The Inspiration of ‘Exile’ – Friday 14 November

As part of the Europe House Festival of Literature, celebrating the EU Prize for Literature to be awarded on 18 November 2014, Speaking Volumes presents The Inspiration of ‘Exile’: Europe Meets Africa

WITH Catherine Lefebvre, Beverley Naidoo and Tomáš Zmeškal, hosted by Rachel Holmes

Catherine Lefebvre has worked as curator with the Danish Contemporary Art Foundation and as special consultant with the Danish Arts Agency under the Ministry for Cultural Affairs in Copenhagen. In 2009 she was appointed director of the Karen Blixen Museum, an institution communicating the literary legacy of world famous writer Karen Blixen. Catherine Lefebvre engages a strong international profile for the museum, which collaborates with institutions on a global scale and highlights important issues from Blixen’s world and writing, such as identity, language and the relation to the surrounding world.

Beverley Naidoo is a writer for young people who was born in South Africa. She joined the resistance to apartheid, leading to detention without trial. She began writing in exile in England, with her first two books, Journey to Jo’burg and Censoring Reality, originally banned in her home country. Her many awards include the Carnegie Medal for The Other Side of Truth in 2000. Adult non-fiction includes Death of an Idealist: In Search of Neil Aggett, a biography of the medical doctor and trade unionist who was the 51st and only white detainee to die in apartheid detention. Her work has been widely translated. See

Photo of Beverley Naidoo (c) Linda Brownlee

Tomáš Zmeškal lives in Prague in the Czech Republic. He has written two novels, Love letter in cuneiform script (2008) which was awarded the European Union Literary Price (2011) and the Josef Skvorecky Czech literary prize; and Biography of a Black and White Lamb (2009). His creative non-fiction Socrates on Equator (2013) describes search for his Congolese father. He also writes short stories and radio plays and runs creative writing courses. He studied English Language and Literature, in London, where he lived for over ten years in the 1990s. His books have been translated into seven languages. In 2014 his first novel will be published in English by Yale University Press.

Photo of Tomáš Zmeškal (c) P Jose

Rachel Holmes’s acclaimed new book, Eleanor Marx: A Life is described by Gillian Slovo as ‘a dazzling account of a woman and her family, an age and a movement’. Holmes is also the author of The Hottentot Venus: The life and death of Saartjie Baartman and The Secret Life of Dr James Barry. Last year she co-edited, with Lisa Appignanesi and Susie Orbach, the much-discussed Fifty Shades of Feminism. She was co-commissioning editor of Sixty Six Books: 21st Century Writers Speak to the King James Bible (2011) with Josie Rourke and Chris Haydon. She has worked with and for British Council literature festivals and international programmes since 2000.