Image - Suchasnist' no 1-2, 2009.

Suchasnist’ («Сучасність»; Contemporaneity). A monthly journal of literature, translation, the arts, history, and political, social, and economic affairs, published from 1961 to 1990 by the Suchasnist Ukrainian Society for International Studies in Munich, with the assistance of the Prolog Research Corporation; then in 1990–1 in Newark, New Jersey; and from 1991 to 2013 in Kyiv. After 1993 Suchasnist’ was an organ of the Ukrainian World Coordinating Council and the Republican Association of Ukrainian Studies (since 1999 National Association of Ukrainian Studies). The journal was formed through the merger of Suchasna Ukraïna (1951–60) and Ukraïns’ka literaturna hazeta (1955–60). Its chief editors were Ivan Koshelivets (1961–6, 1976–7, 1983–4), Wolfram Burghardt (1967–70), Bohdan Kravtsiv (1970–5), George Yurii Shevelov (1978–81), Marta Skorupska (1978, 1981–3), Taras Hunczak (1984–2001), Ivan Dziuba (coeditor from 1992, head of editorial council from 2001), Ihor Rymaruk (2001–8), and Taras Fediuk (2009–10, 2012–13). The journal closed permanently in 2013 due to the lack of funding.

Although it was closely associated with the External Representation of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council, Suchasnist’ reflected a wide spectrum of émigré and Western opinion. It had several longstanding rubrics: literature and arts, history and present, topical issues, discussions and conversations, and reviews and annotations. Among its contributors were many of the most prominent émigré writers, scholars, critics, and cultural and political figures. Suchasnist’ was a major forum for émigré poets and prose writers (including Vasyl Barka, Mykhailo Orest, Oleh Zuievsky, Emma Andiievska, Vira Vovk, Yuriy Tarnawsky, Bohdan Rubchak, Ivan Koshelivets, Hryhory Kostiuk, Moisei Fishbein) and has devoted much attention to political developments in Ukraine, especially the dissident movement and, since the late 1980s, the democratic movement there; it published samvydav literary works and documents, prose and poetry by the shistdesiatnyky, banned literary works, criticisms of Russification and national discrimination in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and news and analyses of political and social developments there. It also published articles on international politics, culture, history, and intellectual life (among its authors were Vsevolod Holubnychy, Omeljan Pritsak, Iwan Koropeckyj, Ivan Maistrenko, Sviatoslav Hordynsky, Yurii Lavrinenko, Ivan Lysiak Rudnytsky, George Yurii Shevelov, Vasyl Markus, Danylo Husar Struk, and Roman Szporluk).

In independent Ukraine Suchasnist’ immediately became the major intellectual venue for modern Ukrainian prose, poetry, political commentary, and literary and art criticism. Its authors came from both diaspora and Ukraine, ranging from noted intellectuals, dissidents, and the shistdesiatnyky such as Taras Hunczak, Bohdan Hawrylyshyn, George Luckyj, Les Taniuk, Leonid Pliushch, Myroslav Marynovych, Vasyl Stus, and Yevhen Sverstiuk, to the new generation of social scientists, historians, literary critics, and art historians (Volodymyr Kulyk, Solomiia Pavlychko, Nila Zborovska, Mykola Riabchuk, Mariia Zubrytska, Oleksandr Hrytsenko, Oleksii Tolochko, Oleksii Haran, Marko Robert Stech, Taras Vozniak, Anatolii Makarov), to young writers and poets like Yuri Andrukhovych (whose then controversial novel Rekreatsiї [Recreations] was first published in Suchasnist’ in 1992), Ivan Malkovych, Viktor Neborak, Oleksandr Irvanets, Kostiantyn Moskalets, Natalka Bilotserkivets, Oksana Zabuzhko, Oleh Lysheha, Viacheslav Medvid, and others. The journal also published groundbreaking translations of world literature, including works by William Shakespeare, Bruno Schulz, D.H. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Georg Trakl, and Franz Grillparzer.

In the new century, despite rising financial difficulties, Suchasnist’ continued to be a major intellectual voice in Ukraine. It attracted a new generation of critics and authors (Rostyslav Melnykiv, Serhii Zhadan, Mykhailo Brynykh, Oleksandr Mykhed, Otar Dovzhenko) and published the most recent works of Ukrainian writers (among them novels Chornyi voron [Black Raven] by Vasyl Shkliar and Muzei pokynutykh sekretiv [The Museum of Abandoned Secrets] by Oksana Zabuzhko). It also awarded prizes to scholars, artists, and critics (among them historian James Mace, poet and translator Moisei Fishbein, writers Vasyl Kozhelianko, Yevheniia Kononenko, and Vasyl Shkliar, poet and critic Ihor Kachurovsky, literary scholar Tamara Hundorova, and art historian Olga Petrova).

The Suchasnist publishing house was founded in 1968 as a continuation of the publishing house of the Prolog Research Corporation. Until the late 1980s, it issued separately approximately 80 poetry collections, novels, translations, monographs, memoirs, and anthologies. It also reprinted Soviet works that were unavailable or banned in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (eg, the writings of Mykola Skrypnyk, the collected prose of V. Domontovych [i.e., Viktor Petrov], and poetry by Mykola Bazhan, Volodymyr Svidzinsky, Vasyl Stus, and Vasyl Symonenko) and published samvydav works by Soviet Ukrainian dissidents (Petro Grigorenko, Ivan Dziuba, Ihor Kalynets, Levko Lukianenko, Yevhen Sverstiuk, Ivan Svitlychny, Helii Snehiriov, and Viacheslav Chornovil), and books of foreign literature in Ukrainian translation.

Suchasnist', 1961–1985: Vybrane (Munich 1987)
Bibliohrafichnyi dovidnyk zhurnalu “Suchasnit'”: 1961–2003 (Lviv 2003)
Oksana Pelens'ka, ‘Suchasnist' bez maibuntioho?’ Radio Svoboda 28 January 2011

Serhiy Bilenky

[This article was updated in 2023.]

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