Journeys of Discovery

Meet three exciting European writers – Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida from Portugal, Goran Vojnović from Slovenia and Wioletta Greg from Poland – and hear them talk about their latest books to appear in English translation.

All three books bring us stories of young people who are coming of age and understanding their place in the world. They explore the vagaries of identity and belonging, family, self and history. Their protagonists are discovering own path the world, whether it’s in post-Soviet Poland, post-colonial Portugal or 20th century Slovenia. The authors share an interest in experimenting with form, resulting in a hybrid novel with digressions; a novel composed of intertwining stories; and a short novel making poetry out of daily life.

Djaimilia, Goran and Wioletta are in conversation with our chair Erica Hesketh, chief executive of the Poetry Translation Centre.


Coastlines and waterways

Hear more about how three of our UNESCO writers have spent their virtual residency exploring waterways and coastlands, creating connections between Norwich and their own UNESCO cities of literature.

Lynn Buckle is interested in the shared landscapes of Norwich and Dublin, both built on watery fens – bog or portach as Gaeilge. Tributaries can be followed in and out of both cities and Lynn is interested in the buried canals, rivers, and the stories which they can tell. She has produced a video of written work based on these shared elements, in the form of polyphonic voices, using literary collage as a technique, combining verse and prose, fiction and non-fiction.

Vahni Capildeo’s daily journal entries for ‘Lighthouse and Anchorage’ take various forms: reflections, notes, fragments of poetry. Their method was simple: walking a small part of the north Edinburgh coastline, thinking towards Norwich and sometimes thinking through Julian of Norwich and Robert Louis Stevenson, and other local authors. This sending of the mind outwards and back, while the body moves, weaves the two cities into a relationship over time. Julian the anchorite in her cell, and Stevenson the traveller, helped Vahni tune their lockdown feelings about dwelling, distance, and return.

‘Stark coastal scenes. Incessant North Atlantic winds. Fish, give or take chips. An illustrious literary history, going back to the Middle Ages. And Vikings. On the face of it, Norfolk and Iceland are the same place, separated by a patch of water. Although preliminary research suggests that Norfolk is rather more flat.’  Valur Gunnarsson has been walking along Reykjavik’s coastline, exploring the impact of history and landscape on writers such as W.G. Sebald and Halldór Laxness, who wandered these respective coasts and mused about their heritage.

Lynn, Vahni and Valur are in conversation with Patrick Barkham, whose writing reflects his own fascination with water, coastlines and life on islands.

With thanks to the ACE Ambition for Excellence Fund for supporting the UNESCO virtual residencies, and to our partners in Dublin, Edinburgh and Reykjavik UNESCO cities of  literature.


The View From Afar

What is it like to visit and write about a city that is hundreds (or thousands!) of miles away during a pandemic? How can this distance shape your writing? Hear about how two of our UNESCO writers have been viewing Norwich from afar during their month-long virtual residency with the National Centre for Writing.

 

In a time when most of us can mostly only travel beyond our known boundaries by means of the internet, we will explore the truths in these virtual views. Modern life is watching us – through webcams and traffic cameras – so Liz Breslin spent a month watching it back, writing what she saw, and sharing her views from the other side of the world.

Marcin Wilk used his virtual residency to enter the unknown space of a foreign city and see how his imagination worked. He explored The Book Hive and other independent bookshops in Norwich, their history and the people who run them, and looked through the prism of bookshops at the local community, the book market, and the city.

Liz and Marcin are in conversation with Megan Bradbury, whose novel, Everyone is Watching, about New York City, was researched mostly in Edinburgh. She also has over ten years’ experience as a bookseller.

With thanks to the ACE Ambition for Excellence Fund for supporting the UNESCO virtual residencies, and to our partners in Dunedin and Krakow UNESCO cities of literature.


European Writers on War and Conflict

We explore how European writers deal with war and conflict. Swedish writer Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde’s novel What We Owe explores the aftereffects of the Iranian Revolution on one family’s life. Belgian writer Jeroen Olyslaegers’ novel Will, set during World War II, explores how we deal with evil, whether we act or don’t, how we are complicit. Cypriot writer Constantia Soteriou’s novel Bitter Country is about the events in Cyprus leading to the creation of the Green Line and uses women’s voices as a chorus talking about the impact of war and the disappearance of their sons.

The writers will be in conversation with our chair, Northern Irish writer Jan Carson.

 

In partnership with EUNIC, Flanders House, the Embassy of Sweden and the Cyprus High Commission.


Who is This Mythical English Reader?

On the eve of International Translation Day we will bring together four literary translators from around the globe: Jen Wei Ting in Singapore, Anton Hur in Korea, Somrita Urni Ganguly in India and Gitanjali Patel in the UK. Their wide-ranging conversation with chair Daniel Hahn will encompass who we are translating for – that mythical English reader – and how that has an impact on translators’ creativity, as well as translation as activism and the global translation community.

We will also hear about their own routes into literary translation as we announce the winners of this year’s Emerging Translators Mentoring Scheme in its tenth anniversary year.

Download the transcript.

In partnership with the British Centre for Literary Translation.


Verzet: New Dutch Writing Chapbooks Launch

Celebrating the launch of VERZET, a collection of beautifully designed chapbooks published by Strangers Press which showcases the translated work of eight of the most exciting writers working in the Netherlands today. For this event, writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn was in conversation with VERZET contributing writers Karin Amatmoekrim and Thomas Heerma van Voss, and translators Alice Tetley-Paul and Jozef van der Voort. A live Q&A then follows.

In partnership with Strangers Press and New Dutch Writing.


New Dutch Writing

We teamed up with New Dutch Writing for a series of virtual conversations between writers and their translators. Exploring the most exciting new books of 2020, these events shone a light on the new Dutch masters of fiction and poetry. Watch the full events via YouTube below.

 

Meet the World: Tommy Wieringa & Sam Garrett

We were delighted to welcome bestselling Booker International longlisted Dutch author Tommy Wieringa and his translator Sam Garrett for a discussion of their latest novel in translation, The Blessed Rita. Set in a remote farming district of the Netherlands, The Blessed Rita centres on a group of misfits left behind by globalisation, unable to escape past tragedies and uncertain about their place in society’s future.

Tommy and Sam Garrett’s conversation was chaired by journalist and critic Suzi Feay.

 

Meet the World: Charlotte Van den Broeck & David Colmer

After first making her mark as a compelling performer, Belgian poet Charlotte Van den Broeck was acclaimed as one of Europe’s most innovative and original new voices in poetry following the publication of her first collection Chameleon. Her first English translation combines her debut volume with her second book Nachtroer (2017), its untranslatable title the name of an all-night shop in Antwerp where she lives.

Writing on identity, bodies and language, Chameleon / Nachtroer is beautifully translated by David Colmer, who joined her at this event alongside chair Sasha Dugdale.

 

Meet the World: Rodaan al Galidi & Jonathan Reeder

Rodaan al Galidi’s novel Two Blankets, Three Sheets offers a bleakly humorous account of the Dutch Asylum process. Described as ‘essential reading’ by the Guardian and already a bestseller in the Netherlands, it is a big, existential novel about freedom and belonging based on the experiences of the author as a former Iraqi asylum seeker now settled in the Netherlands.

Joining Rodaan for this event is his translator Jonathan Reeder and chair Rosie Goldsmith.

 

Meet the World

New Dutch Writing