New Literature From Europe: In Transit
Thursday November 14, 2013
The Center hosted a panel as part of this year's New Literature from Europe festival: In Transit. Authors Ilija Trojanow (Germany), Sabine Gruber (Austria), and Witold Szablowski (Poland) read from their work and conversed about their writing, which crosses and re-crosses international borders and deals with current and historical events in both fiction and literary non-fiction. Michael F. Moore moderated.
Germany: Author, translator, and publisher Ilija Trojanow was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1965. In 1971 his family was granted political asylum in Germany. It was for his 2006 novel, Der Weltensammler [The Collector of Worlds] (2009), on British explorer and orientalist Richard Burton, that Trojanow received international attention and the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair. Among Trojanow’s many works of reportage, non-fiction, and fiction are Angriff auf die Freiheit [Assault on freedom] (2009), co-authored with Juli Zeh, and his most recent novel, EisTau [IceMelt] (2012), in which a glaciologist named Zeno fights back against the results of global warming.
Austria: Sabine Gruber writes prose, poetry, and essays as well as audio dramas and plays. Born in Meran, Italy, she studied German literature, history, and political sciences at the Universities of Vienna and Innsbruck. Gruber lectured at the Ca' Foscari University in Venice from 1988 to 1992 and has lived and worked as a writer in Vienna since 2000. She has received several awards for her work, including the City of Vienna’s Prize for Literature, the Austrian State Funding Award for Literature, as well as the Elias Canetti Scholarship of the City of Vienna. Her recent books include Stillbach oder Die Sehnsucht (2011), Über Nacht (2007), Die Zumutung (2003), Fang oder Schweigen (2002), Aushausige (1996). Her most recent publication, Roman Elegy (2013), is her first book to be translated into English.
Poland: Witold Szablowski is a journalist known for his in-depth reportage from the edges of the European Union. Before he began working for Poland's leading independent newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza, and its longform supplement Duży Format, he worked at the TVN 24 television station and CNN Türk. A graduate of the Department of Journalism and Political Science at Warsaw University, Szabłowski has also studied Political Science in Istanbul, where he got to know Turkey inside-out. As a reporter, he incessantly asks difficult questions: he talked to the family of Ali Agca, joined forces with British Al Jazeera to prepare a program on post-communist political vetting in Poland, hitchhiked through Kosovo, and scoured Turkish bazaars tracing the story of the shoe that the Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi threw at George W. Bush. Szabłowski has received a number of important awards for his collection of reportage from Turkey, Zabójca z miastamoreli (The Assassin From Apricot City), including a 2011 nomination for the NIKE prize, Poland's highest literary award. In 2008, he was the recipient of the Melchior Wańkowicz Award for "drawing upon the best models of reportage, and showcasing the unknown face of Turkey". In the same year, his report on Turkish honor killings, "To z miłości, siostro" ("It's Out of Love, Sister"), received an honorary mention at the Amnesty International competition for articles concerning human rights. In 2010, Szabłowski received the European Parliament Journalism Award for his reportage "Dziśprzypłynątudwatrupy" ("Today Two Bodies Will Wash Ashore") on the issue of immigrants trying to illegally enter the European Union through the "purgatory of Istanbul." More recently, he published, with Izabela Meyza, Naszmały PRL (Our Little Polish People's Republic: Six Months in a Three-room Apartment with a Perm, a Moustache, and a Polish Fiat), a book on an experiment he conducted with his partner, attempting to live as their family did under Communism.
Moderator: Michael Moore is a scholar and translator of Italian literature. His most recent translations include Live Bait, but Fabio Genovesi (Other Press, 2014), The Drowned and the Saved by Primo Levi (Norton, 2014), and Agostino by Alberto Moravia (NYRB, 2014). He has also translated three novels by Erri De Luca. Chair of the PEN/Heim Translation Fund and former Chair of the PEN Translation Committee, he received his Ph.D. in Italian from New York University and is a professional interpreter.
Photo Credit for Sabine Gruber: Karl-Heinz Ströhle. Photo Credit for Witold Szablowski: Albert Zawada-Agencja Gazeta.