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Portugal -Lídia Jorge

Lídia Jorge was born in Boliqueime, southern Portugal, in 1946. She studied French Literature in Lisbon and spent some years teaching in Angola and Mozambique, during the independence struggle. She now lives in Lisbon. Her first two novels placed her in the avant-garde of contemporary Portuguese literature and since then she has received numerous prestigious awards for her work. In 2013, Lídia Jorge was honoured as one of the “10 greatest literary voices” by the renowned French Magazine Littéraire, and in 2014, she was awarded the Premio Luso-Español de Arte y Cultura. She has been awarded the Vergílio Ferreira Award 2015 for her body of work.

The International Book Fair (FIL) of Guadalajara has granted the renowned FIL Prize in Romance Languages 2020 to Lídia Jorge “because of the magnitude of her work, which portrays the way in which human beings face the great events of history”. The jury also highlighted Jorge’s literary career, “marked by originality and independence of judgement”. The prize honors the author’s lifetime achievement and consists of 150,000 U$. In September 2021, Lídia Jorge took up a professorship at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Two of Lídia Jorge’s book have been published in China to date: “Os Memoráveis” (“Those We Shall Remember”) by Haitian Publishing House and “A Costa dos Murmúrios” (The Murmuring Coast) by Horizon Media Company.

Book Cover of Os Memoráveis


Book Cover of A Costa dos Murmúrios


Writing Sample: A Costa dos Murmúrios

Interview with Lídia Jorge


Belgium: Myriam Leroy

Myriam Leroy is 39 years old. She studied and taught journalism at the UCLouvain University. She has worked as a freelance journalist for just about every French Belgian media. She has also written humorous columns and written books about them. Her first play, Cherche L’amour (Théâtre de la Toison d’Or), won her the best author award at the 2017 Critics’ Choice Awards. She has since co-written the show Sisters, and wrote the documentary play ADN, also at the TTO. Her first novel, Ariane, was a finalist for the Goncourt Prize for First Novel. Her second novel, Les yeux rouges, was released in August 2019 by Editions du Seuil. She wrote a play from it (Théâtre de Poche, Brussels, currently playing). Her first documentary, #SalePute, was broadcast on Arte and RTBF.

Book Cover of Ariane


Documentary poster of #SalePute


Writing Sample:Les yeux rouges

Interview with Myriam Leroy

Slovenia – Ana Schnabl

Ana Schnabl is an award-winning authoress from Slovenia.
Her collection of short stories Razvezani (Disentangled) received Best Literary Debut Prize at the annual Ljubljana Book Fair in 2017. The same book was shortlisted for the Novo mesto Short Prize and for the Mira PEN Award. The collection was translated into Serbian (Partizanska knjiga, 2018) and German (Folio Verlag, 2020). The Serbian translation received the Edo Budiša Award in Croatia. Her second book, the novel called Mojstrovina (Masterpiece) was published in 2020. It is due to be translated into Serbian (Partizanska knjiga, 2022), German (Folio Verlag, 2022) and is already available in English (Istros Books, 2021). She finished her second novel called Plima (The Tide) in January 2021. The book will be published in 2022. She is currently working on a collection of novellas. A doctoral student of philosophy, her research focuses on the female autobiography and confession and women in psychoanalysis. She is also assistant director of Oštro, Center of Investigative Journalism of the Adriatic region. In her spare time, she is an avid reader, mountaineer and a helicopter parent of two dogs and a cat.


Book Cover of Razvezani



Writing Example: An excerpt from a short story

Interview with Ana Schnabl

THE DAY THE RIVER FROZE by Stavros Christodoulou

“PUT YOUR hats on. The cold will make your ears drop off.”

The woman’s words had a hollow sound. They rose steeply as if from the foot of a cliff and then collapsed with a dull thud in that two-roomed apartment of fifty square metres into which she had squeezed her life. For a long time now, she had not cared what happened outside her door. For how many years, she could not remember. Perhaps five, perhaps fifteen, perhaps for ever.


