Last year Edinburgh’s European Literature Night yielded rich pickings in the form of an anthology of Gaelic short stories, translated into German – a book I will be reading very soon as I need to get the German flowing again … more on that soon. In the meantime which discoveries awaited me at this year’s event?

Firstly a new – if somewhat unlikely – location. Bongo’s night club, underneath the arches on Cowgate, more importantly directly beneath Edinburgh Central Library. OK, so maybe not such an unlikely location after all. Secondly, The Itinerant Poetry Library, to be joined, books borrowed and returned on the night. The selection on the table representative of 21 EU countries.

The Itinerant Poetry Library

Thirdly, the stars of the evening ….

from left to right: Kirsty Logan, Anikó Szilágyi, Martin Reiner and Peggy Hughes (moderator)

Kirsty Logan, whose debut collection of short stories, The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales, has just won the Scott Prize and will be published by Salt in November. On the night she read, A Floating House in a Fleeting World, a bittersweet story of a holiday romance in Japan. (Available online here.) She was at some pains to ensure we understood it was not autobiographical.

Anikó Szilágyi’s Hungarian translation of Alice in Wonderland will be published later this year by Evertype Press. When asked to explain why Alice needed another translation, Anikó pointed out – quite passionately – the failings of previous efforts. She concentrated on the poetry and even though there were no Hungarian speakers in the audience, we could still tell exactly what was wrong when she read out the Hungarian version of 2009. As for the 1928 edition in which the tea-drinking Mad Hatter becomes the wine-loving drunken brushmaker – say no more, the lady has a point.

Martin Reiner from the Czech Republic treated us to his short story, Angel of Destruction, in which a young child recounts the day of the Russian invasion. (Available online here.)

The story was published by Two Lines Press, a publishing house to note by those interested in translated fiction. Kirsty Logan’s story was published in the first edition of Ekto, an on-line multi-lingual quarterly.

Books in the limelight where they belong

I made the final discovery for this evening on the book table to the right of the stage. It was an Edinburgh Review entitled, Made in Poland – a fortuitous find, just in time for Polish Literature Month in June. So that came home with me …. then I remembered. I won’t have time to read it. I’m off gallivanting again – to places where German is spoken and that brings me back to where I started this post. I do like circular structures.

EDIT:  Just noticed Polish Literature Month has been moved to October.  All’s well that ends well.