Norbert Gstrein ‘Winters in the South’ – Austria
Norbert Gstrein was born in 1961 in the Austrian Tyrol, and studied mathematics at Innsbruck and Stanford, California. He now lives mainly in Hamburg, and is the author of several collections of stories and novels published by Suhrkamp and Hanser Verlag in Germany. Winters in the South is his second novel to be translated into English, the first being The English Years (2002), which won widespread critical acclaim both in the UK and internationally.
He has been awarded the coveted Alfred Döblin Prize and the Uwe Johnson Prize.
Winters in the South, translated by Anthea Bell, was published by MacLehose Press in October 2012. The book is an account of the lives of an estranged father and daughter. Marija lives in Europe, wondering whether she can really cope as she faces the puzzle of her own identity, while in Argentina her father, ‘the old man’, now longs, like most of his fellow exiles, to get back home.
Nominated by the Austrian Cultural Forum
Miha Mazzini ‘The German Lottery‘ – Slovenia
Born 1961, Miha Mazzini is a bestselling Slovene writer, who has made his literary debut back in 1987 with the novel Drobtinice (The Cartier Project) which sold 54000 copies and won “The best Slovenian novel of the year” award and “Zlata ptica” award for excellent artistic achievements by a young writer. Detroit Free Press selected it as one of the Top 10 Books of the Year 2005. He is the author of 27 books published in 9 languages, his short stories selected were selected for many anthologies including the Pushcart Prize 2011. Mazzini is a master of storytelling, he grasps the reader’s attention from the very beginning. His novels combine wit and irony which merge in a unique and recognizable voice. His focus of attention is the individual who is caught in personal and social conflicts, which he faces and (sometimes) overcomes with the help of humour and intelligence.
The German Lottery, translated by Urška Zupanec was published by CB Editions in 2012. Yugoslavia, 1950: the local communist regime has quarrelled with the Soviet Union while being under blockade from the West. The country is isolated, poor, government secret agents in long black leather coats are everywhere, people are disappearing during the night. The novel is set in a small provincial town that must be, by decree, turned into an industrial complex in a single summer.
Nominated by Beletrina Academic Press
Erwin Mortier ‘Marcel’ – Belgium
Erwin Mortier (b. 1965) is not only known as one of the top authors in Flanders, he also is a prize winning poet, essayist and translator from English into Dutch. He made his mark in 1999 with his debut novel Marcel, which won several prizes, was nominated for the most distinguished Flemish and Dutch literary awards, and also received acclaim throughout Europe. His subsequent novels Mijn tweede huid (My Fellow Skin, 2000) and Sluitertijd (Shutterspeed, 2002) and the novella Alle dagen samen (All Days Together, 2004) quickly established his reputation as one of the leading authors of his generation.. The book was hailed as a masterpiece and a magnum opus. His most recent novel, Gestameld liedboek (Stammered Songs, 2011) is an overwhelming, universal and heartbreaking portrait of his mother, who fell victim to Alzheimer’s disease. Mortier’s books have been translated into all main European languages. In English, all of his titles will be (re)published by Pushkin Press.
Marcel, translated by Ina Rilke, was originally published by Harvill in 1999 but will be re-published by Pushkin Press in 2013. A ten year old boy lives with his grandparents in a Flemish village. His grandmother guards the family dead with fierce determination, arranging and re-arranging their photographs in a special cabinet – their place in her favour marked by their proximity to a statue of the Blessed Virgin. But, one image is always next to the Virgin: Marcel, who died young, far away and for whom there is no grave.
Nominated by the Embassy of Belgium / Flemish Representation
Jordi Punti ‘Lost Luggage’ – Spain
Jordi Punti was born near Barcelona in 1967. He writes in Catalan and is a regular contributor to the Spanish and Catalan press. Considered one of the most promising new voices of contemporary Catalan literature, he has published two books of short stories: Pell d’armadillo and Animals tristos. Lost Luggage (Short Books) is his first novel. It has been translated into 15 languages, and won the Spanish National Critics’ prize 2011 and the Catalan Booksellers’ prize 2010. His most recent book is Els castellans, a memoir on the relationship in the seventies between Catalan kids and the immigrants who arrived from Spain to a Catalan industrial town. He’s working on his second novel.
Lost Luggage, translated by Julie Wark will be published in March 2013 by Short Books. The story of 4 brothers – sons of the same father and four very different mothers, yet none of them knows about the existence of the others. They live in Frankfurt, Paris, London and Barcelona and unwittingly share the fact that their father abandoned them when they were little and they never heard from him again. Then their father becomes a missing person and the brothers discover each other and come together for the first time.
Nominated by Institut Ramon Llull
Born 1973, Ece Temelkuran is one of Turkey’s best-known journalists and political commentators, writing regularly for the Turkish newspapers and also for Guardian, New Statesman, al Akhbar, New Left Review, Le Monde Diplomatique. Her investigative journalism books broach subjects that are highly controversial in Turkey, such as Kurdish and Armenian issues, the women’s movement, and political prisoners.
