yuri shevelyov prize

‘The speech that was on the verge of its own death, but did not die.’ Laureate of the Yuri Shevelyov Prize announced


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Ukrainian writer, literary scholar and curator of art projects Oleksandr Mykhed won Yuri Shevelyov Prize 2023 for his book “Job’s Call Sign. Chronicles of the Invasion” published in the Old Lion Publishing House, one of the biggest Ukrainian publisher, according to information (video in Ukrainian) on PEN Ukraine Facebook page. Next summer, the book will be published in English by Penguin Random House.


In his speech Oleksandr Mykhed said:


“The struggle for the existence of Ukraine continues every day, the line between the eras is thinning. Faith in the power of literature is restored by a feeling of connection with generations of Ukrainian writers who have already faced the same enemy and gone through the same hell. My literature is in debt to them. I dream that in the lives of my colleagues, and in my own life, there will be a time again when situations, occasions and opportunities arise to open the linguistic or literary works by Yuri Shevelyov with a very specific request: “What does he think about all this?”


Oleksandr Mykhed is a Ukrainian writer, cultural critic and cultural manager. He began writing “Job’s Call Sign. Chronicles of the Invasion” during the first day of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. He worked on the book for thirteen months, writing about what he and his wife experienced, about his parents, who were in Bucha for almost three weeks during the occupation. Since 2022, Oleksandr has been serving in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.


“Job’s Call Sign. Chronicles of the Invasion” by Oleksandr Mykhed is a speech about war. The speech that was on the verge of its own death, but did not die,” said Volodymyr Yermolenko, Ukrainian philosopher, writer, journalist and PEN Ukraine president in his review. “This might be the leitmotif of our history — be on the verge of death, but to outwit it. To become numb to be able to speak again. Ukrainian literature today is largely poetry and documentaries… Oleksandr Mykhed is one of our best documentary makers. “Job’s Call Sign. Chronicles of the Invasion” is one of the strongest documentary books about the war. It is a diary and a chronicle at the same time. It is a conversation with oneself and with others. It is a speech on the verge of numbness and screaming, and, of course, curse. The language that pulsates like a mountain river between these rocks. It is neither gentle nor smooth, stones are falling into it from the mountains,” he added.


“Job’s Call Sign. Chronicles of the Invasion” by Oleksandr Mykhed (Ukrainian edition by the Old Lion Publishing House)


The jury’s special award winners are:


  • Andriy Hudyma (Andrew Hudyma), Ukrainian artist and restaurateur who recently died near Bakhmut, received a special award for his book “69 Spices for the Heart” (published by the Old Lion Publishing House), “for his taste for life and words, with deep gratitude to the Hero for his rank.”
  • Andrii Sodomora, Ukrainian famous philologist, translator and writer, received a special award for his book “Under Someone Else’s Shadow” (published by Litopys Publishing House) for “masterful continuation of the tradition of Ukrainian neoclassics in essay writing.”


Andriy Humeniuk received a special award from Radio Culture.


“In this book, you can hear a lively, uneven, raw and original voice, or even voices. Voices that immerse you in the everyday life of war, voices that are quite uncomfortable to listen to from the rear territories,” commented Olena Huseinova, editor-in-chief of Radio Culture literary department.


The names of the winners were announced in Kyiv on Dec. 17, the birthday of the linguist, historian of Ukrainian literature and essayist Yuri Shevelyov.


The jury of 2023 prize consists of:


  • Volodymyr Yermolenko, PEN Ukraine president (head of the jury);
  • Ola Hnatiuk, historian of culture, literary scholar. Professor at the University of Warsaw and at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy;
  • Oleksandr Savruk, dean at Kyiv-Mohyla Business School;
  • Oleh Kotsyuba, literary scholar, literary critic, historian of culture, head of the publishing programme of the Ukrainian Scientific Institute of Harvard University;
  • Leonid Finberg, editor-in-chief of publishing house “Dukh i Litera” (“Letter and Spirit”);
  • Tamara Hundorova, literary scholar, member of Institute of Literature;
  • Eleonora Solovey, literary scholar;
  • Andriy Bondar, poet and translator, prize laureate 2021;
  • Andriy Pavlyshyn, journalist, historian, translator and prize laureate 2022;
  • Taras Lyuty, philosopher, essay writer, prize laureate 2020;
  • Tetyana Teren, journalist, PEN Ukraine executive director.


The Yuri Shevelyov Prize was founded in 2013. It is awarded once a year to a Ukrainian author for artistic and scientific essays published during the last year. The award is named after Yuri Shevelyov, who founded modern Ukrainian essays, and notes the contribution to the inherent values of this genre: independence of thought and sophistication of style.


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Main image: Valentyna Naumenko

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