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EUROPEAN LITERATURE NIGHT 2018

WORLDS COLLIDE ON MULTICULTURAL EUROPEAN LITERATURE NIGHT: A CELEBRATION OF 15 EUROPEAN BOOKS THROUGH READINGS, MUSICAL WORLD PREMIERES, VISUAL ART, FILM, ARCHITECTURE, AND PLATFORMS FOR POWERFUL DISCUSSION WITH SPECIAL GUEST PETER SÍS.


This FREE one-night-only special event is open to the public and takes place on Saturday, May 12, 2018 at 5 PM throughout Bohemian National Hall, Upper East Side.

After a highly successful premiere last year, European Literature Night (ELN) returns to New York City on May 12 from 5 PM to 10 PM. In a special collaboration with The New School: Mannes School of Music, Parsons School of Design, and The School of Drama, guests will have a one-time opportunity to experience European literature as never before.

As spectators move from room to room to discover these literary works, they will also have the chance to experience the unique impressions these novels have left on a plethora of artists. The inspirations they took away will be expressed through different mediums -- whether it be art, film, or music -- and will give viewers a truly sensational first look into the novels being presented. Art and literature are often thought to belong to their own separate worlds, but this exceptional night brings them together and makes them equally accessible to all visitors.

Guests will not only be a part of the audience, they will also have the opportunity to participate in conversations with writers, translators, and artists, among others. Throughout the evening, events will be divided into reading and discussion. Authors have chosen excerpts from their works to serve as springboards for conversations with the attendees and for discussions of themes important to their writing.

For the musical component of ELN, students of Mannes’ Composition Department chaired by Lowell Liebermann, “one of America’s most frequently performed and recorded living composers” will showcase 11 compositions in their world premieres.  Each of these student compositions is directly inspired by the literary work with which it is paired.  In addition, Liebermann’s own Immer, from Six Songs on Poems of Nelly Sachs, Op. 14, will be performed as part of a special closing event in the BNH Ballroom. 

A very special guest is the internationally acclaimed and award-winning Czech-born American author and illustrator Peter Sís, perhaps best known in New York for his illustrations featured on the NYC subway trains. A recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award - the highest recognition that can be given to a writer or illustrator of children’s books - and eight-time winner of The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, Sís will speak about the genesis of his current book - a work in progress - whose subject is Sir Nicholas Winton.  Dubbed the “British Schindler,” Winton’s Czech Kindertransport saved the lives of 669 children in the months before the outbreak of World War II. This discussion will take place at the closing event and be followed by a Q&A and reception.

Along with the abundance of live performances and readings, the much-loved European café culture is also being brought back. There will be assorted delicacies and beverages provided by the represented countries for people to sample, perhaps for the first time. Additionally, Bohemian Spirit, an authentic and delicious Czech restaurant connected to the BNH, will be open for dinner until 11PM.

Select books will be available for purchase throughout the evening in their English translated versions at the Book Fair in the Ballroom. They represent diverse and varied countries of Europe: Belgium (Flanders), Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain.

European Literature Night is the second largest project of the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) in New York besides the Panorama Europe Film Festival. We are proud to welcome twenty partner organizations at ELN and more than a hundred individuals from a wide array of writers, translators, editors, publishers, actors, composers, musicians, artists, diplomats, and teachers.

ELN's second year coincides with the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Throughout 2018, the European Union is celebrating its diverse cultural heritage to encourage more people to discover and engage with Europe’s creative and literary output. For more information, visit https://europa.eu/cultural-heritage/

All guests are welcome free of charge to partake in this spectacle that brings together writing and the arts. Join us for ELN 2018 and witness how literature can serve as a medium for connecting ideas and launching necessary conversations in our rapidly changing global world.

HISTORY

ELN is a decade old tradition in many European countries. The New York edition is the first in the U.S. The first ELN was created by the Czech Center Prague and featured readings in pubs and coffee shops throughout the city, creating the experience of a “pub crawl” enhanced by literary readings. The addition of literature and the presentation of new and evocative ideas in these traditionally communal spaces where people discuss ideas gave visitors the space and material to enjoy and then reflect upon what they had heard. The Czech Center New York hopes to provide a similar experience to those visiting the ELN in Bohemian National Hall.