She has published widely and won numerous awards for her work, including the Pen for Peace Award and Turkish Journalist of the Year. Also she was a visiting fellow at the University of Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. As a writer she published ten books. www.ecetemelkuran.comThe Sounds of Bananas, translated by Deniz Perin – book currently under offer with publishers. A story of love and politics revolving around the lives of two young women: Filipina and Deniz. The novel’s chapters alternate between telling the stories of these women who seem, at first glance, to have nothing to do with one another, but whose lives are, in fact, related.The novel exposes how intricately the two are intertwined, and it paints a portrait of Beirut that reveals the spirit which churns the turbulence and beauty of the Middle East
Nominated by Free Word Centre
Jáchym Topol (b.1962) is the leading Czech author of his generation and of the postmodern trend in Czech prose after 1989. Famous in his youth as an underground poet and songwriter, since the Velvet Revolution he has written the books that have most successfully and imaginatively captured the dislocation brought about by the fall of communism. His first novel, published in English as City Sister Silver (2000) was marked as the “novel of the decade”. Since then followed a further eight prose works. His novel Gargling with Tar (Portobello Books) was nominated for Independent Foreign Fiction prize in 2011, his most recent novel, The Devil´s Workshop (Portobello Books, June 2013), received the 2013 English PEN Award for outstanding writing in translation.The Devil’s Workshop, translated by Alex Zucker will be published by Portobello Press in June 2013. A young man grows up in a town with a sinister history. The concentration camp may have been liberated years ago, but its walls still cast their long shadows and some of the inhabitants are quite determined to not to allow anyone to forget. When the camp is marked for demolition, one of the survivors begins a campaign to preserve it, quickly attracting donations from wealthy benefactors, a cult-like following of young travellers.
Nominated by the Czech Centre
Birgit Vanderbeke was born in 1956, is one of Germany’s most successful literary authors. She has written 12 novels. The Mussel Feast – Das Muschelessen- was her first publication and won the most prestigious German language literature award, The Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. The book was published in 1989 and has never been out of print since. It has been translated into all major European languages, including French, Spanish and Italian. The work of Birgit Vanderbeke is playful and arch. Her taut novellas deal caustically with consumerism and capitalism, family and gender, the media and advertising.The Mussel Feast, translated by Jamie Bulloch was published by Peirene Press in February 2013. The modern German classic that has shaped an entire generation. A mother and her two teenage children sit at the dinner table. In the middle stands a large pot of cooked mussels. Why has the father not returned home? As the evening wears on, we glimpse the issues that are tearing this family apart.
Nominated by Peirene Press
Frank Westerman is the author of five highly-praised books. In 1993, at the time of the war in Yugoslavia, he was the Volkskrant newspaper correspondent in Belgrade. Whilst producing dispatches from the frontlines, he wrote his first book, ‘The Bridge over the Tara’ (1994). Three years later, together with fellow journalist Bart Rijs, he wrote a revealing book about Srebrenica: ‘The Darkest Scenario.’ He lived and worked in Moscow from 1997 to 2002 as correspondent for the leading Dutch NRC Handelsblad newspaper where he wrote his third book, ‘De Graanrepubliek’, which was awarded the Dr Lou de Jong prize for contemporary history.
His next work, ‘Engineers of the Soul’, about writers in the Soviet Union under Stalin. This book won a number of awards in the Netherlands and is published in nine other languages. His literary travel account on race, culture and identity ‘El Negro and Me’ was awarded the Belgian equivalent of the Booker Prize. His other works include ‘Ararat’ about science and religion and his latest book, ‘Brother Mendel’s Perfect Horse’, has been translated into seven languages to date.
Brother Mendel’s Perfect Horse, translated by Sam Garrett was published by Harvill in August 2012. A unique and engrossing fusion of history and travel writing, the book is a modern fable in which the pure-blood horse ends up revealing man’s own shortcomings. Carrying the reader across Europe, from imperial stables and stud farms to the controversial gene labs of today, Westerman asks, if animal breeders are so good at genetic engineering, why do attempts to perfect the human strain always end in tragedy?
Nominated by Harvill Secker
THE CHAIR: Rosie Goldsmith (Chair of ELN) is a journalist specializing in arts and international affairs, in the UK and abroad. As a BBC broadcaster she travelled the world, from Libya to Japan to East Timor. She began her career at the BBC in 1989 on a programme called ‘Europhile’, covering events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the revolutions of Eastern Europe. She also presented flagship BBC radio shows like Front Row, Open Book, A World In Your Ear and Crossing Continents.
Rosie speaks French, German and some Italian and has lived for many years in Europe, Africa and the USA. Her links with Europe remain strong – and grow ever stronger. For five years, ever since it was launched, Rosie has been a driving force behind European Literature Night at the British Library in London, which she chairs, judges and helps curate. ELN is now a welcome ‘literary brand’ round the country. She also runs the independent European Literature Network. In 2013 she was Artistic Director of the festival High Impact: Literature From The Low Countries and her great interest and expertise in foreign affairs and in the arts, literature and languages of the world, mean that today she is in demand at festivals and events in the UK and abroad, as a journalist, speaker and curator in these many and varied fields. Rosie is proud to be known as a champion of international literature, translation and language learning in the UK, promoting them wherever she can.