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. 


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New Literature from Europe Festival: The Calling: Writing with Responsibility

Friday November 6, 2015
06:30 pm

Tags: Event



Part 2


Presented in partnership with the New Literature from Europe Festival


Whether it’s fiction, a biography a true story or a blog post, words with a strong message can change the world. We heard from authors Wojciech Jagielski, who examines race and inequality at the end of apartheid in his new book Burning the Grass: At the Heart of Change in South Africa, 1990–2011; Bogdan Suceavă on his satirical political portrayal of Romania’s first years after the fall of the communism in Coming from an Off Key Time; Bettina Suleiman on animal ethics in her debut novel Auswilderung; and Ardian Vehbiu, winner of the 2014 Ardian Klosi non-fiction award and author of a blog that sparks cultural and political debates in Albania, on the role of the writer as a catalyst for positive social change. They were joined by Fulbright Scholar, photographer, and the award-winning author of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, Maaza Mengiste to discuss the power of literature to reexamine social and cultural inequalities of the past in an effort to change the future. 


This event was followed by another Festival panel: A Funny Thing about Writing... 



Wojciech Jagielski
is Poland’s leading writer of literary non-fiction. Writing in the tradition of his friend and mentor Ryszard Kapuściński, he has written about his experiences in trouble spots around the globe. A former reporter for 
Gazeta Wyborcza, the largest independent daily in Central Europe, Jagielski’s books The Night Wanderers (2012), on the child soldiers in Uganda, and Towers of Stone (2009), on the war in Chechnya, are both available in English from Seven Stories Press. Burning the Grass, about the violence surrounding the fall of apartheid in South Africa, is forthcoming in the fall of this year. 


Bogdan Suceavă was born in 1969 and studied mathematics at University of Bucharest and Michigan State University, where he earned his doctorate in mathematics in 2002. He currently splits his time between Romania and California, where he teaches mathematics at Cal State Fullerton. He has written five novels, two collection of short stories, and three volumes of essays. Miruna, a Tale, received the fiction award of the Bucharest Writers Association in 2007 and was published in English in 2014 by Twisted Spoon Press. Coming from and Off-Key Time, a comedy on the so-called political transition in Romania at the beginning of the 1990s was released in 2011 by Northwestern University Press and many of his short stories have appeared in Review of Contemporary Fiction, Absinthe: New European Fiction, Short Story, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Two Lines and other magazines.


Bettina Suleiman, born in Dessau in 1978, published her debut novel Auswilderung in 2014 with the prestigious publishing house, Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin. Her essays and short stories have appeared in Die Zeit, Words Without Borders, and the anthologies of the German Creative Writing Program Leipzig, Columbia University School of Arts, and Forum Femmes Méditerranée, Marseille. Suleiman holds an MFA in Creative Writing, an MA in German Studies, and a PhD in Philosophy. Her thesis examines the argument of self-defence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has worked for theatres and NGOs in Israel, where she lives with her husband.


Born in Tirana, Albania, Ardian Vehbiu is a writer, researcher and translator based in New York. Author of 12 non-fiction and fiction books, as well as of a number of research papers in linguistics and semiotics, Vehbiu is the winner of the 2010 “Gjergj Fishta” national non-fiction award for a study of new patterns in public discourse under the totalitarian regime in Albania (“Shqipja totalitare”, 2009), as well as the winner of the 2014 “Ardian Klosi” non-fiction award, for an essay dedicated to the image of the West in an isolated communist Albania (“Sende që nxirrte deti”, 2013). His writing is featured regularly in the Albanian press and has been translated in Italian, English and Romanian. Since 2007, he manages “Peizazhe të fjalës”, a blog which has become a strong point of reference for cultural, social and linguistic debates in the Albanian-speaking world. He has also translated several works from Albanian into Italian, as well as from Italian, French and English into Albanian. His last work in Albanian is “Bolero”, a meta-fictional novel (2015).


Maaza Mengiste is a Fulbright Scholar and the award-winning author of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, selected by the Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books. Her work can be found in the New Yorker, the Guardian, the New York Times, BBC Radio 4, Granta, and other places. She was the 2013 Puterbaugh Fellow, a finalist for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, and a Runner-up for the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her next novel, set during the early days of WWII, is forthcoming.