European Voices in Translation: László Krasznahorkai and George Szirtes (with James Wood)
On May 10, 2014, we hosted our first ever European Voices Festival with a focus on European Voices in translation. Funded by a grant from the European Commission Delegation in Washington, DC, the festival was organized as a celebration of “Europe Day.” Headlining the event was Hungarian author Laszlo Krasznahorkai, in a “reading and conversation” event his translator George Szirtes, who read several of his own poems, moderated by literary critic James Wood. Below you can listen to the conversation on BUniverse. Please note that the recordings from this event are not up to our usual technical standards, but they do convey some of the day’s magic.
German Stage Performance of “Brandung/Abyss” Followed by Conversation with Playwright and Translator Maria Milisavljevic and Director Guy Ben-Aharon
Next up, German Stage players, directed by Guy Ben-Aharon, performed an excerpt from Maria Milisavljevic’s newly translated play “Brandung/Abyss.” Following the performance, Maria and Guy discussed the translation process – Maria worked on the English translation herself while living in Toronto – and the challenges of performing the play on both sides of the Atlantic. As one reviewer asks, “Does the distrust of (even a little) narrative ambiguity by North American dramaturgs and audiences mean that international plays must be made more ‘cinematic’ when they are produced here?” For a great review of the staged reading, visit Arts Fuse.
European Voices in Translation: Semezdin Mehmedinovic and Ammiel Alcalay (with Ainsley Morse)
We did not know when we invited German playwright Maria Milisavljevic to take part in the festival that her play, Abyss, centered around Serbian immigrants in unified Germany, still reeling from the trauma of the Yugoslav wars. The staged reading, was, therefore, a perfect segue into the conversation with Bosnian poet Semezdin Mehmedinovic and his translator, Ammiel Alcalay.
European Voices in Translation: Stacey Knecht reads from her translation of “Harlequin’s Millions” by Bohumil Hrabal
We had some technical difficulties processing this recording, please grab your headphones to listen to this video!
European Voices in Translation: Veronika Tuckerova reads her translations of Ivan Blatný
No video of the Cambridge Concentus Concert, sadly – be sure to catch them at their next concert – Bach’s Multiple Harpsichord Concertos – at the First Church in Cambridge on November 23, 2014.
Enjoy our photos!
On April 23 and 24, 2014, the Center for the Study of Europe, in collaboration with the Department of Romance Studies, hosted the Spanish-Argentine writer Andrès Neuman. On Wednesday, April 23, Neuman took part in a workshop for graduate students – Globalization and Latin American Literature – with Gustavo Guerrero, Visiting Professor of Spanish Literature at Cornell University, and on April 24, he took part in a reading and conversation event – moderated by Alicia Borinksy – as part of the Center’s “European Voices” series.
The son of emigrant musicians, Neuman grew up in Buenos Aires and Granada. At the age of twenty-two he published his first novel, Bariloche (1999), followed by La vida en las ventanas (2002), Una ves Argentina (2003) and El viajero del siglo (“Traveller of the Century”) which won the 2009 Alfaguara Prize and the Critics’ Prize in Spain and has been translated into ten languages. It was published by Pushkin Press in the UK and Farrar Strauss and Giroux in the US. Neuman is also the author of the short-story collections El que espera (2000), El ultimo minuto (2001) and Alumbramiento (2006); the collection of aphorisms El equilibrista (2005); the Latin American travel book Cómo viajar sin ver (2010); and Década (2008), his collected poems. His latest novel, Talking to Ourselves, was published by Farrar Strauss and Giroux in April.
Watch the video on BUniverse:
On Thursday, April 3, the Center for the Study of Europe, in collaboration with the Goethe Institut Boston, hosted German author Jenny Erpenbeck. One of Germany’s rising literary stars, Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967. Her grandfather, grandmother, and father were all published writers in a variety of genres, while her mother was a translator. She has worked on opera and musical productions in Berlin and Graz since 1991, and is now a freelance writer and producer living near Graz. This event was moderated by Erpenbeck’s English-language translator, Susan Bernofsky, an expert on German literature and culture as well as on the theory and practice of literary translation.
Watch the video on BUniverse:
The Center for the Study of Europe, in collaboration with the Goethe Institut Boston and the literary journal AGNI, announces the first annual European Voices Festival: European Voices in Translation. Join us for a day of poems, prose, theater, and music in celebration of “Europe Day.”