“Perhaps from when his umbilical cord was cut?” she wondered in a whisper. But she stifled the words, as if ashamed of even thinking them.


Since the day when she had swallowed the fistful of pills, time no longer had the slightest consistency. Her son had been seven years old. Yes, that she remembered. A little devil who had greedily sucked up all the freshness of her youth. For seven years. Daily. From the moment, in fact, when the labour pains had ripped through her body. When she heard his crying for the first time, she had felt the tide going out, dragging her with it, far away. She had made a great effort to stand once more on dry land. To find her feet. To feed him, wash him, clean up his shit. Until she could put him to bed, feeling exhausted but alone at last, then slip a tablet under her tongue. She would hold it there a while, drawing strength from it, and then let it slide down her oesophagus slowly and comfortingly, releasing waves of warmth to heal her invisible wounds.


“Pull yourself together, or I’ll leave,” her husband threatened, when he saw her receding into the treacherous darkness of her mind. And he would fix her with that harsh look which once had melted her heart. That was then. Now he stood before her and she didn’t even look at him. She simply endured him. Stoically. The same as when he touched her. “Words! That’s all you’re good for, words as dead as the rotten meat you sell in the market, poor sap,” she returned scornfully.


The truth is she had never believed he would desert them. She didn’t think he had it in him. But as it turned out, she didn’t know him as well as she thought she did. On 18 June 1967, Sunday morning, the day after the boy’s birthday, he left. The memory of that day, although rooted in earth that was barren of every emotion, lived vividly inside her. She had had a slight headache on waking. She had dragged herself to the kitchen, made coffee and floated a spoonful of cream on top, to sweeten it. She took a sip and then smiled, seeing her reflection in the small mirror above the kitchen worktop. A fine white line covered her top lip.


“You look funny…” he said.


She had not realised he was there. How long had he been standing behind her? His voice was soft, with a hint of tenderness, provoking in her a slight shiver.


“I’m leaving,” he said matter-of-factly, and repeated it, to make sure she had heard him.


Translated from Greek by Susan Papas


Walking on dunes by Kateřina Rudčenková

Walking on dunes

Even though you were moved

by the abrupt shade of green

of trees and grass and pine-tree undergrowth


even though you were moved by this summer’s nostalgia of smoke

burning grass and grilled fish


even though you were moved by the children

who, as yet innocent of the restrictions of the world

already skipped from one tile of the same colour to another


despite all that emotion

you remained cold underneath in your disappointment

like an icy pond in a Siberian forest.


You kept turning to make sure

that footprints left in the sand had been washed away

washed away, you were not. You didn’t want to be

you didn’t want to leave your imprint in anything at all.



Other people’s aquariums

What I like about other people’s apartments is that the way

objects are arranged in space is given, I can only

watch them be.

In my own apartment what makes me nervous is the opposite —

nothing is definitive.

As in life. Fragile, vulnerable the way things are


I could, theoretically, move anything

at any time. My things, clothes, wardrobes and tables

are suffused with the provisional nature of my existence

here on earth, with my uncertainty, my mortality.

I uncritically accept all aquariums belonging to other people

(as long as there is no plastic castle inside)

only my own aquarium I cannot come to terms with, it appears

dark, its dirt falls on my head

I witness dying fish that I then

have to throw into the toilet

the flowers in it have to be endlessly moved around

replaced with new ones because they turn yellow.

Yet, I keep it alive for years, buy

new fish, keep them warm, clean the sand and stones

unable to stop.  Of course, until it cracks

and the water pours out I will never voluntarily

abolish my aquarium.




Covered by purple leaves

I’ll leave my roots under water.


You will open the windows, and from a distance

hear the blows from the time when

they killed carp by the vats in winter.


You will immerse yourself in reading, pondering things

so as not to think about yourself.


