Yevgenia Nayberg is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book I Hate Borsch!. Her many other books include Typewriter. She is also a set and costume designer. Born and raised in Ukraine, she lives in New York City.
Q: What inspired you to create I Hate Borsch!?
A: My relationship with American food.
Initially, I wanted to write about the foods that I encountered when I immigrated, and how strange they seemed. Eventually, the idea morphed into a different story, and my American food adventures were reduced to a single page of the book.
Q: With this book, did you work on the text first or the illustrations first, or both simultaneously?
A: I usually work simultaneously on text and illustrations, but this book in particular was driven by illustrations and graphic design.
Q: How did you develop your artistic style?
A: I never think about my style, it’s a constant work-in-progress.
Q: What do you think the story says about the ties between food and identity?
A: Food is a metaphor for identity in this story. I don’t think we are necessarily shaped by borsch (or PB&J), but we are shaped by our childhood experiences. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your younger self, even when you are as adult as it gets.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on a new picture book – a fictional take on nonfiction; a story about art, New York City, and a search for the joy of life.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: Now through June 30, I Hate Borsch! publisher, Eerdmans’ Books for Young Readers, donates a portion of the proceeds from book sales to help my home country, Ukraine.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Yevgenia Nayberg.