As part of the Writers in Translation programme’s tenth anniversary celebrations in 2015, English PEN teamed up with Free Word and The Reading Agency to produce From One Reader to Another, a reading and sharing initiative which put the best international literature into the hands of readers, and opened up a dialogue between readers. Over the summer we invited reading groups in libraries, schools, prisons and local communities from across the country to read books from English PEN’s World Bookshelf, each book in tandem with another group elsewhere in the UK. The project culminated on Saturday 14 November in a day of sharing at the Free Word Centre in London, where the readers could finally meet each other and share their thoughts and experiences for the first time.
As well as all the stimulating discussion between the readers we were thrilled to have a keynote address from bestselling novelist Jessie Burton, and a (very good-natured!) translation slam between two Polish translators, Free Word translator-in-residence Marta Dziurosz and the European Literature Network’s Anna Blasiak, chaired by Ollie Brock.
At the end of the sharing day, readers wrote a brief message or thought in their book and left it behind as a donation; the books are now being distributed to prison libraries which English PEN works with through our Readers and Writers programme – thereby allowing ideas and stories to be shared again, from one reader to another.