You will feel good inside those voices

with two sentences left

the first made of my rib,

the second of yours.




Mostly warm nights with windows open wide

are filled with cries and sobs.


Visitors are invisible through treetops.

This is where the year draws to an end.


A student who is a pedestrian in the street

and a drowning man at sea

becomes a tiny saint

in some family alcove.


There, the night has come. You’ll know me

by my footsteps and by the shape of my shadow.




Yes, I live inside the piano.

but there is no need for you

to come and visit me.



A visit to the sanatorium

Gertude takes me aside

entrusting me with manuscripts rescued from the fire.


An ancistrus dances on the wall

and her shadow, as she begs me

– tell him that my name is not Bertha!


Shaking off dust insects from her shoulders

– Bertha… does he ever talk to you

without raving?


A gaping window, a terrace

full of pigeons, animal vortex, then

nothing but Gertrude’s charged silence

the terrace sinks, the room goes up in flames.


Dimitar Hristov


Do not cling to me,

Be yourself.


Lovers are not

Siamese twins.


Do not afraid be ever to stay

Alone with your love.


It’s definitely better,

Than not to love at all.


Do not turn the lovers’ nest

Into a prison.



Will you patch the sails tightly?

I plugged the leaks.


And I scraped the water.

Let’s sail in the dark!


A bubbling abyss of Passion

Will sway us.



To fly and sink,

To burn and drown…


We withstood the storms,

The beasty cold, and the fatigue.



But it creeps inside us –

The fear of calm defeat…


With wings against the wind

The birds rise!


Freedom is the other name

of Love.



You are drifting away, further and further from me,

But I shall not follow you,

I will stay right here, I will wait for you.

When you think you’re the furthest,

You will meet me again

Cause the Earth is round, isn’t it?

But then I will leave,

Because everyone should

Walk his own way

To the other.



Love will survive

After the storm debris will sway –

The remnants of politics

Overboard everything will turn dead

Forgetfulness will make sure –

No more armories,

We will bless the rust

Which grinds the guillotines,

And out of the decay eternal

Such a life will flourish

That no one will ever die

Except from overwhelming passion

Or unshared tenderness.




Let’s take an example from the birds –

they eat just a handful of berries,

but high they fly.



The writer must be like a camel –

to endure thirst, hunger and a long way,

the rest is a matter of talent.




is the closest friend

of the artist.




is the most beautiful

garment of nakedness.



When the woman weeps,

the man is suffering …

When the man weeps, the woman is rejoicing.




are wings for the industrious

and shackles for the lazy.



The direction

of wind

is always forward.



The top

is often the beginning

of an abyss.



Blind is the lover,

but brave he is

and never hesitates.



Between birth

and death

the difference is in the dates.




is eternal

but Life is more eternal.




is one,

but people are diverse.


Translated from the original Bulgarian by Svetoslav Nahum

In the Shadow of Rooster Hill, by Osvalds Zebris

Day One: Redemption


A stooping, thickset old man strode with wide steps from the side of the Dvinsk railway track. His somewhat oversized head bent, panting heavily and irregularly, he crossed the splendid square of the new station, then the street – the hard snow, packed down by the many passers-by, crunched under the soles of his brown boots. The man stopped, raised his tired and sunken eyes toward the windows of the Bellevue Hotel glittering in the afternoon twilight and, his head drooping down, continued his hurried walk along Maria Street. A few spiteful locks of brown hair pushed out from under the edges of his hat, swaying to the rhythm of his nervous step, his thick moustache frozen under his nose. People in groups thronged the area where Elizabeth Street and Suvorov Street met, some laughing in a carefree manner, while others were calmly leaving Wöhrmann Park; one could hear more men’s voices a bit more, as the ladies buried themselves in their furs and coat collars. The mood before Christmas could be felt in Riga this year as well, even though the gloomy thoughts still dwelled in many – a bitterness that was brought by the last days of 1906, like wine turned into vinegar, with people’s hopes replaced by a feeling of deep disillusionment. Today’s issue of the newspaper Balss[1] read: ‘There is so much hatred, misery and bleak, ominous clouds all around, that no one can ever believe in any good news. Nor do we have any ray of hope shining upon us from the future.’


