"In the deeps are the violence and terror of which psychology has warned us. But if you ride these monsters deeper down, if you drop with them farther over the world's rim, you find what our sciences cannot locate or name, the substrate, the ocean or matrix or ether which buoys the rest, which gives goodness its power for good, and evil its power for evil, the unified field: our complex and inexplicable caring for each other." – Annie Dillard, "Teaching a Stone to Talk."

We are thrilled to share the news about Readings from the Heart of Europe, a group initiated by various scholars from the University of Washington and representatives from the local Central and Eastern European community, including ARCS. Our first meeting was on May 18, 2019 when we discussed the master work of a Romanian Jewish author, Max Blecher. 

Please fill out this form if you would like to join our book club via ZOOM: 

You can read our blog here

WHAT?

Conceived of by a Seattle-based group of avid readers deeply convinced of the value that literature – storytelling – can bring to our lives, Readings from the Heart of Europe proposes to focus on texts of the highest quality, even if they are not (yet) widely recognized as such in our overwhelmingly Anglo-American-centered society.  Each month’s text will be available in a published English translation. The texts featured in Readings from the Heart of Europe are drawn from the among the greatest 20th and 21st-century masterpieces of Austria, Belarus, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine.  
 
WHY?

In a world of ever-proliferating, ever-accelerating, artificially driven mass distraction, individuals are at heightened risk of losing their center. 
Reading from the Heart of Europe invites you to join other adventuresome readers in an ongoing series of monthly readings and discussions in which we propose to explore great works of imaginative literature whose unifying purpose is to strengthen that center.  As revitalizing as a strenuous workout, more outwardly directed than meditation, and as deeply satisfying as a reunion with a wise and benevolent old friend, encounters with these exceptional books can change and shape lives. 
 
These books and their writers present few illusions.  Throughout the 20th century their societies endured the catastrophic consequences of ideologies of the right and the left, emanating from West and East – whether of ethnic and national tribalism or egalitarianism at gunpoint.  Now, in the 21st century, new and resurgent economic and religious dogmas add new layers of rigidity and polarization for the uncertain to cling to.  What better guides to consult now than the testimonies of some of the world’s most exceptional writers, whose lived experience has given them immunity to ideologies of any stripe, and whose work explores the spectrum of human experience with striking immediacy. 
 
WHEN?

As the pandemics takes over our social lives, we will find inspiration and build new friendships online. We will meet on zoom generally on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings. 

Past events

The Land of Green Plums, by Herta Müller

The Land of Green Plums, by Herta Müller

When

Feb. 8, 2020 at 04:00 PM - 08 Feb. 2020 at 06:00 PM

Where

ZOOM

What

You are cordially invited to join us for our second meeting of the new year, on February 8! We will read The Land of Green Plums, by Nobel laureate Herta Müller, a Romanian-born German novelist, poet, essayist and recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature.

You can find the book on Amazon or at your local store: https://www.amazon.com/Land-Green-Plums-Novel/

The Physics of Sorrow, by Georgi Gospodinov

The Physics of Sorrow, by Georgi Gospodinov

When

June 28, 2020 at 11:00 AM - 28 Jun. 2020 at 01:00 PM

Where

ZOOM

What

Join us for an engaging discussion of Georgi Gospodinov's The Physics of Sorrow. We are thrilled to have his translator Angela Rodel as a special guest.

You can get the e-book direct from the publisher. 

Here is a praiseful New Yorker review of the book. 

Fox, by Dubravka Ugrešić

Fox, by Dubravka Ugrešić

Instructor

Ellen Elias-Bursać

When

July 26, 2020 at 11:00 AM - 26 Jul. 2020 at 01:00 PM

Where

ZOOM

What

On July 26, at 11 a.m.PDT we’ll share our impressions of Fox, by Dubravka Ugrešić, and joined by the book translator Ellen Elias-Bursać.

