Yuri Vynnychuk, one of independent Ukraine’s most popular writers, was born in the city of Ivano-Frankivs’k in 1952. Unable to have his own works published until the early 1990s due to Soviet cultural policy, Vynnychuk would publish them as “translations” from ancient languages (Irish, Welsh) or even made up languages such as Arcanumian. Furthermore, Vynnychuk invented the existence of a whole Arcanumian civilization in the 1990s and convinced others of its existence.
Unable to obtain employed as a philologist, he worked as a freight handler and a painter. In 1987 he cofounded the cabaret theater Ne Zhurys’! (Don’t Worry!), writing songs and scenes for its performances. Since 1990 he has worked as a journalist and has been sued over 30 times over this period of time for his scandalous articles. His latest brush with the law was in 2012 due to the publication of his poem Kill the Bugger about the President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, in which Yanukovych is outwardly referred to as a crook. Vynnychuk received the honorary title of Halyts’kyi Lytsar (Galician Knight) in 1999 for his weekly article written under the pseudonym Yuzio Observator (Yuzio the Observer) in the Post-Postup newspaper.
Since 1990 he has been publishing everything that he had written over the years but had remained unpublished. This includes poetry, short stories and the novels Vesniani ihry v osinnikh sadakh (Springtime Games in Autumn Orchards, 2005) and Tango smerti (Tango of Death, 2012). Tango smerti was awarded the prestigious BBC Book of the Year prize for 2012. In the following years the novels Pharmacy (2015), Censor of Dreams (2016), Lutetia (2017), Sisters of Blood (2018). He has also authored many popular publications covering the history of the city of L’viv; his immensely popular two-volume set Lehendy L’vova (Legends of L’viv) is republished every year.
His books were published in the USA, France, Austria, Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, China.
Photo by Vitaly Vorobyov.