Romania at the London Book Fair 2014: 'All is old and new is all'

08 - 10/04/2014

Our programme at one of the worlds most consequential congregations in the realm of books gravitates around the age-old interplay of cultural tradition and change, the endless crossbreed of legacy and innovation, the inescapable tension between establishment and subversion. The events, unfolding at Earls Court, Europe House, the European Bookshop as well as at our home in 1 Belgrave Square, will epitomize this fruitful dialectic, evoked by Romanias greatest poet, Mihai Eminescu, in the verse that is borrowed as the motto of our presence at the London Book Fair 2014.

 

The Romanian participation at the London Book Fair also honours the legacy of voivode Constantin Brâncoveanu (1654-1714), cultural patron and great lover of books whose life, lost in the name of convictions, remains an inspiration 300 years on to all those who seek to master the science of bridging old and new, in life as well as in books. A man of the past as much as of the future, he was ready to die for things immutable, like his religious beliefs, but no less for progress and change. When the Sultan’s executioner put an end to 25 years of reign, they wasted an ageing body but could not extinguish the legacy of the prince of peace and the political moderniser. The cultural style Brâncoveanu created has survived as his most enduring heritage and, as homage to this lasting patrimony, elements of its visual bequest are incorporated in our stand.

 

The protagonists of the Romanian programme at the London Book Fair 2014 are: literary critic and literary historian Nicolae Manolescu, the President of the Romanian Writers’ Union and Ambassador to UNESCO, novelist and cultural historian Ioana Pârvulescu, the recipient of the European Union Prize for Literature in 2013, translator Alistair Ian Blyth, the most prolific British translator from Romanian, novelist Varujan Vosganian, Vice President of the Romanian Writers’ Union, Mihai Mitrică, the Executive Director of the Romanian Federation of Publishers, crime story author and publisher Bogdan Hrib, Moldovan journalist and author Stela Brînzeanu, travel writers Nick Hunt and Peter Hurley, curator and cultural animator Adina Pașca and academic and translator Cristian Anton.

 

Visual identity: Zoe Olaru

 

 

Programme

 

Tuesday, 8 April

 

Earls Court/ Romanias Stand (G550)/ 12,00 pm: 

Fighting the Fateful 3%: New Romanian Books and Themes in English 

Translations represent, according to estimates, around 3% of the books that outpour in Britain every year. East-European titles constitute less than half of this fateful percentage, which seems unbreakable by any publishing prowess, local or foreign. Our contribution to the epic struggle to raise the number of translations in the UK is illustrated by a new crop of Romanian books in English, presented by the authors and translators themselves: Bogdan Hrib, Nick Hunt, Peter Hurley, Cristian Anton, Stela Brînzeanu, and moderated by Dorian Branea, the Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in London. 

 

Earls Court/ International Rights Centre/ 2 pm:

Risk-Free Pleasure: Publishing Romanian Books 

For years, the Romanian Cultural Institute has been enticing international publishers with some of the most generous support schemes available on the global market. Thanks to our contributions, made through Translation & Publication Support and Publishing Romania programmes, publishers in Europe, the United States and elsewhere have been able to bring brilliant prose, poetry or academic writing to the reading public while at the same time significantly reducing the risks which are incurred in the publication of lesser known writers.  Dorian Branea, the Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in London, and Bogdan Popescu, the Director of the Romanian Cultural Institutes National Book Centre, explain why using these financial schemes has never been more timely or easier.  

 

32 Smith Square (SW1P 3EU)/Europe House/ 6,30 pm:

Europe Believes in Words

The European Union Prize for Literature is awarded each year to exquisite works of fiction written by authors from the member states. Romanian cultural historian and novelist Ioana Pârvulescu, the winner in 2013, is joined by two other recipients of the prize, German Marica Bodrožić and Finnish Katri Lipson, in a conversation illuminating their craft and beliefs, chaired with reputed skill by arts journalist Rosie Goldsmith. The event is organised by Literature Across Frontiers in collaboration with the European Commission Representation in the UK, the Romanian Cultural Institute, Goethe Institute, Finnish Literature Exchange and the English PEN.

