Tue 06 November 2012

Notes from the Underground #16

This autumn there are not just leaves falling from the trees, but citybooks too! Colleague Willem Bongers-Dek went to take a look in Venice, where Cees Nooteboom and Lydia Mischkulnig were busy finishing and starting their citybooks residencies respectively. Willem tells us more about the extraordinary place the authors are staying.

Notes from the Underwater

Personally, the best thing about citybooks is that the project doesn’t just whisk me away on an armchair tour of Europe, but that sometimes I actually get to travel in the flesh. This is how I visited Graz at the end of 2011, how I swung by in Sheffield in April of this year, and – in September – how I paid a visit to our partner in Venice.

The Fondazione Georgio Cini takes care of the residencies on the Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore; a modest patch of land home to an old church, a variety of exhibitions, and the Centro Internazionale di Studi Civilità Italiana ‘Vittore Branca’. The centre houses a magnificent library with over 300,000 tapes where dozens of researchers carry out their scholarship on tiptoes and in whispers.


Cees Nooteboom © Simone SassenMy visit to Venice was planned to allow me to meet with both of our authors. With Cees Nooteboom I spoke about international literature and the translation of literature. He gave me a tip: to give a book by Adam Thirwell a go. I hereby share this tip with all of you!


When I arrive in Venice, the Austrian philosopher Lydia Mischkulnig was almost packing up. She had spent two weeks wandering through the city’s streets and, in the meantime, spoken to everybody with something to tell about Venice, in any of the many languages in her command.


My final encounter in Venice also turned out to be a valuable one. Marta Zoppetti from the Fondazione had recommended I drop by at the energetic publishers and booksellers linea d’acqua. It proved an excellent choice: Luca Zentilini and Federic Acerboni were enthusiastic at the prospect of the project, and proposed to publish (fragments from) citybooks in 2013, in their cultural heritage magazine Gondola Days. To be continued!

(Willem Bongers-Dek, citybooks coordinator)




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