© Hartwig Klappert

Serhiy Zhadan © Hartwig Klappert

Serhiy Zhadan  [ Ukraine ]

Serhiy Zhadan was born in 1974 in Starobilsk, an industrial town in eastern Ukraine. He majored in German and Ukrainian studies in Kharkiv, and completed his doctorate with a dissertation on Ukrainian Futurism. He then was a lecturer of literary studies for four years before deciding to become a freelance writer and translator.

Zhadan, who has published eight collections of poetry and eight volumes of prose, is considered one of Ukraine’s most popular authors. He began to write during the era of political upheavals in the Soviet Union: »Our home was the Literature Museum, around which a kind of punk commune of Kharkiv dropouts had formed. I was sleeping in the museum back then, and that’s also where I began to write.« Zhadan’s work is determined by a morbid romanticism and defiant optimism typical of our time. In his most famous collection of poems, »Istorija kul’tury pocatku stolittja« (2003; tr: The History of Culture at the Turn of the Century), he uses radical and yet sensitive language to poeticize his lack of orientation in a post-Socialist society. In Zhadan’s novels »Depeš Mod« (2004; tr: Depeche Mode) – the author’s first stab at a sizeable book of prose – and the travelogue »Anarchy in the UKR« (2005) the characters also get lost in the chaotic web of anarchic social and economic structures, as well as in the labyrinth of their own desires and dreams. »Himn demokratycnoi molodi« (2006; tr: The Hymn of Democratic Youth) is made up of six stories that present different representatives of this generation of »lost« young Ukrainians, such as San Santysch, a socio-critical wrestler with a high school degree, and Goga, a veteran of the Chechen War who dreams of owning a bar. The two open the town’s first gay club together – a business idea that, like so much else, seems doomed to fail. In 2014, Zhadan published »Mesopotamia«, a collection of nine stories about different characters’ search for meaning, whose themes in life are revisited in the thirty poems in the second half of the book. That very same year he received the Brücke Berlin Prize for »Vorošilovgrad« (2010; Eng. »The Invention of Jazz in Donbass«, 2014). Zhadan’s work, »Warum ich nicht im Netz bin« (2016; tr: Why I’m Not on the Net), is a compilation of snapshots and short stories detailing his experiences in war-affected eastern Ukraine. Aside from his literary work, Serhiy Zhadan also organizes music, literature, and poetry festivals, writes song lyrics, and sings in his band, Sobaki v Kosmosi (tr: Dogs in Space), with which he traveled to the Donbass several times in 2014 and 2015 to give concerts and to distribute relief supplies. In 2006, he received the Hubert Burda Prize for young Eastern European poets. In 2022 he received the Hannah Arendt Prize, the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, and the Freedom Prize of the Frank Schirrmacher Foundation. He lives in Kharkiv.



Історія культури початку століття


Київ, 2003


Біґ Мак


Київ, 2003



Клуб Сімейного Дозвілля

Харків, 2014


Бігти не зупиняючись


Харків, 2015



Meridian Czernowitz

Чернівці, 2017


Список кораблів

Нові вірші, 2018—2019

Meridian Czernowitz

Чернівці, 2020


In other languages


Depeche Mode

Glagoslav Publications

London, 2013

[Translation: Miroslav Shkandrij]



Deep Velum

Dallas, 2016

[Translation: Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler, Reilly Costigan-Humes]



Yale University Press

New Haven, 2018

[Translation: Reilly Costigan-Humes, Isaac Stackhouse,

Viralna Tkacz / Wanda Phipps]


What We Live For, What We Die For

Selected Poems

Yale University Press

New Haven, 2019

[Translation: Viralna Tkacz / Wanda Phipps]