Avin Shah reading Krasnowolski's Kindoki f_African Electronic tr by Antonia Lloyd-Jones PCI (2)

European Literature Night: ‘Liars’ League’, reviewed by Julia Secklehner

‘Writers write. Actors read. Audience listens. Everybody wins.’ This is what Liars’ League promises, and what it delivered at its European Literature Night event on June 9th. The authors introduced were largely from post-communist countries, including Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and East Germany. It was refreshing to see, however, that this wasn’t necessarily why…

Julia Secklehner | 17/06/2015
Ana Blandiana 2

Romanian Poet Ana Blandiana at the RCI, by Camelia Ciobanu

Ana Blandiana,the greatest Romanian living poet, is both of yesterday and today. To many she’s known as a dissident poet. Born in 1942 in Timisoara, she had her first poem published at the age of 17.With her father a priest and political prisoner, Ana Blandiana started her career as an ‘enemy of the people’ and…

Camelia Ciobanu | 04/05/2015

‘Dr.Kundera and Mr.Hrabal Part 2’ by Robin Ashenden

Kundera is out of favour in the Czech Republic now. He seems to many to have disowned his Czech birth, writing in French and travelling to his country only rarely, incognito. Many believe the ‘revelations’ of a few years back, that  in his youth he betrayed a friend to the secret police and a subsequent…

Robin Ashenden | 23/04/2015

‘Dr.Kundera and Mr.Hrabal Part 1’, by Robin Ashenden

I was 17 years old when The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Czech novelist Milan Kundera’s novel about the lives, loves and interior philosophies of four different characters during the Prague Spring of 1968 and its aftermath  –  came out in English, and one wonders whether there is a more fatal work for such a fatal…

Robin Ashenden | 23/04/2015
akhmatova green

‘Akhmatova. Anrep. Berlin.’ at Pushkin House, reviewed by Jo Varney


At Pushkin House,  until 29th April 2015, is an installation by the acclaimed Russian artists Vitaly Pushnitsky and Olga Jurgenson.  Curated by Elena Zaytseva, Akhmatova. Anrep. Berlin. is an exhibition that explores Silver Age poetess Anna Akhmatova’s relationship with two fellow countrymen, the philosopher-historian Isaiah Berlin and the artist Boris Anrep. The archives of Pushkin…

Jo Varney | 14/02/2015

‘Sinfonia Bulgarica’ (Evtimova, 2014) reviewed by Ian Mole


After the first page I felt that I was going to love this book but I’m afraid it didn’t quite work out that way.  The setting is a small Bulgarian town in the modern day and it’s a hungry, desperate world for three of the main protagonists,  while in great contrast the other two live…

Ian Mole | 27/01/2015
ceausescu presidential sceptre (2)

‘The White King’: György Dragomán’s novel reviewed by Ian Mole

The eighteen stories of this 2007 book by György Dragomán, a Transylvanian Hungarian, can be enjoyed separately but also form a loose narrative set in the 1980s world of an unnamed country – undoubtedly Ceausescu’s Romania. Stretching over a period of about two years in the life of their narrator, 11-year-old Djata, the tales revolve…

Ian Mole | 09/10/2014
stalin falsified

Rethinking Stalin: Dr.Polly Jones at Pushkin House, by Valeriya Stepanuyk

The subject of the Stalinist past was a controversial topic even within the Soviet Union and now is perhaps even more so in Former Soviet States. Given this, it’s not surprising there were mixed feelings in anticipation of Rethinking the Stalinist Past in Soviet Union (1953-70) an event chaired on September 23rd at Pushkin House…

Valeriya Stepanuyk | 09/10/2014