Having crossed Alexander Boulevard, the old man stopped near a low-lying fence that encircled the impressive walls of the Orthodox cathedral and watched the bustle of the Christmas market on Esplanade Square. His clothing was too thin, and as evening approached, the cold became ever more biting. He was shivering and quickly scanning the crowds of people in the broad market square. After going through the gates that were slightly open, he looked to the right to the bell tower and, without making the sign of the cross, slid along the cathedral wall like a shadow. He wasn’t seen from the side of the brightly lit-up fair grounds – the man’s dark figure had almost vanished in one of the recesses in the cathedral wall. Several sleighs had already stopped again, the gentlemen offered their gloved hands to the ladies, and lifted out children of various ages. The children rushed off in the direction of the decorated Christmas tree and tables laden with candy. The little ones laughed cheerfully, and swarmed around the sweet-smelling waffles and huts decorated with shiny ribbons where the black eyes of teddy bears and dolls twinkled in the glow of the electric bulbs. The old man’s glance was also lit up for a moment, as it closely followed the new arrivals to a remote shop where, at a wishing well, they met a few others. His observant eyes made out a shabby wooden horse of a faded red colour and a short man in charge of the carousel who, having received his last two passengers, began to walk slowly in a circle, gradually quickening the pace. A small girl burst out laughing, her little glove beckoning. As the horses gathered speed, the old man’s felt boots broke into a light trot.


[1] “The Voice”, a newspaper published from 1878 to 1907 in Riga.


Translation: Jayde Will

Anni’s Things, by Anti Saar

Grandma’s Hair

Anni has Grandma’s hair. But Anni no longer has her grandma. How can that be? Grandma got very sick, passed away, and was buried in a cemetery. It happened a long time ago, when Anni was still in her mommy’s belly.
When Anni was born, she started growing fast and right away. Anni’s hair grew even faster. Before long, it was dark, thick, and strong. That’s when her parents started to say: “Our Anni has Grandma’s hair.” Even strange old ladies would comment: “That Anni of yours has her grandma’s hair.”
“What do you mean?” Anni asked, quite puzzled. She couldn’t understand how a dead grandma’s hair could get onto her own head.
“It’s simple,” Mom said. “I’ve got my late grandma’s nose, for instance.”
Now, Anni felt totally lost.
“You mean your grandma was buried without her nose?!”
“No, no,” Mom replied, laughing. “She still had her nose. Mine just grew to be like hers.”
“And my hair grew to be just like my grandma’s!” Anni declared.
“That’s right,” Mom said. “And you also have your dad’s eyes and my dimples.”
Mom smiled and dimples appeared in her cheeks. Anni smiled back, and pretty little dimples popped up in her own cheeks as well. But then she felt troubled, so she asked:
“Does that mean I don’t have anything that’s all mine?”
“Of course you do,” Mom said, giving her a hug. “Each one of us is all yours—with our eyes and hair and dimples and everything.”
That idea seemed rather complicated, but it was pleasant all the same.

