Bianca bellova-2
Bianca Bellová
Alex zucker
Alex Zucker
Maya-jaggi
Maya Jaggi

The Lake and the EBRD Literature Prize Shortlist

Bianca Bellová and Alex Zucker chaired Maya Jaggi

Tuesday, 19 March 2024

2:00pm

1 hour

Bodleian: Divinity School

£7 - £13.50

Novelist Bianca Bellová and her translator Alex Zucker discuss her novel The Lake, winner of the 2023 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Literature Prize. They will talk to writer and critic Maya Jaggi, this year’s chair of judges of the EBRD Literature Prize, who will unveil the shortlist for the 2024 award.

The Lake is a raw coming-of-age novel set in a post-apocalyptic world of climate collapse. It won the EBRD Literature Prize in Zucker’s English translation. On the toxic shores of a dying lake, in an unnamed land occupied by Russian forces, a boy from a fishing village searches for his mother who disappeared when he was small, and for the mystery of his origins, amid sporadic, casual violence that recalls A Clockwork Orange. Written in Czech, Bellová’s internationally acclaimed novel was inspired by a National Geographic photo story about the shrinking Aral Sea, east of the Caspian.

‘A bewitching, beguiling, terrifying and shocking portal into a world gone wrong – in which small gestures nonetheless keep the flame of hope alive. The Lake is utterly propulsive, immersive and unique, and deserves to become a European classic, to be read by many generations to come.’ TLS fiction editor Toby Lichtig, chair of judges of 2023 EBRD Literature Prize

The EBRD Literature Prize was first awarded in 2018 and champions the rich literary culture of the 36 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa in which the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development invests. The 2023 shortlist included two Nobel prizewinners, Olga Tokarczuk of Poland and Orhan Pamuk of Turkey. The prize, shared equally between author and translator, is open for the first time this year to US and Canadian publications as well as UK and European ones. Its panel of judges includes the authors Maureen Freely and Philippe Sands.

Bellová was born and lives in Prague. A Czech fiction writer, translator and interpreter with Bulgarian roots, she is the author of seven novels and a collection of short stories. They range from Sentimental Novel, on the trials of growing up towards the end of communism, to Transfer, a set of stories about four protagonists who meet by chance in the transfer zone of an international airport in Europe. The Lake (Parthian Books in the UK) also won the 2017 EU Prize for Literature and the 2016 Czech Magnesia Litera for Book of the Year.

Zucker lives in the US and has translated novels by Czech authors including Bianca Bellová, Jáchym Topol, Petra Hůlová, J. R. Pick, Magdaléna Platzová, Tomáš Zmeškal, Josef Jedlička, Heda Margolius Kovály, Patrik Ouředník, and Miloslava Holubová.

Jaggi is founding director of the festival’s programme of Georgian literature and culture and is a contributing art critic for FT. Her award-winning cultural writing has appeared widely, including in The New York Review of Books and The Guardian – where she was a profile writer and fiction critic for a decade. She is chair of the independent jury of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Literature Prize 2024 and was artistic director of the UK’s first festival of Georgian writers, Where Europe Meets Asia: Georgia25, in 2016, and its online sequel, Georgia’s Fantastic Tavern, at the British Library and Writers’ House in 2021 – both of which she originated.

Part of the festival’s Voices of Europe programme.

The Telegraph Festival media partner University of Oxford Netflix European Union Supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the UK Cultural Relations Platform Supporter of the festival's Voices of Europe programme BBC World Service International radio partner Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine and annual science and innovation award Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Oxford Mathematics Spanish Embassy The Spanish Embassy: supporters of the programme of Spanish literature and culture Cervantes Institute, London The Cervantes Institute, London Italian Embassy The Italian Embassy: supporter of the programme of Italian literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner International Literary Properties Festival literary heritage partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels Festival hotel Old Bank Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Old Parsonage Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Jim Mellon John Roberts Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture Tim and Marion Stevenson Martin and Elise Becket Smith Miles Young Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Carole and John Allen David Isaac Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Anna Hunter Rhys and Kerry Phillip Exeter College Exeter College: college home of the festival. Founded 1314 New College New College founded 1379 Worcester College Worcester College founded 1714 Lincoln College Lincoln College founded 1427 St Cross College St Cross College founded 1965 Trinity College Trinity College founded 1555 Magdalen College Magdalen College founded 1458 Critchleys Accountants to the festival Pasture to Plate Compassion in World Farming Human Ecology Project MACROVegan Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Sponsor of the EBRD Literature Prize since 2018 ROOMS Georgia's leading lifestyle hotel brand since 2012. Supporters of the programme of Georgian literature and culture Jewish Book Week Partner of Oxford Literary Festival Foodbuy Thje Menu Partners Institute of Hospitality Goldmoney Properties Project People Oxford Brookes University Oxford International Centre for Publishing Confucius Institute Pusey House British Academy Festival academic partner Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Oxford United Football Club Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design Paul Bloomfield Ltd University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Conference Oxford Felicity Bryan Associates CAV Oxford The Sheldonian Theatre Oxford University Images Oxford University Images Oxford University Department for Continuing Education Force4Good Consultancy Corporate communications OX magazine Ox in a Box K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography The Litmus Partnership Schoolreaders Windrush Group James Currey Society

The Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

The Telegraph Festival media partner University of Oxford Netflix European Union Supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the UK Cultural Relations Platform Supporter of the festival's Voices of Europe programme BBC World Service International radio partner Owen Mumford Supporter of programme of science and medicine and annual science and innovation award Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Oxford Mathematics Spanish Embassy The Spanish Embassy: supporters of the programme of Spanish literature and culture Cervantes Institute, London The Cervantes Institute, London Italian Embassy The Italian Embassy: supporter of the programme of Italian literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner International Literary Properties Festival literary heritage partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel by Graduate Hotels Festival hotel Old Bank Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Old Parsonage Hotel Five-star hotel partners of The Oxford Collection Jim Mellon John Roberts Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture Tim and Marion Stevenson Martin and Elise Becket Smith Miles Young Masumi and Jonathan Dobson Pank Koria CEO of Project People Carole and John Allen David Isaac Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Anna Hunter Rhys and Kerry Phillip Exeter College Exeter College: college home of the festival. Founded 1314 New College New College founded 1379 Worcester College Worcester College founded 1714 Lincoln College Lincoln College founded 1427 St Cross College St Cross College founded 1965 Trinity College Trinity College founded 1555 Magdalen College Magdalen College founded 1458 Critchleys Accountants to the festival Pasture to Plate Compassion in World Farming Human Ecology Project MACROVegan Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Sponsor of the EBRD Literature Prize since 2018 ROOMS Georgia's leading lifestyle hotel brand since 2012. Supporters of the programme of Georgian literature and culture Jewish Book Week Partner of Oxford Literary Festival Foodbuy Thje Menu Partners Institute of Hospitality Goldmoney Properties Project People Oxford Brookes University Oxford International Centre for Publishing Confucius Institute Pusey House British Academy Festival academic partner Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Oxford United Football Club Racalia Olive Oil Olive oil from Sicily BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design Paul Bloomfield Ltd University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Conference Oxford Felicity Bryan Associates CAV Oxford The Sheldonian Theatre Oxford University Images Oxford University Images Oxford University Department for Continuing Education Force4Good Consultancy Corporate communications OX magazine Ox in a Box K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography The Litmus Partnership Schoolreaders Windrush Group James Currey Society