LIFESTYLE - CULTURE

New anthology gives young Luxembourg voices platform



Winner of the 20-26 age category Amela Skenderovic is pictured holding a copy of the new anthology in which her short story is featured Amela Skenderovic

Winner of the 20-26 age category Amela Skenderovic is pictured holding a copy of the new anthology in which her short story is featured Amela Skenderovic

English language publishing house Black Fountain Press is launching two books before the summer break--one of them a showcase of short stories by Luxembourg’s young writing talent.

“Young Voices-Short fiction by young writers from Luxembourg” is an anthology of works submitted to the publishing house’s 2020 competition.

Working in collaboration with the University of Luxembourg, which sponsored the publication, the book launch was originally scheduled for April 2020 until the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in March.

“We had planned an award ceremony and book launch in early April which we had to cancel. At first we wanted to postpone the event until September, but as things still look complicated, we've decided to promote the young authors online and in the media following the motto 'winners, winners, winners',” Black Fountain Press’ Anne-Marie Reuter told Delano.

The contest welcomed entries of short stories in English from writers aged 20-26 and 16-19. The jury awarded first prize for the 20-26 category to Amela Skenderovic, with Maxime Weber coming in second. Anouk Schreiner won the 16-19 category, and second place went to Noah Gudgeon.

Dual Montenegrin-Luxembourg national Amela Skenderovic’s short story is a semi-fictional memoir exploring the experiences of a child of migrants in Luxembourg during the first day of school. Skenderovic, whose parents moved to Luxembourg in the early 1990s during the Yugoslav Wars, said the story was her way of  “trying to come to terms with the feeling of otherness that a foreign last name inspires, how I wish I had dealt with bigoted and covert xenophobic remarks that I had heard so frequently while growing up, and how difficult it is to find a place to ‘fit in’.”

Skenderovic studied English literature for her BA and English language teaching for an MA. She has lived in London the past four years and said that English “almost comes to me more naturally than my native language (Montenegrin) or Luxembourgish.” It is the first time she has been published.

Photo: Maxime Weber

For Luxembourger Maxime Weber, pictured above, this is his third time of being published and second big win for a writing contest (previous credits include “Mord und Totschlag” by Editions Saint-Paul, 2010, and “Anthologie Prix Laurence-D’Laureaten 2015-2016”, by Editions Guy Binsfield). His short story, “Panima”, describes a moment when man-made objects gain consciousness. He said he chose to write in English because of the vast and diverse vocabulary of the language and its “all pervasiveness all around the world.”

19-year-old Anouk Schreiner (pictured below) was awarded the Coup de Coeur du Jury in the 2019 Prix Laurence and has previously had three of her poems published in the Prix Laurence anthology. She describes English as her “weakest language, since it’s the language I started learning last.” However, she said that she appreciates writing in English can reach a broader audience than writing in her native Luxembourgish. Her story “U=RI” examines casual homophobia in school settings. “My intention was to show how present homophobia still is in Luxembourgish society to this day and how big of a toll it takes on LGBTQ youth,” Schreiner told Delano.

Photo: Jil Diseviscourt

For dual UK-Luxembourg national Noah Gudgeon, pictured below, this is the first time he has had a work published. A native English speaker, his darkly humorous story about a pie “with very unusual qualities” is a cautionary tale about obsession and overindulgence.

Photo: Noah Gudgeon

“Young Voices-Short fiction by young writers from Luxembourg” costs €10 and can be ordered from www.blackfountain.lu or at bookstores Ernster, Alinéa and Diedrich.

On 15 July, Black Fountain Press will also publish a book by Luxembourg writer Pierre Joris. Joris, who won the 2020 Batty Weber prize, lives in New York.