A recent article in the New York Times Magazine about the Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov (The Pen and the Sword, May 26, 2022) discusses why the author writes in Russian (which some Ukrainians object to).

It mentions,

When the novel [Gray Bees] was published in Ukraine in 2018, it was criticized by some for its insufficiently patriotic account of the Donbas war. Others suggested it was of interest mainly to foreigners. Kurkov sees such purism as reductive. Ukraine was ruled from Moscow for hundreds of years, and about a third of its citizens speak Russian as their first language, so to insist, as many now do, that “Ukrainian literature” means simply literature written in Ukrainian is to overlook a good deal of complexity. Some of the greatest Ukrainian-born writers, from Gogol and Bulgakov to Babel, Akhmatova, Grossman and Kuznetsov, did their work in Russian. This didn’t stop them from bearing witness to Russian crimes, including those against its smaller neighbor. “I have come up with different ways of explaining that the language is not to blame,” Kurkov wrote in a recent essay. “That Putin does not own the Russian language. That many defenders of Ukraine are Russian-speaking, that many civilian victims in the south and east of Ukraine are also Russian-speaking and ethnic Russians.”

While this addresses some of the objections to him writing in Russian, I was confused as to the actual constructive reason that he does so. Is it simply because it's his first language, or is there another reason I'm missing?

Essay referred to in quote



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