European Literature Night to Land at Bohemian National Hall Next Month
European Literature Night (ELN) comes to Bohemian National Hall in New York City on June 2 from 7-10pm, with actors performing a curated selection of passages from fifteen exceptional literary works of fiction and poetry from across the European continent. The selected books will be available in a book fair along with other international titles.
New York audiences will move from room to room to hear literary work from prominent and up-and-coming European authors whose work allows for the exploration of parallels between European experiences and the current cultural and political climate in America. The event is modelled after its overseas counterpart, offering a European style atmosphere where audiences can listen to readings and exchange ideas while enjoying a beer or a glass of wine.
The evening will feature an in-person conversation with writer Marieke Nijkamp, a Dutch fiction writer whose first novel This is Where it Ends was a New York Times Young Adult Bestseller, followed by a Q&A and reception.
This special evening is free and open to the public, hosted by the Czech Center New York and the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York with the collaboration of fifteen partnering cultural institutions and consulates.
ELN is a decade-old tradition in many European countries. The inaugural New York edition is also the first in the U.S. and will be launched on the occasion of the 60th anniversary celebration of theTreaties of Rome - treaties that brought reconciliation, growth and security to millions of Europeans after WWII. The concept of the ELN is based in this spirit of unity, and on the belief that literature is a unique and creative medium that can help strengthen the dialogue between single voices and cultures, and that it is a tool of mutual understanding which helps to break down communication barriers.
The first ELN was created by the Czech Center Prague and featured readings in pubs and coffee shops throughout the city, creating the experience of a "pub crawl" enhanced by literary readings. The addition of literature and the presentation of new and evocative ideas in these traditionally communal spaces where people discuss ideas gave visitors the space and material to enjoy and then reflect upon what they had heard. The Czech Center New York hopes to provide a similar experience to those visiting the ELN in Bohemian National Hall.
The selected books come from countries representing a diverse and varied Europe: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.
PROGRAM AND SCHEDULE FOR JUNE 2, 2017:
Simultaneous readings in seven venues throughout Bohemian National Hall
Book Fair in the Ballroom
In Conversation with Writer Marieke Nijkamp
Marieke Nijkamp discusses her New York Times Young Adult Bestseller book This is Where it Ends.
European Literature Night is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to reserve a space at europeanlitnight.eventbrite.com.
For the special event In Conversation with Writer Marieke Nijkamp, RSVP to reserve a complimentary seat at inconversationeln.eventbrite.com.
Bohemian National Hall is located at 321 East 73rd Street, New York, NY 10021 (between 1st and 2nd Ave. - Subway: Q to 72nd Street, 6 to 68th Street or 77th Street). For more information about the event, visit bit.ly/2quOUWf.
SELECTED BOOKS & AUTHORS:
War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans - Belgium
The life of Urbain Martien-artist, soldier, survivor of World War I-lies contained in two notebooks he left behind when he died in 1981. In War and Turpentine, his grandson, a writer, retells his grandfather's story, the notebooks providing a key to the locked chambers of Urbain's memory.
A masterly book about memory, art, love and war, War and Turpentine sold more than 200,000 copies and is translated into 15 languages. Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize 2017, named a New York Times Top 10 Best Book of the Year and an Economist Best Book of the Year.
Wolf Hunt by Ivailo Petrov - Bulgaria
Published in the final years of communism, set in the beginning of the same era, Wolf Hunt is an iconic novel about the human price paid in times of shifting values and enforced transformationS. Petrov's narrative technique is reminiscent of Faulkner and Kurosawa's Roshomon, giving the reader access to the inner lives of the six main characters as they are inextricably pulled into further conflict with each other. A foremost work of Bulgarian literature from the past century, Wolf Hunt places the calamitous history of twentieth-century Bulgaria into a human context of helplessness and desperation.
Europeana: A Brief History of the Twentieth Century by Patrik Ou?edník - Czech Republic
Heir of Kafka, Ou?edník offers a burlesque vision of the history of contemporary Europe, combining tragic aspects of the situations with anecdotal facts that stress the absurdity of the twentieth century. Laughs guaranteed, uneasiness probable, strong impact: in short, a great book.
Ou?edník, recipient of the State Prize for Literature (2014) and the Tom Stoppard Prize (2013), demonstrates that nothing substantial has changed - humanity is still hopeful for the future and still mired in conflicts. Europeana has been published in more than 30 languages, making it the most translated post-1989 Czech book.
