It wasn’t just me trying to get away from Ukraine horrors and headaches at the Lviv Publisher’s Forum. Four days of books, books, books and more; jazz, verse, philosophy, fairytales…
I was there to present the Ukrainian translation of Dream Land. And of course, to meet friends and fellow writers from all over Ukraine and from Crimea – Crimean Tatars who had come to read their poetry, play music, walk the cobbled streets listening to the jangle of Ukrainian and Russian and English and Polish – and feel like they could breathe again.
“The people here are beautiful,” one said as we walked round Lviv. She didn’t mean their features or their clothes; she meant the feeling of freedom they carry around inside them. The feeling the Crimean Tatars have had taken away from them in Crimea.
We talked about how hard it would be to go back to Crimea when the forum was over. But how hard – now the Crimean Tatar Mejlis building has been surrounded and searched today by armed police, now yet more Mejlis members’ houses have been searched – I for one did not guess that.
It’s been a good few days for Dream Land, which has been nominated for Ukrainian book of the year. It’s been a horrible few days for the Crimean Tatars.
Time to start writing that sequel at last…? I don’t know if I can. But someone has to.