 

Wednesday, 9 April

 

Earls Court/ Literary Translation Centre/ 11,30 am:

The Arcanes of Transposition

Alistair Ian Blyth, Englands most prolific translator of Romanian fiction, shares his thoughts on how to whiff the best material, dwell a foreign language like your own and grow better with every new book together with Richard Mansell, Peter Bush and Simon Bruni, in a discussion helmed by AmazonCrossing translator Lilit Thwaites. An event offered by AmazonCrossing with the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute. 

 

Earls Court/ Romanias Stand (G550)/ 2 pm:

Wearing Books on Sleeves: Manolescu on Manolescu

In 2008, Plymouth University Press with the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute embarked on one of the most ambitious publishing ventures regarding Romanian books in decades. The Romanian Collection features 20 canonical books of fiction, poetry and academic prose printed in exquisite editions, most of which are already available. Professor Nicolae Manolescu, the influential Romanian literary critic and educator, whose essay French Themes has appeared in this series, ponders the enduring appeal of reading and writing in a iconodule world dominated by imagery. With an introduction by Varujan Vosganian.

 

Earls Court/ PEN Literary Café/ 4 pm:

Chasing Echoes: The Stories behind the Best European Stories 

Authors Ioana Pârvulescu, Marica Bodrožić and Katri Lipson, recipients of the prestigious European Union Literary Prize for 2013 converse with reputed arts journalist Rosie Goldsmith about living and writing in troubled times. Event organised by Literature Across Frontiers in cooperation with the European Commission Representation in London, the Romanian Cultural Institute, Goethe Institute, Finnish Literature Exchange and the English PEN.

 

Romanian Cultural Institute (1 Belgrave Square, London SW1X8PH)7 pm:

Gala Evening: Concert&Exhibition&Reception 

Join us for an evening of old music, conversation and palatal discoveries, honouring the authors, translators, publishers, librarians, agents and distributors who are transforming the discreet toil of writers in Romania and elsewhere into unforgettable experiences of mind and soul. Hosted by HE Dr Ion Jinga, Romania’s Ambassador to the Court of St James’s, and Dorian Branea, the Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in London. Distinguished guest: Professor Nicolae Manolescu, President of the Romanian Writers' Union and Ambassador to UNESCO. Featuring the TREI PARALE ensemble in a recital of 18th and early 19th centuries court and urban scores. Private View: 'The Allure of Typography', showcasing the most beautifully designed Romanian books of 2013, presented by Mihai Mitrică, the Executive Director of the Romanian Federation of Publishers, and Adina Pașca, the exhibition’s curator.

 

Thursday, 10 April

 

European Bookshop (5 Warwick St, London W1B 5LU)/ 7 pm

Romanian Books on Sale for the First Time in London

Romanian books in the original - from the great classics to the latest bestsellers, from dictionaries and manuals to children's books and poetry - will be available for sale, for the first time in London, at the European Bookshop close to Piccadilly Circus. The Romanian Section is a result of the collaboration between the Romanian Cultural Institute in London and European Schoolbooks Ltd, one of the biggest providers of foreign books in the UK. The books are also available at the newly launched website www.romanianbookshop.co.uk. The Romanian Section at the bookshop will be launched by a special event, as part of our programme at the London Book Fair 2014. Opening remarks by Professor Nicolae Manolescu, the President of the Romanian Writers' Union, HE Dr Ion Jinga, Ambassador to the Court of St James's, Frank Preiss, General Manager of European Schoolbooks Ltd, and Dorian Branea, the Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute in London.

The European Bookshop, 1 minute from Piccadilly Circus, near Regent Street, offers a wide choice of books, from fiction to travel books, in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

 

 

Who's Who

 

Cristian Anton (b. 1983), a graduate of the University College London, co-authored a number of papers for human rights and international development charities in London. In 2011, Cristian embarked on a personal translation project to help his Polish wife understand better the history and culture of his country. He chose to translate into English a well-known book by Neagu Djuvara, one of Romania’s foremost historians, a work considered to be a clean break with the ‘established’ version of Romanian history imposed during the Communist regime. His project became the book A Brief Illustrated History of Romanians, published by Humanitas in early 2014.

