Ukraine’s International Book Space Festival Returns: Physical Event

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

With a focus on ‘New Intimacy’ in the pandemic, Ukraine’s International Book Space Festival in Dnipro runs September 3 to 5.

At the 2019 edition of Ukraine’s International Book Space Festival. Image – IBSF, Anastasiya Volok

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

As Many as 20,000 Attendees Expected
Eastern Ukraine’s International Book Space Festival returns to an in-person format September 3 to 5 in Dnipro, at the Festival’nyi Pier.

The show, now in its fourth iteration, was last held as a physical event in 2019. While standing as a primarily public-facing event, the show includes a professional program for publishers in its schedule of some 150 events.

Those appearing in programming include authors, translators, illustrators, and cultural producers. It’s anticipated that at least 70 Ukrainian publishers will be engaged this year.

The programming is divided into nine areas:

  • “New Intimacy” reflects conditions around the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic
  • “Un/Known” focuses on less-famous elements of Ukrainian literature
  • “Library XXI” is about reading in the future
  • “Tandems” refers to “coexistence and communication between creative people”
  • The professional program is for book business specialists
  • “Books of the Future” is about online text projects
  • A new-books program
  • Young readers’ programming
  • Musical and poetry events
The Theme of a ‘New Intimacy’

The International Book Space Festival at Dnipro is one of Ukraine’s public-facing shows, with a professional program for book business specialists. Image – IBSF, Anastasiya Volok

That “New Intimacy” theme has become the overarching branding for the show. “Unfortunately,” the festival’s organizers write, “the reality in which we find ourselves is here for a long time”–a refreshing statement by comparison to those who want to assert that the ongoing pandemic is over. Without far more progress in international vaccination, it’s clear that the pathogen’s impact is a real and present danger.

“Thus,” write the organizers, “a new era requires us to seek new values, new ways of exchanging information and new intimacy.

“Literature is one of the few arts that can give us all the facets of intimacy. It creates meaning and allows us to feel the maximum rapprochement through time and space. Thanks to books, we travel through epochs, get acquainted in a new way with famous and not so famous figures, we are transported to worlds we could only dream of and whose borders are still closed for us. It is the book that can connect us with a casual passer-by who reads the same as we do, or with the dearest ones with whom we reread the same stories—albeit at a distance, but together.

“Equally important, literature often allows us to look deeper into ourselves, especially in isolation, when, after long escapes, we have finally met ourselves.”

What do the authors think about the new world and about one of the most important human needs—intimacy?”

Those speaking are to include:

  • Belgian philosopher Marlies de Munck
  • Belgian sociologist Pascal Gielen
  • American literary critic Leah Price
  • Polish writer Witold Szabłowski
  • Ukrainian authors Andriy Kurkov, Irena Karpa, Stanislav Aseev, Tamara Gundorova, and others

Update, August 29: Amid the demands of the fair’s preparations, Natalia Korniienko there has answered a couple of questions Publishing Perspectives put to her, and we pass this information to you. First, the festival is named the International Book Space Festival because “books are a space that’s boundless and close at the same time,” she says. “It’s available for everybody, for Elon Musk and for you and me. On the other hand, Dnipro has a space past as a city where rockets were made.” And regarding public health restrictions, “Ukraine is now in the ‘green zone’ for COVID-19,” she says, “so we’re not required to wear masks outside. We will have the festival open-air near the Dnipro River on Festival Pier with eight well-ventilated pavilions for exhibitions and activities.”

Laktionova: ‘What Excites and Takes Over All of Us’

Attendees at the International Book Space Festival 2019. Image – IBSF, Anastasiya Volok

The program is directed by Yuliia Laktionova, who talks about the “New Intimacy” branding, which is being mounted as the overall theme of the show this year.

“When we were choosing a focal theme and events for the program,” Laktionova says, “we were guided primarily by what excites and takes over all of us—isolation and an exit from it; loneliness and social ties in new circumstances; the emphasis on taboo topics. Also, from a new perspective, we’ll try to look at famous figures and familiar things, such as books, reading, education, art.”

An interactive exhibition is expected to look at the evolution of book formatting from the clay tablet to ebooks, and will have an autograph machine, a “reading capsule,” and more elements.

There’s also a two-day workshop set into the program and titled, “From Scrollytelling and Multimedia: Online Text Projects,” designed to instruct participants in how to set up a digitally based text project.

And Book Space also includes an awards program, of course, honoring innovative books of the year.

Sponsoring partners include the Goethe-Institut, the Confédération Suisse, the International Board of Books for Young People (iBBY), the Institut Français, the United States’ Embassy in Kyiv, the Polish Book Institute, the International Renaissance Festival, and the Ukrainian Book Institute.

Publishing Perspectives readers will recall that Kyiv’s Book Arsenal Festival was held in late June, also in a physical format.

The complete program lineup of events is here.

A panel discussion in the 2019 edition of Ukraine’s International Book Space Festival. Image: IBSF, Yelyzaveta Sulima

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Ukraine market is here, and more on book fairs and festivals is here.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.