European Writers' Festival: Weekend

British Library, London.

European Writers’ Festival - Weekend

Saturday - Sunday 18 – 19 May 2024
Saturday 11:00 – 18:30
Sunday 12:00 – 17:30
British Library Pigott Theatre

Thirty writers, each representing one European country or territory, come together at the British Library for a full weekend celebration of the best European writing today. Explore the line up and programme below. 

Ticket type Cost (face value)? Quantity
ADMISSION £20.00 (£20.00)
MEMBER £10.00 (£10.00)
CONCESSION £10.00 (£10.00)
*Concession includes students/18-25/registered unemployed
DISABLED £10.00 (£10.00)
DISABLED CARER £0.00 (£0.00)
SENIOR 60+ £17.00 (£17.00)

More information about European Writers' Festival: Weekend tickets

This is an in-person only event in the British Library Pigott Theatre.  

Thirty leading and emerging writers respond to this year’s theme of Transformation, because change and its challenges are all around us. As we in Europe are again shaken to the core by war and division, the European Writers’ Festival hopes to demonstrate that community, debate, entertainment and storytelling can unite us in creating hope and positive transformation.  

Transformation denotes change in our lives or circumstances. It can be extreme or negative, or create magic or joy. All our festival writers have confronted change, maybe in the languages they use, or in the country they call home, sometimes driven out by conflict, or by attacks on their rights. For some, they may have changed the discipline or genre they work in. For others, their motivation may be love, or fun, or simply a desire to travel.  

The European Writers’ Festival provides a platform for writers to discuss, and read from, their latest work in English translation, and together show what transformation means to them. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet a whole host of great European writers all in one place and all over one weekend. 

Book Weekend tickets here. Tickets may be booked for the full two days, or for either Saturday or Sunday. 

Half price tickets available for students, under 26s and other concession groups. 

Organised in partnership with the European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC) London and the European Literature Network, and with the support of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Kingdom



10:30 British Library Knowledge Centre doors open

11:00 – 12:15

Panel 1 - Europe Transformed
An inter-generational panel of great storytellers from north, south, east and west kicks off the festival by discussing how Europe and storytelling have changed since the first post-Cold War generation up to today.
With Milena Michiko Flašar (Austria), Jógvan Isaksen (Faroes), Nora Ikstena (Latvia) and Elisa Victoria (Spain).
Chair: Rosie Goldsmith

2:45 – 14:00
Panel 2 - Changing Gears
Very few of our festival authors work and write in one genre, so does genre matter? Can you be good at everything? Meet the former bank manager who writes fiction, the philosopher writing on law, the academic-broadcaster and the musician-poet; among the many authors who switch jobs and genres, proving that changing gears only boosts creativity.
With Laurent De Sutter (Belgium Wbi), Kristiina Ehin (Estonia), Emma Dabiri (Ireland) and Selçuk Altun (Turkey).
Chair: Toby Lichtig
In partnership with The Times Literary Supplement.

14:30 – 15.45
Panel 3 - Transformation Through Translation
How has the art of translation – and attitudes to translation - changed in europe? Does the plethora of grants and prizes help? All our festival writers are translated, several lead double lives as translators. What does that mean for their own writing? And how do they judge the status of translation across europe and the uk?
With Joanna Elmy (Bulgaria), Jordi Larios (Catalonia), Simone Atangana Bekono (Netherlands) and Ioana Pârvulescu (Romania).
Chair: Will Forrester
In Partnership With English PEN

16:15 – 17:30
Panel 4 - Change and Conflict
Our festival writers come from all over the world.  What is the impact of war, conflict and displacement on how they live, think and write? How does conflict and geography influence their sense of belonging and identity? Can they ever forget trauma and loss or is the shadow of war and conflict always present, always part of their creative process?
With Pajtim Statovci (Finland), Igiaba Scego (Italy) and Iryna Shuvalova (Ukraine).
Chair: Uta Staiger
(In partnership with University College London)

18:00 – 18:45
Special guest Andrey Kurkov
In conversation with Luke Harding
Prize-winning Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov is also a prominent commentator and journalist. Since Russia’s full-scale invasion he has travelled the world campaigning to raise support for Ukraine. He has also continued to write, and his several fine books of reportage, including Our Daily War (pub. July 2024), sit alongside his witty novels, and the first in a series of historical crime novels, The Silver Bone: The Kyiv Mysteries, out now. He discusses writing and war with the Guardian’s senior international correspondent and author of Invasion, Luke Harding.
in partnership with Guardian Europe.


11:30 British Library Knowledge Centre doors open

12:00 – 13:15
Panel 1 - Transforming Historical Narratives
Writing about history is central to European literature but how we write about it, and who writes it, has changed. When your personal history is embedded in historic change how does that shape your narrative? Who are the writers taking over from the great men of history, to tell its stories in daring new ways?
With Anne Berest (France), Christos Chomendis (Greece), Tomas Vaiseta (Lithuania) and Margo Rejmer (Poland).
Chair: Tim Beasley-Murray
in partnership with University College London.

13:30 – 14:45
Panel 2 – Breaking Boundaries
The originality, courage to experiment and boundary-breaking of so many of our festival writers are transforming European poetry and prose. They delight and stimulate readers, and will perhaps stimulate some change in writing in the UK. Our writers take on other worlds and literary traditions, from folk to fantasy, magical realism to sci-fi.
With Michal Ajvaz (Czech Republic), Alycia Pirmohamed (Scotland) and Sebastijan Pregelj (Slovenia).
Chair: Rebecca Jones

15:00 – 16.15
Panel 3 - Europe on the Move
How travel, journeys, migration and movement make their way onto the page. Europe is on the move again, by choice or by force or necessity: what kind of journeys are writers taking and how do they write about them? And after the pandemic, after Brexit, travel-writing itself is undergoing a revival in new and exciting ways.
With Kristian Bang Foss (Denmark), Andrea Tompa (Hungary), Afonso Cruz (Portugal) and Zuska Kepplova (Slovakia).
Chair: Tharik Hussain

16:30 – 17:30
Panel 4 - The New Europeans of the Future
European writers are increasingly multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary and multi-lingual but how can we embrace this transformation and the wonderful opportunities these changes promise for the future? Several festival authors write in the ‘new’ languages of their new homes: how does that impact their craft, their identity and how they feel about home, nationhood and Europe?
With Dean Atta (Cyprus), Sasha Salzmann (Germany), Larisa Faber (Luxembourg) and Tone Schunnesson (Sweden).
Chair: Bee Rowlatt

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