This book is available as an e-book from the publisher directly (Open Letter) https://www.openletterbooks.org/collections/dubravka-ugresic/products/fox

Or from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Fox-Dubravka-Ugresic/dp/1940953766/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Ugresic+fox&qid=1593737396&sr=8-1

Blinding/Orbitor

Blinding/Orbitor

When

Aug. 30, 2020 at 11:00 AM - 30 Aug. 2020 at 01:00 PM

Where

ZOOM

What

On August 30, at 11 a.m.PDT we’ll share our impressions of Blinding, by Mircea Cărtărescu, and joined by the book translator Sean Cotter.

Sean Cotter's translation of Cărtărescu's Blinding was a finalist for The Best Translated Book Award in 2014. 

https://messybooker.wordpress.com/2014/04/23/blinding-mircea-cartarescu-translated-by-sean-cotter-best-translated-book-award-2014/

The book is available as an e-book from the publisher directly:
https://archipelagobooks.org/book/blinding-book-one/

Or from Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Blinding-Mircea-Cartarescu/dp/193574484

When

Sept. 27, 2020 at 11:00 AM - 27 Sep. 2020 at 01:00 PM

Where

ZOOM

What

Mark your calendars and plan to join us for an engaging discussion on Lojze Kovačič’ s Newcomers: Book Two, with our special guest, translator Michael Biggins.

You can get the book in different formats from Archipelago Books: https://archipelagobooks.org/book/newcomers-book-two/

Or from Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Newcomers-Book-Two-Lojze-Kovacic/dp/193981040X/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=Michael+Biggins&qid=1597011540&s=books&sr=1-8

"In this second part of the famous Slovenian writer’s autobiographical novel, the narrator details the dangers and humiliations of his boyhood living in occupied Slovenia in the Second World War. The second part of Lojze Kovačič’s autobiographical novel, considered by some to be the most important Slovenian novel of the 20th century, describes his half-German family’s life in Ljubljana during the Second World War. The young protagonist Bubi is a perpetual outsider – exiled from Switzerland in 1938, his family returns home to Ljubljana, where their half-German background makes them stick out in local society. Reeling from the loss of his home in Switzerland, and surrounded by a language he can’t quite master, Bubi confronts the challenges and humiliations of growing up in a strange environment. Narrated with uncanny naïveté, the novel flits between memories of tenderness and shocking violence as Bubi navigates friendship, family, and his burgeoning sexuality in a land under hostile occupation." (Archipelago Books)
 

Memoirs of an Anti-Semite, by Gregor Rezorri

Memoirs of an Anti-Semite, by Gregor Rezorri

Instructors

When

Oct. 25, 2020 at 04:30 PM - 25 Oct. 2020 at 06:00 PM

Where

online

What

Join us for our October reading of Gregor Rezorri's book Memoirs of an Anti-Semite. 

Register for the event here

Translated by Joachim Neugroschel and the author

You can find the book here

Gregor von Rezzori (1914--1998) studied at the University of Vienna and for a time lived in Bucharest. In Germany, after World War II, he became active as a writer and in radio broadcasting and filmmaking activities. American readers first discovered is writing in English with the appearance of his story, "Troth," in The New Yorker. Mr. Rezzori's books include Tales from Maghrebinia, Oedipus Triumphs at Stalingrad, The Hussar, The Snows of Yesteryear, The Death of My Brother Abel, and Anecdotage. He lived with his wife in a village near Florence, Italy until his death.

"The elusive narrator of this beautifully written, complex, and powerfully disconcerting novel is the scion of a decayed aristocratic family from the farther reaches of the defunct Austro-Hungarian Empire. In five psychologically fraught episodes, he revisits his past, from adolescence to middle age, a period that coincides with the twentieth-century’s ugliest years. Central to each episode is what might be called the narrator’s Jewish Question. He is no Nazi. To the contrary, he is apolitical, accommodating, cosmopolitan. He has Jewish friends and Jewish lovers, and their Jewishness is a matter of abiding fascination to him. His deepest and most defining relationship may even be the strange dance of attraction and repulsion that throughout his life he has conducted with this forbidden, desired, inescapable, imaginary Jewish other. And yet it is just his relationship that has blinded him to–and makes him complicit in–the terrible realities his era."

