We may not have the statistics yet but I KNOW from the events I chair and organise on this very subject, from the activities and enthusiasm of UK colleagues that there’s progress. A case in point is our recent summer European Literature Network meeting in London. It was the biggest, best, buzziest meeting ever. The 60 or so ‘Networkers’ from all over the country didn’t want to leave! We had to be thrown out by Security! (An historic first for European literati in the UK!)
The splendid Georgian ‘Europe House’ in London (the EU’s home in the UK), close to Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, was our host. Regular readers of my blog (cf. May 2014) will recall that I started up the Network in 2011 to help boost the professional profile of European Literature in the UK. It is free, non-political and independent and lobbies on behalf of everyone ‘in the trade’ wishing to promote, exchange ideas and information about international/European literature. I hold 2-3 Network meetings a year and they’re always packed.
The heat, the wine and inspirational speakers made this summer’s Network sing. Here’s a selection from our ‘Playlist’ with some useful website links. To be honest, there’s no better way to demonstrate what’s ‘trending’ in European Literature in the UK. Maybe we can even tempt YOU to participate!
Rosie Goldsmith, ELN Director
Kicking off the networking (my only privilege!), I outlined some of my key collaborations:
The first ever ‘Balkan Day’ at the British Library, focusing on the literature and ideas of the Balkans.
*European Literature Night at the British Library – our 6th with 6 leading European writers. http://www.bl.uk/whatson/events/event159834.html
Translation Conference at Europe House
The Doppelganger interview series I co-produce for the Goethe-Institut UK http://www.goethe.de/ins/gb/lp/kul/dug/dop/cod/enindex.htm
The annual magazine 12 Swiss Books I co-edit for Pro Helvetia
The European Literature Houses meeting at Free Word Centre
And coming up: My new authors podcast for Commonwealth Writers ‘10 x 10’, launching on 16th September http://www.commonwealthwriters.org/
And – very exciting! – several events with the British Museum, and others, to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, as well as 2 events I’m curating to mark the Italian EU Presidency on the Language of Italian Fashion and of Italian Food.
Emma Cleave, English PEN
Emma spoke about a few of English PEN’s important projects:
The 5th International Translation Day on September 26th
The new World Bookshelf featuring all the books PEN has supported over its 10 years
Sarah Sanders, Speaking Volumes (Literature Event Producers)
Sarah and colleagues produced *European Literature Night 2014. In her debrief, Sarah described ELN as, ‘an extremely collaborative project with over 50 partners, one huge event at British Library with 6 authors; a simultaneous event on graphic novels; both events sold out’.
(Watch a fab short film of the event here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMGu6GAjsns)
Next year, with EL Night, Sarah hopes to, ‘increase the diversity of the line up; to include poetry, writers in exile and more women; also possibly neighbouring non-European countries; to work more closely with universities.’
Astrid Kohler, Senior Lecturer in German, Queen Mary University of London
Astrid alerted us to a major festival in May 2015: QMUL is planning a week-long celebration of contemporary German literature; 6 or 7 authors will be invited for a week and QMUL is looking for venues, partners etc. Any ideas? http://www.qmul.ac.uk/
Isobel Abulhoul, EAFL Festival Director
EAFL in Dubai is the Middle East’s largest annual international festival of literature, supported by Emirates Airline https://www.emirateslitfest.com/
(I am one of the international moderators each year – this March we had 140 writers!)
Isobel introduced us to a new International Writers and Translators Centre opening in Dubai in November, which will focus on Arabic but cover all languages and literary genres; it’s first Translation Conference will be held in May 2015
West Camel (his real name!), Dalkey Archive
spoke about the autumn launch of Best European Fiction Anthology 2015 (still the only anthology in English of European Literature!) http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/product-tag/best-european-fiction-series/
Gabriela Saldanha, University of Birmingham
who spoke about the wonderful new Library in Birmingham; marketing international fiction in the UK (eg. How is Dutch fiction promoted compared with Brazilian?); researching reading practices; the circulation and reception of translated literature and transcultural reading
Ricarda Vidal, Translator and creator of ‘Translation Games’
Translation Games is about making foreign languages more exciting; Translation Games work across languages and art forms. http://translationgames.org/
And finally, at the end of a long evening, we heard from the inspirational Steven Fowler, a poet and one of the most exciting innovators on the UK’s international lit circuit. Like me, he was born in Cornwall – maybe there’s something in the Cornish soil! Steven Fowler, Poet, Curator
He outlined the ‘Enemies’ project that he curates: an international poetry performance collaboration, featuring avant-garde or innovative writers, which takes place on a country to country basis eg. this year touring in Scotland, Ireland, Austria, Finland and Wales. He also described Cabaret Hrabal, his project with the Czech Centre and – for the first time – European Literature Night in Edinburgh 2015. (Scottish Independence for European Literature? Not sure I like that idea!)
So after that literary heatwave, it only remains for me to say ‘Happy Holidays everyone’!
That was just a quick rummage through the treasure trove of European literary gems washed up on our wonderful sun-kissed British beaches. As it says on the holiday postcards, ‘Wish you Were Here!’