House of Europe

The Ukrainian book was published abroad. It was a triumph! What will happen to it later?


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The number of Ukrainian books that were published abroad in translations into different languages was unprecedented last year. According to the data presented by the Ukrainian Book Institute, foreigners bought rights for more than 230 books by Ukrainian authors. On the one hand, attention to Ukraine intensified because of war, and foreigners have more interest in the history and culture of Ukrainians, which means publishers rushed to satisfy the demand of their readers. On the other hand, many publishers issued these books to show support for Ukraine or their colleagues. But we can not underestimate the influence of calls for grants that were issued three years ago and that have long-lasting effects. 

The Ukrainian Book Institute has recently finished submitting applications for its Translate Ukraine Translation Support Programme and the House of Europe EU Programme announced the start of a new call for translation grants and publishing of fiction and nonfiction. 

That’s where we saw a great opportunity to discuss not only the quantity of applications we received or the publishers who applied for grants, but also to talk broadly with last year’s winners about the life of Ukrainian books after they had been published abroad. How do they find their readers, do they become first signs of the future partnership? Is it publication for the sake of publication, or foreign publishers are ready to go into promoting Ukrainian authors?


About two years ago, in 2021, even before Russia launched a murderous war against Ukraine, I received a catalog of selected contemporary Ukrainian authors and writers by email from the House of Europe organization. It also featured the book “Felix Austria” by Sofia Andrukhovych. The translator Rayna Kamberova and I decided that Andrukhovych’s novel is a work of high literary quality, a worthy challenge for any good translator and any ambitious publishing house, and would be an interesting reading for Bulgarian readers, this was the main reason for choosing this book.


Sofia Andrukhovich’s book, although it tells a story from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Ukraine was part of Austria-Hungary, fit organically into our Modern European Literature series. The story of the coexistence and relationship of two women, a mistress and a maid, is written in a contemporary style and contains quite a few postmodern elements. In fact, it is a psychological novel, a deep dissection of the mind of a young woman burdened by her family past.


The extremely detailed description of style of living and the life of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in what was then Ukraine was of great interest to me as a publisher.


The parallel immediately arose with Hungarian Sándor Marai’s novel “Confessions of a Bourgeois”, in which the author described his childhood years and then his adolescence and adult life at the beginning of the 20th century until his 30s, in his hometown of Košice and all over Europe. In fact, Austria-Hungary, of which Ukraine was then a part, is a multicultural space, with its progressive ideas and aspirations. As for the mental attitude and qualities of the Ukrainian characters in the book, I would say that the Slavic mentality is recognizable and close to us, the Bulgarians.


By the way, yes, we previously published Lyubko Deresh’s novel „Cult” in our Zero Zone fiction series. “Felix Austria” appeared in the Modern European Literature series.



As I already mentioned, 2021 saw the release of the novel “Cult” by Lyubko Deresh in our speculative fiction, crime and non-traditional genre series Zero Zone. The book itself, author’s debut, is extremely interesting as an approach to the development of the fantasy genre, so I think it is a valuable contribution to our publishing series. By the way, when I read “Kult”, I immediately think of Gogol and “Vee”.


I still hope that there will be a guest appearance by the author, which would increase the interest in the publication even more. At the same time, I do not think that sales alone are a criterion for the quality of a literary work and whether it should be published or translated into a foreign language. Every book, once published, takes on a life of its own. It is possible that a hundred years from now, with even an occasional reissue, it will reap greater fame than when it came out.


In addition to fiction, I would like to translate and publish Ukrainian journalism and poetry in Ergo, I hope to have the opportunity to do so soon.


Ergo is a small private publishing house founded by me. By profession, in addition to being a publisher, I am also a translator, which is how my interest in publishing began. My portfolio as a translator includes over 20 books translated by Hungarian writers and poets into Bulgarian, and the President of the Republic of Hungary awarded me the Golden Cross of Merit in 2015 for my contribution to the promotion of Hungarian culture and literature. For almost all the books published by Ergo, and so far they number nearly 300, the decision was made by me, of course, more than once helped by fellow publishers, readers, translators and adherents. The books we publish must have a literary value, open paths to other peoples and cultures, teach valuable things and metaphysical values. This is the main criterion in the selection of Ergo’s titles.


Yes, we have a great desire to promote the book, including inviting Sofia Andrukhovych to visit us in Bulgaria, but I believe that without external support, the realization of this event would be impossible. At the moment, we have spoken with the Department of Ukrainian Philology, in which the translator of the book Rayna Kamberova also teaches, as well as with the organizers of the Sofia International Literary Festival, and I hope that there will be a positive response and that financial means will be secured to invite Sofia Andrukhovych to Bulgaria. At the same time, it would also help that the film “The Betrayed” directed by Hristina Sivolap, based on Andrukhovych’s novel “Felix Austria”, was recently broadcast on the Bulgarian National Television.



