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Ukrainian writer Martin Gal was born in 1970 in Svalyava, Transcarpathian region, where he still lives. In 1992 he graduated from the Poltava Medical Institute with a degree in therapist. From 1991 to 1996 he studied at Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow. Author of 11 published paper and 6 electronic books. Finalist Ilya-Prize 2004. He is married with three children.

In the books of Martin Gal, the reader is forced not only to follow the beautiful verbal drawing, but also to participate in a complex philosophical and ethical structure. The author enjoys playing with the reader a difficult “beads game”, competing in solving intellectual riddles.


Who is a writer?

A writer is a person who has nothing: no supply of inspiration, no confidence in writing, nothing at all – except a vague desire to re-experience the power of words. Having the whole world in his hand, the writer does not own anything, he is a mirage of mirages, shrouded in a fog of accidents.

It is not surprising that he does not know what he will write about in a minute, and whether he will write at all. A writer is always something non-existent, an abstract phenomenon, an unknown character. A writer is a reluctant hero, a person forced by circumstances to win in an unequal battle.


Why do people do art?

Art is always a challenge to death. But who or what does the artist want to keep from disappearing? Doesn’t he want to immortalize himself in his creations, to call himself by name? People think the artist is driven by a desire for fame. They are even convinced of this, because life gives them every reason for it. But it is not so.

Creators are people of a very receptive organization, their level of awareness is so wide and deep that it allows them to see more accurately and understand faster. The Creator receives as a gift an overabundance of understanding of beauty, and then one day this surplus mass of ideas, which takes possession of him entirely, bursts out like the lava of an awakened volcano.

From that day, a creative person no longer belongs to himself, he is a slave to the blind power of inspiration, which took him into circulation. The Creator is forced to abandon his own “I” and become the one who speaks for everyone. And like unbearable pain, his beauty is striking – this is a moment of clear and piercing truth, but he understands that he cannot hold the beauty: time and death are stronger.

But he does not want to save himself and not his creation from death, but the beauty of sunflowers and children, the starry sky and the tiger, the beauty of love and deed, beauty in general, seen and understood by him. This is how the creator has an irresistible desire to affirm beauty forever. Defeat death in the act of creation, the purpose of which is to make beauty eternal.


Why am I writing books?

There is always a bias when you pick up a book by an unknown author. The question arises: why do we need another new book? Why did Martin Gal write it? Why does he want us to read it? A book has no rights other than the desire to be written.

But the book does not care who writes it; moreover, it does not care who reads it. Hence the difficult life of each new book. It is looking for someone to whom it can entrust its fate: an author who, having written it, should become a writer, and a reader who, having read a book, can become its author.

But without the confidence that what you have written is really necessary, it is impossible to write. I no longer ask myself, “Who will read this?” I ask differently: “What happens if everyone reads this?”




What is literature?

Literature always begins where it is called into question. It exists in the impossibility of writing, when nothing can be done for sure – neither think about what you are going to write about, nor write what you have already thought about. Literature is born at the moment of writing.

In the process of writing, everything that was disappears, and everything is reborn. The fear of a blank sheet of paper is a mystical fear of the unknown, because writing is always the risk of ending up in an impossible country, the fear of not recognizing yourself after you write.

As a writer, I’ve always wanted to know my ancestry. Who preceded me in the genetics of thought, where did my worries and dreams come from? Can’t I myself, without anyone, suddenly begin to reason, while so accurately and boldly?

Usually a person knows where he came from. Knows who his parents and grandparents are. My grandfather fell in love with my grandmother, and they gave birth to a dad, who met my mother, who gave birth to me. But why do I have so little taken from my parents and so much received from strangers and strangers to me?

Maybe I have more relatives than I think? Isn’t Dostoevsky my great-grandfather and Camus not my father? Why this feeling that Kafka is dearer to me than my brother, and Tsvetaeva is my own sister? Why is Nietzsche closer to me than my uncle, and did I not cry when my friend Vincent Van Gogh died?

