Yuri Andrukhovych to Serhiy Zhadan
by Serhiy Zhadan
Short profile

Yurii Andrukhovych – Ukrainian prose writer, poet, essayist, translator, and musician, Co-founded of the Bu-Ba-Bu poetic group,
has been awarded numerous national and international prizes, including the Herder Prize, the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize, the Leipzig Book Fair Prize for European Understanding, the Angelus Award, the Hannah Arendt Prize, and the Goethe Medal. 


Serhiy Zhadan – is a Ukrainian poet, novelist, essayist,  translator, and rock musician.
Central European Angelus Prize, Joseph Conrad-Korzeniowski Prize, four-time Book of the Year winner, twice BBC Book of the Year winner.

"The first version of Hamlet was supposed to be reckless"

Zhadan: Yurko, hello!
Andrukhovych: Hello, I'm terribly happy!
Zhadan: Me as well ! We talked so many times, and the last conversation was not long ago. On the one hand, there is nothing to talk about, and on the other – actually, there is. Usually, we discuss things that are more universal and abstract: politics, the general situation, and so on. Paradoxically, we talk less about literature purely. Let's change that now. I would start with your translations. As far as I know, you have given the translation of King Lear to the publisher, and this will be a trilogy of your translations of Shakespeare.
Andrukhovych: It turns out, yes.
Zhadan: I remember how your translation of Hamlet appeared. At first, it was a magazine version in Thursday [magazine].
Andrukhovych: It was then still quite fresh. I made it for the premiere at the Young Theater. The premiere took place in late autumn 1999, and in 2000 Thursday published it with a translation.
Zhadan: Then the text fell into the hands of Ivan Malkovich. Obviously, he, as always, edited carefully.
Andrukhovych: Then I had to work on a lot. After all, seven or eight years have passed – it would be weird if I didn't have anything to change. This was also a period of some of my translation development. I was translating Americans at the time (ed. American poetry of the 1950s and 1960s).
Zhadan: You just worked on the anthology, but I wanted to talk about not so much translation in general, but the linguistic and lexical aspects. I remember the critical reviews, both positive and negative, that this is an update of language in general and the language of Shakespeare. And this is a thing that for some reason is not mentioned in Ukrainian literature: updating translations of the world canon. For Germans or Poles, this is the norm: to translate Dostoevsky or Hemingway every 30 years.
Andrukhovych: Each generation of translators enters with their blockbusters of world literature.
Zhadan: Yes, and we have the same Hamlet, the first translation of the late nineteenth century. It is still perceived as something that can be worked with, for example, in the theater.
Andrukhovych: There is a translation by Leonid Hrebinka, which is quite old, although very good and in many ways sounds modern.

ВІДЕО. Сергій Жадан у розмові з Юрієм Андруховичем | Video. Serhiy Zhadan and Yuri Andrukhovych

Zhadan: When you translated, you realized that you were updating your vocabulary.
Andrukhovych: Quite consciously!
Zhadan: There is even a vocabulary, which in principle is difficult to imagine in "classical" Ukrainian poetry, especially in Ukrainian translated literature and in Shakespeare. Let's say obscene language. Was it a conscious challenge?
Andrukhovych: Without exaggeration. Of course, this is not Poderviansky, it is a slightly different case. By the way, between that publication in Thursday and with the release of the book by Malkovich, I toned it down a lot. This was Ivan's request. In the end, it was not without my consent, because I began to look at it with more responsible eyes. The first version was supposed to be reckless in general. The director asked for that. His idea was to stage a real Hamlet – a young Hamlet in the Young Theater. Did you watch this show?
Zhadan: I did not, to my shame.
Andrukhovych: There was an actor – an absolute punk, with a huge earring in his ear, with a haircut like yours, but also embellished, with a mohawk. Of course, all this entailed such language decisions, or rather, this directing arose from those language decisions. But initially, there was an order from the director: the play should sound street-like, hooligan-like, modern-day-like.
Zhadan: In my subjective opinion, it is natural for you. There is one concept of Shakespeare's translations, which is that all his translations are terribly classicized. That is automatically assumed to be a "classic" sound, "Pasternak’s language" ...
Andrukhovych: Pasternak is not the worst case. But this really is so. When I worked on King Lear I constantly compared the text of several different translations. I had to keep in mind the previous Ukrainian translation by Maksym Rylsky. We all bow before his poetic talent. But Shakespeare sounds with him like our Ukrainian playwright, whom we have never had, but if he had been like that, he would have written such a thing somewhere in the middle of the 19th century. Yes, he is not a contemporary of Shakespeare, but he is far from our contemporary.

"I did not gloat and did not enjoy how much hate I pulled towards  myself"

Zhadan: Recently on some air I read various translations of Rilke – by Bazhan, Fishbain, Stus – and mentioned you. It is so strange, as if it is the same text, but it sounds like different poetic practices from different eras. I started with Shakespeare with the intention of moving to a topic such as updating the language. In my opinion, it is your generation, the generation of the eighties, that has largely made this language revolution.
Andrukhovych: It was such an invisible revolution, in principle. But somehow it worked in the literary process.
Zhadan: I remember [the Ukrainain magazine] Suchasnist: the first issue in 1992, where there were "Recreations", and what an explosion it caused. It was only in literary circles, but it existed nevertheless. How many outraged letters there were. First of all, this indignation was concerning the immoral behavior of the characters and language.
Andrukhovych: Obscene vocabulary. Although there are just two swear words for the whole text. It's tremendous how people could see only them.
Zhadan: The intonation of this prose was more revolutionary, in my opinion. Here, the Ukrainian language can sound in a literary work as it sounds on the street. Remember how it was perceived then. And now 30 years have passed, and today it is quite normal. This testifies to the success of the revolution.
Andrukhovych: I agree. Everything new passes through the crucible of repulsion and rejection and then becomes mainstream. Maybe that's how it worked. This may indicate one more thing: we did not even notice and did not guess how much the circle of readers of this literature has grown. It began to be read by people from outside the industry, who themselves speak such a language. And it works, it's the norm.
Zhadan: It’s also an interesting thing. I remember the reviews of your novels. There, such snobbish critics usually said: "Well, he writes again about poets, why does he write for some philologists again…?"
Andrukhovych: Even Viktor Neborak, my poetic brother, was such a "snob" ...
Zhadan: Who himself wrote a novel about poets and philologists.
Andrukhovych: After Perverzion, when there were already three of my novels about poets, he said, "If the next one is also about a poet, I will stop reading you completely."
Zhadan: But why poets? I don't know if it is what you meant, but it seems to me because it's a Ukrainian-speaking environment. Accordingly, it is easier to transmit the language field. It is difficult to write a novel in Ukrainian about locksmiths or workers of the “Turboatom” factory.
Andrukhovych: It is generally difficult to write.
Zhadan: Instead, society has changed, the country has changed, and the language field has changed. Someone notices it; someone further complains. But now here came into force the  Language Law. It didn’t show up for nothing, and it arrived on fertile ground. I see in the East with what enthusiasm women in shops switch to Ukrainian.
Andrukhovych: So they needed this whip, right?
Zhadan: It appears.
Andrukhovych: A whip and a cake. I understand that this is the equivalent of "carrots and sticks". They did not need a carrot, but a stick.
Zhadan: It seems that they needed an order: speak Ukrainian. But I'm talking about something different. I am of the opinion that if you wrote Recreation today, it would not receive such rejection. Today Ukrainian is not the language of the ghetto. It is not Latin. It is really the language of society. Have you ever felt these transformations in 30 years?
Andrukhovych: Of course! When I compare these situations, I see pros and cons in each. An unconditional plus is to be so first, so to break through, when there is nothing like it around – at least published. Here I have this opportunity. The disadvantages, of course, were there also: these are massive attacks and such an active rejection. I didn't gloat and didn't enjoy how much hate I was pulling towards myself. I was really worried! And now there is no tension or sharp reactions. But there is no breakthrough. That is, well, okay, another novel in the stream.

"I internally distinguished: here I write poetry, and here – prose"

Zhadan: I was also interested in it. Your first three books of poetry use a completely different vocabulary: the baroque language and many old-fashioned words that are specially encrusted there. Then suddenly there are Recreations. How did you work with that?
Andrukhovych: Apparently, the reason is very simple. Somewhere internally I distinguished: here I write poetry, and here – prose. In addition, even before poetry collections, I had the experience of army stories. Here was this realistic, even dark prose, and here – all these minstrel dances with flutes and Jethro Tull in some way. I don't know if it's bad or good. Sometimes I wanted to synthesize myself, sometimes not. Of course, it would be more meaningful to say if I still wrote poetry, and we can compare where it went. And so it all flowed through one channel.
Zhadan: Wasn't there a psychological barrier that “I'm writing a poem here, it should be like this, and prose should be different?” Was it the only narrative, and did everything coexist in it?
Andrukhovych: Apparently, there was. I did all this not without the influence of people with whom I communicated – for example Mykola Ryabchuk. He was the number one authority for me. He laid down some such messages. He said, “You do not need to write poetic prose.” It worked. When a teacher says that, you think, “Right, we really need to differentiate.”
Zhadan: How were your poems perceived lexically when the scandal was caused by the appearance of any "non-poetic" word or image? How much did the poetic lexicon expand then? I find it terribly interesting to try to project this on your whole generation. After all, in my opinion, we can and should talk about the eighties as the last real generation...
Andrukhovych: Real in what sense?
Zhadan: Real in terms of aesthetic principles.
Andrukhovych: That is, where do you still see this in this generation?
Zhadan: Of course. Something like our sixties or American beatniks. When it is not just about communication together, but also about a certain common base – the perception of something. At the same time, it’s about a certain common objection and resistance.
Andrukhovych: I'll try to guess why. Probably, it was largely due to the same resource – the same books. There were few books that I would like to read.
Zhadan: That is, the reading itself.
Andrukhovych: Many of them had to be found somewhere and passed from hand to hand. In fact, everyone sat on the same foundations. It was the same with music. Here we remember Rymaruk with you, and in conversations he is not very much a rocker. And then it turned out that he has Deep Purple vinyl records. Only then you start to understand his long hair. Today, everything is available: anything you want – you can read it or not. Apparently, this erodes the generation in its own way.
Zhadan: Apparently, this is how it should be today. It seems to me that the generation is first and foremost about some kind of protective resource when you need to stick together.
Andrukhovych: In addition, there was also a union factor. There was a need to have some kind of hit squad within the writers' union. I wanted to say "torcida", but thought the word was too little known.

"You bought such a collection and thought: here, something special happened"

Zhadan: I remember the text of Igor Rymaruk we mentioned, where he says that the eighties in our literature for the first time set an example of morality. I don't think he was talking about traditional social morals...
Andrukhovych: Or about social morality! (laughs)
Zhadan: Rather, I suppose, he meant that the concept of the poet in society and the poet in literature is quite different.
Andrukhovych: Here, of course, he meant first of all himself. This maximalism was inherent in him. He positioned himself as a deeply religious man. He did not imagine the existence of a poet without God. To be a poet means contact with God for him.
Zhadan: God from Deep Purple …
Andrukhovych: It is unknown what were the religious views of Deep Purple, you can find out about it somewhere. In any case, he had this maximum seriousness and alienation from popular speech, from Symonenkivshchyna so to speak, not to mention others. He was in favor of some such hermetic exquisite stanzas, but this poet's full responsibility for what he does at the highest level in its proper sense is something very social.
Zhadan: Yes, reading it, you see first of all really not sociality, but rather some religiosity: the sociality of the crusade, let say, or just the sociality of church paintings. It's very interesting to see how it all transformed – where you all went to. The same Igor in the last collections considerably changes. There is a lot of everything private, self-ironic, and even God-fighting. Here you mentioned religiosity, which is really hard not to notice. It was extremely important for his first collections, and here at the end he begins to speak to God more simply.
Andrukhovych: Maybe he had already reviewed everything by that time. I do not know. I distanced myself from him because when he received the Shevchenko Prize in 2002, it had a very negative effect on me. I was offended and tried to avoid communication. I think you're just talking about these ’00s  poems. They really became more transparent and more ironic.
Zhadan: Yes, more homey or something. This "Bermuda Triangle" and the rest of the poems of that time are a completely different Rymaruk, a completely different intonation. This preserves the class and level.
Andrukhovych: When we talked in private, he turned out to be an incredible poet-improviser and epigrammatist. On the move, somewhere on the plane when we flew to Paris, he managed to write a bunch of very funny tricks to tease everyone around him. To do this, he had to take a shot and smoke. He sat down and began to read while he died of laughter. So they were Gerasimyuk and he who won "Bu-Ba-Bu" award for a sonnet about Paris. All this will not be left anywhere in the legacy, it appeared on paper, some wrappers, and then disappeared. This is where his serious attitude to the mission worked. And here he has fun, and it can't be shown to a wider circle of people. Perhaps it was all later synthesized.
Zhadan: In his latest posthumous edition, the most complete, there is a section with these jokes. I guess it's not all gone. But our conversation turns into a conversation about Rymaruk, which in itself is probably good, but I wanted to talk not only about Igor. Let's return to the topic of your generation. I actually grew up on your books. I like to remember this – when you go, for example, to the Kharkiv bookstore "Poetry" on Poetry Square, and there is a new collection of Neborak, Malkovich or Oksana Zabuzhko. You take this book and realize that it is, in fact, already part of the history of literature. It’s an incredible feeling. I think it's lost today. Do you feel differently?
Andrukhovych: I think it's lost. But again ... Then the appearance of each such book was in itself a very rare phenomenon. And not because they were few. Each such collection meant a very severe struggle against the system: it was necessary to circumvent the censors, not to mention the internal editors of publishing houses. When the author managed to publish it in more or less the form in which it was written, there was already such an attractive field around. You bought such a collection and thought, “Here, something special happened”. Now it's all gone – and not the fact that it's bad. Let the poetic process just function normally, and the collections appear one after another. 

"There was an emotional collapse. I suddenly felt I didn't want to do it. "

Zhadan: I have such a, rather, jealous attitude of the adept. When there are poets you followed -
Andrukhovych: Don't sell yourself short. Your books – all together and each in particular – always become something. In general, you made your debut and published at a very young age.
Zhadan: Well, we had a "Smoloskyp", and it was our lucky ticket. But I would like to talk more about your language and changes in it. When you constantly read criticism of Ukrainian writers, the recurring idea in it is that we all repeat ourselves and do not produce anything new. Instead, if you look at what you've written and are writing, I think these are really extremely interesting transformations. This is a very strange and just unexpected twist, when, after the Exotic Birds and Plants, after India, and after Letters to Ukraine comes a long pause – and suddenly Songs for a Dead Rooster appears. After Birds and Plants it is antipoetry in general.
Andrukhovych: If in the days of Birds and Plants I was shown my poems from the future, I would say, “How am I supposed to understand them? What are they?
Zhadan: Many of you had extremely interesting verlibriums. They also happened to you – the same July Sketches of a Traveler and The New Building Sketches. But it was still naturally related to what you wrote in Rome. Instead, Neborak, of the Alter Ego period, first of all explained, "I try to take the Polish concept of modern poetry" (post-Herbert poetry, Ruzhevych, and the Polish reflection of beatniks). It actually came to you 10 years after this book by Victor.
Andrukhovych: It just came to me a little differently. More and more often in Poland, I personally met many heroes of the generation, which they themselves called the generation of "Brulion". They appeared and began to be published at the same time as the political change in Poland. After this personal cross-section, I reconsidered my views on what poetry should be like.
Zhadan: One way or another, was Poland present?
Andrukhovych: It was present one hundred percent. But not in the guise of people I have not personally seen, such as Herbert or Ruzhevich, but in the guise of current beatniks. These are first of all Zadura and Martin Svetlitsky, Stasiuk in his poetry collection and many others, among them Darek Fox. Then we crossed paths several times. Suddenly I thought, “What if I transplanted it into the Ukrainian language through some of my next poetic escapades?”
Zhadan: And how does it happen?
The following line appears: "Again, damn it, radio, television, the papers" (Ukrainian: “Знову, курва, радіо, телебачення, преса”). It is the first in the collection, and you understand that you will not get anywhere from it. It is necessary to develop it; it is necessary to write. You witnessed the first publication of this. It was on the stage in Kharkiv, 1999, at the festival "The Apocalypse will Begin from Here."
Zhadan: In addition to "damn it, radio" then there was "A hundred bucks a month."
Andrukhovych: Then, it seems, I read four such poems. So by then everything was over; the transition had taken place. Of course, I felt what a contrast it was to Birds and Plants. For a while, I even had the idea to come up with a novice poet who allegedly wrote it all. But I had to find a story why this newcomer never appears in public, because hiring an actor would be over the top. That's why I had to introduce him, read his poems, claiming that he was actually an 18-year-old…
Zhadan: Like Yevgeny Yevtushenko, who read the poems of veteran poets, saying that they were "unknown poets."
Andrukhovych: How ignorant of him! But somewhere in verse four or five, I felt like it wouldn't work. In terms of tone, in terms of their sound, those poems were already 40 years old. This was written by a man with a mid-life crisis. By the way, this crisis itself, as it is, was there, was present. Therefore, no one will believe in some young genius.
Zhadan: But then you felt how it resonates among readers. I remember this effect when you read these verses. Remember "Mascult" when we performed on the stage of the Young Theater – each phrase was perceived like, as they would say today, a meme. The text is broken down into quotations. This is something that was not with your old poetry. There is a completely different approach, a completely different perception. There was a completely different reception of reading. And then suddenly comes "A hundred bucks a month – and everybody fucks you." This becomes a phrase that philologists write in their letters.
Andrukhovych: You also took part in this action. It happened there that I had to take a long time to read a poem – after each line was interrupted by long applause. We had to wait for them to calm down.
Zhadan: It was such verbal rock and roll. Then the natural question arises: why Songs did not have a sequel? How did it end?
Andrukhovych: It ended in the middle of the 00's. I already had a vision of this sequel. I wrote a few…. it was supposed to be a poem. Take, for example, "Stas Perfetsky returns to Ukraine" – a text that was supposed to reveal all this. Then I decided that it would not be just poems, but poems written for certain reasons. In 2005, we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of Bu-Ba-Bu [ed. poetic group] – the following text was written before this event, and so on .... But I saw that it was a slow pace, we had to wait too long for these events. In addition, there was a sense of failure of the Orange Revolution. Songs for a Dead Rooster, they led up to it, to its aesthetics. It came out the same year. These poems were supposed to be a continuation – here, Stas Perfetsky returned to Ukraine.
Zhadan: He returned on a wave of euphoria. There was no disappointment yet...
Andrukhovych: Yes, he did it when it was time to return, and then there was just an emotional collapse inside me. I suddenly felt that I did not want to do it. That is, I sometimes wrote something like this - for my 50th birthday, for example. But I keep it somewhere in the closet. There are four or five of these texts today. Their future fate is unknown.
Zhadan: Theoretically, can you imagine if there will ever be another book of poems? But it is better not to guess...
Andrukhovych: In any case, it was a direct continuation of that aesthetic, but it was only going beyond the principle that one verse should be on one page: poetic texts on several pages, which can already be called poems.

"For Radio Night, the initial emotional moment is a mass protest"

Zhadan: I would like to return once again to this strange statement by Rymaruk about the morality of the generation of the eighties. In my opinion, he again spoke of the image of the poet, which goes beyond literature – actually, about the image of the poet. The image that accompanies it is a life that dissolves into reality like Igor himself with his hair, Deep Purple and the Virgin Mary, who both coexisted with him in his work. Justina Dobush, in a review of your novel Radio Night, mentioned that your hero is actually in strange circumstances, in a strange relationship with his flock, his listeners, his fans who need him for the role of Orpheus, and who are actually always ready to give it up.
Andrukhovych: And if something does not correspond with their idea – then goodbye, hero.
Zhadan: This applies to your generation to a large extent. They have very often projected their public expectations, their charms and, accordingly, their disappointments on you. It seems to me that it was you who created this image of what is now called the "leader of public opinion."
Andrukhovych: I think this image could not have arisen without social networks.
Zhadan: It seems to me that the primary source was not social networks, but newspaper columns. Remember – you, Izdrik, and Oles Ulyanenko – you became the first columnists.
Andrukhovych: I started first. It was a direct invitation from The Day. Vitaliy Kotsyuk was still alive and told me about the existence of such a genre in world journalism. I think I must have published a column in The Day every two weeks, and because this newspaper attracted a qualified readership, it spread very well as a message.
Zhadan: In fact, you were the first who started talking not only about literature, but also about other topics, first of all, political ones. First The Day, then Capital News – it was a completely new format. I remember hunting for these columns and waiting. It was something completely different. The writers spoke on topical issues, recreating a whole new narrative.
Andrukhovych: "It's been a long time!" (laughs)
Zhadan: It was read, and then came, “Did you see Andrukhovych's new column? Did you read Oles Ulyanenko's new column? ” You have created the image of a Ukrainian intellectual who is on the border between art and politics with a growing decline in politics because, one way or another, it attracts and causes a much greater resonance than literature.
Andrukhovych: Subjectively, at the end of the 1990s, some political life resumed in Ukraine. It was earlier, during the Rukh, and then, somewhere in the mid-90s, it died out.
Zhadan: In fact, you created this life: columns, some statements by Oksana Zabuzhko, who most now know as a publicist, not a poet.
Andrukhovych: I think so too, but I think the same about myself.
Zhadan: I also assume that more people read your columns on Zbruch than your novels.
Andrukhovych: But what you led to, with disappointments and rejections – yes, it was very noticeable. For example, in the case of my interview in 2010, in which there was Donbas ...
Zhadan: Where you gave up on Donbas? "Yes, Andrukhovych is to blame!"
Andrukhovych: What feedback did I receive then! And these are not naive people who wrote or retold to me through someone, “You once and for all cut off the opportunity to become the president of Ukraine. We expected you to go there. We have already come together to support you. How could you say that?” I was wild to hear it. Here are some projections that may be related to interviews or columns: "Once you write such columns, I refuse to read anything of yours!"
Zhadan: "And what there is – I'll burn ..." It's like with Slava Vakarchuk, when now we have to hear, "And he's not a singer. What I listened to, I threw out of my tracklists and will not listen to it anymore."
I would not like to translate all this into the plane of politics. Rather, on the contrary, I want to go back to literature. Your characters, from the first novel to Radio Night, are largely a true confirmation of Rymaruk's concept: the dissolution of poetry in the air. There is the poet Orpheus, who lives in society and is forced to respond to his challenges. In some ways he succeeds at them, and in some ways he fails. And just take Joseph of Roth – such a canonical Orpheus.
Andrukhovych: Well, at least he's not a poet, but he is still so literary-centric because he reads a lot and finds his own points of understanding.
Zhadan: Either way, this is also what your generation has laid down for us and for those who came after us. That is, you have to be between the community and the muses. You have to function in a minefield between the public and the purely aesthetic. And between that, I think, there is a conflict.
Andrukhovych: There is a conflict between this, but, I would say, it's a productive conflict.
Zhadan: It leads to the fact that they stop reading writers because they are campaigning for the wrong candidates.
Andrukhovych: It may be so, too, but it's a short distance. Here you have outraged someone with something, and then seven or eight years pass, and you are told, “You were right! I didn't understand you then. I was so angry with you ... and now I see how you said all this predictably…” That's why it still works in a productive conflict. For Radio Night, the source of this emotional moment is a mass protest. Let's call it a revolution, or something. In our Ukrainian experience, these two Maidan protest movements had absolutely confirmed the special position of the artist. How the musicians were in demand, how the poets were in demand, what the artists did – this is the constant presence. That's what it was about – about Orphism, which carries its own, dare I say it, elite messages. But it carries them into the revolutionary crowd because this is the moment when the crowd perceives them as well and when the elite becomes publicly available. Just everyone is tuned to this high and special wave.
Zhadan: A kind of baroque concept, when artisticness dissolves in public.
Andrukhovych: Ukraine is a baroque country.
Zhadan: Our time is coming to an end. But well, it seems to me that we have consciously or subconsciously come to the conclusion that the dominant concept of Ukrainian culture today, in the twenty-first century, is this Orphism with all the pros that come from here and with all the cons. I think that's the end of the conversation.
Andrukhovych: Yes, this is a worthy idea, a high opinion. Thanks for talking.


Translated by Kateryna Kazimirova

Short profile

Yurii Andrukhovych – Ukrainian prose writer, poet, essayist, translator, and musician, Co-founded of the Bu-Ba-Bu poetic group,
has been awarded numerous national and international prizes, including the Herder Prize, the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize, the Leipzig Book Fair Prize for European Understanding, the Angelus Award, the Hannah Arendt Prize, and the Goethe Medal. 


Serhiy Zhadan – is a Ukrainian poet, novelist, essayist,  translator, and rock musician.
Central European Angelus Prize, Joseph Conrad-Korzeniowski Prize, four-time Book of the Year winner, twice BBC Book of the Year winner.