On the eve of the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 final, Hay Festival has unveiled the list of titles to be celebrated in the Eurovision Book Contest following thousands of public submissions.

Building on the spirit of the Eurovision Song Contest and emphasising the role of literature in forging understanding and empathy across borders, the Eurovision Book Contest is a special project from the world’s biggest festival of books and ideas to mark the UK’s hosting of the annual music event on behalf of Ukraine.

With thousands submitting their favourite fiction for consideration, the resulting list of 37 titles – one from each competing country – offers an ambitious reading list to inspire, examine and entertain, blending old favourites and new discoveries. All genres and languages were welcome, but suggestions were limited to anything published in the years since the song contest began in 1956. 

Selected titles are: 

Pallati i ëndrrave by Ismail Kadare (The Palace of Dreams translated by Barbara Bray) – ALBANIA

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – AUSTRALIA

Дом, в котором... by Mariam Petrosyan (The Gray House translated by Yuri Machkasov) – ARMENIA

Der Trafikant by Robert Seethaler (The Tobacconist translated by Charlotte Collins) – AUSTRIA

The Orphan Sky by Ella Leya – AZERBAIJAN

Moi qui n'ai pas connu les hommes by Jacqueline Harpman (I Who Have Never Known Men translated by Ros Schwartz) – BELGIUM

Uhvati zeca by Lana Bastašić (Catch the Rabbit translated by Lana Bastašić) – CROATIA

Ανατολική Μεσόγειος by Ivi Meleagrou (Eastern Mediterranean translated by Andrew Hendry) – CYPRUS

Nesnesitelná lehkost bytí by Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being translated by Michael Henry) – CZECH REPUBLIC

Kastanjemanden by Søren Sveistrup (The Chestnut Man translated by Caroline Waight) – DENMARKPobeda 1946 by Ilmar Taska (Pobeda

1946: A Car Called Victory translated by Christopher Moseley) – ESTONIA

Sommarboken by Tove Jansson (The Summer Book translated by Thomas Teal) – FINLAND

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis translated by Anjali Singh) – FRANCE

Das achte Leben (Für Brilka) by Nino Haratischvili (The Eighth Life (for Brilka) translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin) – GEORGIA

Das Parfum by Patrick Süskind (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer translated by John E Woods) – GERMANY

Το τρίτο στεφάνι by Costas Taktsis (The Third Wedding Wreath translated by John Chioles) – GREECE

DNA by Yrsa Sigurdardottir – ICELAND

Rachel's Holiday by Marian Keyes – IRELAND

Gader Haya by Dorit Rabinyan (All the Rivers translated by Jessica Cohen) – ISRAEL

L'amica geniale by Elena Ferrante (My Brilliant Friend translated by Ann Goldstein) – ITALY

Paisums by Inga Ābele (High Tide translated by Kaija Straumanis) – LATVIA

Vilniaus pokeris by Ričardas Gavelis (Vilnius Poker translated by Elizabeth Novickas) – LITHUANIA

Kulħadd ħalla isem warajh by Clare Azzopardi – MALTA

Caiet de censor by Liliana Corobca (The Censor's Notebook translated by Monica Cure) – MOLDOVA

De avond is ongemak by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld (The Discomfort of Evening translated by Michele Hutchison) – THE NETHERLANDS

Perlebryggeriet by Jenny Hval (Paradise Rot translated by Marjam Idriss) – NORWAY

Prowadź swój pług przez kości umarłych by Olga Tokarczuk (Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones) – POLAND

Livro do Desassossego by Fernando Pessoa (The Book of Disquiet translated by Margaret Jull Costa) – PORTUGAL

Solenoid by Mircea Cărtărescu (Solenoid translated by Sean Cotter) – ROMANIA

Celesta by Milena Ercolani – SAN MARINO

Hazarski rečnik by Milorad Pavić (Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel translated by Christina Pribicevic-Zoric) – SERBIA

Jugoslavija, moja dežela by Goran Vojnović (Yugoslavia, My Fatherland translated by Noah Charney) – SLOVENIA

Corazón tan blanco by Javier Marias (A Heart So White translated by Margaret Jull Costa) – SPAIN

Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann by Jonas Jonasson (The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared translated by Rod Bradbury) – SWEDEN

Nachtzug nach Lissabon by Pascal Mercier (Night Train to Lisbon translater by Barbara Harshav) – SWITZERLAND

Інтернат by Serhiy Zhadan (The Orphanage translated by Reilly Costigan Humes and Isaac Stackhouse Wheeler) – UKRAINE

Heartstopper, volume one by Alice Oseman – UK

A special Hay Festival event on Friday 2 June at 8.30pm will invite audiences to discuss the selection: https://www.hayfestival.com/p-20335-eurovision-book-contest.aspx

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “Sharing stories across borders has never felt more important and here is a list that celebrates the universality of the human experience and literature’s unique ability to connect us.

"Alongside our ongoing partnership with Ukraine’s largest book Festival, Lviv BookForum, this collaboration with the Eurovision Song Contest celebrates the role of great literature in forging understanding and empathy globally. Let’s get reading.”

Martin Österdahl, Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest at the European Broadcasting Union: “The Eurovision Song Contest has always had storytelling and showcasing the best talent from across Europe and beyond at its core.

"We’re excited to partner with Hay Festival which shares our goal of creating connections through culture. As we prepare to be 'United By Music' in Liverpool in May we look forward to seeing Europe coming together to celebrate diversity through its rich literary heritage as well.”