Join us for a discussion about the liminality of small literatures with established writers and translators from Bulgaria, Ireland and USA.
How do Georgi Gospodinov, Eilís Ní Dhuibhne, Angela Rodel and Dimitar Kambourov play out (and outplay) their origins? Is the tilted stance of their writing a side effect or a deliberate position? Do they artistically monetize their marginality, their interests, their upstandingness – both figurative and literal? Or do they really care? Are concerns about literary maps and margins not already outdated? Is it not already provincial to be obsessed with provinciality in the global village of world literature?
Did you know?
You can read Georgi Gospodinov’s specially commissioned poems, presented in their original Cyrillic script and in translation as part of our Hidden Letters trail of poetry alongside the benches-letters in the outdoor grounds of St John’s Church.
The Hidden Letters benches are designed by the Bulgarian artists and architects Cyrill Zlatkov and Ivan Ivanov in the shape of letters from the Cyrillic alphabet offering new outdoor spaces for resting and reading, complete with poems by outstanding Bulgarian writers, including Georgi Gospodinov.
Hidden Letters first launched in Sofia in 2018 and since has toured to Berlin, Paris, Budapest, Plovdiv, Munster, Rabat and Brussels. Edinburgh is its first UK destination and in the post-COVID-19 pandemic it aims to reclaim our outdoor public spaces for poetry activism and multiculturalism.
Georgi Gospodinov (b. 1968) made his literary debut in the 1990s with the poetry collections “Lapidarium”, which won the 1992 National Prize for Best Literary Debut “Yuzhna Prolet”, and “The Cherry Tree of a Nation” (1996), which has gone through several editions.
He is also the author of the books of poetry “Letters to Gaustin”, the anthological “Ballads and Maladies”, “Where We Are Not” (2016), which has received the Bulgarian National Award “Peroto” (The Quill). His latest novel, “Time Shelter” (2020), has received the Bulgarian Novel of the Year Award by “13 Centuries Bulgaria” Foundation in 2021. His works have appeared in many international anthologies and have been translated into tens of languages, with only his “Natural Novel” having been published in over 20 languages. His second novel, “The Physics of Sorrow,” was awarded the 2016 Jan Michalski Prize for Literature in Switzerland and was the finalist for several European and US awards, including the American PEN Award for Best Translation, the Italian literary award for literature “Premio Strega Europeo”, and the German award for literature “Haus der Kulturen der Welt”. The novel has been met with critical acclaim in periodicals such as The New Yorker, Die Zeit, Liberation, etc. In 2015, Georgi Gospodinov and his daughter, Raya, co-authored the illustrated children’s book “Weddings of Animals and Things”. The animated short film “Blind Vaysha” (dir. Theodore Ushev), which was nominated for the 2017 Academy Awards, was based on a story of the same name included in Gospodinov’s first short story collection “And Other Stories” (2001).
Eilís Ní Dhuibhne is an established and awarded Irish writer who writes fiction in both English and Gaelic; a former lecturer in Creative Writing at UCD. Her latest books are Little Red and Other Stories (2020)and Look! It’s a Woman Writer (editor) (2021).
Dimitar Kambourov is Associate Professor of literary theory at Sofia University. Lector of Bulgarian Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, and author of Явори и клони (Sycamores and Branches) (2003) and Българска поетическа класика (Bulgarian Poetic Classics) (2004). He co-edited Men in the Global World (2003), Pro Art/Арт Про (2007) and Bulgarian Literature as World Literature (Bloomsbury, November 2020).
Albena Azmanova (b. 1968) is a writer, scholar and political commentator based in Brussels, who is interested in judgment and justice, ideologies, democracy’s troubles with capitalism and capitalism’s devious talent for survival.
She draws on the history of ideas and political sociology to produce (hopefully) politically salient and critical analyses of modern societies. She is currently a tenured Associate Professor of Political and Social Theory at the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies. Her latest book Capitalism on Edge. How Fighting Precarity Can Achieve Radical Change Without Crisis or Utopia (Columbia University Press, 2020) has been described by James Galbraith as “the big-think book of our time”. She has also been a policy adviser to the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the European Commission, and Transparency International.
Angela Rodel is an established literary translator based in Sofia with a BA from Yale University and an MA from University of California, Los Angeles in Linguistics. Her accolades include the 2016 National Translation Award for Georgi Gospodinov’s novel The Physics of Sorrow (Open Letter, 2015) from the American Literary Translators Association.