THE SALON OF EXILED ARTISTS IN CALIFORNIA, N˙ria A˝ˇ. Translated by Joannes W. M. Groenewege
"The Salon of Exiled Artists in California" is a biography of Salka Viertel, a Jewish actress who emigrated to Hollywood and was popularly known as the screenwriter of the Swedish actress Greta Garbo. Besides, she had a salon in Santa Monica, California, which was attended by a large part of the European intelligentsia in exile. Salka was a very modern and interesting woman for her time who should be recognized as such.
The book deals with topics such as Salka Viertel's alleged bisexuality and the number of friends she had, to name but a few: Albert Einstein, Charles Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, F. W. Murnau, Max Reinhardt, Arnold Sch÷nberg, Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, Greta Garbo, Montgomery Clift... Also, like Gertrude Stein and other notorious women, she had her literary salon through which writers like Truman Capote, Christopher Isherwood, Gore Vidal and many other writers passed. Other themes she covers are the Berlin of the 1920s; the transition from silent to spoken film, as seen from the Mecca of Hollywood. Then, the rise of Hitler and what it meant for the Jewish condition; the exile of those intellectuals who could not return to their respective countries because of the Second World War. Later, the Cold War and the witch-hunt against communism. The truth is that the background to the life of Salka Viertel and her circle of friends encompasses the great events of the 20th century.
With this project, the author was awarded the Shanghai Writing Program (China, 2016) and the Baltic Centre (Sweden, 2017) residency grants.
"A very interesting story and I think even in these very current times since in my eyes we have not made much progress on the issue of acceptance of 'interpersonal feelings' in general. A great and extremely interesting book about Hollywood in the thirties and forties about the influence of artists from European countries such as Germany, Austria, France, Sweden, England, Ukraine and others. An extensive and high-quality research project resulting in an in-depth account of many well-known and famous personalities and their interpersonal relationships."-Joannes W. M. Groenewege, translator
"Even though Salka Viertel was such a pivotal figure in the exile community very little has been written about her, so N˙ria A˝ˇ's book is a corrective, and she fills in many of the gaps of 'The Kindness of Strangers'" -Dialog International
Reading | Biography excerpt of 'The Salon of Exiled Artists in California', by N˙ria A˝ˇ
The Salon of Exiled Artists in California
About the Author
N˙ria A˝ˇ is a Catalan/Spanish writer, translator and speaker at international conferences, where she usually talks about literary creation, the cinema, cities or authors like Elfriede Jelinek, Patricia Highsmith, Salka Viertel, Alexandre Dumas fils, Franz Werfel or Karen Blixen. She has shown her work at the following universities and institutions: Lleida University (UdL), T˙nez University, Jaen University (UJA), The International University of Andalucia (UNIA), The High Council for Scientific Investigation (CISC-Madrid), The Sysmńn Kirjasto Library in Finland, The Writersĺ Association of Shanghai (SWA), Fudan University in China, The East China University, Sinan Mansion, The Instituto Cervantes in Shanghai, the Conrad Festival in Poland, the Massolit Bookshop, Bar Bazza and the Instituto Cervantes in Krakow along with other libraries and secondary or higher education establishments. She is also a member of various juries at international competitions. Some of her works, including novels, short stories and essays have been published and translated into Spanish, French, English, Italian, German, Polish, Chinese, Latvian, Portuguese, Dutch and Greek.
Her first published novel Els nens de lĺElisa ([The children of Elisa] Omicron, 2006) was awarded third prize in the 24th Ramon Llull Novel Award, one of the most prestigious awards for Catalan literature, awarded by Editorial Planeta. Lĺescriptora morta ([The Dead Writer, 2020] Omicron) was published in 2008; N˙vols baixos ([Lowering clouds, 2020] Omicron) in 2009; La mirada del fill ([The sonĺs gaze] Abadia) in 2012; El salˇn de los artistas exiliados en California ([The Salon of Exiled Artists in California, 2020), a biography on Jewish screenwriter Salka Viertel.
N˙ria won the 18th Joan Fuster Prize for Fiction Ciutat dĺAlmenara, fourth place for international writing at the 2018 Shanghai get-Together and has been awarded with prestigious international grants: Nuoren Voiman Liitto (Finland, 2016), Shanghai Writing Program (China, 2016), Baltic Centre (Sweden, 2017), IWTCR (Greece, 2017), Krakow UNESCO City of Literature (Poland, 2018), IWTH (Latvia, 2019) and IWP (China, 2020).
Her writing centres around the charactersĺ psychology, often through the use of anti-heroes. The characters are what stands out most about her work, they are generally more relevant than the topic itself. With her feminine, somewhat sentimental introspection, she finds a unique balance between the marginal worlds of parallels. Her novels are open to a wide variety of topics, they deal with important social and current themes like injustice or lack of communication between individuals. The basic plot of her novels does not tell you everything there is to know. By using this method, A˝ˇ attempts to involve the reader so that they ask their own questions to discover the deeper meaning of the content.