Literary Salon

Twenty writers from around the world will gather every morning at the University of East Anglia to debate in roundtable format the theme of Exile and Imagination in the life of the writer. This is for invited writers only.  If you are interested in any of the themes or in listening to these writers read, please click on Public Events.

Essays inspired by the sessions will be published online following the event.

The sessions will be led by our Writers in Residence. They are:

These writers will be in residence in Norwich in the days preceding this gathering, working collectively on ideas that inform a writer’s experience of exile and how conditions of exile might shape a writer’s imagination.

Sessions will be held in the mornings from 25 June - 27 June 2007. They will address the following ideas:

  • Monday 25 June:   Exile and the Writer – the Existential Condition
  • Tuesday 26 June:  Exile and Language – Alienation and Discovery
  • Wednesday 27 June: Exile and Place – the Cosmopolitan and the Local

At a time of mass movements of people, both voluntary and involuntary, the idea of the wanderer – from Odysseus and Ovid, by way of Dante, Joyce, Conrad, Stein and Rhys, to Ariel Dorfmann, Derek Walcott and Jung Chan – is ripe for re-evaluation. Received ideas of exile and its effects on writers will be balanced against a new conception of the power of exile on the imaginative mind: can exile and movement be a productive force in the development of a new vision of international literature?

Writers will be able to discuss the losses and gains offered by exile, migration and movement against the backdrop of current debates about national and international literatures. The distance from language and home is balanced by the access to new cultures, new forms and new horizons. The debate has no fixed outcomes, but the journey it takes offers an opportunity for writers to explore ideas that are sometimes too readily seen as the preserve of critics and cultural commentators.

There is a great tradition of writers’ meetings of this kind: from the Enlightenment gatherings in 17th- and 18th-century France through to Mallarmé’s Salons in the late 19th century; from Berlin and Paris in the 1920s and 1930s where writers gathered to discuss questions about literature’s distinctive modernity; to the gatherings on America’s East Coast in the 1940s where exiles and émigrés met American writers and critics.

New Writing Worlds continues this tradition, but on the new ground of literature’s changing international identity and circulation.

Literary Salon Chair: Professor Jon Cook.