Guest Feature | Lucy Popescu @lucyjpop | European Literature Days 2022

It was a delight to return, in person, to European Literature Days (ELit) a three-day literary festival, held in Krems, lower Austria. This year the theme was ‘Comedy and Crisis’. As Walter Grond, the festival’s founder and artistic director suggests: “Black humour often prevails where sheer hopelessness prevails, it is a fundamental human approach.”

Ukrainian writer, translator and journalist, Natalka Sniadanko opened the festival with a stirring address. Her debut novel, Collection of Passions, was published in 2001, and in 2013, her novel Frau Muller isn’t Disposed to Pay More was shortlisted for the BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year award. Essays and stories of hers have appeared in English in publications such as The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Republic, Brooklyn Rail, and Two Lines, translated by Jennifer Croft.  Continue reading Guest Feature | Lucy Popescu @lucyjpop | European Literature Days 2022

Review | IMPOSSIBLE, Erri De Luca trs. N. S. Thompson | Mountain Leopard Press

A prolific and acclaimed writer in his Italian homeland, Erri De Luca’s thought-provoking, philosophical investigation builds in suspense ending with an emotional bomb. Although a work of fiction, to what extent Impossible is inspired by his actual experiences of being sued for an alleged incitement to sabotage to the Lyon-Turin high speed train line on environmental grounds is open for debate. (De Luca was cleared on 19 October 2015 when a not-guilty verdict was pronounced.)

years of lead copyright france24A senator from the centre-left Democratic party supportive of the high speed train line, referred to De Luca as being a relic of the ‘years of lead’, the restless political period of the 1970s-‘80s when left-and-right-wing activists carried out numerous violent attacks, including the abduction and murder of former Prime Minister, Aldo Moro.

Continue reading Review | IMPOSSIBLE, Erri De Luca trs. N. S. Thompson | Mountain Leopard Press

Review | The Story of Langford Grove School 1923-62 | Blue Horizon Press

The story of Langford Grove School is a period piece. It is the story of the remarkable headmistress and sole proprietor, Elizabeth Curtis. Whether it was gin and scallops for lunch with Frank Auerbach; a fireside chat with David Wynne; Sir Thomas Beecham holding up his orchestra until Curty took her seat; driving Vanessa Bell’s daughter Angelica to Blakeney Point; encouraging early orienteering on Bodmin Moor; caring for and educating Basque children escaping Franco’s cruelty; deciding at the drop of a hat that all lessons one particular term should be learnt in French; or following the Wartime exploits of her Naval Officer son, on whom Ian Fleming was said to have based some James Bond characteristics –  this was “Curty”. Curty was a progressive educationalist who wanted the very best in artistic experiences in beautiful surroundings for the sixty or so pupils in her care at Langford Grove,” from the Preface by Lucinda Curtis, grand-daughter of “Curty”

A century ago, being an educated and intelligent woman meant learning a European language, singing, dancing and music. Women who wanted to go to university were referred to as “blue stockings” (from the group of women who in the 1750s held “conversations” to which they invited men of letters and members of the aristocracy with literary interests.) Continue reading Review | The Story of Langford Grove School 1923-62 | Blue Horizon Press

Review | Thirsty Sea, Erica Mou trs. Clarissa Botsford | Héloïse Press

Héloïse Press champions world-wide female talent by giving voice to emerging and well-established female writers from home and abroad.
Erica Mou (b. 1990) studied Literature, Publishing and Journalism at the University of Bari. She is an Italian singer-songwriter and the recipient of numerous international awards. Thirsty Sea, winner of the Readers’ Award of the Lungano Literary Festival 2020, is her debut novel. Erica wrote this book at the kitchen table of her rented accommodation in London.

The image maybe be near-perfect but what lies behind it? Inside a person is like inside the sea: all that lies beneath the surface is not immediately visible.

BePresent

Nicola is an aeroplane pilot, a very good cook and the ideal son-in-law. He is “the kind of person who doesn’t kill spiders but catches them in jars and frees them out of the window”. He is a perfect catch for Maria who runs an oddball eco-friendly business. As a gift-buying consultant, she is paid by clients to come up with ideas for presents. So her shop is just a big empty space with a table, a chair and a phallic sculpture in the corner reminiscent of Rocking Machine, the art piece created by Dutch sculptor and artist Herman Makkink for Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange. There is “nothing on sale, no shelves, just brilliant ideas.”

Continue reading Review | Thirsty Sea, Erica Mou trs. Clarissa Botsford | Héloïse Press

Review | My Pen is the Wing of a Bird, New Fiction by Afghan Women | MacLehose Press

Afghan women have been in the news again since the Taliban have banned Voice of America, the BBC and Deutsche Welle after women students and teachers protested peacefully in response to secondary schools for girls being shut down. Writing in Afghanistan is once again a taboo craft for women.

As a schoolteacher put it: “The Taliban are scared of an educated girl. When a girl is educated, a family will be educated. And when a family is educated, a nation will be educated. Ultimately, an educated nation will never, ever nourish the motives of terrorists.” www.democracynow.org

Continue reading Review | My Pen is the Wing of a Bird, New Fiction by Afghan Women | MacLehose Press

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