The Secret

One time on the playground at preschool, Karolin walked up to Anni and said:
“Come here, I want to tell you something.” Anni followed her behind an old pear tree. That’s where Karolin whispered a secret into Anni’s ear.
“Don’t tell anyone else,” Karolin said. “This secret’s just for us.”
Anni was delighted that Karolin had shared a secret with her. Karolin had kept half of it, and now Anni had the other half. The secret was interesting and a little silly, which made Anni giggle to herself when she thought about it.
“What’re you giggling for?” Kaur asked in line for the toilet.
“Karolin and I have a secret,” Anni said.
“Tell me, too!” Kaur begged. But Anni just said: “I can’t. It’s only for Karolin and me.”
“Fine, then don’t,” Kaur grumbled. “I don’t really care. It’s got to be a dumb secret, anyway.”
Anni used the bathroom, went over to Karolin, and told her what Kaur had said.
“Kaur’s the one who’s dumb,” Karolin snorted. “He’s just jealous that he doesn’t have a secret like ours. It’s a really great secret. And really secret, too. Don’t you tell anybody, you promise?”
“I promise,” Anni said.
Soon, Mom came to pick Anni up from preschool.
“You know what?” Anni gushed as soon as Mom lifted her into the child seat on the back of her bike. “Karolin and I have a secret. You want to hear it?”
“I’d love to, but I’m not allowed,” Mom said. “Secrets are to be kept a secret, otherwise they’re not actually secret!”
That evening, Anni went to her dad and gave him a sly grin.
“Do you know what I’ve got?” she asked.
“Nope,” he answered. “Show me!”
“I’ve got a secret,” Anni said. “And it’s the kind you can’t even show.”
“A secret, huh?” Dad said, nodding. “Well, then I won’t ask and we’ll just leave it there.” But he asked all the same: “Is it a good secret?”
“Yeah, it’s really good,” Anni replied. “And really secret.”
All of a sudden, Anni felt tears pricking the corners of her eyes. She desperately wanted to tell someone. It felt like the secret was squirming inside of her and wanted everyone to know.
Finally, it was time for bed. Anni snuggled under her blanket, Mom sang her a lullaby, gave her a kiss, and turned off the light. Then, Anni took her stuffed wolf, lifted up its ear, and whispered:
“Hey, wolf—I’m going to tell you a secret.”
Anni knew that stuffed animals can’t talk, so she didn’t wait for the wolf to reply. But as soon as she’d shared the secret, she added just in case:
“And make sure you don’t tell anyone about it. Not even my duck or my doll or my teddy bear. The secret’s just for you, me, and Karolin.”
pp 19–22

The Invitation

Anni started going to preschool last autumn. At first, she found it a little hard to get used to. All the kids were strangers and Anni only played by herself for a while. Slowly but surely, she got to know the other kids. And now, she’s even excited to go! She has a lot of friends at preschool already: Linda and Otto and Marissa and Aaron. And Karolin is her best friend of all.
One afternoon when Anni’s dad came to pick her up, he found a little letter on the top shelf of her nook.
“Check it out, Anni!” he said. “Someone’s written you a letter. Let’s walk down to the river and read what they wrote.
Anni was ecstatic. She’d gotten a letter!
When Anni and her dad had finished their ice creams on a bench on the riverbank, they wiped their fingers clean and Dad took the letter out of his pocket. It was written on pretty daffodil-colored paper with colorful maple leaves drawn in the corners.
Dad read the letter to Anni:

My dear friend, Anni. Please attend my birthday party,
which will be held on October 7th at 6 p.m. in the
Dots and Stripes Playroom at 19 Kuperjanov Street, second floor.
My mom’s phone number is: 558 93893.
Your friend,

“Oh, wow!” Anni gasped. “It’s a letter from Karolin!”
“That’s right, Anni,” Dad said cheerfully. “She’ inviting you to a party.”
Anni grinned.
“Read it to me one more time, please,” she asked.
So, Dad read:
“Invitation. My dear friend, Anni. Please attend my birthday party, which will be held on October 7th at 6 p.m. in the Dots and Stripes Playroom at 19 Kuperjanov Street, second floor. My Mom’s phone number is: 558 93893. Your friend, Karolin.”
Anni listened attentively and when Dad repeated the part that went “your friend, Karolin,” she grinned again. She also liked the funny-sounding “19 Kuperjanov Street”.
When they got home, Anni asked her dad for the letter and ran it over to her mom, not even taking off her sandals indoors.

