Despite the war in Ukraine and the risks due to rocket attacks, the 29th International BookForum was held in Lviv from October 6 to 9.

The foundation of this event dates back to 1994. At that time, it was a platform for business communication among players in the publishing industry to develop Ukraine’s book market and integrate it into the global context.

Every year, the festival formulates a focus topic and prepares a relevant program. Additionally, visitors can enjoy literary events and contests, presentations by publishers and authors, literary readings, autograph sessions, discussions, round tables, performances, etc.

This year, however, due to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, not only were the dates of the event changed, but also the format. BookForum was held with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and with the support of Hay Festival (Great Britain), one of the world’s largest literary festivals.


All this takes place within the framework of the “season of Culture Britain/Ukraine,” organized by the British Council and the Ukrainian Institute.

Hay Festival is an annual Literary Festival founded in 1988. It takes place in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, during the summer. The festival is currently run by the Hay Festival Foundation, a charity that brings together readers and writers to share stories and ideas, live and online.

“Propaganda” conference at Lviv BookForum visited by Bruno Masayesh, Philippe Sands, Emma Winberg, Lyubov Tsibulska, Peter Pomerantsev, Andrii Shapovalov and Maksym Skubenko. (valentyn kuzan)

Today, the organization reaches a global audience of millions every year and continues to develop and innovate, creating partnerships and joint initiatives together with leading organizations in the field of art and media.

“As freedom of speech is under threat around the world, organizations like Hay Festival and BookForum are particularly important. They act as catalysts for change, using freedom of speech and a tolerant exchange of ideas. We highly value the BookForum team and its mission and want to support them and present them to our global audience of curious souls and significant stakeholders,” said Christina Fuentes La Roche, International director of Hay Festival.


The festival included 20 events with the participation of more than 40 authors from Ukraine, Great Britain, the United States, Mexico, Syria, Portugal, France, Iran and Tanzania. Among the key themes of the festival: women and war, money and culture, propaganda, war crimes and memory. The whole world saw the broadcast of the event.

“It is important for us not only to spread what is happening in Ukraine, but also to create a public conversation between the world and Ukraine. This is a kind of act of solidarity,” Cristina Fuentes La Roche said in a conversation with Kyiv Post.

“We have conducted a large campaign in the countries we work with to attract viewers to visit online. All the events have been streamed in English, we had subtitles in Spanish within 24 hours, they will stay on our platform until the end of the year and we will continue to push the discussions in the months to come,” she added.

The conferences raised important and uncomfortable topics for the international community. For example: Russian war crimes, and what kind of tribunal should there be for Russian authorities? How to deal with Russia after the war? Should Russian propagandists be considered war criminals along with the Russian politicians who support the war against Ukraine?


The global concern over these issues, according to the organizers of the event, should contribute to the victory over totalitarianism and become the foundation for developing a new democratic world after Ukraine’s victory.

At the same time, this event was intended to show the Ukrainian audience how powerful the support of Ukraine in the world is and the crucial importance of Ukrainian authors and their expertise to the international community.

Among the speakers were Abdulrazak Gurna, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. In his works, he raises issues of postcolonialism and identity. The event was also attended by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, who has long been concerned with totalitarian regimes.

Among the guests were also Neil Gaiman, Canadian historian Margaret McMillan, Israeli writer and history professor Yuval Harari, British lawyer Philip Sands, British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, Soviet dissident poet Igor Pomerantsev and others.

In addition, writer and propaganda specialist Peter Pomerantsev joined the program.

“We are going to the Literary Festival in the city of Lemkin (a lawyer from Lviv who introduced the term ‘genocide’ into international law) to show again and forever that the voice of Ukraine will be victorious,” said Peter Pomerantsev.”The armies of democracies are helping Ukraine with weapons in the fight against Russian attempts to repeat a genocide. Writers are attracted by their talent and their voices.”


The festival organizers hope that other festivals will take up this initiative and invite Ukrainian figures to publicly discuss the problems that the war has created. Also in the future, Hay Festival organizers plan to continue cooperation with Lviv BookForum, popularizing Ukrainian culture in the international arena.

“In the future, when there is peace in Ukraine, there will be lots to discuss. We can help bring in interesting voices to mix with Ukrainian voices to explore the world and to imagine near futures as well,” the director of Hay Festival concluded.

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