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Iryna Zabiiaka

Iryna Zabiiaka is a Ukrainian bohemist and translator. She was born on 28th March 1986 in Kiev, Ukraine, where she also works in the Czech Center. She has long been active in the field of cultural interconnection between the Czech Republic and Ukraine. In addition to the translations of the present literature, she has researched the Prague linguistic society or the Czech avant-garde. Since 2012 she has been an assistant professor at the Department of History of Ukrainian Literature at the Institute of Philology of the Kiev University.

She devotes herself to the translation of Czech authors – such as the book Hrdý Budžes by Irena Dousková (Komora, 2015), the poetry collection by Ivan Wernisch Procházka kolem pivovaru (Ljuta sprava, 2016) or the novel Rybí krev by Jiří Hájíček (Komora, 2017).

Her interest in Czech literature originated during her studies at the university. As a result, she wrote a master's thesis, which had two parts – a translation of the play by Milan Kundera Jakub a jeho pán and an analysis of this play (2008).

In 2012, she won a competition announced by the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Lvov and the Czech Center in Kiev for Young Bohemists with a translation of the story Úchyl by Irena Dousková. The interest in this author led later to the translation of her novel, Hrdý Budžes (Komora, 2015). The interest in Ivan Wernisch started gradually, she began with a small lecture at the Czech Center in Kiev, then continued with individual translations (in which she co-operated with the Ukrainian poet Oleh Kocarev) and culminated in the translation of a book of selected poems Procházka kolem pivovaru (Ljuta sprava, 2016).

About the readers and the development of the book market in Ukraine, Iryna says: „The great works of Czech literature of the 20th century are represented relatively poorly in Ukrainian for several reasons. In the communist period, most texts of interest with their aesthetic value were banned from publishing and translation, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the book and translation market in Ukraine experienced a dramatic decline. After 2010, and especially after 2014, this market has begun to develop rapidly. The interest in classic and contemporary foreign literature is quite large, as is the number of books that come out every year. This also applies to Czech literature.“

And to the current availability of Czech authors in Ukraine, Iryna adds: „One of the most significant and most important Czech writers, Bohumil Hrabal, is almost not published in Ukrainian. Meanwhile, it is possible to buy only Obsluhoval jsem anglického krále and Pábitelé. That is why I would like to translate one of the author's basic novels Příliš hlučná samota. It is not a simple text, so I would like to concentrate more precisely on this work and deal only with it. Such an option a stay in Hrabal´s City of Prague could provide me. To explore the places where Hrabal lived, wrote and died, talk to people who are involved in his work, read more about him, and have the chance to consult with the experts on Hrabal's texts.“

In addition to belles-lettres, Iryna Zabiiaka also translates literature and reviews the books translated from Czech. In 2016, she co-organized a cycle of ten lectures on Czech literature of the 20th and 21st centuries in the National Library of Kiev, in the spring of 2017 she led the lecture cycle of Ukraine wrote! at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Charles University.

In July and August 2018 she returned to Prague – for a creative residency organized by the Prague City of Literature project. Iryna was dedicating to the aforementioned translation of the novel Příliš hlučná samota of Bohumil Hrabal. We can also look forward to her further inspiration in supporting of the Czech-Ukrainian literary cooperation.

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