Earlier in February I had started reading for this month’s La Española ready to share some Spanish women’s literature with you in celebration of International Women’s Day. Whilst the celebration of female writers is always incredibly important (and not just on the 8th March), this month, I felt there is something even more important to share.
On 24th February 2022 Putin began his invasion of Ukraine, and a horrifying war has broken out. Whilst we are all doing what we can to aid the innocent citizens caught up in this violence, it is also important that we champion artists and writers from Ukraine.
I have only had the chance to read one Ukrainian author in Spanish, Yuri Andrukhovych, who has had five of his books published by Acantilado in Spanish translation. So, I embarked on some research to see if there were any other Ukrainian authors translated into Spanish that I could be reading. My research yielded few results. Andrukhovych is one of the few Ukrainian authors we can read in Spanish. Instead, I began to look into some Ukrainian writers who are known and loved in their home country of Ukraine, writers who we should be reading in Spanish and English translation.
Sofia Andrukhovych is a writer and translator born in Ivano-Frankivsk in 1982. Sofia is the daughter of Yuri Andrukhovych, so I came across her through reading him. If Sofia’s writing is anything like her father’s, then we absolutely need to see her work in Spanish (and English) translation. Sofia has produced five novels, and her latest, Фелікс Австрія (‘Felix Austria’) won BBC Ukrainian’s Book of the Year Award in 2014. This book has been translated into Greek, but is yet to appear in any other translations. In March 2021, Sofia received the Women in Arts Award in Literature. I would love to be able to read some of her work (which sounds fascinating!) in Spanish or English.
My research then led me to find Oksana Zabuzhko: poet, novelist and essayist. Born in 1960 in Lutsk, Oksana has produced a range of works that take on the themes of national identity and gender. It could certainly be said that Oksana was ahead of her time as her first novel, Польові дослідження з українського сексy (Field Work in Ukrainian Sex), was met with huge controversy, as one of the first instances in which Ukrainian society confronted such complex and provocative feminist writing. This book (along with a selection of others) has actually been translated into English by Halyna Hyrn, and was published by Amazon Crossing in 2011. I am very excited to begin exploring Oksana’s writing that appears in English. Let’s hope that some of her work will also soon appear in Spanish.
After discovering these two Ukrainian writers (and there are many more), I think it right to bring attention to two translators doing the brilliant task of bringing Ukrainian literature into Spanish.
Oksana Gollyak was born in the city of Kherson, Ukraine, and studied Spanish and English Philology at the University of Kyiv and Slavic Philology at the University of Barcelona. She collaborates with a number of Spanish publishing houses, notably Acantilado, on translations from Ukrainian and Russian into Spanish. Oksana has translated three of Yuri Andrukhovych’s works (perhaps the most well-known Ukrainian author in Spain) and has translated a number of Spanish children’s literature into Ukrainian. She is also the founder of a language academy where Spanish classes are available for speakers of Slavic languages.
Olga Korobenko was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and studied Hispanic Philology and English at the Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv. Since 1996 she has worked as a translator and interpreter in between Spanish, Ukrainian and Russian. Since 2000 she has been living in Spain where she teaches Spanish and Portuguese Literature at the University of Valencia. She has completed a number of literary translations from Ukrainian and Russian into Spanish, including Yuri Andrukhovych and Vladimir Makanin, and has also translated a number of Spanish authors, including José Carlos Somoza, Carlos María Domínguez and Matilde Asensi.
As Spain continues to offer help to Ukraine and its citizens, let us also continue to explore and promote their literature, and, of course, push for more translations into Spanish and all languages so that the whole world can discover writing from Ukraine, as I am now doing.
By Alice Banks (aka ‘La Española’)
Alice Banks is a creative and literary translator from French and Spanish based in Madrid. After studying the MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia, Alice began working with the European Literature Network as an Editorial Assistant. She also volunteers as a copy editor for Asymptote Journal and is a publishing assistant at Fum d’Estampa Press.
Read previous posts in La Española series: