Charting New Realms: Vasyl Gabor’s Literary Expedition from Lviv to the World

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Vasyl Gabor’s Enthralling Fusion of Fiction and Reality: A Literary Journey

Sova Books is excited to publish a book we are very proud of. It is an anthology of novellas and stories crafted by the eminent Lviv author, literary scholar, and cultural activist Vasyl Gabor. The new release is titled “A Book of Exotic Dreams and Real Events“. Each piece in this collection unveils to the reader a unique realm of reality, spanning the spectrum of human emotions: happiness, sadness, shame, disdain, and more.

The talented translator Patrick John Corness masterfully translated this collection into English. A native English speaker, Patrick embarked on learning Ukrainian independently after spending time in Ukraine. With a Ph.D. in translation studies, Patrick stands out as one of the most outstanding contemporary Ukrainian-to-English translators. In translating this collection, Patrick benefited from cultural advice by two Ukrainian translators, Natalie Fredericks and Oksana Bunio.

The inaugural edition of the collection was unveiled in 2012 in Ukraine. Patrick John Corness has revised the present second edition of A Book of Exotic Dreams and Real Events. The book is now available in digital format on Amazon and Google Books platforms. We are eager to see the printed version of this memorable book on bookstore shelves soon.

Below, we present an excerpt from a letter written by Vasyl Gabor to his Australian readers.

Freedom is the sweetest word in Ukraine

Logically, I ought to begin with a brief introduction of myself… Yet the harsh reality is that a devastating war engulfs our nation, compelling my opening remarks to centre on Ukraine. 

Unity in Adversity: The Global Support Behind Ukraine’s Volunteer Efforts

The sheer scale of Russia’s assault on Ukraine has stunned its citizens, leaving many in the grip of fear and despair. However, the grim realisation that the aim was not merely territorial conquest but the systematic eradication of Ukrainians as a people rapidly galvanised a united front in support of our military. Across the nation, individuals rallied to aid the Ukrainian Armed Forces in whatever manner possible, leading to the emergence of volunteer groups nationwide. Among these, our family joined The Lviv Volunteer Kitchen. The organisation provides the armed forces with nutritious meals, including borshch, soups, various porridges, and energy bars.

As time passed, The Lviv Volunteer Kitchen attracted volunteers from countries across the globe. There were people from America, England, France, Germany, Norway, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, etc. This international support was a source of great encouragement… 

Dream Realised: Bridging Worlds Through the Power of Storytelling

Today, I am overjoyed to tell you that a dream of mine has been realised. My Book of Exotic Dreams and Real Events, a labour of love spanning two decades under the oppressive Soviet regime, is now available to Australian readers.

Reflecting on my work from a vantage point in time, I realise that my book delves into the universal human quest for freedom and happiness, depicting an individual’s struggle to escape confinement. The narrative bridges two contrasting worlds: the untamed essence of the Carpathians and the mystic allure of my homeland, Transcarpathia—endearingly referred to as the Silver Land—and the urban fabric of Lviv, a city that has grown increasingly dear to me.

To my astonishment, the collection of novellas I spent two decades crafting, believing it would stand as my sole contribution to literature, not only resonated with Ukrainian readers, leading to three subsequent reprints, but also achieved international recognition. It has been translated in full into English, with selected stories finding their way into German, Serbian, Slovak, Croatian, Czech, and Japanese. The scholarly attention it garnered from Ukrainian literary critics was also extensive.

Vasyl Gabor: A Journey from Transcarpathian Roots to Literary Influence

With this context in mind, it is appropriate to introduce myself. My name is Vasyl Gabor. I am a writer, press and literary scholar and publisher, the son of Vasyl and Maria Gabor, born in Transcarpathia in 1959. I graduated in 1986 from the Faculty of Journalism, Ivan Franko University of Lviv. I have since worked on the editorial teams of Lviv newspapers and the Litopys Chervonoi Kalyny magazine. Since 1993, I have spent over three decades working at the Vasyl Stefanyk Scientific Library of Ukraine in Lviv. There, I focused on studying Ukrainian periodicals from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Having lived through both the era of a totalitarian regime and the subsequent resurrection of independent Ukraine, my life exemplifies the boundless opportunities afforded by freedom. In independent Ukraine, once just a boy from a mountain village in Transcarpathia, I have achieved what once seemed impossible. I have gained a PhD and published several academic books, three novels and three essays. Also, for two decades, I spearheaded my publishing initiative, A Private Collection. This project has brought to light over 200 books and anthologies by contemporary Ukrainian authors.

Furthermore, it has been instrumental in reviving the works of previously suppressed Western Ukrainian writers and scholars. These are Ivan Kolos, the poet of Carpathian Ukraine; Daria Vikonska, the aristocrat of spirit; travel writers Sofia Yablonska and Stepan Levynsky; and the scientist Konstantyn Chekhovych, to name a few. Under the yoke of totalitarianism, such endeavours would have been inconceivable. Hence, to me, freedom is the most precious concept, both within Ukraine and globally.

Creative Resistance: The Role of Ukrainian Literature in Defending Freedom

Book cover of A Book of Exotic Dreams and Real Events by Vasyl Gabor

For the new generations born in independent Ukraine, freedom is as natural as the air they breathe, and rightly so. Yet, today, we face a grave threat from Putin’s Russia. It aims to strip us of our most valued assets – our land and our liberty. I firmly believe that the creative expression of every Ukrainian writer now serves as a formidable weapon in this struggle.

The Private Collection project has been a transformative journey for me. Over the past twenty years, I have lived vicariously through others, publishing their works, which in turn fuelled my creative endeavours and the exploration of new expressive forms.

A decade following the publication of A Book of Exotic Dreams and Real Events, I ventured into zuihitsu – a form of associative writing – with my book What a Person Thinks About, which last year was translated into Bulgarian. Five years later, I introduced a novel genre with my third book , Do You Love?.. , composed of breaths.

Yet it is my inaugural work, A Book of Exotic Dreams and Real Events, that holds the most profound significance for me, offering international readers a window into the Ukrainian soul and its indomitable quest for freedom.

Sincerely, Vasyl Gabor