"Lyrical, witty, satirical, and unblinking, Gregor von Rezzori’s most controversial work is an intimate foray into the emotional underworld of modern European history." -  amazon.com 

Dreams and Stones, by Magdalena Tulli with translator Bill Johnston

Dreams and Stones, by Magdalena Tulli with translator Bill Johnston

When

Nov. 29, 2020 at 11:00 AM - 29 Nov. 2020 at 01:00 PM

Where

online

What

Join us for another engaging discussion of Eastern and Central European literature! We will talk about Magdalena Tulli's book "Dreams and Stones" with our special guest, translator Bill Johnston. 

About the book:
"Dreams and Stones is a small masterpiece, one of the most extraordinary works of literature to come out of Central and Eastern Europe since the fall of communism. In sculpted, poetic prose reminiscent of Bruno Schulz, it tells the story of the emergence of a great city. In Tulli’s hands myth, metaphor, history, and narrative are combined to magical effect. Dreams and Stones is about the growth of a city, and also about all cities; at the same time it is not about cities at all, but about how worlds are created, trans- formed, and lost through words alone. A stunning debut by one of Europe’s finest new writers." (goodreads)

About the translator:
https://archipelagobooks.org/book_translator/johnston-bill/

Register here to receive a zoom invite. 

You can find the book here

OR on Amazon. 

 

Bohumil Hrabal (Czech): Mr Kafka and Other Tales from the Time of the Cult; and All My Cats

Bohumil Hrabal (Czech): Mr Kafka and Other Tales from the Time of the Cult; and All My Cats

When

Jan. 31, 2021 at 04:30 PM - 31 Jan. 2021 at 06:00 PM

Where

online

What

Join us for our first reading in 2021 on January 31. We will read two books by the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal: Mr Kafka and Other Tales from the Time of the Cult; and All My Cats

Paul Wilson, the translator of these two books will join us for the discussion.

Both books can be fond on Amazon

Sweet Darusya by Maria Matios

Sweet Darusya by Maria Matios

When

Feb. 28, 2021 at 04:30 PM - 28 Feb. 2021 at 06:00 PM

Where

online

What

Join us for our February reading, "Sweet Darusya, A Tale of Two Villages", by Maria Matios from Ukraine, with special guests, co-translators Michael M. Naydan and Olha Tytarenko.

Get the book on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Darusya-Tale.../dp/1947980939

Once you register by filling out this form - you will receive a zoom link that will allow you access to all our meetings:
https://forms.gle/oJgxYmbFkpQoF9aa8

About the novel:

"Matios’s novel Sweet Darusya, initially published in Ukraine in 2003, has been read, studied, researched, and written about worldwide—mostly in academic circles. The question remains, however, why it took over a decade for its English translation to appear. In my opinion, not only the complexity of the text made it a daunting task for a skilled translator to undertake but also the challenge of communicating in another language a deeply seeded trauma of Ukraine and its people, masterfully portrayed by Matios." Natalia Cousineau, World Literature Today

About our special guests:

