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The 12th International Book Arsenal Festival Is Over in the Mystetskyi Arsenal

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35 thousand visitors and more than 160 events—the 12th International Book Arsenal Festival is over in the Mystetskyi Arsenal. In 2023, Book Arsenal was attended by 28 thousand visitors.

On Sunday, June 2, the 12th International Book Arsenal Festival was over. The musical and poetic event Opus Doloris. Polyphony, dedicated to the Ukrainian writers who died from Russia’s aggression—Viktoria Amelina, Hlib Babich, Volodymyr Vakulenko, Oleh Kliufas, Maksym Kryvtsov, Ihor Mysiak, Illia Chernilevskyi—took place on the last evening of the festival.   

The stand with books destroyed by a Russian missile in Kharkiv became important in terms of meaning and attracted a lot of visitors. The books on this stand, burnt, with the smell of burning, loudly reminded visitors that the war was going on. The war not only against people, but also against our culture and language.

This year, more than 160 events were held at the Festival. Discussions, performances, plays, movie shows, concerts, public talks, as well as 10 exhibition projects and 4 book collections, which comprehend the difficult experiences Ukrainian women and men undergo during the war.

“Book Arsenal is a multidisciplinary festival where the most important issues of the society we live in are comprehended in the context of books. This year, our curators of the focus theme, that is, the big question around which all the discussions revolved, Tetyana Ogarkova and Volodymyr Yermolenko, offered the following metaphor—Life on the Edge. Burned publications from Kharkiv printing house Factor Druk, presented on a separate stand, became its bitter embodiment and a call to support bookish Kharkiv. And at the events of the Festival program, all of us together were comprehending the experiences that the entire country, our culture and its people were currently undergoing. I am grateful to all partners, due to whom this year’s Book Arsenal managed to happen and attracted 35 thousand visitors—I am glad that, thanks to all of you, the Mystetskyi Arsenal was able to hold the second Festival in times of the full-scale war. In this space, we did our best to strengthen and support each other and just to spend time together,”

—Olesia Ostrovska-Liuta, the Director General of the Mystetskyi Arsenal.

Book Arsenal was held for the second time in the conditions of the full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine. Taking into account last year’s experience, additional security measures were implemented for visitors and participants. Besides, it was possible to take measures to continue the Festival in case of a power outage.

The festival had lasted for 3.5 days on the first floor of the Old Arsenal building, where more than 100 Ukrainian publishing houses and 5 bookstores presented their stands. Each bookstore curated a stand in a certain category: presented the section Fiction, Books in English; ReadeatFiction; SensNon-fiction; Top ComicsComics and Graphic; Book LionArt Books

The events of the focus theme, the Literature Program, the Professional Program, the Kids and Teens Program, the Special Program of PEN Ukraine and the Special Program of The Fifth Kharkiv festival not only became a meeting place for like-minded people, but also allowed the participants and guests of the Festival to consider important topics, to get involved in the creation of new senses and to talk about experiences, both personal and social.

During the 12th Book Arsenal, 7 curatorial and special programs were presented:

Life on the Edge is the focus theme of the 12th Book Arsenal. Curators of the focus theme—Volodymyr Yermolenko and Tetyana Ogarkova.

The Literature Program Bridging the Gap. Curator—Olena Huseinova.

The Kids and Teens Program With Eyes Wide Open. Curator—Olya Rusina.

The Professional Program of Book Arsenal. Curator—Oksana Karpiuk.

The Special Program CITIES ON THE EDGE from The Fifth Kharkiv festival in cooperation with the Kharkiv Literary Museum. Curator—Yevhenii Stasinevych.

The Special Program THE CONTINUITY OF VOICE. Organizer—PEN Ukraine.

The biggest number of events was presented by the Publishers’ Program, which became the largest at the 12th Book Arsenal. Its events were organized by the publishers participating in the Festival.

The Strategic Communications Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine took part in the Festival as a program partner for the first time: it co-organized the exhibition project I Put On a Pixel Camo. Stories of Those Who Have Chosen to Fight and presented the documentary Resistance and Unity. Writers Explain How Not to Lose the Future.

