The Last Words in the World: Ukrainians and the War Experience

Please join us for a lecture on November 9, 2023, Reed 107, 4:45 pm with Olena Stiazhkina, Prominent Ukrainian writer and history professor exiled from Donetsk since the 2014 Russian occupation. Free and open to the public.

Zoom link available by request, please contact

Prominent Ukrainian writer and history professor Olena Stiazhkina, exiled from Donetsk since the 2014 Russian occupation, will give a presentation on the occasion of the upcoming publication of her two books in the English language, the novel "Cecil the Lion Had to Die" and "Ukraine, War, Love: A Donetsk Diary". She will share some episodes from Donetsk's recent history that are entangled with her own experiences. She will speak about life in the world of the last words, about the Kennedy brothers who lived and worked in Donetsk, about a referendum on Donetsk joining the United Kingdom, about a New York where few New Yorkers have ever been, about lectures given to rats in the Izolyatsia concentration camp, and about the choice to be Ukrainian as a choice of love and freedom. 

A historian by training, Olena Stiazhkina is a prolific Ukrainian writer and journalist with numerous scholarly publications and eleven books of fiction. Until the occupation of the city of Donetsk, she taught Slavic history at the Vasyl Stus National University in Donetsk (1993–2015) and then at the Mariupol State University (2015–2016). Her scholarly interests focus on women's history, life in the Soviet Union, and the history of the Donbas. Since 2016, she has served as the senior research fellow at the Institute of History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Her works of fiction comprise collections of short stories, novels, and detective stories (under the pen name Olena Iurska). Having written almost exclusively in Russian before, Stiazhkina has been transitioning to writing in Ukrainian following the Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014. Most recent scholarly book: The Stigma of Occupation: Self-Perception of Soviet Women in the 1940s (in Ukrainian, 2019). Most recent book of fiction: Cecil the Lion Had to Die (in Ukrainian; English translation forthcoming from Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute in 2023). Harvard is also publishing Ukraine, War, Love: A Donetsk Diary in 2023. In Ukraine, War, Love, Olena Stiazhkina depicts day-to-day developments in and around her beloved hometown during Russia's 2014 invasion and occupation of the Ukrainian city of Donetsk. An award-winning fiction writer, Stiazhkina brings a novelist's sensibilities to bear on an increasingly harrowing series of events, chronicling them with sarcasm, anger, humor, and love. In this personal account, she documents the first bloody chapter of Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

Free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the Russian Department and the Leslie Center for the Humanities