“Look!” she shouted. “I got an invitation!”
“Oh-ho!” Mom exclaimed. “From whom?”
“You’ll have to read it for yourself,” Anni said. “Then you’ll find out.”
Anni sat down on the couch next to her mom and urged her:
“Well, go ahead!”
So, Mom read aloud:
“Invitation. My dear friend, Anni. Please attend my birthday party, which will be held at on October 7th 6 p.m. in the Dots and Stripes Playroom at 19 Kuperjanov Street, second floor. My mom’s phone number is: 558 93893. Your friend, Karolin.
“How wonderful!” Mom exclaimed when she’d finished reading, and gave Anni a hug. “You’ve made yourself a friend!”
“Yeah!” Anni cheered. “Karolin wrote ‘your friend, Karolin’, and that means we’re friends!”
Anni told her brothers the news as soon as they came home from the skate park. And they had to read the letter out loud to her, too.
“It’s an invitation,” Anni explained. “My friend Karolin wants me to come to her birthday party. It’s at 19 Kuperjanov Street!”
“Cool,” Mats and Samuel both said.
That night when Anni was getting ready to go to sleep, Mom came in to read her a bedtime story. But Anni said:
“Let’s read Karolin’s invitation tonight instead.”
“But it’s so short,” Mom protested.
“We can read it twice, then! Please . . .”
So, Mom agreed and started to read. Anni whispered along with her, because she’d already memorized Karolin’s whole letter. And at the end, when Mom read “your friend, Karolin”, Anni’s smile automatically returned.
Anni and Karolin have been great friends ever since that birthday. And no doubt Anni will also invite Karolin to her own birthday party next spring. Anni doesn’t know what playroom she’ll have the party at yet, but she reckons it might be one on Kuperjanov Street.

pp. 26–27

The Pullup Bar

Anni likes to run and jump and do somersaults, but most of all, she likes to hang on things. That’s a fact! Whenever Anni spots something good to dangle from, she grabs on to it immediately and lifts her legs off the ground. She hangs from the garden gate and bus poles. And the jungle gym at the playground. And in cafés, Anni hangs from the edge of the counter so the salesperson only sees her fingers.
Whenever Anni hangs from the bookshelf at home, Dad scolds her and says: “Don’t hang from that, Anni. It’ll come off the wall.” And when Anni hangs from the edge of the bathtub, her big brother Samuel warns: “Don’t hang from there—it’s slippery. You’ll fall and get hurt. And we’re supposed to be brushing our teeth right now, anyway.”
Whenever Dad comes home from work and walks in through the gate, Anni wants him to pick her up. But instead of running over to him, she dangles from a branch on the apple tree and yells:
“Daddy! Daddy! Come help! There are mean sharks down there!”
Dad then runs to Anni and scoops her up in his arms.
When Anni wants Mom to read to her, she hangs from the doorknob and squeals: “Come save me! I’m going to fall off this cliff!”
Mom comes to the rescue, of course. And then, Anni says:
“Thanks, Mommy! Now, read me a chapter from Piia Biscuit!”
One time, Dad brought home a funny-looking pipe. He screwed it into the wall in Anni’s bedroom and said:
“Look, Anni—this is a pull-up bar. I know you like to hang on things, and this is made just for hanging. Isn’t that slick?”
“Sure is,” Anni said, and hung from it for a little while. Then she hung a little longer, but it wasn’t all that fun anymore.
“I think I’m not a fan of hanging anymore,” Anni announced, and started tossing balloons over the pull-up bar instead.
But sometimes when no one is looking, Anni still likes to go into the bathroom and hang from the edge of the tub a little.

