HAVEL CONVERSATIONS ON ZOOM: Andrey Kurkov in discussion with Salil Tripathi

February 24, 2 pm ET

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On the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Andrey Kurkov, the Ukrainian writer and thinker who was awarded the Disturbing the Peace Prize in 2022 will discuss with Awards Committee member, writer, and board-member of PEN International, Salil Tripathi the humanitarian crisis that the conflict has created, and the role of a writer in upholding international law. The invasion was a brazen violation of international law and was a surprise only for those who hadn’t been paying attention to the geopolitics of Russia’s ‘near-abroad’ in the second decade of this century. It brought back memories of Soviet military interventions in Hungary (1956), Czech Republic (1968), and support for Poland’s Emergency (1980), except that it has been far more violent, systematic, and brutal. Ukrainian writers and civil society have been warning the international community about Russian designs since the annexation of Crimea. In the process, Ukraine has had to make decisions that appear to be ill-liberal, including banning books and films from Russia.

But the war raises other profound challenges: how can truth fight propaganda? How can facts prevail over half-truths spread rapidly on the social media? Who determines the truth? How do we ‘live the truth,’ as Havel believed? Do writers have to take up arms? Or can they confront violence with words? How do we support dissidents in Russia and strengthen movements that seek to restore democracy and civil society in Russia? Kurkov will describe the impact on the conflict on his work, his writing, and his thoughts at this critical moment in world history.

Andrey Kurkov born in 1961 in Leningrad, Russia, is a Ukrainian novelist and essayist who lives from early childhood in Kyiv and writes in Russian, Ukrainian and English. He is the author of over 20 novels and 10 books for children. His work is currently translated into 42 languages, including English, Japanese, French, Chinese, Swedish and Hebrew. His books are full of black humor, Soviet and post-Soviet reality with elements of surrealism. In 2018-2022 Andrey Kurkov was President of PEN Ukraine. He also regularly writes articles and essays on Ukraine for The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Grid, The Economist and for other international media. He is currently a visiting scholar at Stanford University, teaching post-soviet literature.

Salil Tripathi, former chair of Writers in Prison Committee at PEN International is now member of its international board. He is an award-winning journalist and the author of three works of non-fiction and co-editor of an anthology. He has been published widely in the United States, the United Kingdom, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, and elsewhere. He is working on a book on Gujaratis. He is also a policy adviser on business and human rights and has published widely on issues related to corporate accountability. Born in India, he has lived in Singapore, Hong Kong, and the UK, and is now based in New York.

The conversation will be live on ZOOM. RSVP through Eventbrite to receive a Zoom link. It will be recorded and available on YouTube.

Suggested donation $10.


The discussion is part of HAVEL CONVERSATIONS ON ZOOM.

What is the future of democracy in the post-pandemic world?

Today’s world, as we all know, is faced with multiple threats. From whichever angle I look at this menace, I always come to the conclusion that salvation can only come through a profound awakening of man to his own personal responsibility, which is at the same time a global responsibility.

Vaclav Havel, The Onassis Prize for Man and Mankind, Athens, 1993

International leaders, diplomats, scholars, writers, economists, and artists in the continuing debate over the most profound issues facing the global community: freedom, human rights, the state of democracy, economic policies, and global citizenship.

This event is organized by Vaclav Havel Library Foundation with support of Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association. 

The Vaclav Havel Center