The annual European Literature Night is back for its third year, taking over 18 capital cities of Europe for a whole evening in a marathon celebration of the best of European literature.
Six superlative writers – both emerging and established literary figures from Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland, Latvia, Austria and Flanders – met on stage at the British Library in London to delight and stimulate with their readings and conversation. Chaired once more by Rosie Goldsmith, the BBC presenter and champion of European literature, this special event was an exciting insight into modern European literature in translation. A book signing followed the event.
Tomáš Sedláček (Czech Republic) b.1977 is the lead economist of the Czech Republic’s largest bank and a part of a government advisory body tackling economic slow-down. Named one of the ‘five hot minds in economics’ by the Yale Economic Review, his provocative writing has achieved bestseller status. In his Economics of Good and Evil, The Quest for Economic Meaning from Gilgamesh to Wall Street (Oxford University Press, June 2011) he explores economic thinking over the millennia using myth, religion, anthropology, and the arts.
Nora Ikstena’s (Latvia) b.1969 made her literary debut with the biography of prewar writer and politician Anna Rūmane-Ķeniņa, followed by two collections of short stories and three novels. Her latest novel, Amour Fou or Misguided Love in 69 Verses, is a beautiful love story in which the god Amo visits the Earth and earthlings.
Bożena Keff (Poland) b.1948 is a poet, writer and columnist. In 2009 A Piece On Mother and Fatherland (translation by Alissa Valles and Benjamin Paloff, 2012) was shortlisted for the Nike Literary Award and the Cogito Literary Award. This poetically organised, quasi-theatrical text is the furious and grotesque story of a Jewish survivor mother, her daughter, and their anti-Semitic fatherland.
Anna Kim (Austria) b.1977 has published several short stories, two novels, essays and a collection of poems. In her latest novel Frozen Time (Ariadne Press, translation by Michael Mitchell, 2010) Kim explores, through her narrator who assists people from the former Yugoslavia in their search for lost relatives, the devastating effect of loss on those left behind and their helplessness as their lives continue in ‘frozen time’.
Diego Marani (Italy) b.1959 is a novelist, translator, newspaper columnist and author of Europanto, a mock international auxiliary language. His most famous novel New Finnish Grammar (Dedalus Books, translated by Judith Landry, June 2011), set during WWII in Italy and Finland, deals with the loss of memory and identity of a wounded soldier who is believed to be Finnish.
Peter Terrin (Belgium, Flanders) b. 1968 explores themes such as the urge to protect, suspicion and fear earning himself comparisons with Kafka and Camus. His latest novel The Guard (MacLehose Press, translation by David Colmer, 2012) , awarded the European Union Prize for Literature 2010, is a fast-paced, fear-inducing novel of suspense in which the paranoia grows even more rampant.