The theme of the 2018 festival, curated by
Peter Blackstock, senior editor at Grove Atlantic,


Each of us is an outsider in some way, but most of us also have privileges that give us access to different opportunities and worlds. The books featured this year explore questions of identity and belonging in a fracturing Europe and beyond, using race, religion, immigration status, politics, and even football hooliganism as lenses to explore contemporary society and the recent past.

The works featured at this year’s festival range widely in setting and theme, but are all centered on stories that might be deemed peripheral by the mainstream. From the rebellious ennui of a Turkish German woman whose visit to fabled Berlin club Berghain upends her life, to the lives of two lovers torn apart by the conflict in Bosnia, to the intersecting lives of an activist, sex worker, and high-level politician around the closing of a refugee camp, to the unlikely love story of a returning U.S. Marine and an undocumented half-Chinese half-Uighur woman, the stories celebrate the diversity of human experiences in a globalized world.

At a time when bans and walls threaten to divide in the U.S., and when rising far-right extremism haunts Europe, this edition of FNL celebrates the power of fiction to allow each of us to intimately experience lives different from our own. When we read, we build empathy, we educate ourselves, and perhaps even change the way we move in the world. We are thrilled to celebrate this crucial gift that writers give us. We need them now more than ever.