Michael Naydan

He is Woskob Family Professor of Ukrainian Studies at The Pennsylvania State University and works primarily in the fields of Ukrainian and Russian literature and literary translation. He received his BA and MA degrees from The American University and his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He has published over 50 articles on literary topics and more than 80 translations in journals and anthologies. Of his more than 40 books of published and edited translations, some of his most recent include Nikolai Gumilev’s Africa (Glagoslav Publishers, 2018); Yuri Andrukhovych’s cultural and literary essays, My Final Territory: Selected Essays (University of Toronto Press, 2018); and Abram Terz’s literary essays, Strolls with Pushkin and Journey to the River Black (Columbia University Press, 2016). In 2017 he published his literary essays in Ukrainian translation in the volume, From Gogol to Andrukhovych: Selected Literary Essays (Piramida Publishers). He has also published a novel about the city of Lviv Seven Signs of the Lion (Glagoslav Publishers, 2016), which also appeared in 2017 in Marianna Prokopovych’s Ukrainian translation under the title Sim znakiv leva (Piramida Publishers). He has received numerous prizes for his translations including the George S.N. Luckyj Award in Ukrainian Literature Translation from the Canadian Foundation for Ukrainian Studies in 2013.

Olha Tytarenko
She received her BA and MA in English from Ivan Franko National University in Lviv, Ukraine, her MA from The Pennsylvania State University, and her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto with a specialty in Russian literature. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Practice of Russian at the University of Nebraska. With Michael Naydan she has co-translated Iren Rozdobudko’s novel The Lost Button (Glagoslav Publishers), Abram Terz’s Strolls with Pushkin and Journey to the River Black (Columbia University Press), Maria Matios’ novel Sweet Darusya: A Tale of Two Villages, and Yuri Vynnychuk’s novel Tango of Death (the latter two with Spuyten Duyvil).

S.: A Novel about the Balkans, by Slavenka Drakulić

S.: A Novel about the Balkans, by Slavenka Drakulić

When

March 28, 2021 at 04:30 PM - 28 Mar. 2021 at 06:00 PM

Where

online

What

Join us for our March reading, Slavenka Drakulić's "S.: A Novel about the Balkans".

Once you register by filling out this form - you will receive a zoom link that will allow you access to all our meetings:
https://forms.gle/oJgxYmbFkpQoF9aa8

Where you can get the book:
https://www.amazon.com/S-Slavenka-Drakulic/dp/0670890979

"S. may very well be one of the strongest books about war you will ever read. . . The writing is taut, precise, and masterful." —The Philadelphia Enquirer

About the novel:
"Set in 1992, during the height of the Bosnian war, S. reveals one of the most horrifying aspects of any war: the rape and torture of civilian women by occupying forces. S. is the story of a Bosnian woman in exile who has just given birth to an unwanted child—one without a country, a name, a father, or a language. Its birth only reminds her of an even more grueling experience: being repeatedly raped by Serbian soldiers in the "women's room" of a prison camp. Through a series of flashbacks, S. relives the unspeakable crimes she has endured, and in telling her story—timely, strangely compelling, and ultimately about survival—depicts the darkest side of human nature during wartime. "S. may very well be one of the strongest books about war you will ever read. . . .The writing is taut, precise, and masterful." (Goodreads)

Chronicle in Stone, by Ismail Kadare

Chronicle in Stone, by Ismail Kadare

When

April 25, 2021 at 04:30 PM - 25 Apr. 2021 at 06:00 PM

Where

online

What

Join us for our April reading, Chronicle in Stone, by Ismail Kadare from Albania.

Once you register by filling out this form - you will receive a zoom link that will allow you access to all our meetings:

You can get the book HERE

About the novel:

"Masterful in its simplicity, Chronicle in Stone is a touching coming-of-age story and a testament to the perseverance of the human spirit. Surrounded by the magic of beautiful women and literature, a boy must endure the deprivations of war as he suffers the hardships of growing up. His sleepy country has just thrown off centuries of tyranny, but new waves of domination inundate his city. Through the boy’s eyes, we see the terrors of World War II as he witnesses fascist invasions, allied bombings, partisan infighting, and the many faces of human cruelty—as well as the simple pleasures of life.

