© Pavlo Botanov

Oksana Zabuzhko  [ Ukraine ]

Oksana Zabuzhko was born in 1960 in Lutsk (Ukraine). She studied at the University of Kiev and earned her doctorate in the philosophy of art in 1987. She has published a series of poetry collections in her home country since the mid-1980s. In the early 1990s, she taught at several American universities (Pennsylvania State, Harvard and Pittsburgh). Since then, she has written columns and essays on literature and the philosophy of art for leading Ukrainian journals. She has worked as a freelance writer since the publication of her first novel »Pol’ovi doslidshenija z ukraїns’kogo seksu« (tr: Field Studies in Ukrainian Sex) in 1996.

Zabuzhko’s experiences in America provided the fodder for her début novel. he author tells her love story from its primal beginnings to its disappointing conclusion. Zabuzhko writes about sex and the relationships between men and women with straightforward language, allowing diverse references to Ukrainian songs, poems, and proverbs as well as contemporary everyday and street slang to flow into the text. Zabuzhko’s novel represents a possibility for recovering one’s own identity that had been thought to be as good as lost in Ukraine. The brutality and pain in gender relations mirror the nation’s relationship with itself. Zabuzhko sees the failure of love as part of the suffering of her people, who have been oppressed for generations and as a result have lost the capacity for love.

Her novel »Musej pokinutich sekretiv« (2009; tr: The Museum of Forgotten Secrets), which topped all of the Ukrainian bestseller lists, addresses social conditions in Ukraine. Two main characters, the television editor Daryna and the painter Vlada, are living in modern Ukraine, while a third protagonist, Olena, died during World War II with the Ukrainian partisans. One day, Daryna finds a photograph of Olena in a archive and decides to make a documentary film about her story. In the process, she meets and falls in love with Olena’s grandson. However, their love is overshadowed by dark secrets from the past that have shaped the history of the entire country, from buried icons to distorted historical accounts and the traditionally problematic relationship patterns between men and women.

Oksana Zabuzhko has published 16 books to date. Her essays about Ukraine have appeared in German under the title »Planet Wermut«. In the book, she reflects on the politics and history of her homeland from a feminist and postcolonial perspective.

Zabuzhko was Vice President of the Ukrainian P.E.N. from 1995-2010. She lives in Kiev.





Дві культури, 1990

Філософія Української ідеї та європейський контекст: франківський період, 1992

Шевченків міф України, 1997

Хроніки від Фортінбрас, 1999

Let my people go. 15 текстів про українську революцію, 2005

Notre Dame d’Ukraine: Українка в конфлікті міфологій


In other languages:


Feldstudien über ukrainischen Sex


Graz, 2006

[Ü: DAJA] 

Museum der vergessenen Geheimnisse


Graz, 2010

[Ü: Alexander Kratochvil]

Planet Wermut


Graz, 2010

[Ü: Alexander Kratochvil]


Wodka für den Torwart:

11 Fußball-Geschichten aus der Ukraine



Berlin, 2012