Andriy Lyubka: One of the greatest happiness I have is the ability to wake up without an alarm clock

Anna Romanchuk
15 February 2018

~ one of Ukraine’s youngest writers, novelists, poets, translators, and essayists offers us some thoughts ~
I can characterise myself in four words: disciplined, ambitious, self-confident, choleric. If there were a fifth word, it would be “cute”.
For many years now I’ve been on the lists of all possible competitions. I even have a wall of diplomas in my house (laughs).
My biggest achievement in the past year is the “Angela” prize in Poland (the Greatest Literary Prize in Europe). In addition to this honoured status, there is also a very nice financial component (50 000 USD). To be among the seven finalists you have a less than 15% chance, which is how I calmed myself.
My new novel has three working titles: the first is the name of the project folder, the second is the Word file, and the text begins with the third. It’s a novel about modern Ukraine, these days, Uzhgorod, revenge. Imagine: a judge kills a woman on a pedestrian crossing and gets off ‘scot-free’.
Some time ago I started to have mixed feeling about the books I have had published, as though they are not quite mine now.
I do not translate to order. I read some book, if I really like it, I try to convince the publisher it needs to be translated. There are a bunch of books that deserve to be translated.
Paradoxically, when the movie adaptation appears, people begin to read the book more.
Almost every literary festival has a discussion on “what will happen to a printed book?” During Homer’s time, there were no books and nobody suffered, jump forward several millennia and TV appears. No one would have ever thought after only 50 years the book would almost cease to exist.
Someday I would like to be a carpenter: take timber and make something with my own hands.
Some of my friends go to bars on Friday. But isn’t it less rash to get drunk on Monday afternoon when there are less people and the roads are empty?
Of course, I have some endpoint when I’m travelling, but I never know where I will be at any moment and where I will be led.
I would like to have just two kids, a boy and girl. But as a patriot I understand if my wife and I have two children – then we are going to have zero someday.
NYC is great. But I could not live there because I don’t like big cities. I love the quiet, safe, leisurely rhythm of life, like in Canada. But it has a terrible climate so also not for me.
I have been to 36 countries and considering many factors, Uzhhorod is perfect for my creative life. A small, cosy, beautiful city, at the same time close to everything that interests me. For example, in half-a-day I can get to Serbia, to Krakow, or Budapest just to see a ballet.
We have strived for independence for such a long time, finally we can write uncensored.
There is less sensitivity to obscene words – people are less inhibited.
No successful nation or state in the world would use the Cyrillic alphabet or Orthodoxy.
I wrote a poem based on “it is impossible to write a good poem about whisky in Cyrillic, because whatever you write in Cyrillic would be about vodka.”
Politics is one of my passions.
It is very easy to be a political expert and analyst in Ukraine. For example, when you are asked how the situation will develop further, your task is to choose the worst of all possible scenarios and say it will be that, and you will always be right. So it’s not complicated (laughs).
I think the main problem of Ukrainians is their brief memory. We are not malicious and this is our biggest problem.
The Ukrainian people must learn how to break contracts with politicians who do not fulfil their conditions.
I could imagine giving up writing, but only if I won a lot of money and had no need to write as much as I do now.
I believe (but this is based more on some knowledge than faith) Russia will collapse.
My biggest piece of advice to people is not to read/watch the news, because it is meaningless. From time to time, I like to escape life, go to the mountains and not listen to the news at all. Then I come back and realise I missed nothing.
The internet is my enemy, which I actively struggle with. I use a phone with buttons because of it. But it’s still very hard for me. I have not learned how to shut down the internet while I work yet as I almost always need a dictionary.
I take great pleasure in waking up without an alarm clock. It’s one of the things I want to tell What’s On readers – every few days, preferably every day, wake up without an alarm. I’m sure there would be less anger in the world.

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