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'Indifference makes me lose hope': Ix Shen releases memoir of surviving Russia's invasion of Ukraine

'Indifference makes me lose hope': Ix Shen releases memoir of surviving Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Ix Shen launches his new book Impressions of an Invasion — A Correspondent in Ukraine at a Singapore bunker yesterday (May 25).
PHOTO: AsiaOne/Yeo Shu Hui

Ix Shen remembers that when he was stuck in a bunker in Ukraine last year fearing over whether he and his wife would live to see another day, it was an accordion melody played by an elderly Ukraine man that gave him a sense of calm and strength.

Throughout the next few months, he actively reported on the Ukraine war to Singapore media and on his Instagram account, explaining the situation and his observations even after he evacuated to Poland. He later returned to Ukraine to provide humanitarian aid.

Yesterday (May 25), the 51-year-old former TV actor was in a bunker in Singapore to launch his new book: Impressions of an Invasion — A Correspondent in Ukraine, which chronicles his first-hand experiences in the Ukraine war.

Providing readers with insights on the lives that locals lead in the warzone, his powerful and honest account accompanied with photographs that he took in Ukraine shows the devastating effects that war has on the Ukrainians' daily lives.

Writing as therapy

Speaking at the book launch, Ix said that writing about his experiences is a form of therapy for him to overcome the traumas that he faced from the war.

He said: "When you are in the war zone, your mind goes all over the place and sanity is sometimes really challenging… For anyone who has survived this invasion, we all have our own trauma that we need to overcome and adapt and move on with our lives."

He also jokingly added that he wrote the book because he was "lazy to answer the same questions by different people".

But on a more serious note, Ix told AsiaOne he hopes that his book can allow readers to be informed about the situation.

"Indifference makes me lose hope," he added.

Ix also shared that while assessing the emotions that he felt from his experiences with the war were therapeutic for him, he also found himself in a dilemma when putting pen to paper.

He said: "Do I write about the brutality of the attack or the seriousness of the trauma of the attack? Then it becomes a vicious cycle because I do not want my book to end up having a very negative narrative."

"I don't want my book to be about a horrible experience, I want it to have a nurturing experience," he added.

Now that the book is published, Ix feels nervous about how readers will respond to it.

He said: "I have this overbearing thought about how people will react to a 200-page book when everyone nowadays is used to 60-second short videos."

When concept becomes reality

Ix remembered that the first time he heard a bomb blasting in Ukraine, it was an "awakening" moment for him.

He shared: "The blast really shocked me and it was a moment where something conceptual became a reality."

In his book, Ix mentioned a memorable moment when he was doing an interview with Channel NewsAsia 93.8FM, and had to take cover behind a wall as a fight broke out suddenly.

Recalling the experience, Ix told us that although he was not in any direct danger because the troops were not shooting at him, it was an "exciting" scene for him to watch.

"I never expect to witness a real gun battle up close," he added.

Ix said that while he did not feel that he was in absolute danger at any point in time during the Ukraine war, it was still about holding himself together and putting his survival skills into full force.

He said: "To put it blatantly, it is really holding the s*** together and waiting for tomorrow, because I just looked forward to living to the next day."


A post shared by IX Shen (@ixshen)

Impressions of an Invasion  A Correspondent in Ukraine is now available in all major bookstores islandwide and online shops for $23.35 (before GST). Part of the proceeds from the book sales will be used to provide medical assistance to those affected by the invasion.

Ix will also have a meet-and-greet session this Sunday (May 28) from 3pm to 4pm at Times Waterway Point.

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