Lucy Popescu is a writer, editor and arts critic with a background in literature, theatre and human rights. She worked with the English Centre of PEN, the international association of writers, for over 20 years and was Director of its Writers in Prison Committee from 1991 to 2006. Lucy is currently a volunteer mentor for the creative writing programme of Freedom from Torture and edited its most recent anthology, Body Maps, published in June 2011. The Good Tourist, her book about human rights and ethical travel, was published by Arcadia Books in late 2008. She co-edited the PEN anthology Another Sky (Profile Books, 2007) featuring the work of writers that PEN has helped over the last 40 years. She was Granada’s youngest published author in 1982 with Pony Holiday Book. Lucy reviews books for various publications, including the Independent, Independent on Sunday and TLS. She also has a regular column in The Literary Review about persecuted writers. She is a Trustee of the JMK Award for Theatre Directors and co-director of the Sri Lanka Campaign. She is currently crowdfunding for A Country of Refuge, an anthology of writings about asylum seekers, including contributions from Monica Ali, Sebastian Barry, William Boyd and Marina Lewycka. Visit Unbound Books for more information.
Set in Northumberland during the austere interwar years, and depicting a country on the brink of change, Sue Gee's latest novel could not be more timely. It transports us to a gentler, more innocent time. Despite the hardship faced by many of Gee's characters, they are motivated by a sense of duty and compassion for others.
If you love literary fiction in translation, travelling to different times and other worlds, three must reads for late summer include<em> One Night, Markovitch</em> by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, <em>The End of Days </em>by Jenny Erpenbeck and <em>The Meursault Investigation</em> by Kamel Daoud.
This year we discussed war in world literature today. Sigrid Loffler delivered a lecture entitled 'Narrating the un-narratable inferno' in which she suggested that contemporary German literature shies away from war, preferring 'to retreat into the private sphere, to escape into the realm of the idyllic - to withdraw too readily into the search for private happiness.
As night falls, we are led into a round stony pit. Designer Jon Bausor has created an urban skyline that encircles the audience. We quickly discover that we are in the middle of a live video game. But we are merely observers, unable to predict or change the outcome.
Spanning a decade, <em>Half Of A Yellow Sun</em> opens in 1960 with newsreel footage of Nigerians celebrating Independence from Britain. We are then introduced to and follow the fortunes of Olanna (Thandie Newton) and her twin sister Kainene (Anika Noni Rose), the middle-class, well-educated and headstrong daughters of a wealthy Lagos businessman.
<em>A Country Too Far</em>, co-edited by Rosie Scott and Tom Keneally, is a timely attempt to set the record straight about asylum seekers in Australia, to counter the negative media propaganda and to protest at the government's treatment of them.
In <em>The Assassin from Apricot City,</em> Polish writer Witold Szablowski strikes an excellent balance between hard-hitting journalism, astute political analysis, and humorous observations. His reportage provides a fascinating insight into contemporary Turkey, its strengths and many contradictions.
Before "The Final Solution" around two million Jews were shot and buried in mass graves in Nazi-occupied Poland. The extent of popular anti-Semitism in Poland during World War II continues to be debated today. Both form the backdrop to Hubert Mingarelli's masterful novella.
Ayfer Tunç, an acclaimed novelist and short story writer in her native Turkey, is widely translated abroad but little known in English. In this engaging short story collection, we follow the fortunes of various characters, defeated by circumstances or forces outside their control.
Once again, the festival raised interesting issues and introduced me to an array of contemporary European authors I'm keen to read in English translation. However, I am also reminded that while writers from around the world want to be published in English, our response is poor.
PEN has published a bi-lingual anthology, <em>Write Against Impunity</em>. A mixture of poems, essays and prose, the collection features the work of writers from all over Latin America, including Homero Aridjis, Gioconda Belli, Lydia Cacho, Ariel Dorfman, Carlos Gamerro, Elena Poniatowska and Sergio Ramírez.