Ukraine took part in Salon du Livre de Montréal 2023 ‘It is important for us to have Ukraine represented’


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The 46th Montreal Book Fair (Salon du Livre de Montréal 2023), a major book event in Quebec and the largest French-language book fair in North America, took place November 22-26. This is the third year when the Ukrainian national stand is represented, with support from the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada and other partners.


The Fair was organized around three main components

– As a literary festival taking place in various locations around the city;

– As a fair open to a wide audience, book agents and rights holders in the “translation fair” area;

– In an online format.


This year’s Montreal Book Fair was themed “To be human.” Its organizers highlighted the unifying power of reading as the central focus. Although the Fair traditionally celebrates French literature, it has evolved into a meeting point for Ukrainians in search of Ukrainian literature, as well as local enthusiasts eager to learn Ukrainian.


This year, the Ukrainian stand at the Montreal Book Fair was organized by the Ukrainian Club of Montréal (Club ukrainien de Montréal), featuring around a hundred book titles, with more than 20 translated into French. The organization and curation of the Ukrainian stand were made possible by the support of the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada, the Ukrainian Book Institute, Desjardins Ukrainian Caisse, and Meest, the main logistics partner for the stand. Additionally, local Quebec members of parliament contributed financially, under a provincial support program for volunteer activities. The initiative operates on a non-profit basis, with all collected funds earmarked for charity projects aiding Ukraine.


Evhenia Viatchaninova, President of the Ukrainian Club of Montréal, spoke to us about the challenges they faced in organizing the event:


“It is important for us to have Ukraine represented at such an influential event as this Book Fair. Due to logistical issues and the non-commercial nature of our initiative, this type of a project faced implementation challenges, however. The challenges, which we could however smoothly navigate this year thanks to two factors. First, the extraordinary support of our partners. Second, the growing number of French translations, which is a necessary prerequisite for communication with the local readers. I believe that this presence will help us open as many Ukrainian bookshelves as possible in the libraries, including the largest of them in Quebec — the BANQ (Grande Bibliothèque),” Viatchaninova said. 


Through the efforts of the Ukrainian Club of Montréal, Ukrainian books were showcased not only at the national stand but also at the stands of libraries in Montreal that have established Ukrainian bookshelves. In addition, the Ukrainian stand presented “The Yellow Butterfly” by Oleksandr Shatokhin, the first book published by a Quebec publishing house under a Ukrainian license.


Yuliya Kovaliv, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada, Olivier Gougeon, Director General of the Salon du livre with organisers of the Ukrainian stand


“Our task is not only to present Ukrainian books, but also to encourage local publishers to publish Ukrainian authors here in Canada. For logistics from Ukraine or from France is quite complicated, and the narratives of Ukraine deserve to be discussed in local media and books. Therefore, I am especially pleased that Nadine Robert [from the publishing house Comme des géants] responded to our call and published this quiet book. I really hope that translations will follow,” said Iryna Baturevych, co-organizer of the stand and vice-president of the Ukrainian Club of Montréal.



In addition to books, the Ukrainian stand also hosted an exhibition featuring 36 posters from the #SupportUkrainePIC collection, crafted by the illustrators’ club Pictoric. This collection was made accessible to the francophone audience through a virtual exhibition, facilitated by the Quebec magazine URBANIA. Created in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the collection vividly portrays the progression of the war, Russian crimes, and the pain and bravery of the Ukrainian people.


Maria Amelina, prof. Marc H. Choko, Iryna Baturevych near the Pictoric exhibition #SupportUkrainePIC


The Ukrainian author Andriy Kurkov was a guest of honor at this fair.  He was able to meet readers of his latest novel, “L’Oreille de Kyïv”, and presented the new edition of the book published by the LEVI Publishing House in October 2023.



The fair was also attended by prominent authors known to Ukrainian readers through Ukrainian translations: Claire Bergeron, Michel Marc Bouchard, Michel Tremblay, Patrick Senécal, among others.


Although the Montreal Book Fair is generally seen as an event geared towards a local audience rather than as an international platform, this year’s fair featured a notable international presence. Alongside the Ukrainian stand, there were stands from Moroccan publishers and the state of Louisiana in the United States.


Photos by @berestovska_photo