‘PRIZE-WINNING EUROPEAN LITERATURE’
May was a busy month for Eurolitlovers in the UK. Among the highlights were European Literature Night at the British Library – with a rousing speech from Europhile author A L Kennedy – then our Slovak Euro Stars event and also the glittery, glitzy gala for the European Union Prize for Literature in Brussels, with the gifted Sunjeev Sahota taking the UK prize, and hosted by the lady in the red dress (and leopard-skin shoes – if you are curious!). My photos here and profiles and extracts from all the winners here.
The EUPL Prize is awarded to 12 emerging, published writers every year. The idea is to foster great writing and translation across the continent. Each writer is selected by a Jury in the home country and this beautiful prize-winning gala evening, against a backdrop of chandeliers, grand tapestries and paintings in Brussel’s ‘Concert Noble’, provides a rare opportunity for our normally T-shirted, retiring writers (!?) to don a tux and high heels (!?) and to perform on stage in front of an illustrious audience of Commissioners, ministers, publishers, booksellers, writers, translators, media and the public from the whole of Europe.
It was a personal and professional privilege and pleasure to host this event, especially to enjoy the company and creativity of 12 great writers, from Albania to the UK, and to reconnect with all those countries I’d worked in as a BBC journalist. Thank goodness the prizes were awarded alphabetically, making it easier to remember everyone’s names. A for Albania, B for Bulgaria, C for Czech Republic, G for Greece…and so on. There was much hilarity over my repeated mispronunciation of the Greek name of the Vice President of the European Parliament, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, who presented the Greek winner Kallia Papadaki with her prize- but he took it well. And I’m particularly proud of mastering the name ‘Darko Tusjevljkavic’ from Serbia. So, by the time we reached the final, 12th prize-winner of the evening, Sunjeev Sahota from the UK, I was on a winning streak. EXCEPT that this placed the UK LAST, not a good move in ‘the current climate’. “Please don’t view this as a political statement,” I assured the EU dignitaries, “both Sunjeev and I are committed Europeans. And, whatever happens, we will be back!”
When you read this I will be making Hay (while the sun shines, hopefully) at the 30th annual festival at Hay-on-Wye – another enormous privilege and pleasure. Also for June: don’t forget our monthly #RivetingReviews – the deadline for your reviews is June 12th – and our next big EL Networking meeting on June 19th at Free Word Centre (REGISTER WITH ANNA at email@example.com).
Looking further ahead, July/August at European Literature Network is dedicated to Russian literature. We’re extremely proud of this as we have managed to gather together some of the biggest names in Russian-language writing and translation. We’re publishing a special ‘Russian Riveter’ magazine (although we still need more funding folks!) and then on August 3rd we take over the British Library, first for our afternoon #Riveting Russian translation workshop (SIGN UP HERE) and our evening panel of #Riveting Russian-language writers (BOOK TICKETS HERE). I’ll be wearing red – ofcourse!