Kikinda Short Story Festival
Peter Hobbs writes in to say:
‘I’m back from the Kikinda Short Story Festival in Serbia and thought you might be interested by a brief report. It’s a fantastic festival for writing from Eastern Europe, with (mostly young) authors from Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Austria and Slovakia. Great Britain was the guest nation this year, and represented by Clare Wigfall (the winner of the National Story Award this year), Paul Ewen (of London Pub Reviews fame) and myself. We read two nights in Belgrade, and then two nights up north in Kikinda (a lovely town justly proud of its mammoth – not only did we get a guided tour of the bones but were also treated to a 3-D movie on the subject).
‘It was a fantastic experience – eye-opening to the range and quality of literature being produced in the region, almost none of which gets translated into English. (All the stories read were translated so that we could follow them). I think we represented our country well – enough for some coverage on national television and an invitation to return next year. Clare was a big hit especially – aside from being introduced as ‘a beautiful English lady, like from the movies’, her stories were greatly admired by all, including the Serbian guests of honour, authors Danilo Nikolić and Nenad Šaponja (the latter is also the leading editor of translated fiction in Serbia).
‘There was real interest in the state of British literature – they’re familiar with Ian McEwan, Martin Amis and Julian Barnes, and were very keen to find out what else was going on. So it was a great opportunity for all of us to catch up with what’s been going on elsewhere in writing.
‘The only downside was that no one was even remotely interested in funding UK involvement in what’s ultimately an important festival for writers and for literature (even the British Council, with their professed interest in ‘regional’ activities). So full credit to organisers Srdjan Papic and the Kikinda National Library for making it happen regardless.’