One of UNESCO’s newest Cities Of Literature, Manchester is blessed with a live lit scene that is not only vibrant, it is inclusive and very much international. From the institution-endorsed International Mother Language Day each February (this year seeing a day-long Comma Press focus on foreign language work) and regular programming of authors in translation by October’s Manchester Literature Festival, to grassroots events such as the European Poetry Festival’s European Camarade held annually at the International Anthony Burgess Foundation and language swap pop-ups from Reading The Other and at The Art Of Tea, there’s an international itch being scratched year round.
And now MIF19 are getting in on the act, with three nights of readings in different tongues – featuring seven writers from seven countries telling us seven stories in seven languages. The seven stories have been written exclusively for the Studio Creole commission and each will be read live by their authors at the events, alone or together, in their original language or in live translation, and interpreted by an actor on stage, resulting in what promises to be a unique live performance that explores language, interpretation and globalisation.
Manchester International Festival’s John McGrath says: ‘This is the first time at MIF that we have put literature, authors and their stories at the heart of a project.’
The seven authors involved are: Adania Shibli (reading in Palestinian Arabic), whose novel Minor Detail is out next year; Alejandro Zambra (reading in Chilean Spanish), Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award finalist; Amsterdam-based Dubravka Ugresic (reading in Croatian), one of Europe’s most distinctive novelists and essayists; award-winning Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o (reading in Kikuyu); Prix Goncourt winner Patrick Chamoiseau (reading in French/Antillean Creole), born and living in Martinique; best-selling novelist Sayaka Murata (reading in Japanese), and Sjon (reading in Icelandic), a celebrated novelist who was nominated for an Oscar for his lyrics in the film Dancer in the Dark and who appeared at last year’s MLF.
Studio Creole takes place Friday 12, Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 July at 7.30pm in a specially built set – ‘an intimate, unique laboratory’ – designed by Rem Koolhaas, the architect behind Manchester’s yet-to-be-unveiled new cultural space The Factory. The project has been curated by award-winning author and London editor of The Paris Review Adam Thirlwell, whose own work has been translated into 30 languages, in collaboration with Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director of the Serpentine Galleries.
Manchester International Festival’s Head Of John McGrath says: ‘This is the first time at MIF that we have put literature, authors and their stories at the heart of a project. The creative team have created a unique environment into which seven of the world’s most extraordinary writers will step and present their work in a way that has never been presented before.’ The programme blurb describes it as: ‘Simultaneously writing, theatre and art, an anthology as a group show, Studio Creole is a living, breathing, multilingual collection that exists only in the moment of its happening.’ So, for three nights only, hop on down to the Academy…