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European Literature Days celebrate women

Update: May, 24/2014 - 08:31
Speaking out: Authors join a discussion to represent female voices in European contemporary literature and express their respect for feminism and women's role in modern society. — VNS Photo Le Huong
HA NOI (VNS)  — Supporting the evolving ambitions of women is an important goal for all societies, Polish writer Magdalena Witkiewicz said at a seminar held yesterday in Ha Noi.

Vietnamese and European authors joined the discussion to represent female voices in European contemporary literature and expressed the respect for feminism and women's role in the modern society.

Together with Witkiewicz, French literature specialist Le Hong Sam, French-Vietnamese novelist Nuage Rose, German writer Katharina Hagena and the UK-based poet Aoife Mannix delivered the speeches at the event.

Sam has translated works by many major female French authors to Vietnamese. Rose is the author of Trois Nuage au pays des nenuphars (Three Clouds in the Country of Water Lilies), published in Paris. Poet Mannix demonstrates the versatility of literary modes and has become an instantly recognisable voice on the UK live literature scene. Her latest poetry collection is Cocktails from the Ceiling (2013). Well-known German author Hagena wrote Der Geschmack von Apfelkernen (The Taste of Apple Seed), which was translated into 25 languages and adapted into a film in 2013.

In her novels, Witkiewicz mentions the most important problems faced by modern women. In 2013, she had published four best-sellers.

"While people dignify feminism and women's rights, more and more women tend to become independent and strong," Witkiewicz noted.

"A woman has to learn to live and solve the problems with her partner," she stated.

Witkiewicz noted that she had argued with her husband when he opposed her decision to go to Viet Nam. Then they reached an agreement that Witkiewicz will take a 10-day trip and her husband will take care of their children.

"I love my family and observe my husband, but I also love travelling and my work," she said, "a woman can look after the children, so does her husband. I require an equality in this case."

The speakers analysed works by prominent female authors in the twentieth century, namely Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, Marguerite Yourcenar and Marguerite Duras, whose well-known books have been translated into Vietnamese. They pointed out how these authors have influenced European literature and reflected women's inner lives and troubles.

These authors will exchange with Vietnamese readers and introduce their books, which have been translated into Vietnamese.

The workshop is a part of the fourth European Literature Days, organised by the Cultural Institutes Association and European embassies, inaugurated on Thursday at the Goethe Institute, Ha Noi.

The event introduces some literary books translated into Vietnamese from France, Germany, Great Britain, Poland and Sweden together with children's books translated from Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Italy.

This year, books by and about women reflecting their roles in society are in focus, stated Almuth Meyer Zollitsch, chairwoman of the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC).

That is the reason why all the invited authors from Europe are female, she added.

For the first time, there will also be film screenings in the programme of the European Literature Days. The Goethe Institute will present two films based on very successful books: The Taste of Apple Seeds based on Hagena's novel about three generations of women in a family, their fates and secrets, and Rubinrot (Ruby), the all-age fantasy book by Kerstin Gier with lots of romance and exciting action across several centuries and continents.

"Will people risk their lives to rescue books threatened by bombs and devastation?"

"You will have an answer to that in the award-winning documentary The Love of Books: A Sarajevo Story based on the dramatic evacuation of the famous library of Sarajevo during the Balkan war," noted Zollitsch.

For young readers, European countries will present fairy tales of Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, beloved series titled Jip and Janneke from the Netherlands and two books of Italian authors.

The audience will also have the opportunity to meet Christoph Links, a German publisher and former CEO of the Frankfurt Book Fair, listen to talks about market and book marketing.

The event will last until tomorrow. A wide range of activities will take place at the Goethe Institute (56-58 Nguyen Thai Hoc), L'espace (24 Trang Tien) and Casa Italia (18 Le Phung Hieu Street). — VNS

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