Where are the boundaries of my “I”, what does it consist of, what clots of energy have defined and designate this phantom – me? If reality is certain, then I am just an attempt to justify it, the point at which all hurricanes and seas converge. The phenomenon of presence without a reason – this is how I see the one that everyone calls me.


My childhood dream…

Each of us is doomed to destiny. Life is like a toss of a coin, where there are only two options. Either life has taken place or not. There is no spare wheel here. Everything is in the hands of a person, and everything leaves his hands like water.

Why could I, but I can’t, why I wanted to, but I don’t want to? Where is the line between the desire to live and the unwillingness to die? Who is looking at me so intently that I feel uncomfortable? I know that to be is the true vocation of man. To come true at any cost is my dream and pain. But I know how difficult it is to fulfill what you dream of.


Besides literature, I…

If I were not a writer, I would have become… but I would not have become anyone. Every person exaggerates the importance of his own destiny. Everyone is special. There is nothing original in a million lives. Everything in the book is more interesting and much deeper than in life. I am not capable of love like Romeo, revenge like Hamlet, kill like Raskolnikov…

Don Quixote is too much for me. The maximum available to me is the life of Robinson Crusoe. Apart from this joy – I have nothing, only the thought that I think so and only I feel this way. This happiness of awareness belongs to me – I live, I breathe, I love.


My place of power…

Literature is the point of my strength. The letter does not ask, does not question – the letter reigns supreme in the sphere of impulses and intentions. Writing is always more accurate than thoughts. To learn to think, you must learn to write.

I cling to words like a drowning Munchausen to his hair. But with the help of words, the writer can only pull himself out of reality. Saving other people is a stupid idea. Each reader must save himself.


Freedom is…

Hans Christian Andersen wrote: “To live, you need sun, freedom and a small flower”. The problem of freedom is a purely personal problem. Freedom is a phenomenon of the individual consciousness of each individual person.

Freedom is the most changeable state of a person, which cannot be derived from certain relationships, both with the world and with oneself. Freedom is a kind of temporary correspondence between possibility and necessity. Striving for freedom is impossible, for every effort enslaves. Like the consciousness in which a person is immersed, there is also freedom, as a decision to remain in the world as a whole.


My creative path began with…

The first story was written in 1988. The first publication took place in 1990: two stories were published in the magazine Codry, Moldova. In 2008, the publishing house Agraf under the pseudonym Herman Knecht published the first book – Here Now.

In 2010, the publishing house Polygraphkniga published the second book of Hermann Knecht – The Mistake of the Croupier.

In 2013, Agraf publishes the book Kafka’s Door, which includes 39 short stories, two stories and 8 essays written between 1989 and 2012.

In 2016, the multimedia publishing house Strelbooks publishes two e-books: the collection of short stories The Door of Kafka and The Hour of Zero, which includes three short stories and the play The Losers.

In 2019, the Agraf publishing house publishes The Sun and the Bag.

All seven books of the Collected Works will be published in 2019-2020.

In 2021, the multimedia publishing house Strelbooks publishes four electronic ones: Over’s Mystery, Recipes, Transformations and The Sun and the Bag.


I am ashamed of…

Unread books… But unwritten books… You never feel ashamed of them…


Ukrainian artists who inspire…

Ivan Marchuk and Lina Kostenko.


If they gave me all the money in the world…

This is a bad idea… I would buy all books and pay readers for every book they read.




I want to try myself in the genre…

Literary script for cinema.


The dream of film adaptation (genre, director, country)…

Use 7 of my stories as chapters of a thriller movie by Quentin Tarantino, USA.


My dream is to write a book…

Something similar to the Happiness Textbook. But seriously, my dream is to write a novel.


Advice to aspiring authors…

Go to a bookstore and ask yourself, “Is there room for my book?”


The secret of success in the literary field…

Quoting Krzhizhanovsky, I will say: “I am known for my unknown”. I am condescending to success. Success is necessary in order to be heard even by those who are only interested in success as such, without the achievements themselves.


I write what I do not show, but I agree to publish after death…

Since the age of 17 I have been keeping a diary, 20 notebooks are already filled with words, perhaps someday my children or grandchildren will publish them, if they think it is necessary.


