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Romanian Surrealist Gellu Naum – Centenary Celebrations, reviewed by Camelia Ciobanu

It’s one hundred years since the birth of Gellu Naum, Romania’s greatest Surrealist poet. Two recent London events notably marked this centenary: N(aum), a play brought from the Romanian stage to the Leicester Square Theatre, and Gellu Naum: The Incendiary Wanderer, an evening of readings and discussions at the Romanian Cultural Institute. Gellu Naum, born in…

Camelia Ciobanu | 05/11/2015
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‘Mission Balkans!’ Istros Books at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute, reviewed by Julia Secklehner

Organised by the British-Bulgarian Society at the Bulgarian Embassy,  ‘Mission Balkans!’, a title playing on Alek Popov’s book Mission London, was a talk with Susan Curtis-Kojakovic, founder of Istros Books, about her experiences publishing literature from the Balkans for a British audience. Interspersed with readings from some books she’s published – Hansen’s Children, Lying Rabbits and…

Julia Secklehner | 01/11/2015
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Balkan Nightmares: ‘Till Kingdom Come’ (Nikolaidis, Istros Books, 2015) reviewed by Robin Ashenden

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Anyone who thinks the Balkans have moved on from the 1990s should read  Andrej Nikolaidis’s Till Kingdom Come, impeccably translated by Will Firth and published now by Istros Books. This short novel, ostensibly about Montenegro today, is awash with paranoia: conspiracy theories, serial killers, natural disasters and the shifting meaning of recent Balkan atrocities. It’s…

Robin Ashenden | 28/09/2015

Extract from Andrej Nikolaidis’s ‘Till Kingdom Come’ (Istros Books, 2015)

I don’t believe those stories about pristine beginnings. True, time spoils everything. And yes, everything gets worse over time. But what is prone to spoil is not necessarily good in the beginning. Everything is bad, even at its inception. Nor do I believe the stories about the wisdom pronounced by children in their alleged innocence. I’m sure there are…

Robin Ashenden | 28/09/2015
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Monica Porter: The agony and anticipation of waiting for a dream to come true

How long does it take for a dream to die? Five years? Ten? Fifteen? Well, I have had a certain dream for 25 years now, and you know what? After a long quarter-century of disappointments, I think I might have to let it go. Which is a real shame, because it’s a wonderful dream. My…

Monica Porter | 23/09/2015
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Roots Underground: Roger Scruton – ‘The Genesis of a Novel’

Young Europeans today have grown up in a world on which the shadow of communism no longer falls. It is often hard to explain to them what it was like to visit Soviet-controlled Europe, as I first did, in the late seventies. At that time the bids for freedom – East Germany 1953, Hungary 1956,…

Roger Scruton | 10/07/2015
Image by Viktor Kolář

1980s Prague: ‘Notes from Underground’ by Roger Scruton, reviewed by Robin Ashenden

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In an essay last year on atheism, Roger Scruton, the conservative writer, historian and philosopher, recalled the darkest aspects of late-period communism. ‘Its aim,’ he wrote, ‘ was to replace social life with a cold calculation for survival, so that people would live as competing atoms, in…. absolute enmity and distrust…. where every secret that…

Robin Ashenden | 10/07/2015