Balkan identity to be discussed at the British Library

Balkan Day British Library Istros BooksEminent Balkan authors and commentators will gather at the heart of the British academic establishment to debate issues of identity and creativity in the Southeast European region.

The British Library, home to the nation’s foremost collection of great books and treasured manuscripts, will open its doors to some of the Balkan’s best writers and thinkers for Balkan Day, on Thursday, 13 June.

Organised as part of the Best of the Balkans project by esteemed London-based publisher Istros Books and the British Library, Balkan Day is a celebration of the region’s creativity and identity.

This event, which is partly funded by the Arts Council, England, will promote the Balkan region from the perspective of its literary and cultural achievements, and widen the knowledge of our shared European heritage.

World war and natural disasters

This is especially timely in the centenary year of the start of World War One and as people and governments from across Europe rally to send aid and relief to flood victims in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia.

“By bringing together some of most prominent Balkan writers, as well as British academics and commentators who have a long-standing relationship with the region, we hope to stimulate discussion and interest in the Balkan states,’ said Susan Curtis-Kojakovic, founder of Istros Books, a leading publisher of award-winning literature in translation.

“By highlighting the creativity of the region, we intend to provide a counter-balance to the negative perceptions sometimes promoted in the UK media.”

Distinguished line up of Balkan authors

The programme will feature the following authors: Dubravka Ugrešić (Croatia), Vladislav Bajac (Serbia), Igor Štiks (Bosnia), Andrej Nikolaidis (Bosnia) and Muharem Bazdulj (Bosnia).  Translator Christina Pribicevic Zoric and academic Alex Drace-Francis will also join the panel discussions.

The afternoon will include ‘Balkanisation: the pick of recent Balkan fiction in English’ chaired by well-regarded BBC journalist and presenter Rosie Goldsmith and featuring some of the day’s visiting authors.

Balkan Day will also mark the UK launch of a special Balkan edition of Wasafiri literary magazine, guest edited by the Serbian writer and poet Vesna Goldsworthy. The issue will feature interviews and essays on the state of contemporary Balkan literature, as well as an exclusive new story from Igor Štiks.

Balkan treasures of the British Library

The British Library, a long-time post for major academic research, also houses an international significant collection of important documents, maps and books from the Balkans.

The library’s top ten Balkan items, selected by Milan Grba, Lead Curator of Southeast European Studies at the Library, will also be shared with the audience on Balkan Day.

After a day of discussion panels, the evening (18:30-21:00) promises entertainment in the form of a screening of the feel-good movie The World is Big and Salvation Lurks around the Corner, based on the best-selling Bulgarian novel by Ilija Trojanow.

Balkan Day : Friday 13th June 2014 (discussions 10.30-17.30 / screening 18:30-21:00)
– Conference Centre, Eliot Room, British Library, London, NW1 2DB
– Free admission, booking essential: Book here

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