Creative Writing in Sofia

A very quick post this, from Sofia University. It’s my first time back in Bulgaria since the launch of the Bulgarian edition of The Descent of the Lyre in 2014 (incidentally, the original language version is now available in very handsome [amazon text=paperback&asin=9380905858] — and if you haven’t bought the book yet, then get yourself a copy!). It is also my first time at the university since a philosophy conference I attended way back in 2006. It’s good to be here again.

I’m here thanks to the Erasmus programme, making connections with colleagues in the English and American Studies department, talking about possibilities for working together, and teaching a few classes. As a part of all this, I’ll be giving a public lecture tomorrow evening on the subject of creative writing (see the link here). I’m particularly pleased to be doing this lecture, as for I long time I’ve wanted the opportunity to step back and think about creative writing as an academic discipline. Being under pressure to say something relatively coherent in public about this has given me the excuse to put some thoughts into order. After all, despite seven or so years teaching creative writing in universities (and many more years elsewhere), I still find it a strange and puzzling business.

What I’m hoping to do in my lecture is to indulge in a bit of utopian thinking, imagining what the discipline could be, why it might be something worth doing, and generally rethinking things a bit. One of my main contentions is going to be that the hitching of creative writing to the discipline of English literature—which is common to must universities in the English speaking world—limits the subject’s scope both in terms of how we think about the pedagogy of creative writing, and how we think about the intellectual content of the discipline. Another of my contentions is going to be that fine artists have more fun.

Anyway, I’ll see how it goes. It’s going to be a fairly substantial talk, as the Bulgarians have much more stamina than my fellow countrymen (most public lectures are ninety minutes, I have been told, but as a foreigner-of-little-stamina I can get away with sixty). And I’m looking forward to seeing what discussions the lecture prompts.

The Descent of the Lyre: Out Now in Paperback

For those of you waiting for the paperback edition of my novel, The Descent of the Lyre, now that it has been launched here in Kolkata, the handsome paperback is available and on general release.

If you are in the UK, you can get hold of it via hive.co.uk by following this link, or alternatively you can [amazon text=buy it through the Evil Empire&asin=9380905858]. In India, you can buy via FlipKart / Roman Books.

If you want to find out more about the book, this interview was published today in The Pioneer.

India!

The last few days have been pretty busy, as I’ve been putting everything in order for my forthcoming trip to India. I’m going to be doing an event at the Kolkata Book Fair, where I’ll be launching the paperback of my novel, The Descent of the Lyre. Kolkata Book Fair is an interesting event, in particular because of the strong emphasis that it puts on the relationship between readers and writers. But I’m also taking advantage of being in India to head up to Santiniketan, where I’ll pay my respects to the memory of Rabindranath Tagore, and to do a bit of research for a couple of forthcoming projects in Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, and around the Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

I was last in India — and Bodh Gaya — in 1998, and so I’m expecting that things will have changed quite a lot. But I’m looking forward to being back, and to getting to grips with India again (and to spending a bit more time than usual writing and meditating).

I’ll be posting updates on this blog whilst I’m away — I generally write more when I’m on the move. In the mean-time, there are bags to pack, things to organise, and classes to be taught…

Review of The Descent of the Lyre in Bulgarian

I’m delighted to have a review of The Descent of the Lyre / Произходът на лирата in the Bulgarian publication Kultura (Култура), written by the wonderful novelist and translator Angel Igov. The review, which is only available in Bulgarian, is very thoughtful and considered  (though given my poor Bulgarian, I’m relying mainly on the powers of Google translate!), and deals with both the English and Bulgarian versions, as well as with some of the interesting slippages that have taken place between the two.

Read the interview here.

Extract in Dnevnik

There’s an extract from the Bulgarian translation of my novel, The Descent of the Lyre, or (in Bulgarian) “Произходът на лирата”, on the website of today’s Dnevnik newspaper in Bulgaria. If you want to know how the book reads in Bulgarian, then go to the link here. I’ll be following the comments with interest, but feel inordinately pleased with the person who said that I’m clearly not British because the book is, you know, poetic and stuff like that…

Press Clippings from Bulgaria

I’ve been sent a few media clippings from the recent launch of Произходът на лирата (The Descent of the Lyre) in Bulgaria, so I thought I’d upload them here. You can click the tabs below, and download the articles as PDF files.

An interview with Presa/Преса, published on 16th April 2014.

 

Download

Weekend

A write-up in Weekend/Уикенд, 5th-11th April 2014.

 

Download

Monitor

And finally a brief feature in Monitor/Монитор from 5th April, 2014.

 

Download

Interviews, Meetings and Plans

Today I catch the flight back to Manchester, and then head home to Leicester. The last couple of weeks in Bulgaria have been busy. At the last count, in the last ten days or so, I’ve done two book launches, one creative writing workshop, one school visit, one literary and cultural evening, two radio interviews, one TV interview, and five or so more media interviews. In addition, it has been an absolute delight to meet up with so many old and new friends, and to have all kinds of meetings making plans for future projects and collaborations.

I’m hoping to be back in Bulgaria before long. But until then, here’s my interview on Bulgarian National TV where — thanks to the miracle of dubbing — I’m miraculously fluent.

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