Serhiy Zhadan was born in 1974 in Starobilsk, an industrial town in eastern Ukraine. He studied German and Ukrainian Language and Literature in Kharkiv. He graduated with a dissertation on Ukrainian Futurism, and lectured on Literary Studies for four years before deciding to become a freelance writer and translator. Zhadan has published nine collections of poetry and four of prose in the Ukraine, where he is one of the most popular authors.
The young author began to write during the era of political upheavals in the Soviet Union, which challenged the Ukrainian people to come to terms with this new, half frightening, half promising situation. The author describes his situation back then, and the prevalent mood among the younger generation: »Our home was the Literature Museum, around which a kind of punk commune of Kharkiv dropouts had formed. I was sleeping in the museum back then, and that’s also where I began writing.« Zhadan’s work is determined by a morbid Romanticism and a defiant optimism which is characteristic of the times. In his most famous collection of poems, »Istorija kul’tury pocatku stolittja« (2003, tr: The History of Culture at the Beginning of the Century), he uses radical and yet sensitive language to make poetry of his own lack of orientation in post-Socialist society. In Zhadan’s novels »Depeš Mod« (2004; tr: Depeche Mode) – the author’s first large book of prose – and »Anarchy in the UKR« (2005) the characters also become lost in the chaos of anarchic social and economic structures, as well as in the labyrinth of their own desires and dreams. Zhadan’s latest prose work, »Himn demokratycnoi molodi« (2006, tr: The Hymn of Democratic Youth) contains six stories in which the reader encounters diverse representatives of this generation of »lost« young Ukrainians, like San Santysch, a socially critical wrestler with a high school degree, and Goga, a veteran of the Chechen War who dreams of opening his own bar. The two open the the town’s first gay club together – a business idea which, like so much else, is doomed to failure.
Aside from his literary work, Serhiy Zhadan also organises music, literature and poetry festivals, writes song lyrics and sings in his own band, Sobaki v Kosmosi (tr: Dogs in Space). In 2006 the author was awarded the Hubert Burda Prize for young Eastern European poets. He lives and works in Kharkiv.