Columbia University in the City of New York

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The Witch’s Triumph: A Tribute to Dubravka Ugrešić
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Please join the Institute for Ideas & Imagination, the Harriman Institute, and the Center for Writers and Translators at the American University in Paris for an event with Jakuta Alikavazovic, Rumena Bužarovska, Georgi Gospodinov, Valentina Izmirlieva, Elik Lettinga, Daniel Medin, and Maria Stepanova.

First Panel: A Transnational Life

with Jakuta Alikavazovic, Rumena Bužarovska and Elik Lettinga moderated by Daniel Medin

Second panel: Transitional Decades: Eastern Europe Then and Now

with Georgi Gospodinov and Maria Stepanova, moderated by Valentina Izmirlieva


Jakuta Alikavazovic is a French writer born on October 6, 1979, in Paris. Her debut novel Corps volatils, was awarded the prix Goncourt du premier roman. In 2021, her latest novel Night As It Falls, was published in the United Kingdom by Faber & Faber. A former student of the École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay, she holds an agrégation de Lettres degree.

Rumena Bužarovska, born in 1981 in Skopje, North Macedonia, is a fiction writer, literary translator, and social commentator. The author of two non-fiction books and four volumes of short stories, her book My Husband has been translated into fourteen languages and has been adapted into six stage productions in several European countries. Her literary translations into Macedonian include works by Flannery O’Connor, Truman Capote, Lewis Carroll and John M. Coetzee. She is a professor of American literature and translation at the state university in Skopje, co-author of the women’s storytelling initiative PeachPreach, and co-host of the podcast Radio Mileva.

Elik (Eleonora) Lettinga, born of a Frysian father and Greco-Russian-German mother in 1967, grew up in the small university town of Wageningen. She studied Law and English Literature at the University of Amsterdam, where she still lives. In 1995, she started working for De Arbeiderspers as an editor, working with both Dutch and foreign authors, among which are Paul Auster, Cormac McCarthy, Orhan Pamuk, Jennifer Egan, Michael Pollan, and Daniel Mendelsohn. In 2008, she became the publisher of De Arbeiderspers. In 2012, she left to become publisher of Nijgh & Van Ditmar, a sister company. Through the mediation of Arnon Grunberg she met Dubravka Ugrešić in 2013 and was very happy to welcome her back on the list. In 2014 both De Arbeiderspers and Nijgh &Van Ditmar were bought out from the WPG-group and became part of the then founded Singel Group. In 2019, Elik was appointed publisher of De Arbeiderspers and now runs both lists. In recent years she oversaw the publishing of Vivian Gornick, Natalia Ginzburg, Annie Ernaux, Michel Houellebecq, and many others.

Georgi Gospodinov is the winner of the 2023 International Booker Prize for his novel Time Shelter and ranks among the most translated and celebrated European writers today.  A Bulgarian writer, he first gained international recognition with his previous novels, Natural Novel and The Physics of Sorrow, both translated into more than 30 languages. His Booker was preceded by a string of prestigious awards, including Premio Strega Europeo (2021), the Central European Angelus Award (2019), and the Jan Michalski Prize (2016). Gospodinov’s substantial body of work ranges from fictional prose to poetry, and from drama to nonfiction. He is Associate Professor at the Institute for Literature, BAS, Sofia, and teaches creative writing at Sofia University. He has been Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library and the Wissenschaftskolleg (Berlin), and Writer-in-Residence at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University.

Maria Stepanova is a poet, essayist, and editor, and the recipient of several Russian and international literary awards, most recently the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding (2023). Her poems have been translated into a number of languages, including English, German, French, Italian and Swedish. Her documentary novel Pamiati pamiati (In Memory of Memory) came out in Russian in November 2017 and received the Russian Big Book Prize in December 2018. The book was translated into 27 languages, shortlisted for the International Booker Prize and Prix Médicis and longlisted for the National Book Award. It has also received the French Prix de Meilleur Livre Étranger (2022).  She was the 2022 Writer-in-Residence at the Harriman Institute,was awarded the 2023 Berman Literature Prize, and is currently a Fellow at the Institute of Ideas and Imagination. Since 2022 Stepanova has been based in Berlin.


Valentina Izmirlieva is a Professor in Columbia’s Slavic Department and Director of the Harriman Institute. She is a scholar of Balkan and East Slavic literary, religious and political cultures, with a focus on multi-ethnic and multi-religious empires and their successor states. The topics of her publications range from the medieval societies of the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions to the post-Soviet cultural space. The recipient of many awards and distinctions, Professor Izmirlieva was a Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at The New York Public Library in 2012-2013, and at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna in 2021 and 2023. She founded and leads Black Sea Networks, a global initiative to investigate the Black Sea as a hub of cultural, political, and historical interest.

Daniel Medin is a professor of comparative literature at the American University of Paris, where he teaches Central European literature and contemporary fiction in translation. He is a director of the Center for Writers and Translators and one of the editors of its Cahiers Series. In 2015, he published an extensive dossier on Dubravka Ugrešić’s body of work for Music & Literature Magazine.

Image: His Majesty Receives. William Holbrook Beard, 1885.