The Brother by Rein Raud - Estonia
Rein Raud's short novel of well-drawn characters and quick moving plot is, in his own words, a spaghetti western told in poetic prose, simultaneously paying tribute to such incompatible figures as Clint Eastwood and Alessandro Baricco. Touching upon ideas of identity and the ruthless way the world is divided into winners and losers, its themes are relevant in every corner of the world.
Rein Raud is the author of seven novels, five books of poetry, and several collections of short stories and essays. One of his short pieces appeared in Best European Fiction 2015. He is a professor of Japanese studies and has translated several works from Japanese into Estonian.
The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal - France
The Heart takes place over the 24 hours surrounding a fatal car crash and the subsequent heart transplant as life is taken from a young man and given to a dying woman. As stylistically audacious as it is emotionally explosive, the book examines the deepest emotions of everyone involved - grieving parents, doctors and nurses - as they navigate decisions of life and death.
The Heart is a finalist for the first Albertine Prize, recognizing American readers' favorite French language work of fiction from 2016. Kerangal has authored several novels, published a collection of short stories, a novella and a fiction tribute to Kate Bush and Blondie titled Dans les rapides.
Austerity Measures: The New Greek Poetry edited by Karen Van Dyck - Greece
This powerful bilingual anthology of poetry is a display of resilience and beauty, showcasing the richness and strength of contemporary Greek poetry. According to Kate Kellaway, writing for The Observer, the book provides "an uncommon chance to share Greek experience beyond the headlines-in a way that is fascinating, revelatory and only possible through poetry."
Karen Van Dyck is the Kimon A. Doukas Professor of Modern Greek Literature in the Classics Department at Columbia University. She writes on modern Greek and Greek diaspora literature, and gender and translation theory.
Dead Heat by Benedek Totth - Hungary
On a deserted bypass somewhere in the Hungarian countryside a sports car full of teenagers races through the pitch black night. Benedek Totth's first novel reflects today's youth, more or less abandoned teenagers, loitering mostly unhappily, sometimes sad but more often angry.
A translator of contemporary American and English literature, the author's work is packed with action, deadpan philosophy and psychedelia. Elements of teenage literature, the detective story and the psychological thriller mingle in this unique and often humorous book - one of the biggest recent success stories of Hungarian literature.
Seed in Snow: Poems by Knuts Skujenieks - Latvia
These poems, by the distinguished Latvian poet Knuts Skujenieks, were written in the Mordovia gulag, where, on trumped-up charges of anti-Soviet activity, he was a political prisoner from 1963 through 1969. There, he writes, "I had to preserve my balance and inner freedom--poetry enabled me to do that. Writing was my way of life." The poems do not, however, depict the traditional prison themes, but universalize the experience, place it in a historical context, and show a remarkable, irrepressible spirit. Skujenieks's poetry has been translated into over thirty languages; this is the first collection (presented bilingually) in English.
The Misfit by Oliver Friggieri - Malta
Originally published as L-Istramb (1980), this is one of Friggieri's finest works. The Misfit captures the complexity of Maltese society and teases out the dynamic relationships of what it is to be Maltese, defined, as it were, by what it is not.
Oliver Friggieri is a poet, novelist, literary critic and professor of Maltese Literature whose books have been translated into many languages. Winner of various national and international awards, his work is considered pivotal in the development of the Maltese language. Translator Charles Briffa is also a prominent literary author.
Saving Charlotte: A Mother and the Power of Intuition by Pia de Jong - Netherlands
In her memoir, novelist Pia de Jong chronicles the reality of grappling with the illness of her newborn daughter. Soon after she is born, it's clear that something is wrong; Charlotte is diagnosed with congenital myeloid leukemia. This universal story of motherhood, intuition and hope describes the fears all parents encounter when raising and protecting their children.
Pia de Jong is a best-selling novelist and a regular contributor to the Washington Post. She lives in Princeton, New Jersey, with her husband and their three children, including Charlotte. Pia de Jong has won several prizes for her short stories and poetry.
Oxygen by Julia Fiedorczuk - Poland
One of Poland's most creative and outspoken poets, Julia Fiedorczuk entangles images and concepts from science (astronomy, physics, and biology) with deeply personal explorations of relationships and connectedness in her debut poetry book in English. Nature abounds in these poems, and Fiedorczuk is, in turn, ever present in "that luscious fruit, the world."
