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Meet the Translator: Michael Biggins presents Newcomers by Lojze Kovačič

April 22 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm


This April 22, 2021 at 6:30 pm PST / 9:30 pm EST, Folio Seattle will host a virtual talk by translator Michael Biggins, who will present Newcomers by Lojze Kovačič.

The presentation will focus on unusual, persistent patterns that Kovačič designed into his 1,200-page novel and will make the case that at its publication in Slovenia in 1984 it was an unprecedented achievement in world literature comparable in the magnitude of its innovation to Joyce’s Ulysses and Proust’s In Search of Lost Time which, largely due to its inconspicuous origins, remains under-recognized even today.

Purchase your tickets here ($5 for Folio & NOTIS Members and $10 for General Admission).

Michael Biggins is responsible as translator for a number of the classics of twentieth-century Slovenian iiterature published in English, including Slovenia’s internationally best-selling novel of all time, Vladimir Bartol’s Alamut (Scala House 2004, reissued by North Atlantic 2007), Triestine Slovenian author Boris Pahor’s memoir of survival in Nazi concentration camps titled Necropolis, (Harcourt 1995, reissued by Dalkey Archive in 2010), the three-volume auto-fictional novel Newcomers by Lojze Kovačič (Archipelago 2016-2024), Drago Jančar’s epic tale of plague, religious persecution and survival in late medieval Europe The Galley Slave, (Dalkey Archive 2011), The Errors of Young Tjaž by Austrian Carinthian Slovene novelist Florjan Lipuš (Dalkey Archive 2013), several collections of poetry by Tomaž Šalamun, and most recently The Masochist, a novel set in fin de siècle Vienna and Central Europe by Katja Perat (Istros 2020).  In 2021 he became the first non-Slovenian recipient of the Primož Trubar Award for lifelong contributions to advancing and preserving Slovenia’s written cultural heritage.

President of the international Society for Slovene Studies since 2017, and Honorary Consul of Slovenia for Washington State since 2018, he lives in Seattle and teaches Slovenian language and literature, as well as Slavic to English literary translation at the University of Washington, where his primary employment is as curator of the university library’s nationally significant collection of over a half million volumes in more than twenty languages across the spectrum of Slavic and East European studies.

Lojze Kovačič was born in Basel in 1928 to a German mother and Slovenian father. In 1938 the family was exiled to Slovenia, where Kovačič lived until his death in 2004. Considered to be one of Slovenia’s most significant authors of the 20th century, his works often relate to his own life and are constantly concerned with existential topics like life and death, displacement and exile, dream and reality. He has been compared to great Central European writers such as Danilo Kis, Sandor Marai, Imre Kertész and Ismail Kadaré. His work, which has now been rediscovered in several countries, consists of ten novels, novellas, essays and children’s books.