“Unique mosaic of European writing” on show at this year’s Literature Night festival

The annual Literature Night (Noc literatury), which has become the largest European literature project of its kind in Czechia since it was introduced to the country 16 years ago, is taking place across 80 venues in the country’s capital and regions this Wednesday evening. There will also be readings in several other cities across Europe, Africa, Asia and the US. The event is chiefly being organised by the country’s network of Czech Centres. I spoke to Adriana Krásová, who is heading the project.

Adriana Krásová | Photo: Carlos Ferrer,  Radio Prague International

“In Prague the Literature Night is being held across 20 venues, because we are cooperating with a network of European cultural institutes and embassies. The readings start at 6pm with two held every hour. The texts are read by well-known actors from Czech theatres. Each of them will read a selected text at a particular venue. The audience can visit several of these readings in their neighbourhood.

“As far as the selection of the books is concerned, we focus on contemporary literature. That means mainly on books that have been published or translated in Czechia within the past two years, so contemporary literature, contemporary perspectives and contemporary ways of seeing the world is what we are highlighting at the Literature Night.”

I understand that for the first time ever you also have readings for the Deaf? How will that work in practice?

“The subtitle of this year’s event is openness and togetherness. Openness for those who are able to participate in the readings but can’t enjoy it to the full, so to say.

“The focus of the whole Literature Night is also on dissident languages with 20 countries taking part. We therefore chose to add one more language, which is the language of the Deaf. At five of the reading venues two of the readings will be interpreted into sign language.

“We are cooperating with the Institute of Deaf Studies at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts, as well with several other relevant organisations. We are supporting the bonds of communication, so there will also be opportunities for those who are not hearing impaired to learn the basics of sign language at mini-workshops, which will take place between some of the readings.”

This year the festival is taking place at the time of the Czech EU presidency. I saw that there will be readings organised by Czech Centres and Embassies across many European capitals. You also have readings in Asia and Africa.

“Yes, Czech Centres across four continents are organising their own Literature Nights, usually with the respective countries where they are located, so it depends on the specific context. Several Czech embassies are involved as well, cooperating with professional organisations and the EU National Institutes for Culture network.

“When it comes, for example, to Czech books that will be read abroad, these are usually books that have recently been translated into the respective country’s language. In some cases, the author is also invited to introduce the book.  It varies from country to country.”

There is also a reading being organised by the Czech Centre in New York. When is that taking place and what exactly will be happening?

Bianca Bellová | Photo: Adam Kebrt,  Czech Radio

“Yes, in New York the event is being called the European Literature Night. It should take place on November 17. It will be held at the Ukrainian Institute and 10 countries are expected to participate.

“Czech literature will be represented by Bianca Bellová, who will also be present at the event.”

This isn’t the first Literature Night that you are taking part in. Why do you think people should go to the event?

“I think that it is a unique mosaic of European writing.

“In the Czech Republic, there is also a synergy in terms of the venues where the Literature Night is being held. We selected them carefully, just as the voices of the actors and the texts.

“It is a good opportunity to learn somethings new, to find out what the authors are thinking about and what their concerns are.”

More information about the event can be found here: www.nocliteratury.cz