Serhiy Zhadan

Serhiy Viktorovych Zhadan (Ukrainian: Сергі́й Ві́кторович Жада́н; born 23 August 1974) is a Ukrainian poet, novelist, essayist, and translator.

Serhiy Zhadan
Serhiy Zhadan 2015.jpg
Serhiy Zhadan, 2015, Wrocław
Сергі́й Ві́кторович Жада́н

(1974-08-23) 23 August 1974 (age 46)
Alma materKharkiv University
Occupationpoet, novelist, translator

Life and careerEdit

Zhadan was born in Starobilsk, Luhansk Oblast in Ukraine. He graduated from H.S. Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University in 1996 with a thesis on the work of Mykhail Semenko and the Ukrainian Futurist writers of the 1920s. He then spent three years as a graduate student of philology, and taught Ukrainian and world literature from 2000 to 2004. Since then he has worked as a freelance writer.

Starting his career in 1990 his verses revolutionized Ukrainian poetry: they were less sentimental, reviving the style of 1920s Ukrainian avant-garde writers like Semenko or Johanssen. And they drew upon his homeland: the industrial landscapes of East Ukraine. "Voroshilovgrad" (the Soviet name for Luhansk) tells a story of a young man called Herman who left his home city Starobilsk (in the Luhansk region) but who has to come back to his native lands to protect something that belongs to him.[1]

Zhadan is an internationally known Ukrainian writer, with 12 books of poetry and 7 novels, and winner of more than a dozen literary awards. In March 2008, the Russian translation of his novel Anarchy in the UKR made the shortlist of the National Bestseller Prize. It was also a contender for "Book of the Year" at the 2008 Moscow International Book Exhibition. In 2009 he won the Joseph Conrad-Korzeniowski Literary Prize. In 2012 Gunshot and Knife won Ukrainian rating "Book of the Year" for fiction. His 2010 novel Voroshylovhrad won him the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature in Switzerland, BBC Ukrainian's "Book of the Decade" award and Brücke Berlin Prize. His selected poems Dynamo Kharkiv won Ukrainian "Book of the Year." (2014) His book Mesopotamia won the Angelus literature prize in 2015, the Award of the President of Ukraine "Ukrainian Book of the Year" in 2016.

Zhadan has translated poetry from German, English, Belarusian, and Russian, from such poets as Paul Celan and Charles Bukowski. His own works have been translated into German, English, Estonian, French, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, Serbian, Croatian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Belarusian, Russian,[2] Hungarian, Armenian, and Czech.

Theater and multimedia projectsEdit

His novel Anthem of Democratic Youth has been adapted for the stage and performed at the Ivan Franko National Academic Drama Theater in Kyiv. Since 2004 he has worked with Yara Arts Group form La MaMa Experimental Theatre in New York, contributing to the shows: "Koliada: Twelve Dishes" (2005), "Underground Dreams"(2013–2014), "Hitting Bedrock" (2015) and "1917–2017: Tychyna, Zhadan and the Dogs," (2016–2017).

His poems "Spy," "Chaplain" and "Needle," translated by Tkacz and Phipps were part of "Blind Spot," an installation by Mykola Ridnyi and Serhii Zhadan for the Ukrainian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale May–July, 2015 See photos [1]

Music projectsEdit

Zhadan collaborated with Kharkiv-based music band Luk. Most of Luk's Ukrainian-language songs included lyrics based on works by Zhadan (in particular the first album Tourist zone is based on Zhadan's play "Merry Christmas, Jesus Christ").

The tribute album Khor monholskykh militsioneriv (Mongol policemen choir) was released in 2008. The songs include lyrics by Zhadan, performed by Kharkiv musicians.

Since 2007, Zhadan has collaborated with another Kharkiv band Sobaky v Kosmosi, now known as Zhadan and the Dogs. They released the albums — The Army Sports Club (Sportyvny Klub Armiyi, 2008), Weapons of the Proletatiat (Zbroya Proletariatu, 2012), Fight for Her (Byisya za neyi, 2012), Dogs (Sobaky, 2016) and Madonna (2019).