Julia Fiedorczuk is a poet, prose writer, translator, and lecturer in American literature at the University of Warsaw. She has published five books of poetry, a collection of short stories, and two novels. Her most recent book, Weightless, was nominated for the Nike Prize.
A Little Larger Than the Entire Universe: Selected Poems by Fernando Pessoa - Portugal
Writing obsessively in French, English, and Portuguese, Fernando Pessoa left a prodigious body of work, much of it under "heteronyms," fully fleshed alter egos with startlingly different styles and points of view. Offering a unique sampling of all his most famous voices, this collection features poems that have never before been translated alongside many originally composed in English. In addition to such major works as Maritime Ode of Campos and his Goethe-inspired Faust, written in blank verse, there are several stunning poems that have only come to light in the last five years. Selected and translated by leading Pessoa scholar Richard Zenith, this is the finest introduction available to the breadth of Pessoa's genius.
The World Within a Lost Glove by Svetozár Daniel Šimko - Slovakia
This collection of poetry - the poetry of exile and of exilic being - resonates poignantly today. Speech becomes a form of defiance, a means of breaking a collective and complicit silence wherein memory is neglected or erased. Svetozár Daniel Šimko was born in Slovakia, and emigrated with his family to the U.S. His translation of Georg Trakl's Autumn Sonata received the Poet's House Translation Prize. Collections of his own poetry including The World Within a Lost Glove and Arrival were published posthumously, after his unexpected death in 2004 at the young age of forty-five.
Life Embitters by Josep Pla - Spain
Life Embitters captures Europe before the Great Depression: A Madrid lodging house, a Parisian café-owner addicted to gambling, emigres and exiles struggling to survive in Berlin, boarding houses in Barcelona - ordinary lives across Europe between the end of World War I and the collapse of Wall Street.
An indefatigable traveler with a most refined and unquenchable thirst for knowledge, few writers have known Spain better than Josep Pla, especially in the most crucial times of the country's history.
SPECIAL EVENT: In Conversation with Writer Marieke Nijkamp
This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp - Netherlands
Touching upon teenage struggles and fears and representing a diverse group of students, the first Dutch author to make it to the New York Times Young Adult Bestseller list describes an Alabama high school drama consisting of senseless acts of violence combined with stories of selfless acts of courage.
Nijkamp was born and raised in the Netherlands. A lifelong student of stories, language, and ideas, she is more or less proficient in a dozen languages and holds degrees in philosophy, history, and medieval studies. She is a storyteller, dreamer, globe-trotter and a self-described geek.
European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC)
EUNIC is part of a global coalition of national cultural institutes and cultural diplomatic services from the European Union that works in more than 80 cities on all continents. The mission of EUNIC New York is to promote and present the best of European creative and intellectual achievements to New York and U.S. audiences. EUNIC works to create artistic and educational opportunities, strengthen cultural relations and create effective collaboration between members and cultural institutions. new-york.eunic-online.eu
Czech Center New York
Czech Center New York is dedicated to creating a vibrant, progressive, international atmosphere for the propagation of social dialogue and artistic expression. We present events that feed into and complement the multi-cultural fabric of New York City to establish strong bonds with the diverse ethnic and cultural landscape that constitutes this incredible city. As the representatives of the Czech Republic and a member of the European Union, we open our doors to cultural and educational exchanges in the hope that lasting partnerships will be formed. www.czechcenter.com
Bohemian National Hall (BNH)
The Bohemian National Hall, the seat of the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York and Czech Center New York, is a recently redesigned, award-winning landmark building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and a center for Czech culture in New York City. Since it was established in 1896, it has served as a focal point for its community as well as a place for exchange and dialogue with the American audience. www.bohemiannationalhall.com
EUNIC - European Union National Institutes for Culture
Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations
General Delegation of the Government of Flanders to the U.S.A.
Elizabeth Kostova Foundation
Czech Center New York
Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York
Albertine Books in French and English
Consulate General of Estonia in New York
Onassis Foundation USA / Greek Consulate General in New York
Balassi Institute - Hungarian Cultural Center New York
Consulate of Latvia in New York
Arts Council Malta in New York
Dutch Culture USA / Consulate General of the Netherlands
Polish Cultural Institute New York
Consulate General of Portugal in New York & Teatro da Saudade
Consulate General of Slovakia in New York
Consulate General of Spain in New York