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Hay Festival reveals dazzling Eurovision Book Contest list

Hay Festival

On the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 final, Hay Festival has unveiled the list of titles to be celebrated in the Eurovision Book Contest following thousands of public submissions.

Building on the spirit of the Eurovision Song Contest and emphasising the role of literature in forging understanding and empathy across borders, the Eurovision Book Contest is a special project from the world’s biggest festival of books and ideas to mark the UK’s hosting of the annual music event on behalf of Ukraine.

With thousands submitting their favourite fiction for consideration, the resulting list of 37 titles – one from each competing country – offers an ambitious reading list to inspire, examine and entertain, blending old favourites and new discoveries. All genres and languages were welcome, but suggestions were limited to anything published in the years since the song contest began in 1956.

Selected titles are:

  • Pallati i ëndrrave by Ismail Kadare (The Palace of Dreams translated by Barbara Bray) – ALBANIA
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – AUSTRALIA
  • Дом, в котором… by Mariam Petrosyan (The Gray House translated by Yuri Machkasov) – ARMENIA
  • Der Trafikant by Robert Seethaler (The Tobacconist translated by Charlotte Collins) – AUSTRIA
  • The Orphan Sky by Ella Leya – AZERBAIJAN
  • Moi qui n’ai pas connu les hommes by Jacqueline Harpman (I Who Have Never Known Men translated by Ros Schwartz) – BELGIUM
  • Uhvati zeca by Lana Bastašić (Catch the Rabbit translated by Lana Bastašić) – CROATIA
  • Ανατολική Μεσόγειος by Ivi Meleagrou (Eastern Mediterranean translated by Andrew Hendry) – CYPRUS
  • Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí by Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being translated by Michael Henry) – CZECH REPUBLIC
  • Kastanjemanden by Søren Sveistrup (The Chestnut Man translated by Caroline Waight) – DENMARK
  • Pobeda 1946 by Ilmar Taska (Pobeda 1946: A Car Called Victory translated by Christopher Moseley) – ESTONIA
  • Sommarboken by Tove Jansson (The Summer Book translated by Thomas Teal) – FINLAND
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis translated by Anjali Singh) – FRANCE
  • Das achte Leben (Für Brilka) by Nino Haratischvili (The Eighth Life (for Brilka) translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin) – GEORGIA
  • Das Parfum by Patrick Süskind (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer translated by John E Woods) – GERMANY
  • Το τρίτο στεφάνι by Costas Taktsis (The Third Wedding Wreath translated by John Chioles) – GREECE
  • DNA by Yrsa Sigurdardottir – ICELAND
  • Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes – IRELAND
  • Gader Haya by Dorit Rabinyan (All the Rivers translated by Jessica Cohen) – ISRAEL
  • L’amica geniale by Elena Ferrante (My Brilliant Friend translated by Ann Goldstein) – ITALY
  • Paisums by Inga Ābele (High Tide translated by Kaija Straumanis) – LATVIA
  • Vilniaus pokeris by Ričardas Gavelis (Vilnius Poker translated by Elizabeth Novickas) – LITHUANIA
  • Kulħadd ħalla isem warajh by Clare Azzopardi – MALTA
  • Caiet de censor by Liliana Corobca (The Censor’s Notebook translated by Monica Cure) – MOLDOVA
  • De avond is ongemak by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (The Discomfort of Evening translated by Michele Hutchison) – THE NETHERLANDS
  • Perlebryggeriet by Jenny Hval (Paradise Rot translated by Marjam Idriss) – NORWAY
  • Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych by Olga Tokarczuk (Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones) – POLAND
  • Livro do Desassossego by Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet translated by Margaret Jull Costa) – PORTUGAL
  • Solenoid by Mircea Cărtărescu (Solenoid translated by Sean Cotter) – ROMANIA
  • Celesta by Milena Ercolani – SAN MARINO
  • Hazarski rečnik by Milorad Pavić (Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel translated by Christina Pribicevic-Zoric) – SERBIA
  • Jugoslavija, moja dežela by Goran Vojnović (Yugoslavia, My Fatherland translated by Noah Charney) – SLOVENIA
  • Corazón tan blanco by Javier Marias (A Heart So White translated by Margaret Jull Costa) – SPAIN
  • Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann by Jonas Jonasson (The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared translated by Rod Bradbury) – SWEDEN
  • Nachtzug nach Lissabon by Pascal Mercier (Night Train to Lisbon translater by Barbara Harshav) – SWITZERLAND
  • Інтернат by Serhiy Zhadan (The Orphanage translated by Reilly Costigan Humes and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler) – UKRAINE
  • Heartstopper, volume one by Alice Oseman – UK
A special Hay Festival event on Friday 2 June at 8.30pm will invite audiences to discuss the selection.

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “Sharing stories across borders has never felt more important and here is a list that celebrates the universality of the human experience and literature’s unique ability to connect us. Alongside our ongoing partnership with Ukraine’s largest book Festival, Lviv BookForum, this collaboration with the Eurovision Song Contest celebrates the role of great literature in forging understanding and empathy globally. Let’s get reading.”Martin Österdahl, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest at the European Broadcasting Union: “The Eurovision Song Contest has always had storytelling and showcasing the best talent from across Europe and beyond at its core. We’re excited to partner with Hay Festival which shares our goal of creating connections through culture. As we prepare to be ‘United By Music’ in Liverpool in May we look forward to seeing Europe coming together to celebrate diversity through its rich literary heritage as well.”

Hay Festival is the world’s leading festival of ideas, bringing readers and writers together in sustainable events to inspire, examine and entertain on the edge of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park.

This year’s programme launches the best new fiction and non-fiction, while offering insights and debate around significant global issues. Award-winning writers, policy makers, pioneers and innovators take part from around the world, offering bold thinking and big ideas.

Confirmed artists appearing include writers Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver, Eleanor Catton, Max Porter, Jonathan Coe, Leïla Slimani, Fflur Dafydd, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Alys Conran, Richard Ford, Jojo Moyes, Horatio Clare, Natalie Haynes, Richard Osman, Douglas Stuart, Elif Shafak, Katherine May; poets Simon Armitage, Owen Sheers, Carol Ann Duffy, Rufus Mufasa and Michael Rosen; YA star Alice Oseman; children’s heroes Cressida Cowell, Jacqueline Wilson, Julia Donaldson, Connor Allen; music icons Stormzy, Dua Lipa, The Proclaimers, Levellers Collective,  Judi Jackson, Baaba Maal, Zhadan and the Dogs; comedians Dara Ó Briain, Tom Allen, Jason Byrne, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Josie Long, Isy Suttie; stars of stage and screen Helena Bonham Carter, Richard E. Grant; politicians and policy makers Sadiq Khan, chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance; journalists Alastair Campbell, Marina Hyde, Gary Younge, Lyse Doucet; activist Munroe Bergdorf; economist Mariana Mazzucato; historians Lucy Worsley, Simon Schama, Irene Vallejo; artist Tracey Emin; foodies Mary Berry, Jack Monroe, Ruth Rogers, Andi Oliver and Prue Leith; Thinkers in Residence Laura Bates, Will Gompertz, David Olusoga, Charlotte Williams; and many more.

Providing exciting new platforms to discover fresh ideas, Hay Festival invites audiences to imagine the world as it is and as it might be. It is a catalyst for change and action, open and accessible to all.

Tickets are on sale now at hayfestival.org/wales or on 01497 822 629.