Political ActivismEdit

Serhiy Zhadan at "Rock for change" rally in Kharkiv, 2013

Zhadan's active involvement in Ukrainian Independence began while a student and has continued throughout the various political crises in Ukraine. In 1992 he was one of the organizers of Kharkiv neo-futuristic literary group "The Red Thistle".[3][4] He participated in the 2004 Orange Revolution demonstrations against corruption and voter intimidation in the presidential run-off elections, was the commandant of a tent camp in Kharkiv. The protests resulted in a revote ordered by Ukraine's Supreme Court. He has repeatedly expressed sympathy for anarchists, and in many of his works there are "left" motives.[5][6]

In 2013 he was a member of the coordination council of Euromaidan Kharkiv, part of the nationwide protests and violent clashes with police.[7][8] The 5 day Maidan revolution resulted in resignation of Russian backed President Yanukovych. In 2014, he was assaulted outside the administration building in Kharkiv.[9]

Since 2014 Zhadan has made numerous visits to the front lines of the Eastern Donbas region involved in armed conflict with Russian separatists. In February 2017 he co-founded Serhiy Zhadan Charitable Foundation to provide humanitarian aid to front-line cities.

Critical receptionEdit

Rostislav Melnikov and Yuriy Tsaplin of the New Literary Review wrote in 2007:

Zhadan's prose is so poetic, his free verse so prosaic. It is difficult to assign a genre to his work: memoir, travelogue, timely or untimely meditation – or a mixture of all these, centered on the themes my generation and our epoch.[10]

Kirill Ankudinov, writing for in June 2008, said:

There is no summarizing the spicy, hot, sweet, vicious improvisations of Serhiy Zhadan – this is verbal jazz. When you read him, you fear for contemporary Russian literature: of those now writing in the Russian language, there is none among them who is so infernally free (and above all, free from "writerly" prose, from the tendency to "produce an impression").[11]

Poetry in English translationsEdit

Books by Serhiy Zhadan published in English translationEdit

  • What We Live For, What We Die For: Selected Poems by Serhiy Zhadan, translated by Viralna Tkacz and Wanda Phipps, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019).
  • Mesopotamia by Serhiy Zhadan, prose translated by Reilly Costigan-Humes & Isaac Stackhouse Wheele poetry translated by Viralna Tkacz and Wanda Phipps, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018).
  • Voroshilovgrad by Serhiy Zhadan, translated by Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler and Reilly Costigan-Humes, (Dallas: Deep Velum, 2016)
  • Depeche Mode by Serhiy Zhadan, translated by Miroslav Shkandrij (London: Glagoslav Publications,2013).

English-language articles about ZhadanEdit

In other languagesEdit

  • Voroshilovgrad — Ukraine, 2011, 2012 (in Russian).
  • Life of Maria (Життя Марії) — Czech Republic, 2015.
  • Fire Arms and Knives (Вогнепальні й ножові) — Russia, 2016.
  • "Why I'm not on social networks - Poems from the war" - Germany, 2016
  • Drohobych (poems) — Poland, 2018.
  • Poems — Belarus, 2018.
  • "What we live for, what we die for" (poems) — USA, 2019
  • Antenna — Poland, Warstwy, 2020.
  • The Orphanage (Інтернат) — Denmark, Jensen & Dalgaard I/S, 2020.
  • Depeche Mode (Депеш Мод) — Estonia, 2020.
  • Anthem of democratic youth (Гімн демократичної молоді) — France, Espace Instant, 2020.



