On December 5 and 6, eight European authors, one translator, one publisher, and three leading American authors and critics gathered at the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York for the 11th annual New Literature from Europe festival. For those anxious about the appeal of foreign literature to American audiences, the packed houses at the ACFNY were hopefully a reassuring sight.
NLE this year featured writing from nine countries: Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, and—for the first time at NLE—Bulgaria. This year’s theme, Crossing Borders: Europe Through the Lens of Time, reflected two aspects of this year’s writing. First was its trans-national character: many of the authors were writing about, or writing in, countries other than their nations of birth. Second was the theme of time—many of the writers dealt with European 20th century history directly, but each of the books featuring the past had a way of reaching into the present and remaining a vital, active force.