PROGRAM AND SCHEDULE FOR May 12, 2018

5 PM Cinema: Films (Adelheid by František Vláčil, Icarus XB 1 by Jindřich Polák)

6:30 PM CCNY Gallery: Exhibition Opening:  Young Students from Parsons School of Design

7 PM-9 PM Simultaneous Readings in seven venues throughout Bohemian National Hall
7 PM-9 PM Ballroom: Book Fair

9 PM Ballroom: Special Event

In Conversation with Peter Sís about his current book in progress

Lowell Liebermann: Immer from Six Songs on Poems of Nelly Sachs, Op. 14 performed by Clara Lisle (soprano) and Lira Chung (piano)

Logan Vrankovic: Nocturne performed by I-Yun Tsai (violin) and Wenting Yu (piano)

VENUES & TICKETS

European Literature Night is free and open to the public. Please RSVP here.

Bohemian National Hall
321 East 73rd Street, New York, NY 10021 (between 1st and 2nd Ave.)
Subway: Q to 72nd Street, 6 to 68th Street or 77th Street

Press Contacts

Marie Tomanova, tomanova@czechcenter.com 646-422-3395
Barbara Karpetova, karpetova@czechcenter.com

Event website
Video teaser  
Social Media: #EuropeanLiteratureNight

SELECTED BOOKS & AUTHORS

A Deafening Silence by Magda Carneci - Romania

Practicing a visionary poetry, Magda Carneci explores two extreme poles of the poetic discourse: on one side, the “chaotic”, disordered, fragmentary and prosaic aspects of reality and, on the other side, the “cosmotic” dimensions of higher states of mind, able to cohere our being with the universe. Selecting from over twenty years' output, this bilingual volume offers an ideal introduction to her work.

A member of the well-known "Generation of the '80s" in Romanian literature, Magda Carneci (*1955) became actively involved in the political and cultural Romanian scene after the 1989 Revolution. Currently, she is president of PEN Club Romania, and is also a member of the European Cultural Parliament. Her poems have been translated into thirteen languages and have appeared in many anthologies and international reviews.

 

Before Lyricism by Eleni Vakalo - Greece

Before Lyricism includes six book-length poems. For Eleni Vakalo, these poems formed a larger, additive whole. Uniting these poems under a single cover, Before Lyricism allows us to see the complex web of intertextual relations that link them, and to discover the richness and vitality of one of modern Greek poetry’s seminal figures.

Eleni Vakalo (1921–2001) was a Greek poet, art critic, and art historian. Vakalo’s training as an art historian pushed her to initiate new poetic uses of the page, drawing on her knowledge of modern and contemporary art to rethink the role of the visual in the printed text. With her husband, she founded the Vakalo School of Arts and Design in 1958. She was awarded the Greek State Award for Poetry and the Essay Award from the Academy of Athens.

 

Budapest Noir by Vilmos Kondor - Hungary

Budapest Noir takes place in the Hungarian capital of the inter-war years, in 1936. The city is grieving the death of the prime minister. While journalists focus on the funeral of the late politician, no one cares for the corpse of the unknown young aristocrat woman found on a dark street downtown. The only one who pays attention to the case is criminal journalist Zsigmond Gordon, who arrives at the crime scene.

Vilmos Kondor (*1954) is a pseudonym, the author’s name being unknown, as the author prefers to stay away from mainstream publicity. He started his studies in Szeged, Hungary, then graduated in chemical engineering at the University of Sorbonne in Paris, France. He lives with his wife, daughters, and dog in a quiet village and teaches high school mathematics and physics. Budapest Noir is his first novel.

 

Dancing Bears by Witold Szablowski - Poland

For hundreds of years, Bulgarian Gypsies trained bears to dance, welcoming them into their families and taking them on the road to perform. In the early 2000s, with the fall of Communism, they were forced to release the bears into a wildlife refuge. But even today, whenever the bears see a human, they still get up on their hind legs to dance.