 

Stela Brînzeanu (b. 1982), is a Moldovan/Romanian national who moved to the UK at the age of 18. After graduating in Media and TV Production at the University of Westminster, Stela practiced freelance journalism before setting up a Diaspora magazine. She then turned her eyes to literature and, in March 2014, published her first book, Bessarabian Nights - a novel exploring her native Moldova and the most unsettling contemporary issues that beset the country: East to West migration, displacement, identity crisis, human trafficking. She is currently working on her second novel.

 

Bogdan Hrib (b. 1966) is a well-known photographer and journalist, a successful publisher and an accomplished writer. His made his debut as a crime fiction writer in 2007 with The Greek Connection (Filiera grecească), followed by The Curse of the Manuscript (Blestemul manuscrisului, 2008), Somalia, Mon Amour (2009), and Kill the General (Ucideți generalul, 2011), published in English translation by Profusion Publishers. His most recent, non-crime fiction book is The Last Photograph (Ultima fotografie, 2012). Bogdan has been the editorial director of Crime Scene Publishing in Bucharest (since 2008), the Vice-president of the Romanian Crime Writers' Club (since 2010), the organiser of the Mystery & Thriller Festival in Râșnov (2011-12), as well as the PR coordinator of the History Film Festival in Râșnov (since 2011).

 

Nick Hunt (b. 1981) is a writer, journalist and storyteller based in London. From 2011 to 2012, he walked from the Hook of Holland to Istanbul in the footsteps of Patrick Leigh Fermor. Walking the Woods and the Water, his first book, recounts this seven-month journey through Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey on a quest to discover what remains of hospitality, kindness to strangers, freedom, wildness, adventure and the deeper currents of myth and story that still flow beneath Europe's surface. Nick’s articles have appeared in The Economist, The Guardian, New Internationalist, Resurgence, Geographical, World Conservation and other publications.

 

Peter Hurley (b. 1968) graduated from the Faculty of Commerce at the University College Dublin. In 1994, he decided to move to Romania where, for the first 15 years, worked in market research and advertising. In 2009 he left the advertising business and set off on a quest for the authentic values of his adoption country. Before long, he found himself living in a village in Northern Romania. He is the producer of the Intercultural Festival of Peasant Traditions ‘Drumul Lung spre Cimitirul Vesel' / The Long Road to the Merry Cemetery in the village of Săpânţa, the county of Maramureş. In 2011 he was awarded the Romanian National Order of Merit for Culture with the rank of Commander for his efforts to promote Romania’s rural traditions. In December 2012, he walked 650 kilometres from the Merry Cemetery in Săpânța to the Museum of the Romanian Peasant in Bucharest, relying for food and shelter entirely on the people he would meet en route. This extraordinary journey turned into the subject of his book The Way of the Crosses, launched in December 2013.

 

Mihai Mitrică (b. 1980) studied Political Sciences at the Al.I. Cuza University in Iași and graduated in 2003. One of the most successful professionals working for the Romanian publishing industry, he has been the Director of the Romanian Publishers Association and the organiser of Bookfest International Book Fair since 2011. Mihai has a strong media background, previously being business editor for the Mediafax Group (‘BUSINESS Magazin’ and ‘Ziarul financiar’) for five years. Before that, he used to work for ‘Evenimentul zilei' newspaper (2005-2006) and ‘Monitorul’/ ‘Ziarul de Iași’ local newspaper (2001-2004).

