We don’t need a new Maidan - Andrey Kurkov
Bohdan Nahaylo talks to one of Ukraine’s top writers, Andrey Kurkov, on humour and irony as a medicine against depression
Hello and welcome to the first episode for 2018 of Hromadske Radio’s Ukraine Calling! We’ve changed our format. Now we’ll be bringing you a feature interview with Ukraine’s opinion makers, cultural movers and shakers, other interesting people, and the latest in new music from Ukraine. I’m Bohdan Nahaylo, and this week I have a great interview with one of Ukraine’s and Europe’s top writers, Andrey Kurkov, to share with you. And after that, a newly released song to start the New Year!
Nahaylo: This week I have great pleasure to have with me a celebrated writer from Ukraine, perhaps Ukraine’s best literary export of our times, Andrey Kurkov. His books are translated into numerous languages, and he has written not only novels, but books for children and film scripts. He is the only author from the former Soviet area whose books have appeared the best seller book lists in Europe. But he is exceptional not only because of his popularity in the outside world, but also because the civic position he takes, his principled stance, not extremely overt, but nevertheless in its discreet way an example of a writer pointing the way for the society in which he finds himself and which he describes. So Andrei, you’re very welcome to our program!
Kurkov: Thank you, Bohdane.
Nahaylo: Let’s begin by talking about your literary output. Personally, I have lost track of all the books you have published – novels, we are not going into essays and interviews.
Kurkov: I’ve published 21 novels. I did not publish my first four novels and will never publish them because they was just beginner’s texts. I also published some children books -about 11- and some children books are still in stock because I like illustrators to work on them. But generally that is my output.
Nahaylo: Is the best selling one, the best known, still the your first one you published – Смерть постороннего (2006), published in English in 2001 as Death and the Penguin.
Kurkov: It was first to be translated. It was definitely the most successful. It was followed by Penguin Lost, originally published in 2005 in Russian as Закон улитки, then The Penguin Novels. The President’s Last Love was very well received. And my recent English translation is one of my oldest novels, The Bickford Fuse, which got very good reviews in the Financial Times and Guardian.
Nahaylo: It is really exceptional for a writer in Ukraine. And. I emphasize that you are Russian-born. You are Russian by ethnicity, but I guess a Ukrainian now by adaptation, by choice and by spirit.
Kurkov: I always say that I am ethnic Russian, but a political Ukrainian. I grew up in Ukraine. My family moved to Kyiv when I was less than two years old. So it’s my country, it’s my city.
Nahaylo: You are a member of the political Ukrainian nation…
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