  • Quotations (Цитатник), 1995.
  • General Judas (Генерал Юда), 1995.
  • Pepsi (Пепсі), (1998).
  • The very best poems, psychedelic stories of fighting and other bullshit: Selected Poems, 1992–2000 (Вибрані поезії), 2000.
  • Ballads about War and Reconstruction (Балади про війну і відбудову), 2001.
  • The History of Culture at the Beginning of This Century (Історія культури початку століття), (2003)
  • UkSSR (У.Р.С.Р.), 2004.
  • Maradona (Марадона), 2007.
  • Ethiopia (Ефіопія), 2009.
  • Lili Marlene (Лілі Марлен), 2009.
  • Fire Arms and Knives (Вогнепальні й ножові), 2012.
  • Life of Maria (Життя Марії), 2015.
  • Templars (Тамплієри), 2016.
  • Antenna (Aнтена), 2018є


  • Big Mac (Біґ Мак; short story collection), 2003.
  • Depeche Mode (Депеш Мод), 2004; Glagoslav Publications Limited, 2013, ISBN 9781909156845
  • Anarchy in the UKR, 2005.
  • Anthem of Democratic Youth (Гімн демократичної молоді), 2006.
  • Big Mac² (Біґ Мак²; short story collection), 2007.
  • Voroshilovgrad (Ворошиловград), 2010; Deep Vellum Publishing, 2016, ISBN 9781941920305.
  • Big Mac and Other Stories (Біґ Мак та інші історії), 2011.
  • Mesopotamia (Месопотамія; nine stories and thirty poems), 2014.
  • The Orphanage (Інтернат), 2017.


  • Capital (Капітал), 2006 – includes everything but The History of Culture at the Beginning of the Century, Big Mac, and Maradona.

Anthologized poetryEdit

  • Stanislav+2 (Станислав+2), 2001.
  • "Ch" Time – Verses on Chechnya and Not Only (Время `Ч`. Стихи о Чечне и не только), 2001.
  • We Will Not Die in Paris (Мы умрем не в Париже), 2002.
  • The History of Culture (История культуры), 2004.
  • The Unknown Ukraine (НеИзвестная Украина), 2005.



  1. ^ "Masterpieces of Ukrainian literature: 7 works (or more) you can read in English". Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  2. ^ Balla, Olga (1 November 2016). Тяжелые соты письма (in Russian). Colta. Archived from the original on 2016-11-04. Retrieved 5 November 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "«Червона фіра»: 20 років по тому". ЛітАкцент - світ сучасної літератури (in Ukrainian). 2012-05-05. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  4. ^ "«Червона Фіра» як початок «жаданівської» культури | Справжня Варта". Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  5. ^ "Лівизна як «архітектурна прикраса» в творчості Сергія Жадана". ЛітАкцент - світ сучасної літератури (in Ukrainian). 2010-09-17. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  6. ^ Facebook, Howard Amos, serhiy zhadan /. ""Everything changed." Ukraine's literary star Serhiy Zhadan on 5 years since Euromaidan". The Calvert Journal. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  7. ^ McGrane, Sally (8 March 2014). "The Abuse of Ukraine's Best-Known Poet". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 2014-03-12. Retrieved 12 March 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Ukraine activists swap Lenin for Lennon". BBC. 23 December 2013. Archived from the original on 2017-12-09. Retrieved 2018-06-20.
  9. ^ Maksymiuk, Jan; Bigg, Claire (11 March 2014). "Ukraine's Rock Star Poet Who Chose To Fight Back". Radio Free Europe. Archived from the original on 2014-03-11. Retrieved 12 March 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Melnikov, Rostislav; Tsaplin, Yuriy (2007). "Northeast of the Southwest: The Contemporary Literature of Kharkiv". The New Literary Review, #85. Archived from the original on 2011-06-14. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  11. ^ Ankudinov, Kirill (5 June 2008). "Adventures in April". Vzglyad. Archived from the original on 2008-08-14. Retrieved 2009-03-08.
  12. ^ Brack, Joëlle (28 November 2014). "Prix Jan Michalski 2014". Payot Libraire. Retrieved 29 November 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year 2014 and Book of the Decade winners named". The Financial. 13 December 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-12-14. Retrieved 2014-12-14.
  14. ^ "Serhij Żadan!!! -". Archived from the original on 2015-12-22. Retrieved 20 April 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ Булкина, Инна. Кроме Нобеля: Ангелус и другие (in Russian). Gefter. Archived from the original on 2015-12-14. Retrieved 16 December 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External linksEdit