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From Vilnius to Viccy Centre: Celebrating Lithuanian Literature At The Easiest Launch

23 May 17 words: LP Mills
photos: Murray Robson

It's not often we get the chance to celebrate literature from further afield. Thankfully, Noir Press have brought the best and brightest of continent to us. We went to One BC for the launch of their latest Lithuanian dark romance The Easiest

In spite of our currently wobbly political climate, Nottingham continues to be a happily continental city. In testament to this, new publishing press Noir have set up in Nottingham to celebrate translations of contemporary Lithuanian authors. This weekend saw the official launch of their second title, The Easiest by Rasa Aškinytė, held at One BC in Sneinton Market.

A dark, deeply analytical take on the naivety that characterises romance novels, Aškinytė’s novel plays with a light-hearted, oftentimes playful tone, in spite of an occasionally deadpan attitude towards violence. The novel, first published in 2011 in Aškinytė’s native Lithuanian, was presented in lieu of the author, who was unable to make the event. Extracts from the English edition of the novel, expertly read out by Lithuanian designer and willing volunteer Svaiga Seliokaite, were interspersed between live music performances from Ventiduo and discussions on the context of the novel from press founder and novelist Stephan Collishaw.

 While we’re more than happy to celebrate the work of our continental cousins, LeftLion is a Nottingham-based mag, so let’s talk about the local connections. Collishaw, who has recently returned to Nottingham from a lengthy stint in Lithuania, set up Noir Press as a way of bringing modern Lithuanian literature (described by Collishaw as “terra incognita” to most British readers) to our neck of the woods. This translation of The Easiest is a true marrying of Lithuania and Nottingham, with the front cover featuring a photograph taken during Nottingham Light Night by local artist and designer Le Dinh Han.

The Easiest marks Noir Press’ second publication, with it and its predecessor Breathing into Marble by Laura Sintija Cerniauskaite forming parts one and two of a four-part series of Lithuanian fiction released by the press. The next two novels, The Music Teacher by Renata Šerelytė and Shtetl Love Song by Grigory Kanovich, are due to be released later this year.

The launch, as a whole, remained consistent with the book it was celebrating: A weird, lively venue with a pleasant, joyful atmosphere. Ventiduo’s gentle ethereal melodies and One BC’s wide, open, well-lit space gave the whole launch a natural lightness, which goes to show you that Noir doesn’t necessarily have to be dark.

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