The 12th International Book Arsenal Festival opens in Kyiv


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The 12th International Book Arsenal Festival kicks off today in Kyiv. The festival’s first day features 14 events, including discussions, presentations, poetry readings, an art therapy workshop, and a film performance.

“I’m happy to be able to open the International Book Arsenal Festival today. The Book Arsenal is a festival where the most important social issues are explored,” said Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta, the General Director of the National Art and Culture Museum Complex “Mystetskyi Arsenal,” at the opening ceremony.


On May 30, the official opening of the 12th International Book Arsenal Festival will kick off at 5 p.m. The festival’s “Life on the Edge” theme will begin with a discussion titled “The Edge Inside Us.



“We are grateful to the Armed Forces of Ukraine for making this festival happen. We are not waiting for better times; we are working here and now. Our children are growing up here, our teenagers are growing up here we need unity, we need the festival as a community. I am very grateful to our curatorial team,” said Yuliia Kozlovets, the Director of the International Book Arsenal Festival.



As reported on the Arsenal Festival’s website, the focus theme, “Life on the Edge,” curated by Tetyana Ogarkova and Volodymyr Yermolenko, contains 10 events: “To understand Ukraine, one should be at the front, visit the front, help the front. To understand Europe, you have to understand Ukraine. This is the edge which is the center. Even if it is a center that bleeds. Let us listen for this edge. There is no end of life there. There is the beginning of it there. Today it seems to us that to get to the frontline takes eight hours by car. But the frontline runs inside us. In fact, it is already inside us.”



The Literature Program of Book Arsenal 2024, curated by radio presenter, radio producer, and writer Olena Huseinova, will present a number of important events: “There are so many real ruptures here, on this land, where the war continues. Tactical backpacks are torn, grenades, mines, and shells explode. Hearts and lives are torn. Even if we can’t recognize the sound of a rupture, we can recognize the true meanings of words and experiences, and we can avoid their accidental usage. We can move beyond intermittent indifference, beyond illusions of distance, unbridgeable gaps, and ruptures. We can make a simple choice to listen to the voices, to every voice nearby and every voice far away from us.”



The kids and teens program “With Eyes Wide Open” will be presented by curator Olya Rusina. “Now our lives are often a combination of extreme emotions and states, a balance between despair and hope, sadness and gratitude. After all, it is these feelings, both positive and negative, that we are now holding on to. Children and teenagers grow up in this as well. Their first experiences have fallen on two years of the full-scale war, 10 years of the war in the East, Russia’s occupation of Crimea and many months of the pandemic. They will not have any other way of growing up.”


 This year’s Professional program has been curated by Oksana Karpiuk, strengthening the international component of the festival. The Book Arsenal Fellowship Program is also launching to bring foreign publishers and literary agents interested in Ukrainian book publishing to the Book Arsenal: “In addition to witnessing the fact of the industry development, an extremely interesting task has fallen to us — to explore and reflect on the processes in the book industry, as well as to search for vectors of development and go beyond the limits we have not yet managed to overcome.”


The special program “Cities on the Edge” will be presented by the Fifth Kharkiv Literary Festival in cooperation with the Kharkiv Literary Museum. It is curated by Yevhenii Stasinevych. “How can we explain the outburst of cultural life in Kharkiv from both Kharkiv and Kyiv perspectives? Why is culture not falling away ‘according to the principle of residuality’ but instead is becoming the core of discussions in the public sphere? Why are there even more conversations about history in our lives today — and if this is the case, what is a more precise view of cities and the country as embodiments of the borderlands? Thus, cities, thus, the edge. And also war and culture. And we are in the middle of it all. Often lacking the exact words, but having a need to speak. So, let the City help us.”


“The Continuity of Voice”: a PEN Ukraine special program at the Book Arsenal Festival states: “Sometimes more and more fatigue can be heard in our voices, but we overcome it to speak to the world in the loud and convincing tone of agency. And we never allow ourselves to be silent because we speak not only for ourselves but also for those who have been deprived of their voice by Russia. Our voice will continue to be heard. For centuries, the empire pushed us into voicelessness, but finally, we are reclaiming what belongs to us — our names and our voices.”


The Publishers’ Program will feature the largest number of events, making it the most extensive at the 12th Book Arsenal. 

10 exhibition projects will represent the visual component of the festival:

  • Life on the Edge
  • Defilade
  • I Put On a Pixel Camo. Stories of Those Who Have Chosen to Fight
  • In Memory of Us                                                      
  • SIMPLE THINGS by Maryna Talyutto
  • Naïve Ukrainian Gardens by Serhii Polezhaka
  • Obolonya
  • The Dialogues Exhibition. Calligraphy and Font Workshop
  • The Pelican. Zhenya Oliinyk’s Personal Exhibition (the exhibition in the Small Gallery of the Mystetskyi Arsenal)


During the 12th Book Arsenal, you can familiarize yourself with four book collections:

  • “Best Book Design — 2023” winners: A collection of books recognized for outstanding design in the 2023 competition. 
  • Talking Pictures — 2024: A collection of Ukrainian visual publications showcasing the country’s vibrant visual arts scene in 2024. 
  • Award-Winning German Photobooks: A collection of over 100 German photobooks that have received awards. 
  • Books from France — 2024: A collection of books for children and teenagers, including comics and graphic novels, published in 2024.


Find the complete program of the 12th International Book Arsenal Festival here.


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Copy editing: Terra Friedman King, Joy Tataryn