European Literature Festival 2016

European Literature Night returns: rebranded and with an expanded programme



27 April – 6 June 2016
Various venues in London, Birmingham, Chichester, Edinburgh, and Newcastle

Staged in London each year as part of more than 40 simultaneous events across European capitals, European Literature Night (ELN) returns with an expanded programme under the rebranded European Literature Festival.

More than 50 writers and poets from 30 countries will take part in 21 events in London and around the UK.

As the EU referendum draws near, topics currently making the headlines feature prominently in the work of the writers taking part, including immigration, the plight of the refugees, and identity in an increasingly multicultural and politically charged narrative. By bringing together leading writers from across the continent on such a scale, the Festival will be a unique cultural platform for sharing stories and debating ideas about Britain's place in Europe and the wider world.



Wednesday 11 May, 6.30pm-8.15pm

British Library, Conference Centre
96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB

The centrepiece of the Festival, the Writers Showcase follows a day of talks and translation clinics at the British Library. Novelist and playwright Kate Mosse will deliver an opening address, before appearances by the six 2016 ELN Writers – chosen from a pool of 65 writers submitted by publishers in November – who will be interviewed on stage by broadcaster and director of European Literature Network, Rosie Goldsmith.

The discussion will travel from the Turkish prison cells of Burhan Sönmez‘s Istanbul, Istanbul to the turned upside-down-lives in Dorthe Nors‘ twisted and imaginatively-realised streets of Copenhagen; to Slovenian writer Gabriela Babnik‘s seductive tale of forbidden love on the dusty plains of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; via Peter Verhelst‘s deadpan Belgian humour in his gorilla-narrated fable about the story of human civilisation (and its collapse). There is a tormented relationship unfolding between widow and son on Dutch writer Jaap Robben‘s remote and stormy island (located somewhere between Scotland and Norway). We finish in Alek Popov‘s strange and comic novel that moves between Bulgaria and New York, where two brothers question whether their long-deceased father is, in fact, dead.

“Since our first European Literature Night eight years ago the evening has gradually grown into a week, and now, quite thrillingly, it has become a Festival. As judge and host of ELN, it is the highlight of my year. We’ve had a record number of submissions and this year the judges all felt it was the strongest collection of writers we have had to choose from so far. I can assure you British audiences are in for a real treat. The best of contemporary European literature is coming their way.”
-- Rosie Goldsmith



Friday 13 May, 6.30-8pm
British Library, Conference Centre
96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB

In a session entitled Criminal Worlds, broadcaster Mark Lawson will lead a panel discussing detective fiction with some of Europe’s most exciting crime writing talent, including bestselling British novelist Peter James, Finnish crime writing sensation Kati Hiekkapelto and author of the 1920s-set Babylon Berlin series, Volker Kutscher.

This year’s crime focus marks an ELN strategy to explore different literary genres from Europe each year, with graphic novels featuring in 2014, and spoken-word performance in 2015.



A joint project by Piána na ulici (Pianos on the Street), The Poetry Society, and the European Literature Festival, the Poetry Periscope includes recordings of poems from 30 European cultures, including Jarosław Mikołajewski's moving 'Mattress', translated by Piotr Florczyk. Poems will each be available in their original language and a recorded English translation.

This bright yellow ‘poetry jukebox’ will be hard to miss when it appears on the Piazza of the British Library from 27 April-19 May before touring to other venues nationwide during 2016, including the Ledbury Poetry Festival (1-10 July) and at the Durham Book Festival (16 Sept-16 Oct).

Jarosław Mikołajewski (born 1960 in Warsaw): Polish poet, writer and translator of the Italian language. Author of children's books, essayist and journalist. His books were published in Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, USA, Hungary, United Kingdom. His work is translated to Albanian, German, Spanish, Croatian, Bulgarian, Czech, Ukrainian, Greek. In several volumes, and especially in Którzy mnie znają (Those Who Know Me, 2003), he reaches for the eternal subjects of poetry: love and death. His Froth: Poems (Zbite szklanki: wybór wierszy, 2010) translated into English by Piotr Florczyk, was named among the 75 best of the year 2013 by World Literature Today.

Tour dates
27 April - 19 May, British Library Piazza, London
20 May - 29 June, Brighton Station (TBC)
30 June - 10 July, Burgage Hall courtyard, Ledbury Poetry Festival
12 July - 14 August, Grand Central Station, Birmingham (TBC)
16 September - 16 October, Palace Green Library, Durham Book Festival

More details here.



