May 5 – The Pittsburgh International Literary Festival, known as LitFest, hopes to get people talking through reading.
Hosted by the city of Asylum @ Alphabet City on the north side of Pittsburgh, the virtual event features writers from around the world discussing topics ranging from black, indigenous and all colored, the LGBTQIA + community, and the politics of publishing.
Abby Lembersky, program director for City of Asylum @ Alphabet City, said planning had been underway since January. This isn’t the only online festival, but it is the first 10-day festival the organization has run.
It will take place on May 12-18 on the organization’s virtual programming channel.
Most programs last an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. They will be subtitled and available online seven days after the original broadcast date.
The festival features readings of books written in other languages and translated into English. The translators will read the works to ensure that the taste and rhythm of the publication are conveyed. This person needs to know the pace of the book in order for it to make sense to the audience when it is read.
“It is definitely an art to be a literary translator,” said Lembersky.
One of the challenges in setting up the festival was putting the schedule together based on multiple time zones, Lembersky said.
“It is definitely positive that we can introduce authors from all over the world, including a Nobel Prize winner,” said Lembersky. “We will connect so many people and encourage conversation.”
Olga Tokarczuk from Poland won the Nobel Prize in 2018.
She and translator Jennifer Croft, who received the Man Booker International Prize in 2018 for the book “Flights”, will be there on May 20th at 7:00 pm.
Tokarczuk will also speak about her upcoming “The Books of Jacob”. She and Croft will have a chat about their work together, including how it took seven years for Flights to be released in the US
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Japanese writer Mieko Kawakami will publish the English version of her book “Heaven” on May 18th at 8pm. She is one of the best-selling contemporary writers in Japan.
She and translators Sam Bett and David Boyd will discuss their first English-language novel, Breast and Eggs, which was named one of Time Magazine’s Top 10 Books of 2020.
Here is the full schedule.
The event is free of charge. Register here.
City of Asylum @ Alphabet City describes itself as “building a just community by protecting and celebrating creative freedom of expression”. It provides protection for writers at risk and offers a number of free literary, arts, and humanities programs.
“We are working to strengthen marginalized voices from around the world,” said Lembersky, who contacted some of the participants in partnership with literary journalists and publishers. Partners include Archipelago Books, the Chautauqua Institution, Europa Editions, Eulalia Books, global words forge, Music on the Edge, New Directions Publishing, the University of Pittsburgh and Words Without Borders.
Many of the 160 programs they run have received funding from both local and national levels. There was no specific financial support for this event. But Lembersky said it was important to offer it for free like the other events.
People can donate here.
“It’s important to be accessible to everyone,” said Lembersky. “It’s about sharing space with people from different backgrounds and starting a conversation.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a contributor to the Tribune Review. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, email@example.com, or on Twitter.