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European Literature Night: The Writers’ Showcase

Writers from six countries in 
a literary feast of compelling fiction and short stories

Wednesday 11 May, 6.30pm

The centrepiece of the Festival, the Writers’ Showcase follows a day of talks and translation clinics at the British Library, with novelist and playwright Kate Mosse to deliver an opening address before appearances by the six 2016 ELN Writers – each chosen from a pool of 65 writers submitted by publishers in November – who will be interviewed on stage by broadcaster and director of European Literature Network Rosie Goldsmith.

“Writing in translation offers us a way to understand our neighbours better and to shine a light on how the world fits together. At a time when the countless shared histories and stories from our many friends and strangers in Europe is danger of being lost in the politics of the EU debate, an initiative like the European Literature Festival is more important than ever. I’m delighted to be supporting it and taking part.” – Kate Mosse, novelist and playwright 

The discussion will travel from the Turkish prison cells of Burhan Sönmez’s ‘Istanbul, Istanbul’ to the turned upside-down-lives in Dorthe Norstwisted and imaginatively-realised streets of Copenhagen; to Slovenian writer Gabriela Babnik’s seductive tale of forbidden love on the dusty plains of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; via Peter Verhelst’s deadpan Belgian humour in his Gorilla-narrated fable about the story of human civilisation (and its collapse). There is a tormented relationship unfolding between widow and son on Dutch-writer Jaap Robben’s remote and stormy island (located somewhere between Scotland and Norway); and we finish in Alek Popov’s strange and comic novel that moves between Bulgaria and New York, where two brothers question whether their long-deceased father is, in fact, dead.

“Since our first European Literature Night eight years ago the evening has gradually grown into a week, and now, quite thrillingly, it has become a Festival. As judge and host of ELN, it is the highlight of my year. We’ve had a record number of submissions and this year the judges all felt it was the strongest collection of writers we have had to choose from so far. I can assure you British audiences are in for a real treat. The best of contemporary European literature is coming their way.” – Rosie Goldsmith, director of European Literature Network

The event will be followed by a drinks reception.

 

Speakers
  • Burhan Sönmez (Turkey)
  • Dorthe Nors (Denmark)
  • Gabriela Babnik (Slovenia)
  • Peter Verhelst (Belgium)
  • Jaap Robben (Netherlands)
  • Alek Popov (Bulgaria)
  • Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith
  • Opening address by Kate Mosse

British Library, Conference Centre
96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
Admission: £12 / £10 / £8
Bookings essential: http://www.bl.uk/events/european-literature-night-the-writers-showcase, +44 330 333 1144

Burhan Sönmez

Born in Central Anatolia in 1965, Burhan Sönmez grew up speaking Kurdish and Turkish, and later moved to Istanbul to study law. Due to political reasons the recipient of a number of literary prizes had to live in exile in Britain for some years. He now divides his time between Cambridge and Istanbul and lectures at the METU (Middle East Technical University) on literary theory.

Burhan Sönmez

Dorthe Nors

Dorthe Nors was born in 1970 and studied literature and art history at the University of Aarhus. After publishing three novels, she wrote ‘Karate Chop’, her collection of short stories, and the novel ‘Minna needs rehearsal space’, both published in English. She has seen her short stories in various publications, including The Boston Review, Harpers and The New Yorker.

Dorthe Nors

Gabriela Babnik

Gabriela Babnik was born in 1970 in Germany and studied Comparative literature at the University of Ljubljana. After finishing her studies she spent some time in Nigeria before working on a master’s degree on the modern Nigerian novel. Since 2002, she has regularly contributed articles to all major daily and weekly publications in Slovenia. Her first novel Cotton Skin was awarded the Best Debut Novel at the Slovenian Book Fair in 2007 and in 2013 her third novel Dry Season received the European Union Prize for Literature.

Gabriela Babnik

Peter Verhelst

Born in 1962 in Brugge, Peter Verhelst is a Flemish novelist, poet and playwright. He has written more than 20 books. His work has been praised for its powerful images, the sensuality and richness of its language and the author’s unbridled imagination. His breakthrough came in 1999 with the novel Tonguecat, which won the Golden Owl Literature Prize and the Flemish State Prize for Literature. The Man I Became is his eleventh novel.

Peter Verhelst

Jaap Robben

The multitalented Jaap Robben is a poet, playwright, performer and acclaimed children’s author. His debut adult novel You Have Me to Love (published in 2014) received glowing reviews in the Dutch and Flemish press and went on to win the 2014 Dutch Booksellers Award. The novel has sold almost 30,000 copies in the Netherlands and will be made into a film..

Jaap Robben

Alek Popov

Alek Popov was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1966. He grew up in a family of scientists and translators from French and English and graduated from St. Constantine Cyril the Philosopher Lyceum for Ancient Languages and Cultures in Sofia, and later received his master’s degree in Bulgarian language and literature from Sofia University St. Clement of Ohrid. His collections of short stories have been translated into various European languages and earned him several literary awards. His first novel, ‘Mission London’ was published in 2001 and made into a film in 2010. Popov’s second novel ‘The Black Box’, published in 2007, won the 2013 UK contemporary Bulgarian novel contest. Apart from his writing he is known in Bulgaria for his radio and theatre productions.

Alek Popov

Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith

Rosie Goldsmith is a journalist specialising in arts and current affairs, in the UK and abroad. In 20 years at the BBC she travelled the world, from New Zealand to Libya, Japan to East Timor. She covered events such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of apartheid in South Africa, presenting flagship BBC radio shows like Front Row and Crossing Continents.  Rosie speaks French, German and some Italian and lived for many years in Germany, Africa and the USA. Today she combines broadcasting, writing, media training and specialist PR with chairing events in Britain and overseas.  She has interviewed many of the great names in culture and current affairs, from Margaret Atwood to Anthony Gormley – and several Prime Ministers! Known in the UK also as a champion of international literature, translation and language learning, she promotes them whenever she can.  She chairs the annual European Literature Night at the British Library and curates and chairs regular festivals and events celebrating international literature.

Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith

Opening address by Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse is a novelist, playwright and non fiction writer. Her bestselling Languedoc novels – Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel – have sold millions of copies worldwide in 42 languages, as has her Gothic fiction The Mistletoe Bride, The Taxidermist's Daughter and The Winter Ghosts, for which she is writing the screenplay.  Non fiction includes Becoming a Mother and Chichester Festival Theatre at Fifty, and her plays include Syrinx and The Queen of Jerusalem.  She is currently working on a new major historical series, The Burning Chambers Trilogy, set during the 16th century French Wars of Religion in France, Holland and South Africa.  The Co-founder of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, which celebrates international writing by women, Kate is also Deputy Chair of the National Theatre and Patron of the Sussex music ensemble, The Consort of Twelve.

Opening address by Kate Mosse