ROMANIA ROCKS: Romanian-British Literature Festival

17/10 - 13/11/2020 @ RCI London & online

ROMANIA ROCKS* is a joyfully original festival of Romanian-British literary events, initiated by the Romanian Cultural Institute in London and featuring the best and brightest “rock star authors” from both countries in conversation about the literature and ideas that matter to them and to the world today. Paul Bailey, Vesna Goldsworthy, AL Kennedy, Deborah Levy, David Mitchell, Ben Okri, Ian Rankin, Elif Shafak, Fiona Sampson, George Szirtes and Axel Scheffler are in the line-up of UK-based authors, who will be head to head with their Romanian counterparts, Ana Blandiana, Magda Cârneci, Ruxandra Cesereanu, Marius Chivu, Andrei Codrescu, Norman Manea, Ioana Pârvulescu, Bogdan Teodorescu and Matei Vișniec. They are part of a spectacular digital-physical series of events launching on 30th Sept 2020 and coinciding with the publication of The Romanian Riveter magazine. The festival concludes with a Romanian-British rock concert at the RCI in London on 13th Nov 2020.

Due to the current Covid-19 crisis, it is not possible to stage or attend all events in person. All events will be filmed and subsequently made available for free via our websites and social media. Watch this space for further updates regarding the guests and dates.

PROGRAMME (click here for the Festival's brochure)

ROCK TALKS: 19 October - 12 November | RCI London & online
Our headline Interview series of outstanding “rock star” authors. The best and brightest Romanian and British literary brains meet to discuss their work, their countries and those issues close to their hearts.

David Mitchell Meets Andrei Codrescu (19 October, 18.30)
Paul Bailey Meets Marius Chivu (22 October, 18.30)
Fiona Sampson Meets Ana Blandiana (23 October, 18.30)
Ian Rankin Meets Bogdan Teodorescu
(29 October, 18.30)
Deborah Levy Meets Magda Cârneci
(2 November, 18.30)
A.L. Kennedy Meets Ioana Pârvulescu (5 November, 18.30)
Ben Okri Meets Norman Manea
(6 November, 18.30)
Elif Shafak Meets Matei Vișniec (9 November, 18.30)
Philip Boehm Meets Sean Cotter (11 November, 18.30)

POETRY: 27 October, 18.30 | event recorded in Bucharest & Sibiu and streamed online
Let there be Poetry! Live readings with PEN Romania.
With poets Claudiu Komartin, Radu Vancu, Svetlana Cârstean, Andra Rotaru, Radu Nițescu. More details.

WORKSHOPS & SEMINARS: 23 - 28 October | online
      > 23 Oct, 14.00, online: Translating Romania Panel.
The panel celebrates the invaluable work of translators that gave Romanian literature an international voice. With the participation of: Jozefina Komporaly, Diana Manole, Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Gabi Reigh, Andreea Scridon, Adam Sorkin and Lidia Vianu. Hosted by Gabriela Mocan. Supported by the British Centre for Literary Translation, UEA. More details.
      > 26 Oct, 12.00-13.00, online:
Publishing Romania Seminar.
Organised in collaboration with Publishers Without Borders and led by the festival’s Artistic Director Rosie Goldsmith and publishing consultant Emma House, the event looks at the biggest challenges in publishing literature in translation today. With the participation of key publishers from Romania and Britain. Presentation of the TPS & Publishing Romania funding programmes by the National Book Centre in Bucharest.

      > 28 Oct, 15.00, online: The Language of the Romanian Blouse. Architect Ioana Corduneanu, the founder of the ‘Sown Signs’ community, tells the story of Romania’s most emblematic piece of clothing – ‘IA’ (traditional blouse) – translating its language and deciphering the rich symbolism behind the embroideries. British authors are invited to respond with a collective poem. Click here to watch the presentation.