Evacuating to the countryside, he expects to find an ideal world full of extraordinary things, but discovers instead an archaic backwater where a severed arm becomes a talisman and deflowered girls mysteriously vanish. Woven between the chapters of the boy’s story are tantalizing fragments of the city’s history. As the devastation mounts, the fragments lose coherence, and we perceive firsthand how the violence of war destroys more than just buildings and bridges." (Amazon)

Read more about the author at this link
 

"A Spare Life": A Conversation with Author Lidija Dimkovska & Translator Christina E. Kramer

"A Spare Life": A Conversation with Author Lidija Dimkovska & Translator Christina E. Kramer

When

June 27, 2021 at 10:00 AM - 27 Jun. 2021 at 12:00 PM

What

Our next discussion will feature the novel "A Spare Life" by the Macedonian writer Lidija Dimkovska (published in Macedonian 2012; in English 2016). We are very pleased to announce that the author, Dimkovska, and the novel's translator, Christina E. Kramer, will attend as special guests.

You can purchase "A Spare Life" on Amazon

Please note the time for this two-hour online event:
10am-12pm- Pacific Time Zone
7:00pm-9:00pm- if you're logging in from a Central European Time Zone.

Once you register HERE by filling out this form you will receive a zoom link that will allow you access to all our meetings:

About the author:

Poet, novelist, and translator Lidija Dimkovska was born in 1971 in Skopje, Macedonia and lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia. In her native language she has published six books of poetry, three novels, and one American diary, and has edited three anthologies. Her books have been translated in more than fifteen languages. She has participated in numerous international literary festivals and has been a writer-in-residence in London, Berlin, Vienna, Graz, Salzburg, Krems, Tirana, and Split. Since 2017 she has been president of the jury for Slovenia’s Vilenica International Literary Prize. The American Poetry Review featured her work in a special supplement in 2003. In 2005 she attended the International Writing Program in Iowa, and Ugly Duckling Press published her first collection of poetry in English, Do Not Awaken Them with Hammers, in 2006. in 2012 Copper Canyon Press published her second book of poetry pH Neutral History, which was shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award, and in 2016 Two Lines Press published her novel A Spare Life, longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award. Dimkovska’s translator, Christina E. Kramer, has received a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship for her third novel, Grandma Non-Oui.

About the translator:

Christina E. Kramer is a professor emerita at the University of Toronto, Canada. She has published numerous articles relating to Balkan linguistics and Macedonian grammar (Univ. of Wisconsin Press). She has translated a number of novels, including A Spare Life by Lidija Dimkovska, Freud's Sister by Goce Smilevski, and three novels by Luan Starova My Father's Books, The Time of the Goats and The Path of the Eels. Her translation of Fear of Barbarians, by Petar Andonovski, will be published in August 2021.

Guests

Bill Johnston

Bill Johnston is Professor of Comparative Literature at Indiana University. His translations include Witold Gombrowicz’s Bacacay; Magdalena Tulli’s Dreams and StonesMoving PartsFlaw, and In Red; Jerzy Pilch’s His Current Woman and The Mighty Angel; Stefan Żeromski’s The Faithful River; and Fado and Dukla by Andrzej Stasiuk. In 1999 he received a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship for Translation. In 2008 he won the inaugural Found in Translation Award for Tadeusz Rozewicz’s new poems, and in 2012 he was awarded the PEN Translation Prize and Three Percent’s Best Translated Book Award for Myśliwski's Stone Upon Stone.

Sean Cotter

Sean Cotter’s translations from the Romanian include Nichita Stănescu's Wheel with a Single Spoke and Other Poems (recipient of the 2012 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry), Liliana Ursu’s Lightwall and Nichita Danilov’s Secondhand Souls. His essays, articles, and translations have appeared in Conjunctions, Two Lines, and Translation Review. He is Associate Professor of Literature and Literary Translation at the University of Texas at Dallas, Center for Translation Studies.