Translated by Adam Cullen

Foreword: Vilnius within the bounds of China, The Biography of Vilnius: City of Strangers, by Laimonas Briedis

Despite the hardships of the Japanese occupation, but in sharp contrast to Europe, almost all Jewish refugees in Shanghai survived the war. But when in the summer of 1945, after the surrender of Germany and Japan, the news from Vilnius reached Shanghai, an overwhelming feeling of loss rushed through the small Yiddish-speaking community. More than ninety per cent of Jews in Lithuania perished during World War II and out of sixty thousand Jews of Vilnius, only a handful survived German occupation. After learning of the massacre in Europe, the Shanghai Yiddish newspaper, Yiddishe Shtime – Yiddish Voice – wrote: “The fields of Poland lament, the trees of Lithuania weep, and cursed Europe is crying – where are our Jews. Why did our earth become a grave for them?


Lithuania and China are tied to each other by the survival of the refugees from Vilnius in Shanghai, who lost everything they ever knew, yet still were able to save the language and memories of their homeland for future generations. With them, the Jewish spirit of Vilna was taken into the world. Individuals and their families on the Vilnius list were not the sole survivors of the Holocaust in Lithuania; but while a few survived German occupation of Lithuania in solitude or in hiding, the group in Shanghai came out of the war without being forced to lose or disguise their Jewish identity. In that sense, they became a diaspora of the Diaspora, a living element of Vilna, a bit of Lithuania (and Poland) – more than a thousand souls – rescued by being sent to China. Not a small matter, considering the fact that there are less than two thousand Jews living today in Lithuania. Throughout many years, I have met some of the Shanghai survivors in different places around the world and from them I learned a side of my own native of town, Vilnius, I had never known. For the refugees, Vilnius and Shanghai marked neither the beginning nor the end of their world wandering, yet both cities became cornerstones in their struggle to live despite the losses.


In contemporary, twenty-first century Shanghai, the compact area surrounding the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum on Changyang Road provides acces to knowledge of Vilna of the pre-WWII era without leaving China. In part, what we know about Jewish Vilnius comes from the memories of Shanghai survivors. My own experience of the neighborhood during a lengthy stay in Shanghai several years ago was that of discovery and wonder. It felt like opening doors to a secret passage, leading me back to the unacknowledged past and, hence, still uncharted territory of Vilnius. I mused over listening to Yiddish, the language no longer heard in Vilnius, in the streets and courtyards of Hongkou. In Shanghai, by encountering, listening to and reading stories of the refugees from the Vilnius list I found something I had long been searching for in Lithuania: narrative ties that could make the country part of an extensive global story, both on the level of individual, and on the level of communal belonging. Following this revelation, I came to see China as being so much closer to Vilnius than one would ever imagine it to be.

Happiness Is A Bean, by Teresa Präauer

I recently received a dark brown-black bean from a long-time friend, which he dug out of his pocket and handed me with the words: This is a lucky bean. He smiled mischievously and a bit like you know it from people who have the mischief in the neck. But more than that, the gift was meant to be really loving and encouraging, the friend had learned of a grief that plagued me, and so I should now put the lucky bean in his pocket and keep it with me until I was lucky again would be. I put the bean in the coin compartment of my wallet, which I change less often than my pants, and from that day on I carried the bean with me as I was told.

It was only after a few days that I noticed why my friend had grinned like that when he handed over the bean he had found on the beach: it was made of stone. A dark, matt, rounded stone in the shape of a bean. How funny nature can often be with its trivial jokes about the similarities of things, I thought. And now I had to grin that I hadn’t noticed that immediately when I received it, including the weight. The bean was a stone.

In the days that followed I jokingly used the stone bean there and there. At the post office counter I had to pay postage and opened the coin box to offer the post office worker the bean instead of the coins. Of course, I didn’t want to get rid of the bean, rather it was a reason to chat, and thus also a kind of curren-cy. Every time I tried to use the bean for something, I was offered a smile, a question, a conversation about stones, beans and coins in exchange. I never exchanged them, never-ever. But did the lucky bean bring me luck too?

