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Episode One

Daisy Towers – Spanish Civil War Translated Literature

In this talk, you’ll be introduced to a selection of fictional works, translated into English, that are based on the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). With Daisy Towers, PhD student from the University of Leeds, learn about how the war inspired numerous authors to draw on their experiences and the position of translated literature in the English literary sphere.

Further Reading

Sarah Watling, Tomorrow Perhaps the Future: Following Writers and Rebels in the Spanish Civil War (Penguin, 2024).
Merce Rodoreda (author) & Peter Bush (translator), In Diamond Square (Virago, 2014).
Ana María Matute (author) & Laura Lonsdale (translator), The Island (Penguin, 2020).
Dulce Chacon (author) & Nick Caistor (translator), The Sleeping Voice (2006).
Montserrat Roig (author), Megan Berkobien (translator) & María Cristina Hall (translator), Goodbye, Ramona (2022).

Episode Two

Timothy Thurston & Tsering Samdrup – No Laughing Matter: Understanding Tibetan Experience in China through Comedy

What do people think about when they hear China and Tibet in the same sentence? They often think of the traumatic experiences of surveillance, self-immolations, repression of religious expression, and international accusations of cultural genocide. Rarely will they think of traditional humour, and modern comedy disseminated in audiovisual media. But laughter is more characteristic of the everyday Tibetan experience, and attending to Tibetan humor and comedy can help us understand contemporary Tibetan experience in contemporary China.

Interspersed with clips in the original Tibetan, Timothy Thurston and collaborator Tsering Samdrup will discuss their preparation of a book of translated Tibetan comedic scripts, and how these comedies can help provide a nuanced understanding of the complexities of everyday Tibetan experience in twentieth and twenty-first century China.

Further Reading

Timothy Thurston. 2018. “A Careful Village: Comedy and Linguistic Modernity in China’s Tibet, ca. 1996.” Journal of Asian Studies. 77(2): 453-474.
Timothy Thurston. 2013. “Careful Village’s Grassland Dispute: An A mdo Dialect Tibetan Crosstalk Performance by Sman bla skyabs.” CHINOPERL: Journal of Chinese Oral and Performing Literature. 32(2): 156-181.
Menla Kyap. 2023. The Dream, translated by Tsering Samdrup. YesheL: A journal of Tibetan Arts and Literature and Humanities.
Donyol Dondrup and Charlene Makley. 2017. “The Body Hair that Grows on the Head”: Menla-kyap’s ‘Views on Hair and Hairstyles’ (2009). Ateliers d’anthropologie.
Tsering Samdrup and Hiroyuki Suzuki. 2019. Humilifics in Mabzhi pastoralist speech of Amdo Tibetan. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. 42(2): 222-259.

Episode Three

Helen Finch & Alessio Baldini – Ukraine and the Voices of Those Left Behind: Jewish Novelists Natalia Ginzburg and Katja Petrowskaja in Dialogue

When we think about World War Two or the Holocaust, our minds go to those who fought or were deported to the camps. In this literary dialogue, Helen Finch and Alessio Baldini bring to you the voices of those writers who were left behind.

Natalia Ginzburg was 28 and the mother of three when her husband, Leone Ginzburg (an Italian Jew of Ukrainian descent) died in prison after being beaten by the Gestapo. The Ginzburg family had lived in ‘confino’ (internal exile) for a few years. As an Italian Jew, Natalia was now in hiding with her children to flee persecution. She survived to become one of the most important writers in post-war Italy. In her writings, she explores how vulnerability and dependence make us human, and often returns to how the war years have shaped her outlook on life.

Contemporary writer Katja Petrowskaja, a Jewish writer born in Ukraine and writing in German, explores narratives of Jewish family history in Ukraine and Germany before and after the Holocaust. Her major work Maybe Esther (tr. Shelley Frisch, 2014) traces the impossibility of reconstructing the lives of her family members who were destroyed in the Holocaust. More recently, Petrowskaja’s journalism from Berlin traces the connections between the Nazi invasion of Ukraine and Russia’s current war on Ukraine, started in 2022.

Further Reading

Jeannet, Angela M., and Sanguinetti Katz, Giuliana (eds). 2000. Natalia Ginzburg: A voice of the Twentieth Century. Toronto: Toronto University Press.
Ginzburg, Natalia. 1999 (1952) All Our Yesterdays. Translated from Italian by Angus Davidson. Manchester: Carcanet.
Ginzburg, Natalia. 2016 (1944). Memory. [Online] Translated from Italian by Estelle Ginbson. The Baffler. Available from:  [Accessed: 3 September 2023]
Scarpa, Domenico. 2017. Per un ritratto di Natalia Ginzburg. [Online]. Griseldaonline: rivista di letteratura. 16(1). Available from: [Accessed: 3 September 2023]  
Correspondence to: Dr Alessio Baldini. Email:

Episode Four

Colin Grant, Alex Wheatle & Susan Pitter – Being Black in Britain

This podcast was recorded as part of the 2023 Ilkley Literature Festival. To find out more about the festival, visit ⁠our website⁠.

In a conversation hosted by Susan Pitter, award-winning writers Alex Wheatle and Colin Grant come together to discuss their personal experiences of being Black in Britain; the people, places, and music they turned to navigate their identity and the racism they faced.

Wheatle’s Sufferah explores his childhood marred by abuse – with no knowledge of his Jamaican parentage or family history – his imprisonment as a young man protesting systemic racism and police brutality, and how he found salvation and comfort in reggae.

Grant’s I’m Black So You Don’t Have To Be explores the lives of his family members – from his mother’s longing to return to Jamaica, to his sister who refashioned herself as an African princess – and the impact they had on Grant’s own shifting sense of self.

Episode Five

Greg Radick & Mike Dixon – Darwin and the Ilkley Pudding

This talk was recorded at the 2023 Ilkley Literature Festival. To find out more about the festival, visit ⁠our website⁠.

When Charles Darwin arrived in Ilkley in October 1859, he had just finished working on his epochal book On the Origin of Species. After his monumental labours, he looked forward to restoring his body and mind in the Northern home of “the water cure”. But his nine-week visit turned out to be socially and intellectually lively, in ways that illuminate the man and his times, and even the enigmatic illness that plagued him.

In this talk, Mike Dixon and Gregory Radick share new evidence on what Darwin got up to on his journey to the North, what he took away for his future scientific work, and what – according to his wife Emma – was in Ilkley Pudding.

Episode Six

Olivia Santovetti, Richard Hibbitt & Domenico Scarpa – Italo Calvino in a Nut/Shell

This talk was recorded at the University of Leeds in 2023. To find out more, visit the ⁠University of Leeds website⁠.

The centenary of the birth of Italo Calvino, the most widely translated Italian author of the 20th century, was in 2023. The Italian critic Domenico Scarpa marked the centenary with his magisterial publication (Calvino fa la conchiglia. La costruzione di uno scrittore, Hoepli, 2023) and here explores the popularity of Calvino in the anglophone world. Starting from the ‘The Spiral’, the cosmicomic story about the construction of a self which is a constant narrative theme for Calvino (and the inspiration for Scarpa’s book’s title), the conversation moves back in time to the fantastic novellas of Our Ancestors from the 1950s then forward to Invisibile cities, which in 1972 established Calvino’s international reputation, finally concluding with If on a winter’s night a traveller (1979) and Mr Palomar (1983). Using as a springboad the commentaries of writers who admired Calvino, including Gore Vidal, John Barth, Salman Rushdie and Semaus Heaney, the timeless qualities that make Calvino’s works so beloved outside Italy and so pertinent to understanding our contemporary world are investigated.