Gabriela Babnik: Big World, Small Languages
Wanderlust: Great Literature from Around the World is a new, monthly event series at Free Word. Join us on the second Monday of each month to celebrate the best fiction in translation. Please contact Sophie Wardell for information on how you can get involved and join us for this, the third event of the series, in partnership with Istros Books and supported by Beletrina Publishing and Creative Europe.
Gabriela Babnik’s novel, Dry Season (translated by Rawley Grau), breaks the mould of what we usually expect from a writer from a small, Central European nation. Winner of the European Union Prize for Literature in 2013, Dry Season offers a truly global perspective as it explores themes of racism, the role of women in modern society, and the loneliness of the human condition.
It is a record of an unusual love affair between Anna, a 62-year-old designer from Slovenia, and Ismael, a 27-year-old who was brought up on the street in Burkina Faso. What unites them is the loneliness of their bodies, a tragic childhood and the dry season, or Harmattan, during which neither nature nor love is able to flourish. But sex does not outstrip the loneliness and Anna finds that repressed secrets from the past surface into a world much crueller and, at the same time, more innocent than the one she has known until now. Cleverly written as an alternating narrative of both sides in the relationship, the novel is interlaced with magical realism and accurately perceived fragments of African political reality.
Join the author and the translator in conversation, with chair Ranka Primorac, to focus on both the themes and the language of the book, as well as the intricacies of translating from a Slavic language to English and writing on the world stage from the perspective of a 'small language'. Part of Wanderlust: Great Literature from Around the World a new, monthly event series at Free Word. Join us on the second Monday of each month to celebrate the best fiction in translation.
Watch Gabriela Babnik interviewed by the European Union Prize for Literature (EUPL):
Gabriela Babnik is a Slovenian writer. Her first novel, Koža iz bombaža (Cotton Skin), was published in 2007 and won Best Debut Novel at the Slovenian Book Fair. Her second novel, V visoki travi (In the Tall Grass), was published in 2009, and was shortlisted for the Kresnik Award in 2010. Dry Season won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2013.
Rawley Grau is a Slavic scholar who has worked with some of the great names in Slovenian literature.
Ranka Primorac lectures in the Department of English at the University of Southampton (UK). She has degrees from the University of Zagreb (Croatia), the University of Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe) and Nottingham Trent University (UK). Born in what was then Yugoslavia, she lived in Zimbabwe in the change-driven 1990s and has since written widely about how literary fictions from Southern Africa represent modernity, emergence and becoming. Among her book-length publications are 'The Place of Tears' (2006) and 'African City Textualities' (2010).
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