Meet the Studio Créole authors

Leading authors from Chile, Croatia, Iceland, Japan, Kenya, Martinique and Palestine will perform new works for Studio Créole, a new performance work curated by award-winning author Adam Thirlwell in collaboration with Hans Ulrich Obrist.

Co-commissioned by MIF and Carriageworks, Sydney, Studio Créole will have its world premiere at Manchester Academy 1 from 12–14 July, performed in a specially designed structure by international architect Rem Koolhaas. The seven authors have been commissioned to write seven new short stories, which they will read aloud in their original language to a live audience. The stories will be simultaneously translated into English and interpreted by an actor on stage, resulting in a unique live performance that explores language, interpretation and globalisation.

“With Studio Créole, we want to stage world literature literally – to put it on stage in all its multilingual complexity, and with all the drama inherent in live interpretation. One of the paradoxes of literature that’s always fascinated me is that it’s an international art form which uses the nationalistic medium of language. It’s really exciting to be bringing this poly-linguistic project to Manchester – which is itself such a cosmopolitan city.” Adam Thirlwell


Adania Shibli (reading in Palestinian Arabic)
Adania Shibli was born in Palestine in 1974. She has been named one of the “Beirut39”, a list of the best Arab writers under 40, and has twice been awarded the Palestinian Young Writer’s Award by the A.M. Qattan Foundation for her novels Touch and We Are All Equally Far from Love. Her play The Error was staged at the Tristan Bates Theatre, London, and as part of the New Works festival at the New World Theatre in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her novel Minor Detail will be published by Fitzcarraldo Editions next year.

 


Alejandro Zambra (reading in Chilean Spanish)
Alejandro Zambra is a Chilean writer, poet and critic. Born in Santiago in 1975, he is of a generation of Chilean writers whose work explores the contested space of the trauma inherited from the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. He is the author of My Documents, a finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, and three previous novels: Ways of Going Home, The Private Lives of Trees, and Bonsai. His books have been translated into twenty languages and have received several international prizes. His stories have appeared in the New Yorker, the Paris ReviewHarper’sTin House, and McSweeney’s, among others. In 2010, he was named one of Granta’s Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists, and he was a 2015–16 Cullman Center fellow at the New York Public Library.

 
Dubravka Ugresic
(reading in Croatian)
Over the past three decades, Dubravka Ugresic has established herself as one of Europe’s most distinctive novelists and essayists. From her early postmodernist writing to her fiction and essays on the disintegration of her Yugoslav homeland and the fall of the Berlin Wall, through to her recent writings on popular and literary culture, Ugresic’s work is marked by a rare combination of irony, polemic, and compassion. In 1991 when war broke out in the former Yugoslavia, Ugresic took a firm anti-war stance, critically dissecting retrograde Croatian and Serbian nationalism. Subjected to prolonged public ostracism and persistent media harassment, she left Croatia in 1993. In an exile that has in time become emigration, her books have been translated into over twenty languages. She has taught at a number of American and European universities, including Harvard, UCLA, Columbia and the Free University of Berlin. She is the winner of several major literary prizes: Austrian State Prize for European Literature 1998; finalist of Man Booker International Prize 2009; Jean Améry Essay Prize, awarded for her essayistic work as a whole, 2012; Vilenica Prize 2016; while Karaoke Culture was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism 2011. She is the winner of the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. She currently lives in Amsterdam.

 


Ngũgi wa Thiong’o
(reading in Kikuyu)
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is an award-winning Kenyan writer who has been publishing work for over 50 years. Currently Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, he was born in Kenya in 1938. As an adolescent, he lived through the Mau Mau War of Independence, the central historical episode in the making of modern Kenya and a major theme in his early works. He burst onto the literary scene in East Africa with his first major play, The Black Hermit, at the National Theatre in Kampala, Uganda, in 1962, as part of the celebration of Uganda’s Independence. His memoir Wrestling with the Devil looks back at his year-long imprisonment in 1978, when, after being arrested in the middle of the night, he was held without trial, in a maximum-security prison. The memoir is a trimmer version of the original work, Detained: A Writer’s Prison Diary (1982).

 


Patrick Chamoiseau (reading in French/Antillean Creole)
Patrick Chamoiseau was born in 1953 in Martinique, where he currently lives. After studying law in Paris he returned to Martinique and developed a deep interest in Creole culture. He is the author of a historical work on the Antilles under the reign of Napoléon Bonaparte and several non-fiction books, including Éloge de la créolité (In Praise of Creoleness), co-authored with Jean Bernabé and Raphaël Confiant. He was a warded the Prix Carbet (1990) for Antan d’enfance, and his novel Texaco was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1992 and was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.

 


Sayaka Murata (reading in Japanese)

Sayaka Murata is a best-selling Japanese novelist. She was born in Japan in 1979. Her first novel Breastfeeding won the 2003 Gunzo Prize for New Writers. Her novel Convenience Store People won Japan’s prestigious Akutagawa Prize for Literature in 2016, and in 2018 became the first of her works to be published in English under the title Convenience Store Woman. Read the New Yorker’s review of it here.

 


Sjón (reading in Icelandic)
Born in Reykjavik in 1962, Sjón is a celebrated Icelandic novelist. He won the Nordic Council’s Literary Prize for his novel The Blue Fox (the Nordic countries’ equivalent of the Man Booker Prize) and From The Mouth Of The Whale was shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. His novelMoonstone – The Boy Who Never Was was awarded every Icelandic literature prize, including the 2013 Icelandic Literary Prize. His latest work is the definitive edition of the trilogy CoDex 1962. Also a poet, librettist and lyricist, Sjón has published nine poetry collections, written four opera librettos and lyrics for various artists. In 2001 he was nominated for an Oscar for his lyrics in the film Dancer In The Dark. He is the president of the Icelandic PEN Centre and former chairman of the board of Reykjavik, UNESCO city of Literature. His novels have been published in thirty-five languages.

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