European Writers’ Festival: Programme and Panels

EUROPEAN WRITERS’ FESTIVAL

“Transformation”

18-19 May 2024

British Library, London


SATURDAY 18TH MAY

11:00 – 12:15 

PANEL 1 – Europe Transformed

An inter-generational panel of great storytellers from North, South, East and West kicks off the festival by discussing how Europe and storytelling have changed since the first post-Cold War generation up to today.

With Milena Michiko Flašar (Austria), Jógvan Isaksen (Faroes), Nora Ikstena (Latvia) and Elisa Victoria (Spain).

CHAIR: ROSIE GOLDSMITH


12:45 – 14:00

PANEL 2 – Changing Gears

Very few of our festival authors work and write in one genre, so does genre matter? Can you be good at everything? Meet the former bank manager who writes fiction, the philosopher writing on Law, the academic-broadcaster and the musician-poet; among the many authors who switch jobs and genres, proving that changing gears only boosts creativity.

With Laurent de Sutter (Belgium WBI), Kristiina Ehin (Estonia), Emma Dabiri (Ireland) and Selçuk Altun (Turkey).

CHAIR: TOBY LICHTIG

(In partnership with the Times Literary Supplement)


14:30 – 15.45 

PANEL 3 – Transformation through Translation 

How has the art of translation – and attitudes to translation – changed in Europe? Does the plethora of grants and prizes help? All our festival writers are translated, several lead double lives as translators. What does that mean for their own writing? And how do they judge the status of translation across Europe and the UK? 

With Joanna Elmy (Bulgaria), Jordi Larios (Catalonia), Simone Atangana Bekono (Netherlands) and Ioana Pârvulescu (Romania).

CHAIR: WILL FORRESTER

(in Partnership with English PEN)


16:15 – 17:30 

PANEL 4 – Change and Conflict

Our festival writers come from all over the world.  What is the impact of war, conflict and displacement on how they live, think and write? How does conflict and geography influence their sense of belonging and identity? Can they ever forget trauma and loss or is the shadow of war and conflict always present, always part of their creative process?

With Pajtim Statovci (Finland), Igiaba Scego (Italy) and Iryna Shuvalova (Ukraine).

CHAIR: TBC


18:00 – 18:45 

Special Guest ANDREY KURKOV 

In Conversation with LUKE HARDING

Prize-winning Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov is also a prominent commentator and journalist. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion he has travelled the world campaigning to raise support for Ukraine. He has also continued to write, and his several fine books of reportage – including Our Daily War (pub. July 2024) – sit alongside his witty novels, and the first in a series of historical crime novels, The Silver Bone: the Kyiv Mysteries, out now. He discusses writing and war with The Guardian’s Senior international correspondent and author of Invasion, Luke Harding.

(In partnership with Guardian Europe)


SUNDAY 19TH MAY

11.30 doors open 

12:00 – 13:15

PANEL 1 – Transforming Historical Narratives

Writing about history is central to European literature but how we write about it, and who writes it, has changed. When your personal history is embedded in historic change how does that shape your narrative? Who are the writers taking over from the Great Men of History, to tell its stories in daring new ways? 

With Anne Berest (France), Christos Chomendis (Greece), Tomas Vaiseta (Lithuania) and Margo Rejmer (Poland).

CHAIR: TIM BEASLEY-MURRAY

(In partnership with University College London)


13:30 – 14:45 

PANEL 2 – Beyond Belief: breaking boundaries.

The originality, courage to experiment and boundary-breaking of so many festival writers are transforming European poetry and prose. They delight and stimulate readers – and will perhaps stimulate some change in writing in the UK? Our writers take on other worlds and literary traditions, from folk to fantasy, magical realism to sci-fi.

With Michal Ajvaz (Czech Republic), Alycia Pirmohamed (Scotland) and Sebastijan Pregelj (Slovenia).

CHAIR: REBECCA JONES


15:00 – 16.15 

PANEL 3 – Europe on the Move

How travel, journeys, migration and movement make their way onto the page. Europe is on the move again, by choice or by force or necessity: what kind of journeys are writers taking and how do they write about them? And after the pandemic, after Brexit, travel-writing itself is undergoing a revival in new and exciting ways.

With Kristian Bang Foss (Denmark), Andrea Tompa (Hungary), Afonso Cruz (Portugal) and Zuska Kepplova (Slovakia).

CHAIR: THARIK HUSSAIN


16:30 – 17:30 

European writers are increasingly multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary and multi-lingual but how can we embrace this transformation and the wonderful opportunities these changes promise for the future? Several festival authors write in the ‘new’ languages of their new homes: how does that impact their craft, their identity and how they feel about home, nationhood and Europe?

With Dean Atta (Cyprus), Sasha Salzmann (Germany), Larisa Faber (Luxembourg) and Tone Schunnesson (Sweden).

CHAIR: BEE ROWLATT

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