“The Dance of Death” by Ihor Mykhailyshyn was suggested by a good friend of Igor’s, Milda Goštautaitė, a member of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union and a social activist, who is currently migrating between Lithuania and Ukraine, where she carries humanitarian aid. We had an interview about her missions in Ukraine and Ihor’s book.


We needed about a year to translate the book. The main challenge for Beatrice Beliavciv in translating this book was the military terminology and military jargon, which often does not even exist in Lithuanian, so a consultant Nerimantas Tarabildas helped to translate military terms, as well as the author. At the beginning of the work, Ihor Mykhailyshyn told me about the characters of the book’s protagonists (Kamaz, Lermontov, etc.), the peculiarities of the language, and I also asked a lot of questions during the translation about the military weaponry described and how it works.


We are considering about a second edition of Ihor Michailyshyn’s book “Фуга 119” (Fuga 119), but at the moment it’s all in the thinking stage.


To our delight, Ihoris’s book launch took place in a large hall, with a good number of people coming.


The event was attended by the well-known journalist Rita Miliūtė, who then invited Ihoris on her TV show and after his appearance on TV, the sales of the book jumped.



We had interview with Ihor in Lithuanian press, his participation in a TV show and an event in the literature festival “Paviljono knygų savaitgalis”.


We actively promoted the book on our social networks. The translation of this book made the shortlist of the year’s best books in translation.



Fraktura has been Yurii Andrukhovych’s Croatian publisher since 2007, when we published his essay “Moia Evropa”, and “Radio Nich” is his fourth title we published. It was the author himself who sent the manuscript to our editor-in-chief, Seid Serdarević, for consideration. As a publishing house, we like to follow the authors we publish and their work and are always glad to continue publishing their new works. “Radio Nich” has struck a cord with our editorial team and it fit perfectly into our publishing plan, which is why we decided to publish it, thus being one of the first publishers who bought the foreign rights for title.


We are one of the biggest publishers in Croatia. Because of that, we receive many manuscripts and offers, both Croatian and for translation. All the works are always read by Fraktura’s editorial team to see if they fit our publishing plan. Most of our publishing plan is fiction, and about 70% of it are translations from all over the globe. Our focus is high-quality literature and stories worth telling.


“Radio Nich” was important to us, as it is a novel that speaks up about the dictatorial regimes and freedom of speech, themes that deeply resonate with Croatian readers.


The wonderful thing about this book is the way in which Andrukjovych masterfully combines music, adventure and thriller in one novel, all written in a poetic, polished way. The political themes of this book definitively help the readers to relate and understand Ukrainians and Ukrainian history better. This is especially true when it comes to the message of “Radio Nich” that everyone, in their own way, is fighting and should fight for the right things in life.



Yurii Andrukhovych is the most popular Ukrainian author among the readers, who loved his “Leksykon intymnykh mist”. We are planning to publish an anthology of Ukrainian authors this year, which will include Yurii Andrukhovych, Sofia Andrukhovych, Myroslava Barchuk, Stanislav Aseyev, and many more. We are also planning on publishing “Karbid” by Andrij Lyubka in 2024.


Upon its release in Croatia “Radio Noć” has been promoted via social media and in the bookstores all over the country, as well a talk between the editor of the book and one of the translators.


This resulted in many literary critics praising the book and a great interest in this title, as well as interviews with the author published in printed magazines.


Fraktura is the organiser of World Literature Festival, which takes place in September in Zagreb, and for this year’s 11th edition of the Festival, Yurii Andrukhovych will be one of the guests, where the book will presented and promoted to the public. We are happy with the coverage of the book so far, and hope to see more of it in the following months.



We really like books that bring something new, experimental, literature that pushing the boundaries. “Ukraine Recovery Plan” by Les Beley is exactly like this. Many people in Poland treat this book as reportage, not fiction. In the first review published in Polish, critic Konrad Janczura wrote: “This is the best book for those who were not in Ukraine just before the war, but would like to know what life was like there in recent years. What the Russians encountered and what they destroyed. It is also a sample of the possibilities of Ukrainian prose, characterized by condensed forms, short, sharp sentences, and expressive accents.”