Michael Biggins

Michael Biggins is the UW’s Slavic, Baltic and East European studies librarian, and is tasked with supporting the information needs of faculty and students in the REECAS program.  He teaches courses in Slovene language and literature, is a widely published translator of Slovene literature into English, and writes on topics in Slovene literary history and criticism.

Ellen Elias-Bursać

Ellen Elias-Bursac has translated Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian writing by David Albahari, Svetlana Broz, Slavenka Drakulic, Slobodan Selenic, Antun Soljan, and Dubravka Ugresic. She received the 2006 National Translation Award for Albahari’s novel Götz and Meyer. She taught Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian for ten years in the Harvard Slavic Department. (Photo credit: TriQuarterly)

 

Angela Rodel

Angela Rodel is a professional literary translator living and working in Bulgaria. She holds a B.A. from Yale and an M.A. from UCLA in linguistics. She received a 2014 NEA translation grant for Georgi Gospodinov’s novel The Physics of Sorrow (Open Letter 2015), as well as a 2010 PEN Translation Fund Grant for Georgi Tenev’s short story collection Holy Light – the first time a Bulgarian-language work has received either award. Her translation of Physics of Sorrowwon the National Book Center’s 2015 Peroto Prize for best translation from Bulgarian, the 2016 AATSEEL Prize for Best Book of Literary Translation, and was nominated for the three most prestigious translation awards in the US: finalist for the 2016 PEN Translation Prize, the 2016 National Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association, and Three Percent’s Best Translated Book Award for 2016.
Angela’s translations of Milen Ruskov’s novel Thrown into Nature (2011), Zachary Karabashliev’s 18% Gray (2013) and Angel Igov’s A Short Tale of Shame (2013) and Georgi Tenev’s Party Headquarters (2015) have been published by Open Letter Books thanks to support from the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation. The UK publishing house Istros Books published her translation of Virginia Zaharieva’s novel Nine Rabbits in 2012, which was rereleased by Black Balloon in the US in 2014. Her translation of the classic Bulgarian novel The Wolf Hunt by Ivaylo Petrov will be published in spring 2017 by Archipelago Books. Her translation of Ivan Dimitrov’s play, The Eyes of Others, was performed at the Ohio Theater in New York City in September 2012. Her poetry and prose translations have also appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including McSweeney’sLittle StarPloughshares, Granta.org, Two Lines, and Words Without Borders, among others. In 2014, she was awarded Bulgarian citizenship for her translation work and contribution to Bulgarian culture.

Christina Kramer

Christina E. Kramer is a professor emerita at the University of Toronto, Canada. She has published numerous articles relating to Balkan linguistics and Macedonian grammar (Univ. of Wisconsin Press). She has translated a number of novels, including A Spare Life by Lidija Dimkovska, Freud's Sister by Goce Smilevski, and three novels by Luan Starova My Father's Books, The Time of the Goats and The Path of the Eels. Her translation of Fear of Barbarians, by Petar Andonovski, will be published in August 2021. 

Lidija Dimkovska

Poet, novelist, and translator Lidija Dimkovska was born in 1971 in Skopje, Macedonia and lives in Ljubljana, Slovenia. In her native language she has published six books of poetry, three novels, and one American diary, and has edited three anthologies. Her books have been translated in more than fifteen languages. She has participated in numerous international literary festivals and has been a writer-in-residence in London, Berlin, Vienna, Graz, Salzburg, Krems, Tirana, and Split. Since 2017 she has been president of the jury for Slovenia’s Vilenica International Literary Prize. The American Poetry Review featured her work in a special supplement in 2003. In 2005 she attended the International Writing Program in Iowa, and Ugly Duckling Press published her first collection of poetry in English, Do Not Awaken Them with Hammers, in 2006. in 2012 Copper Canyon Press published her second book of poetry pH Neutral History, which was shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award, and in 2016 Two Lines Press published her novel A Spare Life, longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award. Dimkovska’s translator, Christina E. Kramer, has received a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship for her third novel, Grandma Non-Oui.