Miroslava - Mirka - Vallová is leaving the post of director of LIC.
She has led the Center of Information on Literature for over nine years and during this time, the position of not only the institution but more importantly of Slovak literature changed. Taking into account the possibilities and limitations that LIC has, compared to the neighboring countries, it is short of a miracle what the institution had been able to achieve.
Being the guest of honour at international book fairs in Bologna, Prague, Budapest and, most recently, in Paris was made possible and applauded by foreign scholars and audiences alike only thanks to her persistency and grit. The doors leading to the world had finally been opened for Slovak authors and their books. Our literature is being translated and read abroad.
Her experience, diplomatic abilities and determination with which she fulfilled her challanges will be sorely missed. We are happy for the opportunity to having been on her team. We are left here with the difficult but beautiful task to follow in her path.
We wish her ongoing joy both in the book world and beyond and we remain forever grateful.
The Employees of LIC
Aside from the many thank-you notes that Slovak authors and publishers have written, Mirka's work has been praised by numerous foreign personalities, too.
Christophe Léonzi, ambassador of France in Slovakia:
The French Embassy and the French Institute in Slovakia had the opportunity to work and collaborate with Mrs. Miroslava Vallová - and thus with LIC that she loves, as well - repeatedly for years. This partnership has been extraordinarily reliable, fruitful and friendly and it culminated during the book fair Salon du livre 2019 in Paris, where Bratislava was the guest of honour.
For this event, around 25 books by Slovak authors - the most important ones among that number - had been translated into French and presented at the fair, accompanied by a rich cultural program. Mrs. Vallová was the general manager of the event through which she had mobilized a huge amount of effort, especially within LIC.
Miroslava Vallová, with her deep knowledge of the French culture and literature, was not only able to initiate the realization of the event, she also spent years trying to find qualified translators and French publishers. She succeeded in persuading them to trust this project and to advertize it right from the beginning.
I was able to appreciate this fruitful collaboration together with Jean-Pierre Jarjanette, the director of the French Institute at the time of the preparations and also during the actual event. The visit of French publishers and journalists in Bratislava has been especially successful.
This presentation continues to produce positive feedback. In December 2020, the 14th European Prize for Literature was given to Pavol Rankov's novel It Happened on the First of September, one of the Slovak books presented at Livre Paris 2019 (published by Gaïa, March 2019, translated by Michel Chasteau). The jury praised the title as "a great contribution to researching the memory and consciousness not only of the people of the Eastern block but of all Europe."
The activities of Mrs. Vallová and LIC to support culture and literature reach, of course, beyond this specific book fair. The institution takes part in all important events organized within the book culture in Bratislava and Slovakia. LIC co-organizes or actively participates in literary festivals such as BRaK, Novotvar or Capalest at which French and francophone authors, writers, poets and illustrators are presented regularly with the support of the French Institute, e.g. Jean-Michel Guenassi, Laurent Moreau, Anna Kawala, Andrea Salajová or Nicolas Pesquès.
Mrs. Vallová and LIC also deserve an appreciation for their effort to remember eminent personalities of Slovak literature such as Albert Marenčin senior who had a deep connection to France, or the recently deceased Pavel Vilikovský.
Finally, I highly appreciate Mrs. Vallová's vigorous acitivities at the language centre of the French Institute, both for her skills and knowledge and for her personal qualities.
I honour Miroslava Vallová, not only the friend of France and French literature or the big cultural personality with an absolutely professional enthusiasism but also the humanistic spirit who honors her country and central Europe.
Julia Sherwood, translator:
Mirka Vallová breathed new life into LIC and in short time transformed an ossified bureaucratic organization, marked by years of totality, into a dynamic institution with new sensible priorioties that has effectively advocated Slovak literature in the world and that had become an indelible and active part of contemporary literary scene in Slovakia. Mirka, together with a new generation of coworkers, authors and literature ethusiasts whom she has drawn into LIC, supported foreign translators by all possible means. Her energy, commitment and perspective will be missed enormously. I hope that there soon will be a person who can rise to the occasion and lead LIC with equal dedication.
Nadège Agullo, Agullo Edition:
"I met Mirka a few years ago for the first time in Frankfurt book Fair I believe. I immediately enjoyed her warmth, kindness and hospitality. It was a pleasure to meet with her and be able to exchange with her who speaks a perfect French. She always welcomed us with littles Slovak treats such a cheese or chocolates during those meetings, fine meetings.
She directed me towards the best Slovak titles for our catalogue especially Arpad Soltesz who is becoming an uprising and inspiring writer for French readers after the publication of two of his books.
I also went to Bratislava responding to her invitation in 2019 and it was such a great trip and discovery of the country, the people and the literature. I keep very fond memories of those days where we could still travel😉.
So for all this I would like thank warmly Mirka for all the work she made to make Slovak literature more widely available in France and the attention and affection she gave us. I will miss her but I wish her a great and well-deserved retirement.
Bisous Mirka from France!"
Petr Minařík, Větrné mlýny:
I'm glad that Mirka Vallová is finally heading towards retirement. That Czech trick of ours - Hašek, Kafka, Kundera - was getting old and all we were left with was belittling our Slovak neighbors and bragging about ourselves. With Mirka around, however, that didn't quite work. Slovak literature was beginning to be taken seriously in the world. Ironically, it didn't take too much. Acting with dignity, being steadfast and believing that literature not only paints the picture of a country but that it directly creates it. I saw the exhibition of Slovak literature in Budapest and Frankfurt and I heard about its success in Paris. With little money but with great enthusiasm and despite all odds, Slovakia was starting to be seen more seriously. Of course it wouldn't be possible without the authors, but it also takes a certain ability to re-tell their stories and the stories of their books and Mirka is great in doing that. And she always knew she had to be original, without having world-known names from the past at hand, without the big money or political support. I think it was a premeditated bet on the fact that no one expected much from Slovak liteture and so that it could only suprise. And succeed – which often happened.
I am glad that Mirka Vallová is retiring and the chances to bring up the ratings of Czech literature are rising. It should be enough to pave way for someone capable to go back a few years. Folk costumes, folk music, sheep-cheese dumplings and large-format pictures of Slovak car factories could bring back the trio Hašek, Kafka, Kundera.