Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Finno-Ugrian Vampire reaches New York!

13th May, 2013

We are now all back from the exciting times we had in New York at the Pen World Voices Festival. Our author, Noemi Szecsi, was invited to the festival, and her travel and hotel were supported by the Balassi Institute in New York, the Hungarian Cultural Association.

The first event (well, really is was a multiple event) was completely novel in format - the festival persuaded twenty or so apartment dwellers, all artists resident at the Bethune Street, Wesbeth Center for the Arts, to open their own homes to writers and their audiences. Noemi gave two talks at the home of Bea Kreloff, who introduced her, with Edith Isaac Rose, and despite interruptions from one very excited daschund, Lucy, the events went well. So in the space of two hours, the audience could rush to four apartments and hear four writers reading from their works, with a short time for questions. At the end there was a reception in the foyer.

A really novel and exciting format, which I hope we can bring to London - well done to Pen World Voices for achieving all the organisation.

Above are photos of Noemi with Bea, and with her translator, Peter Sherwood, who came to New York with his wife, Julia. Thank you also to Peter & Julia, for all their support and help, and for making the trip so worthwhile.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


We're delighted to celebrate the USA publication of The Finno-Ugrian Vampire by Noémi Szécsi. The author, the most prominent young Hungarian writing today, has been invited to join two events at Pen World Voices 2013, in New York. I shall be travelling there, along with the translator, Peter Sherwood.

Friday, 3 May 2013
A Literary Safari
Wesbeth Center for the Arts, 6.30pm
55 Bethune St New York, NY 10014
Explorers may discover a bedside reading, a dinner-table discussion, or a poet in the elevator at this event, where each participant is given a map and left to roam the halls of the city’s oldest and largest artist community; the notoriously labyrinthine Westbeth Artists’ Housing. The residents will again open their homes to PEN authors and the public for this intimate annual event, which ends with a reception and champagne toast in the gallery.
With Michal Ajvaz, Nadeem Aslam, Dror Burstein, Gillian Clarke, Mia Couto, Eduardo Halfon, Natalio Hernandez, Nick Holdstock, Randa Jarrar, Tararith Kho, Jaime Manrique, Margie Orford, Jordi Punti, Noémi Szécsi, Padma Venkatraman, and others

Saturday, 4 May 2013
Invisible Cities, Visible Cities
The Public Theater, 5.00pm
425 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10003
For many novelists, describing the city where a story takes place is as fundamental as providing a well-developed protagonist. The panel will look at how the city both limits and liberates, how it is informed by collective knowledge and individual exploration, and how, particularly in the era of globalization, it can be a place of imposing history and rapid reinvention. Moderated by Michael Miller. With Michal Ajvaz, Dror Burstein, Barbara Frischmuth, Noémi Szécsi

On another note, in March I was despairing at the news stories issuing forth from Syria - so many tales of bloodshed and lives in peril. In 2007, Riverbend, the anonymous blogger who wrote Baghdad Burning, which we published in 2003, moved to Syria, which at the time was a peaceful haven after the bombings in Baghdad.

I have not heard from her for a few years, so I emailed asking if she was safe.Then, this week, I received a reply. She is safe, living in the United Arab Emirates. Not everything in her life has gone to plan, but her email is of course confidential. She has added a post at the blog, riverbend.blogspot.co.uk, and it is worth looking at, as it is an angry post. She thinks her fellow Iraqis in exile, should not be living in the USA or in the UK, as they were invading nations. I can understand her reasoning - it is as if after the second world war, German Jews had decided to settle in Italy...or return immediately to Germany - which few did.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I just read on Book 2 Book this morning that Elif Shafak is to be the Market Focus Author of the Day at the London Book Fair in April 2013. Elif is now published by Penguin in the UK, and has been since The Bastard of Istanbul came out. Marion Boyars Publishers published The Flea Palace and The Gaze, and I worked closely with Elif, taking her to the Hay Festival for the first time, and to many other venues, including the Frontline Club.

So I felt proud when I read this, and with twelve books now published, I know that a large press has the resources to bring her books to a wide audience.

And, as someone who can appreciate writing, I know that Noemi Szecsi, whose book The Finno-Ugrian Vampire we publish in the USA and Canada in May 2103, is Hungary's most talented young author. Noemi will be visiting New York in April 2013 to do some literary events, and if you wish to see someone moving into their prime, like Elif, then keep a watch for her.