Well, hello there! And thank you to Stephen Sondheim for inspiring my summer newsletter, composed to reassure you that,
Good times, bum times, we’ve seen ’em all
And, my dear, we’re still here
Plush velvet sometimes
Sometimes just pretzels and beer, but we’re here
Brexit, the pandemic, war in Ukraine, looming recession, transport chaos, terrorist shootouts from Norway to the US, the crushing of Roe v. Wade – bum times but the European Literature Network is still here, dressed head-to-toe in plush red velvet.
We’ve stood on bread lines with the best
Watched while the headlines did the rest
In the depression were we depressed?
Since we last met (probably on Zoom), my time has been spent largely fund-raising and drum-beating for European literature and translation. You can imagine my reaction when one potential UK sponsor suggested that we might fare better if we removed the word “European” from our title! So, we remain footloose and grant-free because, unlike in Sondheim’s Follies, I did not meet a big financier. We continue running our monthly columns and reviews and promoting your great events, festivals and writing; raising awareness of the plight of various European colleagues; raising money for individual projects from individual European country backers and planning not one but two magazines for spring 2023, The Spanish and Austrian Riveters, thanks to the generosity of cultural organisations in both Spain and Austria.
We’ve contacted several of you already about the new magazines but to reassure you: we’ll begin serious commissioning in September, after our August break, with early December as the deadline for content. West Camel will be editing The Spanish Riveter, with editorial support from Katie Whittemore and Alice Banks, and I will be editing The Austrian Riveter, with Sheridan Marshall, Anna Blasiak and Rosie Eyre. We will publish both magazines to coincide with London Book Fair in April 2023.
Meanwhile, I hope you have all read your copies of The Italian Riveter? Thank you everyone who contributed and who ensured that our tenth magazine of European literature in translation became the biggest and best yet. We launched in print and online the first week of April 2022 at events at London Book Fair, the Italian Cultural Institute in London and, in May, at the International Literature Festival Dublin. If you still don’t have a copy, then pick one up in person at the Italian Cultural Institutes in London, Dublin or Edinburgh or order it from Newsstand or access the whole magazine online, here on our website. All for free! In addition, we post each and every one of your articles and extracts individually to give them the promotional oxygen they deserve. We’ve had so much riveting Italian material that we’ve been able to create daily posts for three months, finishing this Monday, July 4th.
We publish our regular #RivetingReviews on 22nd July (the deadline is 18th July), edited by West Camel, to whom many thanks. Reluctantly, in spite of the dire need of reviews of translated fiction in English, we’ve decided we can only run quarterly reviews, not monthly, for several reasons: we don’t have the staff, the funding or enough reviewers. You can help to remedy any of those issues, should you wish! If you are interested in reviewing a topical translated book – or – why not? – sponsoring our reviews section – get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org. With any general ELNet queries, please use the email address email@example.com – although we’re all taking a break for August.
Grazie mille to Alex Valente, our resident Italianist, who continues to pen such lively and original columns for us on Italian literature, and muchas gracias to Alice Banks for her indispensable monthly La Española column, flagging up Spanish book news.
You might also be interested in the new European Review of Books. Issue 1 is out now, a multilingual magazine of European ideas with the aim “to thicken the European intellectual atmosphere.” Journals like this, like The Riveter, Asymptote, Words Without Borders, Paris Review, Granta, World Literature Today – a few of my personal favourites – are thriving, in print and online. I also love PEN TRANSMISSIONS. What are your favourites?
The war in Ukraine continues to break our European hearts. Hopefully you’ve been following the regular Ukraine poetry section in our Poetry Travels series, curated by Anna Blasiak and Lisa Kalloo. Thank you to them both for keeping the Ukrainian flag flying over ELNet HQ. If you wish to share how you are supporting Ukrainian authors and artists, and have ideas for further action, do write to us. Our website is a popular platform for promoting your activities and networking. I was delighted when Ukrainian writer, musician, translator and activist Serhiy Zhadan won this year’s #EBRDLiteraturePrize2022 for his novel The Orphanage, alongside his English language translators Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler. I chaired the judges of the EBRD Prize for three years and believe fervently that prizes like these are priceless in promoting translated fiction.
Finally, after the enforced bum times of Covid, I’ve been putting on the razzle dazzle (Sondheim fans awake!), brushing off my dusty red dresses and stepping out at festivals, events and awards ceremonies. It has been thrilling to return to the International Booker Prize, the Hay-on-Wye Festival, the International Literature Festival Dublin and the remarkable Future Library ceremony in Oslo. The British Council and Hay Festival Player are streaming some of my author interviews, for example with Bernardine Evaristo, and you can read my article on the Future Library in The Guardian newspaper here. The Future Library is all about hope. We live in hope. Sondheim also understood that:
I’ve run the gamut, A to Z
Three cheers and dammit, c’est la vie
I got through all of last year, and I’m here
Lord knows, at least I was there, and I’m here
Look who’s here, I’m still here
Rosie the Riveter