Lucy Popescu

freedom to write, review, travel…

Guardian blogs

The National Theatre’s Phèdre gets a Mexican wave

  • Books

    We’ll miss the Pinter who fought oppression with words

    •, Monday December 29 2008
    • Lucy Popescu
    As we mourn the passing of one of the greatest playwrights of the 20th century, let’s not forget that the field of human rights has also lost a great defender of freedom of expression. During my time at PEN, Harold Pinter proved indispensable in helping to raise the profile of numerous, lesser well-known, writers in trouble for their work. He never let them down. Much has (…)
  • Books

    Translated from Arabic

    •, Wednesday April 16 2008
    • Lucy Popescu
    Alaa al Aswany opened International PEN’s Free the Word festival. Photograph: Murdo Macleod Judging by some of the exciting international developments emerging on our literary landscape, and the enthusiastic response from readers, literary organisations and publishers, Arabic writers in translation are all the rage. On Friday, I took a break from writing to go to the (…)
  • Art and design

    Frida Kahlo’s work is still as vibrant as her Casa Azul

    •, Monday August 6 2007
    • Lucy Popescu
    The agony and the ecstacy … A self-portrait by Frida Kahlo entitled Roots. Photograph: Richard Lewis/EPA It is incredible to think that this year marks the centenary of Frida Kahlo’s birth. Her paintings still feel so fresh and modern to me. The largest ever retrospective of her work is currently being displayed at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. When I (…)
  • Stage

    Theatre’s bright young things

    •, Wednesday May 30 2007
    • Lucy Popescu
    New directions: Polly Finlay. Photograph: Ryan Li Last week, the winner of the JMK Trust’s young theatre director award was announced at the National Theatre. I am fortunate to be a trustee of this flag-waving charity, set up to give a talented director under the age of 30 the opportunity to stage a show. The annual award, celebrating its 10th anniversary, also serves as a (…)
  • Books

    Opening up to foreign literature

    •, Wednesday May 2 2007
    • Lucy Popescu
    Last night I was at the presentation of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, at the National Portrait Gallery, where a young Angolan writer, José Eduardo Agualusa, was announced the 2007 winner for his novel The Book of Chameleons, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn. Set in contemporary Angola, the book is particularly notable for being narrated by a lizard. (…)
  • Books

    Many still suffer after Cuba’s ‘black spring’

    •, Wednesday April 11 2007
    • Lucy Popescu
    There has been plenty on this blog about Gabriel García Márquez’s 80th birthday and I was interested to read of his decision to celebrate with old friend, Fidel Castro, apparently much improved after his recent surgery. It is particularly shocking that Castro boasts such eminent writers among his friends given that it is now four years since Cuba’s “black spring” and more (…)
  • Books

    Writing that risks and saves lives

    •, Monday April 2 2007
    • Lucy Popescu
    Matters of life and death … detail from the cover of Another Sky Tonight sees the launch of the PEN anthology: Another Sky at the National Theatre. The book features the work of persecuted writers that PEN has helped over the last 40 years. The international writers’ organisation first started helping its beleaguered colleagues in 1930s fascist Europe. The Writers in (…)
  • Books

    Serkalem Fasil: a life at risk for writing

    •, Thursday March 8 2007
    • Lucy Popescu
    Today is International Women’s Day (IWD). Around the world women connect with one another, celebrate and are celebrated. The proffering of cards, gifts and flowers suggest that this is a time for showing love and respect for the female, akin to Mother’s Day. However, for many people there remains a political and human rights dimension to the day and in various countries it (…)
  • Books

    Unfair convictions for Moroccan journos

    •, Tuesday February 27 2007
    • Lucy Popescu
    In January I enjoyed a brief holiday chasing winter sun in Morocco. But while I was exploring the souks of Marrakech, and relaxing with Elias Canetti’s anecdotal record of his 1960s visit, two journalists were being tried and punished for a magazine article in nearby Casablanca. On January 8 2007, the trial opened against editor Driss Ksikes and journalist Sanaa al-Aji. (…)
  • Books

    Remembering Mai Ghoussoub (1952-2007)

    •, Thursday February 22 2007
    • Lucy Popescu
    Mai Ghoussoub, who died unexpectedly on Saturday, was many things to many people. But in the world of letters she was perhaps best known as a director of Saqi Books, aptly described as “a fiercely independent publisher for writers of all places and peoples”. They publish award-winning authors as diverse as Moris Farhi and Maggie Gee. Originally formed to provide a focus (…)
  • Books

    Fighting to write in Bangladesh

    •, Monday January 29 2007
    • Lucy Popescu
    Rioting erupts in the troubled capital, Dhaka. Photograph: Pavel Rahmann/AP. A state of emergency was declared in Bangladesh on January 11. The media are being heavily censored and several journalists have received death threats. At least 40 people have been killed in protests that began in late October, when the prime minister, Khaleda Zia, ended her five-year term and (…)
  • Books

    The shadow of Article 301

    •, Thursday January 25 2007
    • Lucy Popescu
    Mourners at the funeral of Hrant Dink in Istanbul. Photograph: Murad Sezer/AP On January 19 2007 the Turkish-Armenian writer and editor Hrant Dink, aged 52, was assassinated outside the Istanbul offices of his weekly newspaper Agos. He was a prominent advocate of the Armenian minority in Turkey, who sought to create a dialogue between Turks and Armenians. I met Dink last (…)
  • Books

    Uzbekistan’s reign of repression

    •, Friday January 5 2007
    • Lucy Popescu
    I visited Uzbekistan in 2004 and was followed so closely by one man he practically tripped over my heels. Given the severe repression of journalists, non-governmental organisations and those human rights defenders in touch with foreign media, I doubt I would even be granted a visa today. President Islam Karimov’s tyranny seems to know no bounds and recently, in a bizarre (…)
  • Comment is free

    Even in Arcadia

    •, Thursday January 17 2008
    It takes a particular kind of ineptitude to announce a £50m increase in funding to the arts and set just about everyone in the arts world against you. This feat has been achieved by Arts Council England, which has been inundated with letters, petitions and threats of legal action from supporters of the small theatres, orchestras and independent publishers whose existence is (…)(…)speaking readers to work by foreigners. A couple of weeks ago, Lucy Popescu and I began circulating a letter in support of Arcadia, (…)

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