SCREENINGS: 17 October - 8 November | RCI London & online
      > 17 Oct: The Distance Between Me and Me (Distanţa dintre mine şi mine), directed by Mona Nicoară & Dana Bunescu
      > 1 Nov: Soldiers, Story from Ferentari (Soldații. Poveste din Ferentari), directed by Ivana Mladenovic
      > 7 Nov: Moromete Family. On the Edge of Time (Moromeții 2), directed by Stere Gulea
      > 8 Nov: Parking, directed by Tudor Giurgiu
Click here for the full programme and booking details.

SPECIAL EVENTS: 30 October - 10 November | RCI London & online
      > Romanian Voices in the UK. Romanian and Moldovan authors who have made the UK their home and inspiration for many years – Ioana Baetica Morpurgo, Stela Brînzeanu, Vica Demici, Cristina Mureșan, Simona Nastac, Andreea Scridon and Anda Vahnovan – meet to discuss and read from their most recent work. Hosted by Paula Erizanu. (10 November, 18.30, online). More details.
      > British Voices in Romania. Romania-based British authors Arabella McIntyre-Brown (A Stake in Transylvania, From Liverpool to Carpați) and Mike Ormsby (Never Mind the Vampires, Here's Transylvania, Never Mind the Balkans, Here’s Romania) speak about their muses and adoptive home. Hosted by writer and historian Bronwen Riley. (30 October, 16.00, online)
      > When distance becomes air: Two of Romania’s foremost literary figures, poets and authors Ruxandra Cesereanu (Cluj, Romania) and Andrei Codrescu (NY, USA), defy space and time through readings and conversations for lucid dreamers. Hosted by Gabriela Mocan. (3 November, 18.30, online). More details.
      > Book Launch: Women by Mihail Sebastian. Conversation between translator Philip O'Ceallaigh and Camelia Crăciun (University of Bucharest, Jewish Studies Department). Presented together with Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. (6 November, 14.00, online)
      > 1-2-3-4 O’CLOCK ROCK! For the final days of our festival, we plan to rock around the clock with live readings and music. From 1 to 4 o’clock, join us for live sessions with some of Romania’s most soulful and sparkling writers. Watch, listen and wonder! (12 November, 13.00, online). More details.

CHILDREN'S ACTIVITIES: 24-25 October | RCI London & online
      > Drawing and storytelling workshop with Axel Scheffler, based on a story by Florin Bican
      > Storytelling with Simona Antonescu
      > Screenings and workshops: The incredible story of Dumitru Dan, the first man to walk around the world | Crafting Stories. Making your own museum | Drawing Stories. "Vacanța lui Nor"
Click here for the full programme and details.


CLOSING EVENT: 13 November, 18.30 | online
Concert on the Roof (recorded at RCI London): Ionut Ruscior (lead singer Publika) & Guests The Alpacas

With a career spanning 12 years, Publika have earned general acclaim on the Romanian pop-rock scene. Having recently released Falling, their catchiest single ever, the popular trio and their guests The Alpacas are ready to take the world by storm in the closing event of the festival. More details.


The festival is supported by dedicated bookshops selling books from both the Romanian and British authors:
The European Bookshop: Click here for books in English
Cărți Românești: Click here for books in Romanian


Details about the Festival:

The festival is the brainchild of the Romanian Cultural Institute in London, under Festival Director Magda Stroe. It is co-curated by the literary dream team of Rosie Goldsmith, the festival’s Artistic Director, and Gabriela Mocan, the festival’s Creative Producer. Literary Co-ordinator, Brochure & Website: Anna Blasiak. Logo: Cristian Luchian. Translation & Editorial Assistant: Andreea Scridon.

All events are free, filmed by London Video Stories and will be available subsequently on Facebook, YouTube and RCI London & European Literature Network websites.

*ROMANIA ROCKS: This unique literary festival takes its name from Romania’s world-famous living, moving, growing rocks, the stunning geographical phenomenon known as “Trovants”. Hence our distinctive “rocks logo”. Romania’s rocks are also a superb metaphor for its vibrant and original literature and for a festival that aims to address some of the “cornerstone issues” of the day with our Romanian and British authors, from the environment to culture, health to technology, and of course, the transformative power of storytelling. Can literature make sense of today’s traumas and challenges and illuminate our lives?