Witold Szablowski (*1980) is an award winning Polish journalist. At age twenty-five he became the youngest reporter at the Polish daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza’s weekly supplement, Duzy Format, where he also covered international stories. His work won the Beata Pawlak Award and an English PEN award, and was nominated for the Nike Award, Poland’s most prestigious literary prize.

 

Having said goodnight by Pierre J. Mejlak - Malta

In this captivating collection of stories, people are often at a crossroads, somewhere between a world they know and one they feel pulled towards. Torn between the past and the future, center and periphery, real and imaginary, they move from one point in their existence to another, trying to understand a life they have lived but perhaps never fully comprehended. Winner of the European Union Prize for Literature.

Born in Malta, Pierre J. Mejlak (*1982) has been writing novels and short stories since he was young. He has written books for children, adaptations, a novel, and two collections of short stories, winning numerous awards, including five Maltese National Book Awards, the Commonwealth Essay Writing Award and the Sea of Words European Short Story Contest. Two times winner of the Malta’s Journalism Award, Mejlak was a BBC correspondent, a regular columnist for Maltese daily newspapers and also producer of radio shows.

 

In The Shadow of Rooster Hill by Osvalds Zebris  - Latvia

The story is set in 1905, the year which gave Latvians in Riga, Liepāja, Valmiera and other towns in the Baltic provinces of the Russian Empire a feeling there was a chance to live in their own country, an integrated nation. Rūdolfs Reiznieks, the son of a peasant and recently a teacher’s assistant, arrives in Riga for Christmas of 1906 hoping to redeem his sins, make peace with himself, and shed the shackles of guilt he feels burdened by for a crime he committed in the turmoil of 1905.

Osvalds Zebris, (*1975) is a Latvian writer and journalist, holding a master’s degree in economics. Zebris’ first book, a collection of short stories entitled Brīvība tīklos brought him instant popularity among readers and won him a Latvian Literature Award in 2010 for the best debut. Gaiļu kalna ēnā (In the Shadow of Rooster Hill, nominated for the Latvian Literature Award in 2015) was written and published for the historical novel series, We. Latvia. The 20th Century, focusing on the Latvian experience during 1905 in the Russian Empire.

 

New York Notebook by José Hierro - Spain

Through a dialogue with the city, the poet confronts an intense and emotional meditation about the enigmas that have since the beginning of time worried men: life, love, the passing of time, death, art. The poet doesn’t hold a dialogue with the city of anonymous multitudes, or the chaotic megalopolis, cold and inhumane. Instead, his reflection is born out of discovering the singular spaces of the city, flowing with his moods, and being in touch with his interior needs stemming from his own cultural and sentimental history. 

José Hierro (1922–2002) was one of Spain’s most recognized and beloved contemporary literary figures. Although Hierro was not a prolific poet, his intense, concise verse drew critical and commercial attention. After being held prisoner of General Francisco Franco’s government for five years, Hierro turned to writing, publishing his first collection of poetry, Tierra sin nosotros, in 1947.

 

Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov - Bulgaria

This is a novel about the empathy and its vanishing, about the hard price of the ability to multiply yourself, about the Minotaur locked inside us, about the elementary particles of sorrow. According to The New Yorker, “Georgi’s real quest in The Physics of Sorrow is to find a way to live with sadness, to allow it to be a source of empathy and salutary hesitation…”

Georgi Gospodinov (*1968) is a poet, writer, and playwright, and one of the most translated Bulgarian authors after 1989. A finalist for prizes around the world, The Physics of Sorrow reaffirms Gospodinov’s place as one of Europe’s most inventive and daring writers. He is a winner of Jan Michalski Prize, finalist for 2016 PEN Translation Prize. His recent book in English is The Story Smuggler.

