Oksana Zabuzhko was born in 1960 in Lutsk (Ukraine). She studied at the University of Kiev and graduated in 1987 in the Philosophy of Art. She has published a series of poetry collections in her own country since the mid-1980s. In the early 1990s she taught at different American universities (Pennsylvania State, Harvard and Pittsburgh). Since that time she has written columns and essays on literature and art philosophy for leading Ukrainian journals. She has been a freelance writer since the publication of her first novel »Pol’ovi doslidshenija z ukraїns’kogo seksu« (tr: Field Studies in Ukrainian Sex) in 1996.
Zabuzhko’s time in America provides the material for her début novel. It’s form is that of a lecture given to a scholarly audience in the USA, in which the authors unfolds her love story from its animal origins to its unfortunate ending. Zabuzhko writes forthrightly about sex and the relationships between men and women. Her language is modern and encompasses diverse references to Ukrainian songs, poems and proverbs, as well as to contemporary everyday and street slang. In Ukraine, Zabuzhko’s novel signalled the revival of a form for expressing one’s own identity which was believed to be long-lost. Brutality and pain in gender relations come to mirror the relationship of a nation to itself. Zabuzhko sees the failure of this love as an aspect of the suffering of her own people, which has been oppressed for generations and has lost its capacity for love.
Hew new novel, »Musej pokinutich sekretiv« (2009, tr: The Museum of Forgotten Secrets), which has topped the Ukrainian best-seller lists since its publication, also tackles social conditions in Ukraine. Two of the characters, the television editor Daryna and the painter Vlada, are living now, while the third, Olena, died during the Second World War with the Ukrainian partisans. One day, Daryna finds a photograph of Olena in the archives and decides to produce a documentary film telling her story. This is how she meets, and then falls in love with, Olena’s grandson: but their love is overshadowed by dark secrets in the past which affect the history of the entire country, from buried icons to a distorted account of history and the neuralgic relationships between men and women.
Oksana Zabuzhko, who has published 16 books and is Vice President of the Ukrainian P.E.N. The author lives in Kiev.