More than 260 guests participated in the events of the 12th Book Arsenal. The voices of Ukrainian and foreign guests were heard on the Main, Literary, Outdoor and Publishing Stages, in the Lecture Hall and in the Workshops area, among them there were Oksana Zabuzhko, Franziska Davies, Lisa Weeda, Olena Stiazhkina, Tanja Maljartschuk, French participants—historians, writers, Antonio Iturbe, Artur Dron, Akhtem Seitablaiev, Bogdan Kolomiychuk, Botakoz Kassymbekova, Radomyr Mokryk, Maryna Hrymych, Nicolas Tenzer, David Patrikarakos, Noel Calhoun, Oleksandr Mykhed, Oleksandra Matviichuk, Olena Maksymenko, Olesya Zdorovetska, Raji Abdul Salam, Rory Finnin, Thierry Piel, Uilleam Blacker, Jakob Wunderwald, Yuri Andrukhovych, Yara Chornohuz and other public and cultural figures, military servicemen and servicewomen, politicians, writers, poets, publishers, designers, illustrators, journalists, philosophers, translators, human rights activists, movie directors, musicians, entrepreneurs, etc.

On the second day, the 12th Book Arsenal was visited by First Lady Olena Zelenska, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, First Deputy Prime Minister Yulia Svyrydenko, Acting Minister of Culture and Information Policy Rostyslav Karandieiev, on the third day—by Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Ruslan Stefanchuk, Minister of Strategic Industries Oleksandr Kamyshyn, the fifth President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, public figures Serhiy Prytula and Volodymyr Borodianskyi, businessman Viktor Pinchuk and other guests.

The traditional New Titles project, which had been implemented at the Festival in cooperation with the Chytomo media resource since 2015, was presented at the 12th Book Arsenal. New Titles collected about 200 books directly or indirectly related to the topic of war, published by Ukrainian publishers from June 2023 to May 2024. After the end of the festival, the books from New Titles in the space of the festival were sent to the libraries that had been destroyed or damaged because of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, within the Unbreakable Libraries program of PEN Ukraine.

This year, Book Arsenal launched the Book Arsenal Fellowship Program—a professional program within which seven foreign publishers and agents from the Czech Republic, Poland, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Greece and Italy visited the Festival. Partner institutions—Ukrainian Book Institute and House of Europe—showed them the statistics of the Ukrainian book market and the opportunities for financing translations of Ukrainian books. The program participants also held more than 60 B2B meetings with Ukrainian colleagues to establish partnerships.

Suspilne Ukraine became the general information partner of the 12th Book Arsenal. During all days of the festival, on-site studios of the Suspilne Kultura TV channel, Radio Кulturа, journalists of the Suspilne Kultura website, the Suspilne Studiia information project and the digital platform of Suspilne Ukraine worked at the Book Arsenal location. They made live broadcasts, gave coverage from the festival, prepared publications and invited the organizers and guests of the festival for studio interviews.

This year, media partners of the Festival were: Liroom, Cases,, Ukrainska Pravda, and 1+1 Media.

The organizers express their gratitude for the support to the partners, who joined the Festival in 2024.

This year, 130 volunteers got involved in the work of the 12th Book Arsenal and helped the Festival team and visitors.

The festival team made video recordings of some of the discussions, as well as of the musical and poetic performance of Kateryna Kalytko and Mariana Sadovska Ukrainian Fatigue. All the recordings will soon be released on the YouTube channel of the Mystetskyi Arsenal.

Book Arsenal is organized in cooperation with Art Arsenal Community NGO. The project is supported by Partnership Fund for Resilient Ukraine (PFRU), funded by aid from the governments of the United Kingdom, Estonia, Canada, the Netherlands, the United States of America, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden.

Book Arsenal — 2024 is also held with the financial support of the Ministry of State for Culture and the Media of Germany within the project Exchange between German and Ukrainian Literary and Book Sectors.