Tuesday 3 May, 6.30-7.45pm
96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB

A free event hosted by poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan, with dynamic live readings of poems from across Europe, read by UK poets Richard Scott, Gabriel Akamo and Charlotte Higgins, with special guest readings by Michal Habaj (Slovakia) and others. Plus the chance to try out the Poetry Periscope installation.

“In the globalised 21st century we need some means of speaking to ourselves and each other about our deepest hopes, desires and fears. Poetry can do that, in all its languages with all its rhythms and images, reminding us who we are and who we can become. The joy of the Poetry Periscope is that, like all periscopes, it lets us glimpse landscapes, in this case poetic landscapes, in a brand new way. It’s a great initiative and I’m proud to be associated with it.”
-- Ian McMillan



Thursday 9 June, 6.30-8pm
Free Word Centre
60 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3GA

The Translation Pitch returns with six translators going head-to-head and pitching their ‘must-acquire’ European books to a live audience and a jury of top publishing experts: Max Porter (Granta/Portobello), Meike Ziervogel (Peirene Press) and Stefan Tobler (And Other Stories).

This whirlwind tour of contemporary European writing will uncover brilliant books from Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Turkey and France which have not yet been translated into English. The full line-up of books and translators will be announced on 13 April at the London Book Fair.



The Festival will see events staged across London between 9-15 of May:

Mon 9 May, 7-8pm
Free Word Centre
60 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3GA
English PEN Translated Fiction Book Club
– with Gabriela Babnik (Slovenia)

Mon 9 May, 6.45-8pm
British Library
96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB
Don Quixote ‘Translation Joust’
Translators Peter Bush and Margaret Jull Costa produce rival versions of the same short extract which they will defend live on stage. ‘Refereed’ by writer and translator Daniel Hahn

Tues 10 May, 7-8.30pm
Waterstones Piccadilly
203 - 206 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HD
Contemporary writing from the Baltic countries
- with Ilmar Taska (Estonia), Mara Zalite (Latvia) and Paulina Pukyte (Lithuania). Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith.

Thurs 12 May, 7-8.30pm
Waterstones Piccadilly
203 - 206 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HD
Tomáš Zmeškal
(Czech) and Hamid Ismailov (Uzbekistan) in conversation with journalist and writer Misha Glenny (UK).


Sat 14 May, 7-9pm
Rich Mix
35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, London E1 6LA
European Poetry Night
– more than 20 poets, including Polish Agnieszka Studzinska, travel to London to share brand-new collaborative poems, premiered on the night and written for the occasion, in pairs, across languages, styles and nations. Curated by SJ Fowler.

Agnieszka Studzinska was born in Poland in 1975.  She has an MA in Creative Writing from U.E.A. She has previously worked as a freelance researcher in broadcasting, an English teacher and is now an editor of a community magazine in West London. Her debut collection, Snow Calling (Salt 2010) was shortlisted for the London Festival New Poetry Award 2010. Her second collection, What Things Are will be published in October by Eyewear Publishing. She lives in London with her husband and two children.


Sunday 15 May, 2.30-4pm
British Library
96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB
Man Booker International Prize shortlist readings
Participants to be announced 14 April.



ELF is also reaching beyond London with a pilot touring programme supported by Arts Council England and UNESCO Edinburgh City of Literature

Monday 9 May, 7pm
Chichester University
Dorthe Nors
visits students at Chichester, hosts of Thresholds, Home of the International Short Story Forum

Tuesday 10 May, 6.30-7.30pm

Carriage Pub, Newcastle
Hosted by journalist and writer Caroline Beck, with Jaap Robben (Netherlands) & Gabriela Babnik (Slovenia). In association with New Writing North

Tuesday 10 May, 6.30pm

Waterstones Birmingham
With Dorthe Nors (Denmark), Alek Popov (Bulgaria) and Ruth Gilligan, best-selling Irish novelist and journalist. Chaired by Jonathan Davidson. In association with Writing West Midlands

Friday 13 May, 5-10.30pm

ELN 2016 in Edinburgh

For the second year running The Enemies Project curates European Literature Night 2016 on behalf of UNESCO Edinburgh City of Literature. Curated by Colin Herd, Theodora Danek and SJ Fowler.

Event One: 5-6.30pm
North Edinburgh Arts Centre
Performances from selected poets involved in European Literature Night

Event Two: 8-10.30pm
Summerhall, Red Lecture Theatre
Performances from European and local to Edinburgh poets followed by a specially commissioned collective performance.



For more information about the Festival and media queries visit

Curated and produced by Jon Slack on behalf of the EUNIC London (European Union National Institutes for Culture), with coordination by the Czech Centre London.Supported by the Representation of the European Commission Representation in the UK and with public funding by Arts Council England, and carried out in partnership with the British Library.


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