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Irvanets, Oleksandr

Entry updated 20 June 2022. Tagged: Author.

(1961-    ) Ukrainian author, poet, and translator, of genre interest for his dystopia Rivni/Rovno (2002), which imagined his hometown split by a Political border inspired by his experience of visiting Berlin during the Cold War.

Framed in part as a tourist guide to the twinned cities (compare to similar Fabulation in the works of Dung Kai-cheung), Rivni/Rovno becomes the frontline clash of two opposing systems, first seen in blunt terms as a division of Ukraine into the progressive, capitalist realm of Zakhidna and the radical socialist state of Skhidna. But as the vowel-shifts in the place-names (and in the author's own name) suggest, there is more at work here, and Irvanets also alludes to deep-seated ethnic and ideological divisions within Ukraine itself, not merely through the arbitrary, Magic-Realist sprouting of a dividing wall, but through the pre-existing tensions between Ukrainian- and Russian-speakers.

His book would become a touchstone of Ukrainian national identity, often cited in the years since, either as an incisive Prediction of future political tensions (viz the sudden international insistence, in 2022, on spelling Kiev as Kyiv), or as a naive over-simplification of far more complex issues, ignoring the presence of a third, nativist Ukrainian force that rejected meddling from both eastern and western powers and ideologies. [JonC]

see also: Gleb Bobrov; Linguistics; Andriy Valentynov.

Alexander Vasilievich Irvanets

born Lviv, USSR [now Ukraine]: 24 January 1961

works (selected)

  • Rivni/Rovno (Lviv, Ukraine: Kalvariya, 2002) [binding unknown/]

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