 

Prague Noir by Petra Soukupová, Miloš Urban, edited by Pavel Mandys – Czech Republic

While Prague may be one of the world’s top tourist destinations today, and a cosmopolitan capital of European culture, it remains an open-air monument to a history of violence. Here, Prague’s top writers explore the hidden corners of the “City of a Hundred Spires,” pulling back the curtain to reveal gloom and despair. 

The Next Worst Day by Petra Soukupová (*1982)

One of the most talented young Czech authors published several novels and one book for children, and writes screenplays for films and TV. Her most successful work is a collection of three novellas To Disappear awarded Book of the Year 2009, translated into Italian, Polish and Slovenian. She explores family relationships and gently uses mystery elements.

The Bridge Disappearances by Miloš Urban (*1967)

Writer and translator, Miloš Urban achieved international fame with the Spanish edition of his “Gothic“ novel The Seven Churches. He wrote several thriller-like novels and short stories set in contemporary or historical Prague. With his ecological thriller The Waterman he won Magnesia Litera award for prose. His novels have been translated into 13 languages.

 

Selected Poems by Florbela Espanca - Portugal

For the first time, Billie J. Maciunas' fine English translations provide an ample selection of the great Portuguese poet Florbela Espanca's "perfect sonnets," poems that the writer-critic José Régio firmly believed must be numbered among the "best sonnets" to be found the language. Long in the making and lovingly crafted, this book marks an important milestone, one well overdue, in the making of Florbela Espanca's literary reputation.

Later Portuguese critics describe Florbela Espanca (1894–1930) and her work as "narcissistic," sexually insatiable, probably crazy, and certainly incestuous. However, she emerges in this selection of her poetry as a forerunner of modernism in Portuguese letters. Some of her sonnets have become fado classics, attaining by demand and acclaim the status of universal poet that her contemporaries denied her.

 

Space Man of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfař – Czech Republic

Orphaned as a boy, raised in the Czech countryside, Jakub has risen from small time scientist to become the country´s first astronaut. When a dangerous solo mission to Venus offers him both the chance at heroism and a way to atone for his father´s sins as a Communist informer, he ventures boldly into the vast unknown. Rich with warmth and surprise, Space Man of Bohemia is an exuberant delight from start to finish.

Jaroslav Kalfař (*1988) was born and raised in Prague, and immigrated to the US at the age of fifteen. He graduated from University of Central Florida, where he received the Frances R. Lefkowitz Scholarship, the Outstanding Fiction Writer award, and the Founder's Scholar Award for being the top graduate in the College of Arts and Humanities. He earned his M.F.A. at NYU, where he was a Goldwater Fellow and was one of the three nominees for the new NYU E.L. Doctorow Fellowship Award upon graduating.

 

The Girl with Nine Wigs by Sophie van der Stap - Netherlands

Sophie is twenty-one when she is diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer. A striking, fun-loving student, her world is reduced overnight to the sterile confines of a hospital. But within these walls Sophie discovers a whole new world of white coats, gossiping nurses, and sexy doctors; of shared rooms, hair loss, and eyebrow pencils.

Sophie van der Stap (*1983) published her novel The Girl with Nine Wigs (sold half a million copies worldwide, translated into more than twenty languages, successfully filmed) in 2006. Sophie then settled in Paris where she wrote her novel And What If This Were Love and penned the essay Outside Games. She wrote an ode to her city for Het Parool in the aftermath of the Paris attacks in 2015. Her latest novel, The Possibility of You, was published in September 2017 in Netherlands. Since 2016 she has resided in New York.

 

The Year of the Frog by Martin M. Šimečka - Slovakia

The Year of the Frog shows a young man struggling to understand the circumstances of his life. His story is told with the exuberance and innocence of youth. It is a coming-of-age story, a romance, and a novel which poses important questions about life and death, about love and freedom, faithfulness and infidelity.

