions about the books by our defenders. He predicted and gave a clear answer. The author is convinced that the right to write about the war belongs to those who are there right now or who have come back from there. According to the patriarch, there are many present or future writers among these people.
“I’m sure that this topic will determine our literature for the next decades. I don’t want to go to the combat zone as a certain ATO tourist, to listen and note stories in a notebook for a week or two, and then to return and write it down in comfort. In my prose or poetry, the war may arise through other subjects, for example, related to terrorism. I am very interested in the topic of people who commit an attack on another person, for example, commit a political assassination, and these are the elements of the war as well.”
By Dmytro Zhuravel
The publication was collected from numerous interviews, speeches, and appeals of the material’s protagonist.