Margot Vanderstraeten in Slovakia


Margot Vanderstraeten at the LiKE Literary Festival (Košice, Slovakia) 23.09.2023

On 23.9. 2023 the literary festival LiKE took place in Košice, the 2nd biggest city of Slovakia. LiKE is a literary festival organised by the organization Literárny Klub in cooperation with the publishing house and organization Brak, where the main publisher František Malík also published the graphic novel David from Judith Vanistendael. LiKE (KE is the short sign for Košice) was founded on the idea that Košice lacks a literary festival where the tradition of Košice as a rich literary and cultural city relives. Every year, the theme of the festival based on which the discussions and speakers are chosen is different. This year, the eight edition, the festival revolved around the Jewish community and the literature and other aspects of life associated with it. One of the main discussions was that of Margot Vanderstraeten, a famous Belgian author, who is known for her books Mazeltov and Minjan, which provide insight into the otherwise relatively closed-off community of modern-orthodox jews. Vanderstraeten presented the Czech translations of her works, of which Malík said they were also in Slovakia well-perceived. The presentation was supported by Flanders Literature.

The discussion with Margot Vanderstraeten was led by the literary scholar Zuzana Bujačková and from English interpreted. Of course, it began with the introduction of the author, short biography and insight into her career. Right at the beginning, we learn that Margot wrote the book based on her recollections and notes she made throughout her stay with the family, and what is fascinating is that the events described in the book took place almost 30 years ago. There is a reason behind this. Margot said that apart from perfecting her writing skills and getting more experience, she definitely did not want to give the children of the family a lot of unwanted attention, which might have impacted their growing up.

All in all, the book is a very interesting piece that immerses the writer into the world of a completely different community than the majority is used to and takes you on a journey through the struggles and joy of adapting to a totally different way of life. Also the discussion with listeners was very interesting and provided an unique opportunity to learn interesting facts and ask about stories that cannot be found in the book. Margot was eager and happy to answer any questions and did it bravously.

(Richard Rúsek)

Interview with Margot Vanderstraeten (photo Richard Rúsek)

Margot Vanderstraeten with her books in Slovakian translation (photo Richard Rúsek)