Surprisingly, it soon actually brought what you want for a good year: concert visits, dinner with friends, coffee, discussions, work breaks. Afternoons in the library, long walks. Offers, encounters, even love. As soon as I have had enough luck, I wrote in mid-February, I will have to pass the bean on. I was already getting cocky and generous with my lucky bean!

But then came this whole annoying thing with the corona virus, suddenly everything that had just been so beautiful was banned, and I said to myself, I’d better keep the bean in my pocket for a while. Better safe than sorry. The only thing left on my list of possible happiness was the long walks. Due to the lack of attractions, I regularly measured the number of steps I took. That was often ten thousand a day. It’s about eight kilometers through the city, from one quiet district to the next, from one quiet place to the next, from one empty street to the next. If you go far enough, I thought, you will eventually get to the beach. And once you get there, you don’t have to be stingy anymore. Because the lucky beans lie like stones on the bank, you just have to find them and put them in your pocket.

Original language is German written by Teresa Präauer, Feb / May 2020

The Silver Road (Extract), by Stina Jackson

It was the light, the way it stung and burned and tore at him, hung over the forests and the lakes like an incentive to go on breathing, like a promise of new life. The light, that filled his veins with an urgency and robbed him of sleep. It was still only May, but he lay awake as dawn filtered through fibres and gaps. He could hear the melting frost seeping out of the ground as winter bled away, and streams and rivers rushing and surging as the fells shed their winter covering. Soon the light would consume every night, invading, dazzling, shaking life into everything that slumbered beneath the rotten leaves. It would fill the buds on the trees with warmth until they burst open, and the forest would fill with mating calls and the hunger cries of newly hatched life. The midnight sun would drive people from their lairs and fill them with longing. They would laugh and make love and become crazy and violent. Some might even disappear. They would be blinded an and disorientated. But he didn’t want to believe that they died.


He smoked only while he was searching for her. Lelle saw her in the passenger seat every time he lit another cigarette, the way she grimaced and fixed her eyes on him over the rim of her glasses. ‘I thought you’d given up?’ ‘I have given up. This is just a one-off.’ He could see her shake her head, scowl and bare her teeth, the pointy canines that embarrassed her. Her presence was more palpable then, as he drove through the night and the daylight clung on. Her hair that was almost white when the sun caught it, the dark splash of freckles on the bridge of her nose that she had tried to disguise with make-up in recent years, and her eyes that saw everything, even though she gave the impression she wasn’t looking.


She was more like Anette than she was him, and that was just as well. The beauty genes certainly hadn’t come from him. She was beautiful and that wasn’t just because he was biased, people had always turned to look at Lina, even when she was very little. She was the kind of child who would bring a smile to the most jaded of faces. But these days nobody turned to look at her any more. No one had seen her for three years – at least, no one who was prepared to say it openly. His cigarettes ran out before he reached Jörn. Lina was no longer sitting in the seat beside him. The car was empty and silent and he had almost forgotten he was driving, eyes on the road but taking nothing in. He had been travelling along this main road, known as the Silver Road, for such a long time that he knew it like the back of his hand. He knew every bend and every gap in the wildlife fencing that allowed moose and reindeer to cross if they had a mind to. He knew where rainwater collected on the surface and where mist drifted up from the tarns and distorted his vision. The road’s sole purpose had disappeared with the closure of the silver mines, and it had become treacherous after years of neglect and deterioration. But it was also the only road that connected Glimmersträsk with the other inland communities, and however much he detested the cracked tarmac and the overgrown drainage ditches that stretched out behind him, he would never abandon it. This was where she had disappeared. This road had swallowed up his daughter.


Originally published in Sweden as Silvervägen by Albert Bonniers Förlag in 2018. First published in Great Britain in 2019 by Corvus, an imprint of Atlantic Books Ltd. Copyright © Stina Jackson, 2019. English translation copyright © Susan Beard, 2019