Close to the Polish border lies a city that has a long history of producing writers that have influenced not only Eastern European literature but also made it on to the international scene.
The pretty city of Lviv (also knows as Lvov) sits in the Western corner of Ukraine. Throughout its long history it has been subjected to the rule of many different empires and it is a place where various cultures have co-existed for centuries. From the late 18th century until the end of the World War I, Lviv was a city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The decline of the Empire was famously chronicled in The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth, who hailed from Lviv. Until World War II, the city had both a very large Jewish community as well as a Polish one.
Lviv’s contribution to the Polish literary scene is profound and it has been a hub of writers for the last couple of centuries. It is the birthplaceof sci-fi writer Stanislaw Lem, who is possibly most famous for his frightening novel Solaris which takes place on a research station in space. Poets Zbigniew Herbert and Adam Zagajewski are Lviv-born as well as the interesting author Leopold von Sacher-Massoch who is known for his novel Venus In Furs. The book inspired psychiatrist Kraft-Ebbing to coin the term Masochism.
Nicknamed the “Paris of Ukraine”, Lviv seems a perfect place to start when delving into modern Eastern European literature.