The book has great reviews, there was one radio broadcast on the popular TOK FM. One of the Polish critics Melancholia Codzienności wrote: “Reading the “Ukraine Recovery Plan” I laugh every two minutes or so. It’s an excellent collection. It allows you to relax, think about a few things, improve your mood, even if sometimes it’s laughter through tears. I wish there were more books like this on the market.”



The book was recommended by Ziemowit Szczerek, a Polish writer and a great expert on Ukraine, and Jurij Zawadski, a Ukrainian poet and publisher, a Polonophile from Tarnopol. Both of them are mentioned in the book: Ziemowit Szczerek as the translator of several stories (along with Aleksandra Brzuzy and Maciej Piotrowski) and Jurij as the writer’s agent. Yes, I myself had many contacts with Ukrainian writers and publishers. A long time ago, I was involved in the Homines Urbani scholarship in Krakow, where we took care of a lot of Ukrainian writers, presented them Krakow and Polish literature. I have visited Ukraine many times for book fairs, festivals, workshops (e.g. Lviv, Ternopil, Dnipro, Kiev). I really like and appreciate Ukraine and Ukrainian culture, I have a lot of Ukrainian friends, I teach Ukrainian students, sometimes I also teach Ukrainian literature to Polish students.


In 2019, together with my wife Ola, we went for the honeymoon to Ukraine, to the Hutsul region. I even wrote a book (fiction/reportage) about this trip. It’s called “Romantika” and it was published in 2021 by Czarne publishing house.



We used to published a lot of Ukrainian literature in our cultural magazine “Ha!art”. In 2011, we published an anthology “Cząstki pomarańczy. Nowa poezja ukraińska” by Aneta Kamińska. It was from this book that the Polish intelligentsia learned Ukrainian new poetry. In 2016, we published the novel Dziesięć słów o Ojczyźnie “Ten words about the Fatherland” by Ołeksij Czupa (translated by Katarzyna Kotyńska), a Ukrainian writer from Donbas. In the near future we are going to translate the veteran literature “Грязь *khaki” by the writer and soldier Serhii Serhiyovych Saigon.



In 2018 I went to a fellowship program for publishers in Istanbul where I met Ivan Fedechko from Old Lion Publishing, the Ukrainian publishers of Romana Romanyshyn and Andriy Lesiv. He showed me the two books I See That and Loudly, Softly in a Whisper and I fell in love with them immediately. When I came home to Copenhagen I showed them to my colleague who was also very excited. A few weeks later they won a Bologna Ragazzi Award in the non fiction-category and then there was no doubt in our minds: we had to publish them. When Romana and Andriy made their next children’s book On the Move it felt natural to continue our collaboration. We are very proud to be their Danish publishers as they produce children’s books of such extremely high quality. 

When we decide whether to publish a book or not we rely heavily on the illustrations and the overall graphical look of the book. We are very selective when we choose what to publish, partly because we are a small publishing house with only two employees. We simply don’t publish that many titles a year so when we choose something it has to fit perfectly into our line of books. We mainly publish children’s books and we specialize in non fiction. We want our books to be beautiful but also slightly different from the lot. Romana and Andriy’s work with pantone colors got us hooked initially but the sense of tactileness in their work is also important: it really matters what paper and what binding is used, how it feels to hold the book in your hands. That is also a major thing for us when we choose which international books we want to publish or when we develop our own original Danish books.


We have currently published I See That, Loudly, Softly, in a Whisper and On the Move by Romana and Andriy. We are also in the process of buying the Danish rights to some of their older works from Old Lion.


Since the book came out in January it has received very positive reviews from three of the biggest newspapers in Denmark. A handful of popular Instagram profiles with focus on children’s literature have also picked it up and posted reviews of it.


Before the book came out it went on a sales tour to all Danish bookstores so they had an opportunity to pre-order it. That meant that many book stores had it on the shelf on the publishing date. The book was also very well received by the libraries and I dare say that you can find a copy in almost every library in Denmark.


This year we are going to attend at least two bigger fairs where we can present the book directly to the readers which we of course look forward to.


House of Europe Programme grants for translations are intended to support Ukrainian publishers who devote immense efforts and energy to continue their work in the conditions of the brutal full-scale Russian invasion, and also their colleagues from EU and Great Britain because interest in Ukrainian books has greatly increased over the last year.


Applications can be submitted by publishing houses or FOPs (sole proprietors) publishers registered in Ukraine or EU countries. For more information please visit House of Europe website. You can also submit your application there.


House of Europe is a programme financed by the European Union, and designed to support professional and creative exchange between Ukrainians and their colleagues in EU countries and Great Britain. It is focused on the culture and creative sector, education and work with youth, social entrepreneurship and media.


This article was created in partnership.