At 80, I’m going to…

Receive the Nobel Prize for Literature.


A book is a source of strength, an experience of consciousness, the hope of the world, an attempt to express the inexpressible, to understand the impossible, a challenge to fate, greatness and baseness, a landscape and a portrait, stupidity and wisdom, oceans of letters, a sea of ​​metaphors, rivers of words, victory over death, major failure, delight in inspiration, genius and insanity, blazing sun and cooled lava, love and hate, punishment and crime, source of knowledge, dream come true, wind and peace, music of spheres, jaguar brain, pomegranate color, search, vocation, eclipse, doubt, joy, medical history, eye fatigue, sleepless night, meeting, eternity, friends and enemies, men and women, children and old people, the search for truth, error and delusion, pleasure and disappointment, memories from childhood, new people, other worlds, all plants and animals, planets and satellites, beauty and ugliness, the whole world in its infinite diversity and we are all for all times


Martin Gal «The Book»


Marcel Proust questionnaire


What is your most characteristic feature?


What qualities do you value most in a woman?

Beauty and kindness.

What qualities do you value most in a man?

Punctuality and intelligence.

What do you value most about your friends?

Lack of envy.

What is your main flaw?

Excessive talkativeness.

What’s your favorite hobby?

Reading and writing books.

What’s your dream of happiness?

To love and to be loved.

What do you consider the biggest misfortune?

Outliving your own children.

What would you like to be?

Slightly taller and not so fat.

What country would you like to live in?

Italy or Croatia.

What’s your favorite color?


What’s your favorite flower?

The Rose.

What is your favorite bird?


Who are your favorite writers?

Dostoevsky, Camus and Kafka.

What are your favorite poets?

Shakespeare, Lorca, Mandelstam.

Favorite literary hero?


Favorite literary heroines?

Juliet and Ophelia.

Favorite composers?

Mozart and Beethoven.

Favorite artists?

Van Gogh and Rene Magritte.

Favorite heroes in real life?

Alex Honnold.

Favorite heroine in history?

Joan of Arc.

Favorite names?

My children’s names.

What do you hate the most?


Historical characters you despise?

Hitler and Stalin.

What moment in military history do you value the most?

I am a pacifist.

A reform that you value especially highly?

The abolition of slavery in the United States and serfdom in Russia.

An ability you would like to have?

Reading other people’s thoughts.

How would you like to die?

In a dream.

What is your state of mind at the moment?

I am worrying.

What vices do you feel most condescending to?

To those that I own.

What’s your motto?

Truth is always irrefutable, therefore only the one who uttered it is refuted.


All my life I dreamed of a friend like him. I thought that I would meet him on the street in trampled shoes, a confused and lonely man, unhappy and a little out of his mind. But when we met for the first time, I saw a self-confident person who radiated peace and kindness, and he was no longer alone, on the contrary, millions of friends surrounded him, and now, embarrassed by such attention to himself, he asked to moderate the ardor of their enthusiasm, modestly explaining that “the role that I played or will play will always remain secondary”, but this modesty of his was immediately called great, and he himself was made a legend.


Now Van Gogh is both dressed and shod, the most famous fashion designers consider it an honor to sew him a suit, he is fed his fill by the best chefs in exquisite restaurants, he, Vincent, is received in the most expensive hotels as a guest of honor, all the military salutes him. policemen and postmen, it is he – among the miners and children, his own among all people, it is he, my friend Vincent, who walks in an embrace with Theo and waves his hand to me.


I see his smile from afar, and I feel joyful and light from the thought that I was lucky like no one else, because I saw him again – my Vincent. I know that if God, out of haste, created the world gray and colorless, then he would not have to look for a long time for someone to whom it would be worth giving all the divine colors available to him in order to finish the work he started; I am sure that God would not have made a mistake – he would have left all the colors of the world to him alone – Vincent Van Gogh, the kindest, most inspired, most hardworking and most unassuming person in life


Martin Gal «My friend Vincent»


Photos courtesy of Martin Gal

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