Schedule of Events
1 PM – A Reading and Conversation with László Krasznahorkai and George Szirtes | Moderated by James Wood
Widely recognized as one of the very best and important novelists of our time, László Krasznahorkai was born in Gyula, Hungary, in 1954. He worked for some years as an editor until 1984, when he became a freelance writer. He now lives in reclusiveness in the hills of Szentlászló. He has written five novels and won numerous prizes, including the 2013 Best Translated Book Award in Fiction for Satantango. Previously, he was best-known in the English-speaking world through the oeuvre of the film director Béla Tarr, with whom he has collaborated on several films over three decades, including the adaptation of several of his own novels. [Author website]
George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee in 1956. He was brought up in London and studied Fine Art in London and Leeds. His poems began appearing in national magazines in 1973 and his first book, The Slant Door, was published in 1979. It won the Faber Memorial prize the following year. Szirtes has also worked extensively as a translator of poems, novels, plays and essays and has won various prizes and awards in this sphere, including the 2013 Best Translated Book Award for his translation of László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango. [Author website]
James Wood has been a staff writer and book critic at The New Yorker since 2007. He was the chief literary critic at the Guardian, in London, from 1992 to 1995, and a senior editor at The New Republic from 1995 to 2007. His critical essays have been collected in two volumes, “The Broken Estate: Essays on Literature and Belief” (1999) and “The Irresponsible Self: On Laughter and the Novel” (2004), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of a novel, “The Book Against God” (2003), and a study of technique in the novel, “How Fiction Works” (2008). He lives in Boston, and teaches half time at Harvard University, where he is Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism.
2:30 PM – Break
3 PM – Staged reading from German play Brandung/Abyss and Conversation with Playwright and Translator Maria Milisavljevic and German Stage Director Guy Ben-Aharon
Karla is missing. Vlado, Sophia, and Sophia’s sister – the play’s narrator – leave the safety of their apartment to search for their missing friend. As their story slowly unravels, it becomes clear that the narrator isn’t as reliable as she seems and Vlado has been keeping a secret.
Born in Arnsberg, Germany, Maria Milisavljevic is an award-winning playwright, theatre creator and director. Her latest play Brandung (Abyss) received the 2013 Kleist Promotional Award for Young Dramatists and is currently showing at the Deutsches Theater Berlin. Maria has worked with various theatres and companies across Germany and in London’s West End. She is currently the International Playwright-in-Residence at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.
Stage Director, Producer and Cultural Entrepreneur Guy Ben-Aharon was born in Israel. The founder of Israeli Stage and co-founder of German Stage, his passion and work is to promote international theatre and cultural bridges in the Greater Boston area.
3:45 PM – Break
4 PM – A Reading and Conversation with Semezdin Mehmedinovic and Ammiel Alcalay | Moderated by Ainsley Morse
Semezdin Mehmedinovic is a Bosnian journalist, poet, editor, and filmmaker. His poetry collection Sarajevo Blues (published in English translation by Ammiel Alcalay in 1998) was praised by the Washington Post as one of the best literary documents of the Bosnian war. A later collection, Nine Alexandrias (translated by Alcalay and published by City Lights in 2003), was written in response to a cross-country train trip across post 9/11 America and to twenty-first century life in the heart of the empire. Soviet Computer (2011) is a diary of his migration from Sarajevo to Prague and eventually Washington, DC.
Ammiel Alcalay teaches at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of numerous books, including After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture (Minnesota) and an essay collection, Memories of Our Future (City Lights). Islanders, a novel, came out in 2010. His book length poem, from the warring factions, dedicated to the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, came out in a 2nd edition in 2012, followed by a little history in 2013. He has translated widely and, during the wars of ex-Yugoslavia, he was the main conduit in the US for material from Bosnia. He is the founder and General Editor of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, and Lost & Found Elsewhere, a series of student and guest edited archival texts now in its fifth year.
Ainsley Morse’s major interest is twentieth-century Russian poetry, although since she started off with a master’s in Comparative Slavic literatures from UNC-Chapel Hill (where she focused on twentieth-century Serbian and Yugoslav literature), she does her best to keep a foot in the Yugoslav door. She has recently been having a fine time with the phenomenal Yugoslav avant-garde, with special attention to Miroslav Krleza. In studying poetry, Ainsley is partial to close readings combined with a literary-historical approach, with attention to social relations and genealogies, real and imagined.
5:30 PM – Break
6:00 PM – A Reading from Bohumil Hrabal’s Harlequin’s Millions in English translation (Archipelago Books, May 2014) by Stacey Knecht.
Bohumil Hrabal (1914 – 1997) was one of the most important Czech writers of the 20th century. He wrote in colloquial Czech and is famous for his acute observations and charismatic antiheros. His best-known works were I Served the King of England (1971) and Closely Observed Trains (1965), a film of which won an Oscar in 1968. Harlequin’s Millions (1981), soon to be published in English translation by Stacey Knecht, told from the point of view of an elderly woman coming to terms with the passing of time, gives us a glimpse into the changing landscape of Hrabal’s homeland. [Publisher’s website]
A native New Yorker, Stacey Knecht lives in the Netherlands. Her translations from the Dutch, including Hugo Claus’s Desire; Marcel Moring’s The Dream Room, The Great Longing, and In Babylon; Anke de Vries’s Bruises; Lieve Joris’s Back to the Congo; and Marga Minco’s The Glass Bridge have won awards in the US and the UK. She is currently translating an anthology of Hrabal’s short stories.
