This post is also available in: العربية

A new biography of the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky has sold in nearly 20 countries around the world including Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Japan.  Strong sales have been secured in eastern Europe, to former Soviet countries like Georgia, as well as Romania, Hungary, Poland and Estonia, among others.  World English language rights have sold to the UK/US independent Polity press, but at the time of writing Arabic rights remain available.

The book is entitled Zelensky a Biography and is written by the Ukrainian political analyst Serhi Rudenko.  It has been updated to include the Russian invasion.   It is being sold by the Munich-based eponymous Thomas Wielding Literary Agency where Wilding confirms that Arabic rights are still available.

Polity Press will secure publication of what is the first English language biography of the Ukrainian president and hopes to publish on 1 July.  Founded in 1984 with offices in Cambridge and Oxford in the UK and New York and Boston in the US, the publisher specialises in the social sciences and humanities.  It is committed to “the diffusion of ideas across language barriers” and has a major translation programme.

Its director John Thompson said: “Polity has a long-standing commitment to the diffusion of ideas across cultures and language barriers, and this is particularly important at times like this when the world is faced with unprecedented challenges. It is a privilege and an honour to be publishing in English the first major biography of a political leader whose extraordinary courage in the face of brutal aggression has made him a figure for our time.”

The Thomas Wielding Literary Agency focuses, with a few exceptions, on authors who write in Russian, whether they are Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians or Americans. The agency says it “represents literature in all its diversity, but with no exception books that serve mutual understanding instead of exclusion or oppression of others. The agency feels its small share of responsibility to support and promote peaceful cultural exchange between peaceful people”.

It adds: “Really wanting to understand the other one means first of all listening to the other one. And in the end we also better understand ourselves.  As a literary agency we are keen on promoting the entire oeuvre of an author. But our services also include research, fund raising, networking.  Numerous journalists, translators and all kinds of cultural institutions report to us and cooperate with us.  We are in close cooperation with many Co-Agents worldwide and welcome more professionals who are fluent in Russian to help us promoting and selling our clients´ works.”

Zelensky’s life story is well-known and sees an extraordinary blending of fiction and reality.  Born in 1978 to a Jewish family he lost his father and three siblings in the Holocaust.  He studied Law before pursuing a career as both a comedian and actor.  It was as the latter that he famously played the role of Ukrainian president in a series called Servant of the People, produced by the production company he created called Kvartal 95.  The series aired from 2015 to 2019 and was immensely popular.  A political party of the same name was established in March 2018 by employees of Kvartal 95.

Zelenskyy announced his candidacy in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election and to the astonishment of the world he was elected, winning 73% of the vote.  His leadership following the Russian invasion in February has won him praise and support around the world – and his trademark green t-shirt and impromptu GoPro Instagram postings have become iconic