Now in its 13th consecutive year, The New Literature from Europe Festival is an annual celebration of writing from across the European continent. Featuring readings and discussions between leading and emerging literary voices from Europe, and some of America’s foremost writers and critics, the Festival celebrates important new European literature in translation. Founded in 2003, the NLE Festival has quickly become one of New York City's top literature in translation events, attracting award-winning, best-selling and new authors from many diverse European countries each year. The NLE Festival is jointly organized by the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) and New York-based European cultural institutes. Most Festival events are free and open to the public. This year’s Festival will take place December 7-10. See the NLE Festival website for more information.  

New Literature from Europe Festival 2016: Writing to Change Hearts and Minds

Thursday December 8, 2016
06:00 pm

Tags: Event



We were pleased to partner with the New Literature from Europe Festival for a second year, and their 13th edition. We held two events for New York’s largest festival of European literature. Each event featured some of contemporary American and European literature and criticism’s most exciting and engaging voices.


Our first panel was Writing to Change Hearts and Minds with Mihkel Mutt, Szczepan Twardoch, and Alta L. Price, with moderator Peter Constantine


How can a writer best change the hearts and minds of readers when they believe strongly about a social or political issue, how
 do translators help adapt writers’ ideas for different cultures, and how does a book’s cover add meaning and impact to the message? Tonight we talked with two of our guest writers from Europe: Mihkel Mutt, who employed satire in his novels as a means to talk about life under Communism in Estonia; and Szczepan Twardoch, who takes a more philosophical and sociological approach as he writes along a line separating reality from fantasy to tell very human stories.


Together they were joined by acclaimed translator Alta L. Price, whose work on design-related texts such as Jürgen Holstein’s The Book Cover in the Weimar Republic, examines the critical role cover design plays in catching the reader’s attention and subverting expectations. This conversation was moderated by acclaimed translator, Peter Constantine.


Proudly co-presented by ALTA and The Center for Fiction. 


Click for information about our second panel of the evening, Coming of Age.



Mihkel Mutt was born in 1953 in Tartu, and studied journalism there. He has edited the cultural magazines Sirpand Looming, with a brief interlude in the early 1990s as an official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Besides writing short stories and novels, he has been a versatile author of cultural criticism, feuilletons, and memoirs. He brings to each of these genres his penetrating gaze, analyzing the mores and habits of his contemporaries, various generations, and social groups in a satiric vein that resembles the early Aldous Huxley or the moralists of the Classical Age.


Szczepan Twardoch (born 1979) is the author of Morphine (2012), winner of the Polityka Passport Prize and the Nike Literary Prize Reader’s Choice Award. His next book, Drach, was also shortlisted for the Nike, and the German translation received the Berlin Brücke Prize. His new novel King, about the actions of Jewish gangsters in the midst of economically and ethnically-divided Warsaw before the Second World War, will be published in Poland in October 2016.


Alta L. Price runs a publishing consultancy specialized in literature and nonfiction texts on art, architecture, design, and culture. She translates from Italian and German into English, and was awarded the 2013 Gutekunst Prize. Her most recent books include The Dynamic Library (Soberscove, 2015), Jürgen Holstein’s The Book Cover in the Weimar Republic (Taschen, 2015), Corrado Augias’s The Secrets of Italy (Rizzoli Ex Libris, 2014), illustrator Beppe Giacobbe’sVisionary Dictionary (Lazy Dog Press, 2013), and Marco Biraghi’s Project of Crisis (MIT Press, 2013). In September 2016 she guest-edited “There Is No Map: The New Italian(s)” for Words Without Borders. She is vice president of the New York Circle of Translators, a founding member of Cedilla & Co., a member of the PEN Translation Committee and the American Literary Translators Association, and loves puzzles—translation being her favorite kind. Her translation of Dana Grigorcea’s An Instinctive Feeling of Innocence is forthcoming from Seagull Books in 2017.


Peter Constantine is a literary translator and editor, and the director of the Literary Translation Program at the University of Connecticut. His recent translations, published by Random House (Modern Library), include The Essential Writings of RousseauThe Essential Writings of Machiavelli, and works by Tolstoy, Gogol, and Voltaire.  His translation of the complete works of Isaac Babel received the Koret Jewish Literature Award and a National Jewish Book Award citation. He co-edited A Century of Greek Poetry: 1900-2000, and the anthology The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present, which W.W. Norton published in 2010. A Guggenheim Fellow, he was awarded the PEN Translation Prize for Six Early Stories by Thomas Mann, and the National Translation Award for The Undiscovered ChekhovPeter Constantine has been a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library and a Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.