The stories in Ukrainian film director, writer, and dissident Oleg Sentsov’s debut collection are as much acts of dissent as they are acts of creative expression. These autobiographical stories display a Tarkovsky-esque mix of nostalgia and philosophical insight, written in a simple yet profound style looking back on a life’s path that led Sentsov to become an internationally renowned dissident artist.
Sentsov’s charges seemingly stem from his opposition to Russia’s invasion and occupation of eastern Ukraine where he lived in the Crimea. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in August 2015 on spurious terrorism charges after he was kidnapped in his house and put through a grossly unfair trial by a Russian military court, marred by allegations of torture. Many of the stories included here were read during international campaigns by PEN International, the European Film Academy, and Amnesty International, among others, to support the case for Sentsov across the world. Sentsov’s final words at his trial, “Why bring up a new generation of slaves?” have become a rallying cry for his cause. He spent 145 days on hunger strike in 2018 to urge the Russian authorities to release all Ukrainians unfairly imprisoned in Russia, an act of profound courage that contributed to the European Parliament’s awarding him the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Sentsov remains in a prison camp in Russia. It is the publisher’s hope this book, published in collaboration with PEN Ukraine, contributes to his timely release.
“Through his courage and determination, by putting his life in danger, the filmmaker Oleg Sentsov has become a symbol of the struggle for the release of political prisoners held in Russia and around the world.”
— Antonio Tajani, European Parliament President