Gerda Blees in Serbia


Gerda Blees Shines at the EUPL Festival in Belgrade

The first literary festival dedicated to the winners of the EU Prize for Literature took place in Belgrade from December 13th to 15th in Serbia. Organized by the publishing houses Treći trg and Srebrno drvo, the event was part of the Readers Exchange Project supported by Creative Europe.

Dutch author and laureate of the EU Prize for Literature in 2021, Gerda Blees, inaugurated the festival on Wednesday, December 13th, at the cultural centre Grad, by presenting the Serbian translation of her debut, "We Are the Light" (see here a report of the reading workshop dedicated to the novel in September 2023). The discussion, featuring Blees, translator Bojana Budimir, and the novel's first readers, Ivan Živkov and Milica Lazović, was led by Dejan Matić, the director of the publishing house Treći trg, and interpreted from English by Ana Tomović.

Blees shared insights into her creative process and the motivation behind crafting this captivating story about four members of a commune battling loneliness, manipulation, and vulnerability—individuals who have a hard time fitting into society. The audience had the opportunity to delve into her writing methods and the intricate process of sculpting her characters. She also explained the story behind her decision to use an unusual narrative perspective, told from the point of view of not only persons but also various objects, such as the smell of an orange, cigarettes, light, and night.

The dialogue expanded beyond the author's monologue. The first readers and the translator seized the opportunity to share their insights and pose questions that emerged during their close reading of Blees's novel. The festival not only celebrated Gerda Blees's literary accomplishments but also fostered a dynamic exchange between the author and her Serbian audience.

(Bojana Budimir)

Gerda Blees

The translator Bojana Budimir