Sunday, 27 April 2014

Isolation - Lily Hyde

I’m not sure how to begin describing the IZOLYATSIA literature festival in Donetsk, which I participated in last week. Over three days in a former factory making isolation materials, now a fantastic arts and cultural centre, writers and philosophers from all over Ukraine met to discuss the topic ‘Language and Violence’ with residents of Donbas (the name of this region of East Ukraine).

 It felt isolated in some ways: as the Russian and Ukrainian media shouted more shrilly than ever about terrorism and fascism and civil war, as tortured bodies were found in nearby rivers and journalists were kidnapped - there we were, surrounded by abandoned industry and works of art, talking and reading and arguing.

 But the location and the subject of our discussions goes to the heart of what is happening in Ukraine. Years of abandoned industry and no jobs have driven people to desperation. And language is literally shaping their world now, as an information war drives them to take up arms over whether they speak Russian or Ukrainian, whether they live in Russia or Ukraine or an independent republic, whether their actions make them heroes or terrorists, patriots or separatists. 

It was a strange, wonderful, inspiring, occasionally surreal event. One of the more surreal moments was the reason I was there, to launch in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking heartland the Ukrainian translation of my book, Dream Land.    

A presentation of a British book translated into Ukrainian, about the Crimean Tatar campaign to regain their homeland of Crimea which has just become Russian-occupied territory; held in a city once called Yuzovka after Welshman John Hughes who founded it – now Donetsk, epicentre of an armed protest movement to declare an independent people’s republic and secede from Ukraine, while just over the border Russian troops are amassing perhaps to invade, as they have taken over Crimea…

Dream Land in Ukrainian and English - with journalist Konstantin Doroshenko and IZOLYATSIA director Paco de Blas

Dream Land by Lily Hyde - a novel about the Crimean Tatars' return to their homeland


Sue Purkiss said...

How interesting to be in a region where so much is happening at the moment!

Jackie Marchant said...

absolutely fascinating, thanks for sharing this.

Emma Barnes said...

Amazing. Thanks for sharing this with us, Lily.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Wonderful Lily. We spoken before on the Crimean Tatars. What an amazing time to be there to celebrate your book. Thks for sharing this.