Martin M. Šimečka (*1957) is one of the Czechoslovakian writers who were penalized by the Communist regime for the sins of their parents. Before the Velvet Revolution, he published in samizdat. He founded Archa Publishing house in 1990. His autobiographical novel, The Year of the Frog, won the Pegasus Prize for Literature and Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

 

While the Gods Were Sleeping by Erwin Mortier – Belgium (Flanders)

Now that she feels death approaching, Helena looks back on her youth, the loves she has known, her marriage and the distressing time she experienced in World War I. At the side of her lover, a British photographer, Helena is confronted with the full impact of the war at the front in Northern France and those experiences encumber the rest of her life.

Erwin Mortier (*1965) made his mark in 1999 with his debut novel Marcel, which set the tone for a consistent oeuvre of a very high literary standard. A grand stylist, his evocative descriptions bring past worlds brilliantly to life. Stammered Songbook won the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger in France.

 

SPECIAL EVENT: In Conversation with Peter Sís about his current book in progress

Train to Freedom by Peter Sís – Czech Republic

I have been working on a project about Sir Nicholas Winton, whose story is unbelievable and also quite hard to illustrate. In today's climate, I think his story will be found to be more than inspiring. Nicholas Winton was a young man who decided to help in a situation where his aid was not anticipated or expected. Through his strenuous effort and hard work, he managed to save 669 children within 9 months. The story is undoubtedly complex, so how do we narrate it or portray it? How do we correctly write it down? How do we make it comprehensible in our era, which is overwhelmed by information? I would like to elucidate and clarify these questions with the audience before the book takes its final shape.

Peter Sís (*1949) - artist, author and filmmaker, born in Brno, Czech Republic now lives and works in NYC. He has created award winning animated shorts, posters, murals, tapestries and public art. He has written and illustrated number of books for children and adults, including three Caldecott Honor books: Starry Messenger-Galileo Galilei, Tibet Through the Red Box and The Wall-Growing Up Behind Iron Curtain. He is a recipient of 2003 MacArthur Fellowship and 2012 Hans Christian medal for illustration. His art has been exhibited around the world.

PRESENTING ORGANIZATIONS

European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) is part of a global coalition of national cultural institutes and cultural diplomatic services from the European Union that works in more than 80 cities on all continents. The mission of EUNIC New York is to promote and present the best of European creative and intellectual achievements to New York and U.S. audiences. EUNIC works to create artistic and educational opportunities, strengthen cultural relations and create effective collaboration between members and cultural institutions. http://new-york.eunic-online.eu

Czech Center New York is dedicated to creating a vibrant, progressive, international atmosphere for the propagation of social dialogue and artistic expression. We present events that feed into and complement the multi-cultural fabric of New York City to establish strong bonds with the diverse ethnic and cultural landscape that constitutes this incredible city. As the representatives of the Czech Republic and a member of the European Union, we open our doors to cultural and educational exchanges in the hope that lasting partnerships will be formed. www.czechcenter.com

Bohemian National Hall (BNH) - the seat of the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York and Czech Center New York, is a recently redesigned, award-winning landmark building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and a center for Czech culture in New York City. Since it was established in 1896, it has served as a focal point for its community as well as a place for exchange and dialogue with the American audience. www.bohemiannationalhall.com

Mannes Sounds Festival is a staple of New York’s cultural life. It was founded in 1999 by Pavlina Dokovska, Chair of the Piano Department of Mannes School of Music and Artistic Director of the festival. Every year the festival produces close to thirty events and presents the outstanding young talent of Mannes at the most prestigious venues in New York. www.newschool.edu/mannes/mannes-festival/  

Partner Organizations

EUNIC - European Union National Institutes for Culture New York Cluster

Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations

General Delegation of the Government of Flanders to the USA

Elizabeth Kostova Foundation

Czech Center New York

Consulate General of the Czech Republic in New York

Greek Consulate General in New York/Onassis Foundation USA

Balassi Institute – Hungarian Cultural Center New York

Arts Council Malta in New York

Dutch Culture USA/Consulate General of the Netherlands

Polish Cultural Institute New York

Romanian Cultural Institute in New York

Consulate General of Portugal in New York

Teatro da Saudade

Consulate General of Slovakia in New York

Instituto Cervantes New York

The New School:

Mannes School of Music

Parsons School of Design

The New School for Drama