Writers from the Balkan region take the Triskel stage at Cork World Book Festival

Posted on Fri 28 April 2017

Turkish writer, Ciler Ilhan, author of the controversial collection of short stories, Exile (Istros Books, 2015) spoke of how delighted and relieved she was to be in an environment “where writers can speak at ease”. Sharing the stage with her was Aleš Šteger, poet, novelist and publisher from Slovenia, who came to Cork marking the publication of ‘Absolution’, his first novel, which has been published in English by the pioneering British publisher, Istros. Susan Curtis, founder and chief editor, was also present and was congratulated for her extraordinary contribution towards “opening the eyes and minds of English language readers to the wealth of writing from the Balkan region”. The Irish Times literary correspondent, Eileen Battersby, opened the evening by proposing this audience simply look at the books on offer, ” Without being a salesman,” said Battersby, “I thought it would be a good idea to bring some of the books with me.” Emptying the contents of a large wicker basket, she commented on the wide tastes of the Irish reading public, and in particular the readers of Cork city and Cork county, “it’s obvious that the Cork Librarians are very well informed, they have to be considering the adventurous readers they have to satisfy. How fortunate we are to have to such an informed festival director as Ann Luttrell.”

Image of Aleš Šteger, Eileen Battersby, Susan Curtis, Cilar Ilhan and Ann Luttrell.

Aleš Šteger, Eileen Battersby, Susan Curtis, Cilar Ilhan and Ann Luttrell

For those readers wanting an introduction to the region, Battersby suggests reading Rebecca West’s travel journal from the 1930’s – ‘Black Lamb, Grey Falcon’ and also the 1961 Nobel literature laureate, Ivo Andric, ‘The Bridge Over the Drina’ and ‘Bosnian Chronicle’.

The contents of Battersby’s basket can be seen here below….

Evald Flisar, My Father’ Dreams, On the Gold Coast and Three Loves, One Death (Slovenia) tranlated by David Limon
Faruk Šehić, Quiet Flows the Una ( Bosnia) Translated by Will Firth
Mihail Sebastian, For Two Thousand Years (Romania)
Ismail Kadare, Chronicle in Stone (Albania)
Dimitru Tsepeneag, The Bulgarian Truck and Waiting (Romania)
Goran Vojnovic, Yugoslavia, My Fatherland (Slovenia) Translated by Noah Charney
Alek Popov, Mission London and The Black Book (Bulgaria) Translated by Daniella and Charles Gill de Mayol de Lupe
Mircea Eliade Diary of a Short-Sighted Adolescent (Romania) Translated by Christopher Moncrieff and Christopher Bartholomew
Alma Lazarevska, Death in the Museum of Modern Art (Bosnia) Translated by Celia Hawkesworth
Sabahattin Ali, Madonna in a Fur Coat (Turkey)
From Montenegro- Hansen’s Children by Ognjen Spahic and Till Kingdom Come by Andrej Nikolaidis. All translated by Will Firth
The Encounter by Petra Popescu (Romania)
Panorama by Dušan Šarotar (Slovenia) translated by Rawley Grau (recently shortllisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize)
Farewell, Cowboy by Olja Savicevic (Croatia) translated by Celia Hawkesworth
Aleksandar Prokopiev’s Homunculus (Macedonia) translated by Will Firth
Gabriela Adamesteanu, The Encounter (Romania)
Slobodan Selenic, Premeditated Murder (Croatia)
Life Begins on Friday by Ioana Parvulescu (Romania) translated by Alistair Ian Blyth
The Great War by Aleksandar Gatalica (Serbia) translated by Will Firth