Ukraine writes back: Oksana Zabuzhko and Victoria Belim

Sun 26.03.2023
16:30 - 17:30
Oksana Zabuzhko Victoria Belim


interview, meeting


weekend pass: €35/32 (€37 supporting united stages) - day pass: €20/17 (€22 supporting united stages)


the preferential rate offers a €3 discount for all who feel like they need it. paspartoe and article 27 accepted.


in english

When Oksana Zabuzhko was asked by a Western journalist on the phone on 24 February what Putin wanted, she exploded. ‘Are you kidding me?! He has already told you umpteen times what he wants: he wants to eradicate Ukrainians, he wants us to disappear, to cease existing, like Hitler with the Jews. Putin even used the exact same wording, “a final solution to the Ukrainian question”. How much longer are you going to pretend you didn’t hear that?’

Zabuzhko was at that moment in a hotel room in Poland, where she was presenting her new book. She realized that from that moment on she was in involuntary exile, that this would be the longest book tour of her career. Oksana Zabuzhko will be at the Passa Porta Festival to share her story – the story of millions of compatriots. She will be in conversation with Peter Vermeersch, writer and professor of political science, and Ukrainian-American author Victoria Belim.

In The Rooster House, Victoria Belim reports on Ukraine’s troubled history through her own family history. She travelled from the US to the land of her ancestors to look into the disappearance of her great uncle Nikodim in the 1930s. What happened to him in ‘the bloodlands’? Why was so little known about his fate? And why did her grandmother forbid her from disturbing the past? As Ukraine was slowly but surely turning back into a ‘bloodland’, Victoria Belim decided to learn the truth about the country’s past.

Some day, in the distant future, a century or two from now, when the pain has subsided and the logical skeleton emerges in the flesh of history, our descendants will probably see in all this, above all, a story about the value of words.
Oksana Zabuzhko

about the guests

Oksana Zabuzhko (b. 1960) is among the most widely translated Ukrainian writers and poets. She studied philosophy in Kyiv and obtained a PhD in aesthetics. In the 1990s she was a visiting professor in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Harvard. Her first novel, Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex, was published in 1996, her magisterial The Museum of Abandoned Secrets in 2010, and the short story collection Your Ad Could Go Here in 2022.

Victoria Belim was born in Ukraine, grew up in the US and now works in Brussels as a translator of Persian literature and as a journalist for the Financial Times, New York Times Magazine, Elle and Marie Claire, among others. She speaks eighteen languages. The Rooster House is her first book.

Peter Vermeersch (b. 1972) is a writer, Slavist and professor of political science. He has published essays, prose and poetry in De Correspondent and McSweeney’s, among others. Ex: Over een land dat zoek is was nominated for the AKO Literature Prize, the Bob den Uyl Prize, the Gouden Uil and the E. du Perron Prize. In 2016 he received the Literary Award of the Province of West Flanders. His latest book is Aantekeningen bij een moord (2019).

Don't forget daylight saving time. On Sunday, March 26, the time will change from 2:00 to 3:00.

ORG. Passa Porta, Cossee, De Arbeiderspers

picture oksana zabuzhko © Pavlo Botanov

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