For innovative forms and breaking the stereotypes

Natalka Sniadanko becomes laureate of Joseph Conrad Literary Prize

This biennial prize is given to Ukrainian writers for “consistency in the realization of creative plans, the innovative form, breaking the stereotypes, and the universality of the content.” Taras Prokhasko and Serhii Zhadan were laureates in 2007 and 2009 respectively. This year’s award ceremony took place in one of Kyiv’s hotels, and it was opened with experimental electronic music by Kateryna Zavoloka. The head of the jury Yaroslav Hodun, director of the Polish Institute, introduced the nominees. They were Marianna Kianovska, Andrii Bondar, and Natalka Sniadanko. Their “patrons” in the jury were Oksana Zabuzhko, Yurii Makarov, and Monika Sznajderman (head of the Polish publishing house Czarne). In fact, literary and artistic, reading and journalistic audience had their favorites too. “My voice goes to Kianovska,” confidently said a Belarusian poet Serhii Prylutsky, who recently became a citizen of Ukraine. A young Kyivite from Transcarpathia Andrii Liubka belonged to Andrii Bondar’s fan group. Nevertheless, there were very few to doubt that Sniadanko would win the prize. She has already reached the final twice, and her creative work is the most widely known abroad (out of all the works submitted this year). The Ambassador of Poland Henryk Litwin announced Sniadanko to be the winner of the Joseph Conrad Literary Prize. She will be awarded the equivalent of 3,000 euros in hryvnias and spend six months in Poland at the expense of Gaude Polonia Scholarship.

“I have mixed feelings,” commented Sniadanko on the event. “I have gotten used to getting to the final stage of the Conrad Prize, and now it is all over. But it is pleasant to both win and lose this prize. And the main thing is, the prize does not give rise to doubt.”

The award ceremony was finished with the autograph session by Sniadanko, Kianovska, and Bondar. But the season of winter awards in Ukrainian literature still goes on. The Book of the Year by BBC and LitAkcent are the next upcoming events.