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European Literature Days

European Literature Days
The European Literature Days are an outstanding literature festival which is held every autumn. In the unique ambiance of Wachau, Europe’s literary protagonists meet for a weekend of networking and exchange of ideas. An interested audience engages with European literature and meets international writers as well as enjoying the exceptional hospitality of Wachau.

The European Literature Days involve Writer Q&A discussions about topical themes of the moment, readings and dialogues about selected books as well as concerts, fine food and wine tastings, plus special tours of the art-historical highlights of the Wachau region.

The agenda also includes workshops and readings for young people in schools and at the Karikaturmuseum Krems. The cooperation with eljub European Youth Meetings makes a valuable addition to the European Literature Days with innovative forms of engaging with literature.

The European Literature Days were approved in 2017 by the European Festivals Association as an exceptional European festival and awarded the EFFE Label.


European Literature Days 2017
16. - 19. November 2017


Writers are wilful seismographs and monitors of world events. They are also experts who eloquently express a myriad of fears that haunt us. Fear, anxieties, or angst have long been a source of fascination for literature both as a motivation for writing as well as a literary motif. Writing is often a creative outpouring in response to fear about the lack of freedom as well as the angst of losing one’s self-assurance in the face of chaos. Many authors have the capacity to inspire resilience and a mood of optimism through writing.

Fear, the thrill of fear and panic-making are basic mentalities like political strategies that influence our present-day experience. After an unprecedented extended period of social and political peace, fear has also reached the shores of (Western) Europe again. Part of the European Literature Days 2017 agenda focuses on this basic sensation of our time. Specific events refer to exceptional books which were recently published. During the Writer Q&A panel discussions and readings about this theme the writers analyze aspects of Fear Everywhere. They highlight questions concerning the possibilities of pinpointing fear and finding empathy. Their ideas could suggest an optimistic view that lies ahead of us. For the second year, Robert Menasse opens the symposium and invites participants to join in discussion. Menasse is in dialogue with Philipp Blom. Their focus is Blom’s astonishing book about the history of the Little Ice Age during early modern times. The question is whether and what bearing this past episode has on our contemporary experience, and what this means for Europe.

Another series of Writer Q&A panels and readings on Friday relate to the headline theme of Fear Everywhere. Take for example Aleš Šteger’s log books about today, Leif Randt’s novels on our technological affluent society, Gila Lustiger’s essay on terror, Andrzej Stasiuk’s books about totalitarianism and utopia, Elif Shafak’s novels about the ruptures of tradition and modernity, Jaroslav Rudiš’s novels and films about the loss of identity or Deborah Levy’s narratives about escaping deep-seated ties – at the forefront are always the critical matters of the moment. And as Elisabeth Åsbrink’s new book proposes: the focus is on ‘when now begins’. The Russian writer Sergej Lebedew compiled a text for the European Literature Days that serves as a basic leitmotif. Once again, all events benefit from our offer of a simultaneous interpreter service (in German and English) which enables participants to interact during the Writer Q&A sessions and the literary readings.

Also part of the agenda is the presentation of selected books accompanied by wine tastings, gourmet local food specialities and musical entertainment. On Saturday evening, you can listen to poetry by Arno Camenisch in Rhaeto Romanian and German, Norwegian narrative by Hanne Ørstavik, award-winning social satire from Great Britain by Sharon Dodua Otoo and Dana Grigorcea’s exceptional literary portrait of Bucharest that promises everything from wit to poetry. The finely spun prose by Stevan Paul launches the foray into gourmet food with delicacies inspired by the recipes in Paul’s novel Der große Glander. Finally, on Sunday there is a symbiosis of lyrics and jazz: poems by Cornelia Travnicek and music by Wolfgang Puschnig and Jon Sass.

Writers and guests from different countries get together, enjoy eating and drinking and taking a stroll through Spitz and engaging in dialogue. This atmosphere of lively interaction, quiet musings as well as relaxed entertainment even proved a creative well-spring for several new book ideas. For example, Mathias Énard and A.L. Kennedy – to mention two of our guests who particularly impressed us.

We warmly invite you to join us and join in the debates!

Walter Grond
Artistic Director of Literaturehouse Europe