IRENE ZABYTKO is a writer, filmmaker, and teacher. She has completed her 2016-2017 tenure as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Award in Ukraine where she was doing research on her next novel based on the life of the 19th century writer, Nikolai Gogol http://www.cies.org/grantee/irene-zabytko.
ZABYTKO’s first book, THE SKY UNWASHED (Algonquin Books, 2,000), is a novel about Chornobyl (Ukrainian transliteration) and the evacuees who returned to their irradiated villages. It was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Book, A Book Sense '76 Pick Selection, and a New England Booksellers Association Discovery title. The e-book version was rated Number One on and appeared on “The New York Times Bestseller E-Books List.” She is adapting it for a feature film.
She is also producing, writing and co-directing a documentary about the real life Chornobyl survivors called LIFE IN THE DEAD ZONE (), and has completed a related award winning film short, EPIPHANY AT CHORNOBYL which was streamed world-wide throughout 2016 on The Culture Unplugged Film Festival
(. She was also awarded an IREX Short Term Travel Grant to Kyiv, Ukraine to research archival material for LIFE IN THE DEAD ZONE (www.irex.org ). Zabytko has studied filmmaking with Dov S.S. Siemans, and with the B.B.C. in London and was an invited participant for the Adventure Filmmaking Workshops at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Alberta) with filmmakers Michael Brown and Keith Partridge.
Her second book, the short story collection WHEN LUBA LEAVES HOME (Algonquin Books, 2003) is based on the Ukrainian community in her Chicago neighborhood. One of the stories, “Obligation,” won the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, and was read on National Public Radio’s “The Sound of Writing.” It was selected as The New York City Public Library’s Best Books for the Teen Age ’04.
Her latest books are THE MIDWIFE’S TALE: A CHRISTMAS STORY (a retelling of the Nativity story), and THE FICTION PRESCRIPTION: HOW TO WRITE AND IMPROVE YOUR FICTION LIKE THE GREAT LITEARY MASTERS, a non-fiction collection of her lectures, techniques and wisdom for writing literary fiction and accompaniment for her online writing classes and blogs featured on
Her academic credentials include an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Vermont College, and teaches fiction and creative non-fiction at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships most recently at Hawthornden Castle, (Midlothian, Scotland), OMI International (Ghent, NY), and at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Alberta) among many others. Her work appears in journals, newspapers, anthologies and college textbooks.