Past Events

Past EventsSunday, February 26

Elena Lappin: What Language Do I Dream In?

Elena Lappin
Elif Shafak
Chair: Lucy Scholes

This event took place on Sunday 26th February 2017 as part of Jewish Book Week 2017. To watch a video of this event, click here.

Elena Lappin’s life as a multiple emigré could be described as ‘five languages in search of an author’. Russian, Czech, French, German, Hebrew and English – each language is a link to a different piece of her rich family mosaic. Triggered by the discovery of a biological father she never knew, Lappin's memoir is the story of finding a voice in a language not one’s own, and a meditation on how language runs throughout memory and family history to form identity. She writes: ‘As a writer, I died when my parents decided to emigrate, and I knew it. And then came the miracle of being reborn in English.’ She talks to novelist Elif Shafak about writing in English. Chaired by Lucy Scholes.

Sponsored by the TLS.

Experience the event as it happened:


Elena Lappin is a writer and editor. Born in Moscow, she grew up in Prague and Hamburg, and has lived in Israel, Canada, the United States and - longer than anywhere else - in London. She is the author of Foreign Brides and The Nose, and has contributed to numerous publications, including Granta, Prospect, the Guardian, and The New York Times Book Review. She is the editor of ONE, an imprint of Pushkin Press.

Elif Shafak is the acclaimed author of nine novels including The Bastard of Istanbul and Honour, and is the most widely read female writer in Turkey. Her work has been translated into over 40 languages and she regularly contributes to publications including The New York Times, the Guardian and Time magazine. She lives in London.   

Lucy Scholes has a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London, and used to teach at Goldsmiths. She now works as a freelance critic. Her work has appeared in the Observer, the IndependentThe New York Times Book ReviewBBC Culture, the Times Literary SupplementThe Daily Beast and Critical Quarterly. She is a contributing editor at the online literary magazine Bookanista, and teaches at Tate Modern and Tate Britain. 

The Latest from JBW

Thousands joined us during the festival, for ten days of enlightening discussion and...

Anne Applebaum and Lawrence Freedman are both shortlisted for...

JBW is delighted to announce that Bill Browder will be joining Matthew...

Tickets for a live relay screening of...


J Safran Foer

Jonathan Safran Foer discusses his novel Here I Am with Hephzibah Anderson at an out-of-festival event.