Hay Festival Europa28


Hay Festival Europa28 presented 28 women writers – one from each EU country – sharing their visions for the future over three days in Rijeka, 5-9 October 2020. Blending award-winning writers, scientists, performers and artists, participants include novelists Leïla Slimani (France) and Janne Teller (Denmark), travel writer Kapka Kassabova (Bulgaria), poet Asja Bakic (Croatia), actress Lisa Dwan (Ireland), and sociologist Renata Salecl (Slovenia). Each showcased their work in readings, workshops, performances and debates throughout the city, while an anthology of their work, Hay Festival Europa28: Visions for the Future, was launched.

Prior to the festival Hay festival launched 5 videos posing questions that Europe28 was trying to answer.

Hay Festival Europa28 was an ambitious free events programme online in which 28 acclaimed women writers, journalists, artists, scientists and entrepreneurs – one from each EU country, plus the UK – will discuss and debate their visions for the future, 6-9 October 2020.
Run in partnership with the European Short Story Festival and Academy of Applied Arts International University of Rijeka, it featured panel discussions, readings, film screenings and performances live from the European Capital of Culture Rijeka 2020 and Zagreb, Croatia, and online at hayfestival.org/europa28, covering issues from migration and rising nationalism to the continent’s response to Covid-19, and what it means to be ‘European’.
Four hybrid events launched the Hay Festival Europa28 anthology in Zagreb and Rijeka, 6-7 October, with discussions and readings featuring Bosnian poet Asja Bakić and digital appearances from Irish actress Lisa Dwan; Slovenian philosopher Renata Salecl; Czech director, activist and journalist Apolena Rychlikova; Finnish playwright Saara Turunen; and Danish author Janne Teller.
Live-streamed panel discussions tackled some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing Europe today from multiple perspectives: Italian science writer and broadcaster Silvia Becivelli, British social activist and writer Hilary Cottam, and German technology strategist Yvonne Hofstetter looked at the potential of technological innovation; Latvian essayist Nora Ikstena, Greek activist Sofia Kouvelaki and Maltese journalist Caroline Muscat explored the rise of nationalism; Belgian writer and journalist Annelies Beck, Estonian short story writer Maarja Kangro and Lithuanian entrepreneur Žydrūnė Vitaitė explored the state of European politics; Spanish historian Edurne Portela, Dutch afro-Surinamese anthropologist Gloria Wekker and Austrian playwright Julya Rabinowich discussed the many faces of European nationalism; and Hungarian author Zsófia Bán and Polish director Bronka Nowicka talked to Croatian writer and poet Željka Horvat Čeč about the way migrants have shaped Europe’s history.
A series of Hay Festival Europa28 lectures saw some of the project participants explore their ideas in more detail featuring Luxembourgish artist Carine Krecké, Portuguese author Ana Pessoa, Armenian-Cypriot poet and short story writer Nora Nadjarian, and Slovakian director and actress Tereza Nvotova. Plus, one of the project’s biggest champions, Turkish-British novelist Elif Shafak, discussed her Booker Prize-shortlisted work, 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World and reflected on the role of writers in this time of global crises.
A special screening of The Limits of Work, a new documentary from Czech filmmaker Apolena Rychlíková, took place online, exploring working conditions at the worst-paid jobs in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, Polish director Bronka Nowicka presented her film series, Screening of Narratives,
Hay Festival Classics revisited a series of unforgettable events from different Hay Festival editions, with some of the most outstanding guests on the contemporary international scene: French novelist Leïla Slimani talks to human rights lawyer Philippe Sands about her bestselling novels Lullaby and Adèle; Nobel Prize-winner Olga Tokarczuk, the Polish novelist, essayist, dramatist, poet and psychologist, talks about her masterpiece, Flights; and British writer Zadie Smith discusses Feel Free, a book that combines autobiographical elements with commentary on contemporary culture.
All of the sessions can be rewatched on Hay Player now at hayfestival.org/hayplayer.

Hay Festival Europa28: Writing by Women on the Future of Europe          

“To be European,” writes Leïla Slimani, “is to believe that we are, at once, diverse and united, that the Other is different but equal.” Despite these high ideals, however, there is a growing sense that Europe needs to be fixed, or at the least seriously rethought. The clamour of rising nationalism – alongside widespread feelings of disenfranchisement – needs to be addressed if the dreams of social cohesion, European integration, perhaps even democracy are to be preserved.
Hay Festival Europa28: Writing by Women on the Future of Europe brings together 28 acclaimed women writers, artists, scientists and entrepreneurs from across the continent to offer new perspectives on the future of Europe, and how it might be rebuilt. Featuring essays, fictions and short plays, Europa28 asks what it means to be European today and demonstrates – with clarity and often humour – how women really do see things differently.
“Inspiring, essential, honest and deeply humane… This brilliant collection takes readers on a brave journey into our beloved continent, Europe, daring to tell the stories beyond its centres of power and privilege” – Elif Shafak, novelist.
“The scale of vision is ambitious… a bright celebration of unity in difference” – The Guardian
“Essays on the EU’s future deliver warnings on the dream of becoming a beacon for the world” – Financial Times
“The anthology provides a literary platform for 28 insightful, pragmatic and enlightened female voices” – The Irish Times
The book is out now in the UK, Croatia and Spain, and online here.