 

Nicolae Manolescu (b. 1939) is the undisputed and affable patriarch of Romanian literature. As literary critic, professor, publisher and broadcaster, he has been in the epicentre of Romania’s cultural life for decades. His reviews, delivered with the trademark elegance and finesse, would make and break careers. His charismatic professorship has elevated him to the guru-like status for several literary generations. He wrote more than 20 books, including literary criticism, literary history, essays and cultural criticism, which made him the most influential instance in contemporary Romanian literature. His most consequential books are considered Noah's Ark (Arca lui Noe) (1980), a typological history of Romanian novel, and the massive Critical History of Romanian Literature (Istoria critică a literaturii române) (2008).  Since more than three decades, he has run 'România literară', the most influential cultural magazine in Romanian. Not shy of public office, after 1989 Manolescu was presidential candidate, senator and leader of the Civic Alliance Party and National Liberal Party. He is currently the president of the Romanian Writers' Union, member of the Romanian Academy and Ambassador to UNESCO. 

 

Adina Paşca (b. 1978) has a BA in Communication Studies and an MA in Advertising from the Babeş-Bolyai University. She is currently living and working in Cluj-Napoca, where she has been coordinating the Association for Performance and Culture since 2008, developing cultural and educational projects in order to support young talent, innovation, and performance in major national or international projects. Adina initiated and organised the first national book design competition in Romania, now at its third edition. She was the managing partner and head of the creative department at Imagine Tact advertising agency for 9 years. In the recent years, her work focused on design, book illustration and artists’ books.

 

Varujan Vosganian (b. 1958) is a prominent figure in contemporary Romanian literature. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Commerce at the Academy of Economic Studies and of the Faculty of Mathematics at Bucharest University. He is a founder of the Romanian Society for Economics, an International Adviser to the European Union’s Centre for Political Studies, based in Brussels, and a member of the Young Politicians Club in London. He was elected a Senator in the Romanian Parliament and, between 2006 and 2008, was the Minister of Economy and Finance. His literary work encompasses more than one genre, from poetry (The Blue Shaman/ Șamanul albastru, 1994; The Queen's White Eye/ Ochiul alb al reginei, 2001; Jesus with a Thousand Arms/ Iisus cu o mie de brațe, 2005) to fiction (The Statue of the Commander/ Statuia comandorului, 1994, a collection of short stories which was awarded the Prize of the Bucharest Writers Association). His first novel, The Book of Whispers (Cartea șoaptelor, 2009) was declared “The Book of 2009” by the ‘România literară’ magazine, also receiving the ‘Ion Creangă’ Prize of the Romanian Academy and the Prize for fiction offered by another prestigious literary journal, ’Observator cultural’, among others. 

 

Cultural historian, literary critic and novelist Ioana Pârvulescu (b. 1960) is one of the most distinguished names in contemporary Romanian literature. She graduated from the Faculty of Letters at the University of Bucharest in 1983, establishing herself as a distinct voice within literary circles from the very beginning. Since 1996, she has taught Modern Literature at the same faculty, and earned her PhD in 1999 with a thesis entitled Literary Prejudices: Comfortable Options in Interpreting Romanian Literature (Prejudecăți literare. Opțiuni comode în receptarea literaturii române). The books that she dedicated to the investigation of the 19th and early 20th century Romania - Back to Interwar Bucharest (Întoarcere în Bucureștiul interbelic, 2003) and In the Intimacy of the 19th Century (În intimitatea secolului 20, 2005) - are among her best received literary endeavours. She was awarded the European Union Prize for Literature 2013 for her first novel, Life Begins on Friday (Viața începe vineri, 2009), a unique journey into the amazing world of times gone by inspired by her previous work as a cultural historian – a world more than 100 years distant, but very similar to our own in its main features. 

 

A native of Sutherland, England, Alistair Ian Blyth (b. 1970) was educated at Bede School, Girton College, Cambridge University (A.B.) and Durham University (M.A.). He has specialised in translating fiction, poetry and philosophy from Romanian into English, and is currently living in Bucharest. His long series of translations include among others Little Fingers by superstar young novelist Filip Florian, Our Circus Presents by Lucian Dan Teodorovici, another very successful prose writer of the young generation, Occurence in the Immediate Unreality by Max Blecher, one of the finest authors of interwar Romania, Six Maladies of the Contemporary Spirit by philosopher Constantin Noica, On Angels by one of Noica’s favourite disciples, Andrei Pleșu, as well as the anthology Selected Poems by paramount Surrealist poet Gellu Naum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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