Dibrova, Volodymyr, b 11 August 1951 in Donetsk. (Photo: Volodymyr Dibrova.) Writer, playwright, translator, and literary critic. Dibrova graduated from the Faculty of Romance and Germanic Languages at Kyiv University in 1973 and, in 1988, obtained his candidate of philology degree from the Institute of Literature of the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian SSR. He specialized in Irish literature and wrote his dissertation on the prose of Flann O’Brien. Between 1992 and 1994 Dibrova was the head of the English Department at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy National University. Since 1996 he has lived in the United States. Initially a writer-in-residence at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, he now works as a Ukrainian-language instructor at Harvard University.
A representative of the so-called ‘lost generation’ of Ukrainian writers, Dibrova began writing poetry and prose in the late 1960s, but was able to publish his works for the first time only in 1986 when one of his poems appeared in the journal Ukraïna. In the meantime, in 1978, he began publishing literary translations and later became known for his Ukrainian renditions of the works of Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco (his translation of Beckett’s novel Watt was awarded the Mykola Lukash Prize in 1991). From 1986 his literary criticism began to be published by Vsesvit and other journals. Between 1987 to 1989 several of his short stories appeared in Moloda hvardiia, and his first two books of prose, Teksty z nazvamy i bez (Texts with and without Titles) and Pisni Bitlz (Beatles Songbook), were published in Kyiv in 1990 and 1991. They were followed by several journal publications of his short stories and novellas and a collection Zbihovys’ka (Get-togethers, 1999), all of which won him the reputation of one of the most respected prose writers of his generation. In 1996, two of his novellas were published in the United States in the English translation as Peltse. Pentameron. In 1992 Dibrova began publishing his dramatic works, strongly influenced by the aesthetics of the theater of the absurd, but, at the same time, exhibiting the characteristic features of the Soviet ‘sots-art’ literature of the 1980s. A book of his selected prose and drama that included his popular novel Burdyk (first published in 1997) appeared as Vybhane (Crumpled) in 2002, while his collected plays were published as Dovkola stolu. Piesy (Around the Table. Plays) in 2005. His novel Andriivs’kyi uzviz (St. Andrew’s Way) was awarded the BBC Ukrainian Service Book of the Year Prize in 2007.
Marko Robert Stech
[This article was written in 2008.]