(NEW YORK)— PEN America issued a statement today mourning the death of Ukraine author Victoria Amelina, a PEN-Ukraine member, who was struck by a Russian missile on Tuesday and died from severe injuries late Saturday in a hospital.

The missile hit in Kramatorsk, where Amelina, 37, was having dinner at a restaurant with a group of Colombian writers, journalists, and activists.

Polina Sadovskaya, Eurasia director at PEN America, said: “Victoria Amelina was a celebrated Ukrainian author who turned her distinct and powerful voice to investigate and expose war crimes after the full scale military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. She brought a literary sensibility to her work and her elegant prose described, with forensic precision, the devastating impact of these human rights violations on the lives of Ukrainians. Her contribution to this effort underscored her insistence that Russia be held to account for its illegal invasion, which has brutally cut short the lives of tens of thousands of innocent people. We extend our deepest sympathies to her son, her family and friends and her colleagues at PEN Ukraine.”

Since 2022, Amelina has been collaborating with Ukrainian teams to document Russian war crimes and advocate for accountability for the crimes committed by the Russian Federation and its troops in Ukraine. She also joined a non-fiction project, War and Justice Diary: Looking at Women Looking at War.

In 2014, Amelina made her debut as a writer with the novel The Fall Syndrome, or Homo Compatiens which was included into top-10 books of the LitAccent 2014 rating. In 2015, the novel was reissued and shortlisted for the Valerii Shevchuk Prize.

In 2016, her children’s book Somebody, or Waterheart was published and a year later her second novel, Dom’s Dream Kingdom was published and awarded the best book of the year according to Zaporizhzhia Book Toloka and shortlisted for LitAccent 2017 Prize, UNESCO City of Literature Prize, and European Union Prize for Literature.

Last year, shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, Amelina joined a discussion online on March 3 hosted by PEN America, with other Ukrainian writers who spoke out against the war. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul was the moderator of the discussion. He opened by asking the group where they were located, whether they felt safe where they were, and how their emotions have ranged since the start of the military assault a week earlier.

“Angry, of course,” Amelina responded. “We are devastated and we are very sad. But anger is the prevailing feeling.” Moments later, she added: “And pride.”

The Colombian writer Hector Abad Faciolince, and Sergio Jaramillo, former High Commissioner for Peace, who came to Kramatorsk to support the Ukrainian people, were also in the restaurant with Amelina. They were slightly injured and their lives are not in danger.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057