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Bart Redford
Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies
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Popular Ukrainian writer to speak at KU

Tue, 11/12/2013

LAWRENCE — Celebrated Ukrainian writer Yuriy Vynnychuk, author of "The Tango of Death," will deliver the Ukrainian Studies Fall 2013 Palij Lecture for the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies (CREES) at the University of Kansas.

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, in the Malott Room of the Kansas Union. Vynnychuk also will participate in a panel discussion on Ukraine at the CREES weekly brownbag lecture at noon Tuesday, Nov. 19, in 318 Bailey. Events are free and open to the public.

"The Tango of Death" was awarded the BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year prize, the most prestigious award in contemporary Ukrainian literature, in 2012. Another novel by Vynnychuk was named the first BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year in 2005.

KU Professor Vitaly Chernetsky, a specialist in modern Slavic literatures and cultures and the current president of the American Association for Ukrainian Studies, describes Vynnychuk in his book "Mapping Postcommunist Cultures: Russia and Ukraine in the Context of Globalization" as practicing a “daringly transgressive and openly political form of magic realist writing.”

"The Tango of Death," Vynnychuk’s latest novel, is a love letter to Lviv, the main city in western Ukraine, and links the lives of four friends living in the first half of the 20th century (who are respectively Ukrainian, Jewish, Polish, and German), full of horrific political turmoil, from the Holocaust to Soviet terror, with a storyline based in the present. The scenes of this masterful novel immerse readers into a colorful vanished world, fusing the tragic with the lyrical and the humorous in a tactful, heartfelt and insightful way.

Vynnychuk’s work spans poetry, short stories and novels, as well as newspaper and journal articles, which are often scandalous and wryly critical of Ukrainian society and government. His literary debut is associated with the samizdat almanac Skrynia (The Chest, 1971), a major event in the history of underground literature in the USSR. Like other participants in the almanac, he endured persecution by the KGB and was not able to publish his original writing openly until the late 1980s.

Vynnychuk is also known for a series of hoaxes he perpetuated in the 1980s where he published his own writings in Soviet Ukrainian periodicals under the guise of translations from ancient languages. In 1991, he became an editor at Post-Postup (Post-Progress), an independent and popular newspaper based in Lviv, and was promoted to editor-in-chief in 2006. He has written close to 30 books of fiction, poetry and nonfiction, which have been widely published both in Ukraine and internationally and compiled numerous anthologies.

CREES offers one of the leading programs in Ukrainian studies in the U.S. It includes all levels of Ukrainian language study, as well as courses in Ukrainian history, politics and culture. The CREES Palij Family Fund supports the annual visiting Palij Lecturer focusing on Ukrainian studies and provides the annual Ukrainian Studies Prize for an outstanding student specializing in Ukraine. 

KU also offers an intensive summer study abroad program focusing on Ukrainian language and culture in Lviv, Ukraine.



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