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Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk to visit Sofia

The Polish writer will be the guest of honour at the Literary Encounters events

Olga Tokarczuk
Photo: Reading Sofia Foundation

Eight years after her first visit to Bulgaria and one Nobel Prize for Literature later, the great Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk is coming to Sofia again. She will be the guest of honour at the first Literary Encounters in Bulgaria - a new format of a series of events organized by the Reading Sofia Foundation.

"The "encounters" will have editions in June, November and April and each will have a different focus and format. The special guest will always come in June and that is why we have chosen to start right now", explains Todora Radeva, Programme Director of the Foundation, to Radio Bulgaria.

"The first edition of Literary Encounters will take place on June 10 and 11 in "Toplocentrala" - the new space for contemporary arts in the capital.

On June 10 our special guest Olga Tokarchuk will receive the honorary title of Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of St. Climent Ohridski. Later at 7 pm is her meeting with the writer Georgi Gospodinov, which will be open to the public.

On the second day we have prepared a seven-hour-long literary collage of various events in all the spaces of "Toplocentrala". Among them are a discussion with Olga Tokarczuk and a tailor-made performance by director Mariy Rosen based on the writer's texts from her book Tales of the Bizarre.

There will be a special translation space in which we pay honor to all translators and publishers of Olga Tokarczuk to date. We have also prepared an interesting game in which people will try to give their own interpretation of Tokarczuk's neologisms, no matter whether they know Polish or not.

There will be literary readings and two exhibitions. One is of covers and illustrations based on Olga Tokarchuk's books. The other is Maria Nalbantova's project Book Separators, for which the artist uses things forgotten in libraries. Maria has already realised her idea in Salzburg and New York, and now she will show what she has found in Bulgarian libraries," says Todora Radeva, adding that visitors will enjoy all kinds of encounters with literature. The most important of which, of course, is with the participation of the Polish author. Olga Tokarczuk is among the most influential names in world literature, and in addition to winning the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature, she is also a winner of the International Man Booker Award and a two-time winner of Poland's prestigious Nike Literary Award.

"I have to admit that she is one of my favourite authors and I have always wanted to invite her to Sofia. Luckily for us she knows the Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov very well. Last summer he was invited to her festival in Poland and personally handed her our invitation. So we can say that he is the reason she is here", says Todora with a smile.

Last year, Gospodinov’s novel The Physics of Sorrow was added to the course list for Modern World Literature at the University of Warsaw. And despite Georgi Gospodinov's successes and talent, Radeva notes with regret that there are still no lasting state policies to promote Bulgarian literature in the western countries. For this reason, it is important to hold more events such as "Literary Encounters" to bridge across cultures.

Interpretation is provided for most of the events on 10 and 11 June at the "Toplocentrala". Filmed videos will be uploaded to the Foundation's channel, and Georgi Gospodinov's conversation with Olga Tokarchuk will be subtitled in English, Radeva says. She notes that they are also currently working on the translation into English and German of the poetry anthology Hidden Letters, which they recently published as part of a project of the same name to place benches in the shape of Cyrillic letters around Sofia.

Editor: Darina Grigorova

English version: Elizabeth Radkova

Photos: Reading Sofia Foundation

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