Espreso. Global

Ireland's oldest literary festival, Listowel Writer's Week 2024, features three Ukrainian events

29 May, 2024 Wednesday

Writers Sofia Andrukhovych, Halyna Budilova, and film director Olesia Morgunets-Isayenko will present Ukrainian contemporary culture at the oldest literary festival in Ireland, Listowel Writer's Week 2024


Ukrainian writers and directors are participating in Listowel Writer's Week for the first time, thanks to a partnership between the NGO NEWKD (Kerry, Ireland) and the festival organizers.

The Ukrainian program opens with a screening of the documentary Cry my river by author and producer Olesia Morgunets-Isaenko. The 2021 film covers all regions of Ukraine and shows the problems not only of rivers, but of all water bodies in general. 

“Cry my river, is a film that has become, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, not just an eco-film about the problems of rivers, but also a documented reality of Ukraine before the great war. The film shows places that are now in the occupied territories, and it is not known what happened to them, and some of them were destroyed by the war,” says Olesia Morgunets-Isayenko, producer and author of the film.

The centerpiece of the festival will be a conversation between Ukrainian writer Sofia Andrukhovych and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Malachy Browne. 

Their discussion will focus on the social and environmental consequences of the conflict as depicted in Andrukhovych's work, with a special emphasis on the Ukrainian experience.  Sofia will also discuss her novel Amadoka (2020), the story of a large lake that once covered part of modern Ukraine, and which will become a metaphor for the elusiveness of justice and historical accuracy. Amadoka is to be published next year in English translation.

Malachy Browne is a renowned New York Times journalist who pioneered investigative journalism. He received the Pulitzer Prize in 2023 for his coverage of the war in Ukraine and for his investigative film that named the Russian unit and commander responsible for the killing of dozens of civilians in Bucha. He was also part of the team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2020 for exposing Russia's culpability in crimes around the world, including the bombing of hospitals in Syria.

“It is extremely important for me to have the opportunity to speak with Malachy Browne, who was one of the first Western journalists to enter liberated Bucha after the withdrawal of Russian troops, and who has long worked to uncover the truth about Russia's war in Ukraine. We will talk not only about the crimes and suffering, but also about the lives of Ukrainian civilians during the war, about the changes that have taken place with the country and its people in recent years, about history and attempts to restore it in private and collective memory, about awareness, about culture in times of disaster and the role of literature,” says writer Sofia Andrukhovych.

The children's panel at the festival will be presented by Ukrainian children's writer Halyna Budilova. She will introduce the children to her newly translated into English works Giant's Tales and Snow Giant's Tales. Both books have recently been translated from Ukrainian into English. This collaboration was made by the author and the NEWKD organization. All English-language copies will be donated to Kerry libraries so that local children can get acquainted with Ukrainian literature.

“The translation of these books is very important to me. They represent a sense of normalcy when we come together to save the planet, not destroy it. I want children to believe that they have the power to make the world a better place. I want them to understand that big changes are made up of many small steps, like a puzzle. And that every piece of this puzzle matters. Every choice matters. And we make these small choices every day. That's what my Eco-Tales of Giants is about,” says children's author Halyna Budilova.

The festival opens on May 29 and runs until June 2.

Founded in 1970, this event traditionally gathers writers and readers from Ireland, Europe and America and is a landmark platform for the presentation of new works, discussions, workshops, literary competitions and a variety of cultural events - film screenings, theater and music performances.

This year, the President of Ireland, poet, writer and broadcaster Michael Higgins is coming to the opening of Listowel Writer's Week 2024. 

Ambassador of Ukraine to Ireland Larysa Gerasko will also attend the festival and open the discussion between Sofia Andrukhovych and Malachy Browne.

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