6:20 PM – A reading of selected poems by Ivan Blatný in English translation by Veronika Tuckerova
Lost to the world for decades, Ivan Blatný was, according to the Czech Ministry of Culture, “one of the most significant Czech poets of the twentieth century.” Blatný fled Czechoslovakia after the Communist coup in 1948, spending the rest of his life in England. The Drug of Art: Selected Poems, edited by Veronika Tukerova, spans fifty years of his career and is notable for being the first major collection of Blatný’s work in English.
Veronika Tuckerova grew up in Prague, and holds a Ph.D. in German and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in New York. Her research focuses on Franz Kafka and Prague German Literature, bilingualism, and translation. Among her translations from German to Czech is Gershom Scholem’s memoir, From Berlin to Jerusalem. She is working on a book, Reading Kafka in Prague during Communism.
6:45 PM – Break
7 PM – Intertwined Musical Voices: Biber, Buxtehude, and Bach | A concert performance by Cambridge Concentus
Early-music ensemble Cambridge Concentus will perform a short program of works for soprano, bass, violins, and harpsichord by Baroque composers Heinrich Biber, Dietrich Buxtehude, and JS Bach. Biber and Buxtehude were highly revered in their time and profoundly contributed to the genres for which Bach is most known today. Concentus provides a tantalizing glimpse of these composers’ intertwined musical voices.
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro in Eb Major for Solo Harpsichord BWV998
D. Buxtehude (1637-1707)
“Herr, wenn ich nur dich hab” for Soprano, Violins, and Harpsichord, BuxWV38
H. Biber (1644-1704)
Passagalia in G Minor for Solo Violin
XVI from the Mystery Sonatas
“Quemadmodum desiderat cervus: Chiaccona a3” for Bass, Violins, Harpsichord, BuxWV92
J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord in G Major, BWV1021
“Komm Mein Jesu und erquicke” for Soprano, Bass, and Harpsichord
from Ich hatte viel Berkümmernis, BWV21
Ulrike Präger, soprano
Elijah Blaisdell, bass
Dorian Komanoff Bandy, violin
Anna Griffis, violin
Dylan Sauerwald, harpsichord
8 PM – Reception
This event take place at the Goethe Institut Boston, 170 Beacon Street, Boston, MA. The public is cordially invited. General Admission $10. Students free with university id. [Ticket info]
Event Highlights: The EU Inside Out – A Panel Discussion with Ramón Gil-Casares, Ambassador of Spain to the United States, and Ryszard Schnepf, Ambassador of Poland to the United States
On March 19, 2014, the Center for the Study of Europe, in collaboration with the Center for Finance, Law & Policy, hosted a panel discussion with Ramón Gil-Casares Satrústegui, Ambassador of Spain to the United States, and Ryszard Schnepf, Ambassador of Poland to the United States. The Ambassadors discussed political developments in their countries since joining the EU and in particular, in light of the economic crisis. The conversation was moderated by Alan Berger, retired editorial writer for international affairs at the Boston Globe.
Watch the video on BUniverse:
On Monday, March 17, 2014, the Center for the Study of Europe, in collaboration with Brandeis University’s Center for German and European Studies and the Goethe Institut Boston, hosted German sociologist and climate activist Harald Welzer as part of its ongoing “European Voices” series. Welzer’s talk, focussed around changes in his thinking since the publication of his best-selling book Climate Wars: What People Will be Killed for in the 21st Century, was moderated by Associate Professor of International Relations and an expert on environmental politics, sustainable development, global governance and international institutions.
Watch the video on BUniverse:
On February 25, 2014, the Center for the Study of Europe, in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Asia and BU’s Undergraduate Economics Association, hosted Costas Lapavitsas, Professor of Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and a frequent commentator on recent economic crises. Lapavitsas’ lecture – moderated by Cornel Ban, Professor of International Relations at Boston University and a specialist in the political economy of crises and transitions – coincided with the release by Verso Books of Profiting Without Producing, an explanation of the historical and structural roots of the current crisis, and in particular, the role of financialized capitalism.
