“What I am reflecting on is that I have to forgive people, events, time, the world, the country and probably also myself in order to be able to write. Your Clarice Lispector was trying this, I assume, and somehow apparently she managed. Or maybe I should say this: I am writing in order to forgive.”
— Ece Temelkuran (Turkey), Letter to Annelies Beck, 15 August 2016
The Russian-speaking Ukrainian writer Andrey Kurkov (b. 1961) was born in Saint Petersburg and grew up in Kiev. In his novels Kurkov casts a sharp, ironic gaze on the often harsh realities of the new Russia. Death and the Penguin (2000; Eng. trans. 2001) tells a surreal story of corruption, murder and the bedfellows that are politics and the press. The President’s Last Love (2004; Eng. trans. 2007) is a cheerful satire on the young but wayward Ukraine. Kurkov wrote the book before the outbreak of the Orange Revolution but his predictions about the gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine and about Putin’s presidency proved to be frighteningly accurate. Is the imagination actually able to cope with such violence? While writing a fictional story about Lithuania, reality proved itself to be stronger than the imagination, and that’s when Kurkov decided to publish his own diary entries. Ukraine Diaries:Dispatches from Kiev (2014) is an account of an extreme country and the grip offered by everyday life.