Ukrainian Author Andrey Kurkov and Mandla Langa at Open Book 2015

18 Aug 2015
Andrey Kurkov

PEN South Africa has partnered with Open Book since its inaugural festival in 2011 and this year we are very pleased to announce that we are bringing both Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov and PEN SA Executive Vice-President Mandla Langa to the festival.

Andrey is the Vice-President of Ukrainian PEN and is a journalist, commentator and the author of 18 novels and seven childrens’ books and many screenplays. His latest book, Ukraine Diaires: Dispatches from Kiev, is a non-fiction account of the Euromaidan protests and the months that followed from November 2013 through to April 2014. In the introduction he writes about the experience of living in the midst of political turmoil:

“The man who lives in one of the world’s ‘hot spots’, or who simply lives next to an active volcano, has a different view of time. The worth of each day, each hour experienced, proves infinitely greater than that of a peaceful week. When you live next to a volcano, real or metaphorical, the day is filled with so many events that it proves physically impossible to remember them all. These events inevitably end up in the history books, sometimes comprising only a few lines, sometimes one or two pages.”

To hear more about Andrey’s experiences of living in the midst of the protests and his views on what has been happening in the Ukraine since then, book tickets for one of his talks (below).

Andrey writes in Russian, has been translated into 25 languages and is the Ukraine’s best-selling author internationally. His darkly humourous novels satirise life in post-Soviet Ukraine and use elements of surrealism to deal with social and political issues. His best-selling 1996 novel Death and the Penguin was the first to be translated into English in 2001.

There are four events that Andrey will be speaking at, including the two PEN Dialogues (which PEN SA members can receive free tickets to):

Mandla is an award-winning poet, short story writer, and novelist. He has been awarded the Arts Council of Great Britain’s Bursary for Creative Writing (1991), South Africa’s National Order of Ikhamanga (Silver) (2007) and the Commonwealth Writers Prize in Africa for his novel The Lost Colours of the Chameleon (2009). His latest novel, The Texture of Shadows, was published last year.

“We’re living in a world that’s increasingly intolerant of the power of creativity. We have to celebrate and encourage initiatives like Open Book, which help transcend borders and enhance human understanding.” – Mandla Langa

As well as being the Executive Vice-President of PEN SA, Mandla is Chair of Koketso Holdings, a director of Contemporary African Music and Arts (CAMA), Editor-At-Large of Leadership Magazine, Program Director (Television) for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Chair of the Multichoice share schemes, Phuthuma Nathi, and was the Chair of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (1999-2005).

Mandla will be joining Andrey for the Lives of Writers event and will also be taking part in the following:

View the full Open Book 2015 programme and see which PEN SA members will be speaking.

(Image courtesy of The Guardian)