“We will be very grateful to you”

International publishers are invited to purchase the publishing rights to the works of Ukrainian authors.

This is the message addressed to the delegates of the London Book Fair by Oleksandr Afonin, president of the Ukrainian Association of Publishers and Booksellers.

Delivering a pre-recorded message as part of the panel on the role of publishing and culture during the global conflict on Tuesday, featuring Bodour Al Qasimi, president of the International Association of Publishers, Afonin detailed the damage done to his native publishing industry in the aftermath of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

“It is extremely difficult for the Ukrainian edition today. More than two-thirds of the country’s primary publishing capacity is in the war zone.

Ukrainian publishers have no money, no paper, no printing capacity. Therefore, we will be very grateful for any help from you.

Oleksandr Afonin, President of the Ukrainian Association of Publishers and Booksellers

“As well as warehouses with finished productions, most of which were destroyed by bombing or inaccessible,” he said.

“Ukrainian publishers have no money, no paper and [a] lack of printing capacity. Therefore, we will be very grateful for any help from you, dear colleagues.

“It can be money, paper, the purchase of rights to publish works of Ukrainian authors, giving the possibility of printing Ukrainian books in your printing houses.”

Afonin also criticized his Russian publishing counterparts for publishing works that helped sow the seeds of the conflict unfolding today.

“For many years they mass-produced literature that cultivated in Russians hatred of Ukrainians, our culture and our traditions,” he said.

“It was they who put in the minds of their readers the formula that Ukraine is not a state and Ukrainians are not a people and [that] they can be humiliated and destroyed.

Afonin supported the decision of major literary events, including the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, to suspend partnerships with Russian cultural organizations and their presence at events.

The Russian pavilion is also absent from the London Book Fair.

In an official statement to Weekly editors in March, Andy Ventris, director of the fair, said the decision was “by mutual agreement” and based on “compliance with government sanctions and policies in every territory where we operate.”

Ukraine’s presence at the London Book Fair is limited to a modest stand run by the Ukrainian Book Institute.

The stand was reportedly provided free of charge by the fair’s producer, Reed Exhibitions.

The Russian-Ukrainian War was discussed at two sessions of the London Book Fair.

The aforementioned event, featuring Afonin, explored the various ways in which the international publishing industry can support its Ukrainian colleagues.

On Wednesday, the Dialogues of War: A Live Conversation on Ukraine show featured an online appearance by Andrei Kurkov, president of the Ukraine chapter of the international writers’ association Pen International.

More information about the London Book Fair can be found at londonbookfair.co.uk

Updated: April 07, 2022, 07:21

Angela C. Hale