Watch the video on BUniverse:
On Thursday, February 20, 2014, the Center for the Study of Europe, in collaboration with the BU Poetry Series and the literary journal AGNI, hosted British poet Alice Oswald. The “meditative, musical, propulsive, mystical, atmospheric, bioregional, projective, deceptively casual, responsive, rhetorically confident, protoecopoetic, sonic, topographic, unsentimental, multifocal” poet was introduced by the poet Mary Pinard, Professor of English at Babson University.
Alice Oswald won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2002 for her second collection of poetry, Dart. The poem traces the River Dart along its length, through the voices of its people – including its animal, drowned, and historical denizens. Dart also features myriad voices from nature and the “spirit” world of folklore, and in the foreword, the poet writes, “All voices should be read as the river’s mutterings.“
Oswald’s third collection, Woods etc, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize 2006, and in 2009 she was awarded the Hawthornden Prize for Sleepwalk On The Severn, a poem for several voices set at night on the Severn Estuary.”
At BU, Oswald read a selection of short poems from Dart and other works and concluded with a longer reading from her latest work, Memorial, which she describes as an “excavation of the Illiad,” a poem that she says happens in “layers and layers and layers.”
Watch the video on BUniverse:
Join us for two upcoming events with Spanish writer Andrés Neuman. On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 23, Neuman will take part in a seminar with the poet, scholar, and writer Gustavo Guerrero. The seminar, which will be conducted in Spanish, is geared to graduate students and faculty. On the evening of Thursday, April 24, he will give a public reading to be followed by a conversation with Alicia Borinsky. Please see details below!
Neuman, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1977, the son of emigrant musicians, is widely regarded as one of the best young Spanish-language novelists. He is also an accomplished writer of short stories, an essayist, a poet, and a translator. He has a degree in Spanish philology from the University of Granada, where he worked as a teacher of Latin American literature.
In 1999, at the age of 22, Neuman published his first novel, Bariloche (Anagrama, 1999), a First Finalist for the prestigious Herralde Prize and one of the top ten of the year according to the literary supplement of El Mundo. His following novels were La vida en las ventanas (Espasa, 2002) and autobiographical Una vez Argentina (Anagrama, 2003), also a First Finalist for the Herralde Prize. His fourth novel, El viajero del siglo (Alfaguara, 2009; published in the the USA as Traveler of the Century, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), won the Alfaguara Prize and the National Critics Prize, awarded by the Spanish Literary Critics Association. It was also selected among the books of the year by the critics of El País, El Mundo, The Guardian, The Independent, Financial Times, and by the Dutch newspapers NRC Handelsblad and De Volkskrant. This novel was later short-listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Latino Book Award, the Rómulo Gallegos Prize (given to the best Spanish-language novel published during the two previous years), and also long-listed for the Best Translated Book Award. His most recent novel is Hablar solos (Talking to Ourselves, Alfaguara, 2012, to be published in English in April 2014), one of the best books of the year according to La Vanguardia.
The late Robert Bolaño had the following praise of Neuman in his essay collection, Between Parentheses:
Neuman has a gift. No good reader will fail to perceive in its pages something that can only be found in literature of the highest rank, the kind written by true poets who dare to penetrate into the darkness with their eyes open, and who keep them open no matter what. When I encounter these young writers it makes me want to cry. The literature of the 21st century will belong to Neuman and to a handful of his blood brothers.
This event takes place as part of our European Voices series—an ongoing series of conversations with artists and writers, activists and intellectuals exploring questions at the intersection of politics and culture. Cosponsored by the literary journal AGNI and the Department of Romance Studies at Boston University. Funded in part by the European Commission Delegation in Washington, DC.
Join us for a reading and conversation with Jenny Erpenbeck. One of Germany’s rising literary stars, Erpenbeck was born in East Berlin in 1967. Her grandfather, grandmother, and father were all published writers in a variety of genres, while her mother was a translator. She has worked on opera and musical productions in Berlin and Graz since 1991, and is now a freelance writer and producer living near Graz.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Barristers Hall, Boston University Law School, 765 Commonwealth Avenue
Reception and book-signing to follow
Erpenbeck’s fiction includes the much-lauded novel The Old Child and the short story collection The Book of Words. Most recently she has published the wonderfully evocative novel Visitation. Erpenbeck’s often surreal and always enigmatic fiction has now been translated into 14 languages.
The event will be moderated by Erpenbeck’s English-language translator, Susan Bernofsky, an expert on German literature and culture as well as on the theory and practice of literary translation. Bernofsky teaches literary translation in the MFA Writing Program at the Columbia University School of the Arts and blogs about literary translation at www.translationista.org.
This event takes place as part of our European Voices series—an ongoing series of conversations with artists and writers, activists and intellectuals exploring questions at the intersection of politics and culture. Cosponsored by the literary journal AGNI and the Goethe Institut Boston. Funded in part by the European Commission Delegation in Washington, DC.