This year’s Beyond Words Festival featured a great line-up from across the Channel. Throughout the week, the Institut Français du Royaume Uni in South Kensington, London, was bustling with people eager to see their favourite French authors in conversation with their British counterparts discussing not only their latest books, but many things words and ideas from France, past and present.
The first event I attended was A Gallic Evening with Muriel Barbery, Antoine Laurain and Jean-Baptiste Andrea, chaired by Viv Groskop. Gallic Books publish “the very best of what the French are actually reading.” Over the past decade, they have brought over one hundred authors to the British reading public.
Continue reading Spotlight | Highlights, Beyond Words Festival, 2023 | Institut Français du Royaume Uni
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.
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
The daughter of immigrants, Bel Olid is a prizewinning writer, translator and teacher of literature and creative writing. The President of the European Council of Associations of Literary Translators, and President of the Association of Writers in Catalan, she is well known and well respected in Europe for her activism in defense of women and children.
“Those fleeing war are always better received than those trying to escape poverty, especially if the poverty is in a black skin, as if poverty isn’t a bomb that will end up killing you.” (page 14) Continue reading Review | Wilder Winds, Bel Olid | Fum d’Estampa Press
Ivana Dobrakovová is based in Turin where she works as a freelance translator from French and Italian and is the translator of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels into Slovak. She is the author of three short story collections First Death in the Family, Toxo and Mothers and Truckers; and one novel, Bellevue.
Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
I was born in Czechoslovakia, in Bratislava, and I grew up there as well, in a very nice residential district above the castle.
Were the members of your family big readers?
Well, my father was a mathematician, I have never seen him with a novel (although my mum told me he enjoyed Flaubert’s Madame Bovary when he was young), but my mother is still a big reader. She is also a mathematician and she doesn’t like fiction much (although she has read more novels than me); she usually reads all the biographies, books of interviews, historical books and whatever else she can grab hold of.
When you were growing up, what books had an impact on you?
I read a lot when I was little girl and during adolescence, but different things, not necessarily fiction. I went through all kinds of phases – for a while I read only fantasy, then books about movies and film-making and critiques (Hitchcock, Truffaut), then I caught Monty Python fever. This was followed by two years of reading only Franz Kafka. My mum tried to guide me, she wanted me to read more conventional books, or what was appropriate for a girl, like Gone with the Wind, or Russian classics, but I disobeyed her and just read what I wanted. I started reading fiction a great deal in my last year at university, which was a very happy time – I remember my amazement at discovering Julio Cortázar´s short stories – and the urge to copy him and try to understand how he “does” it. I started to read contemporary French literature since after school I decided to translate French authors. Ernesto Sabato’s novel On Heroes and Tombs was very important to me during my adolescence, and the section Report on the Blind was my first encounter with madness and paranoia in literature. Continue reading Interview | Ivana Dobrakovová | Author of the Week
Are (were) your parents great readers? Tell us a bit about yourself.
JUDITH (Publishing Director): My father loves reading newspapers and history books. My mother loves reading novels. If I publish a book I usually ask myself if my mother would like reading it too―meaning that it shouldn’t be pretentious or unnecessarily complicated. My aunt was the person who stimulated me most though―she was a great storyteller herself, as well as a librarian, and somehow she always seemed to know exactly which books to give me to read.
LYDIA (Editor-in-Chief): Not while I was growing up, although I’m not sure how much free time they had. It was very much noted that I was a reader though, and was encouraged. I also quickly worked out that reading in bed meant I could stay up late by turning the light back on after my parents went downstairs. Continue reading Interview | Judith Uyterlinde & Lydia Unsworth, World Editions | Indie Publisher of the Week