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Elena Balzamo (France, episode 9) was born in 1956 in Soviet Russia. She took a one-way trip to France in 1981. She is a historian of Scandinavian languages and literatures. After having written her thesis on the Scandinavian tale, she started translating a number of authors from Swedish to French: August Strindberg, father of modern theater and writer, Hjalmar Söderberg, Jonas Karlsson… Awarded as a translator (Prize of the Swedish Academy in 2001 and Sévigné in 2010-2011), she is leading a translation seminar at the Swedish Cultural Institute in Paris (following the footsteps of Liliana Lounguine, whom she met in her youth in Russia). As a literary critic for Le Monde des livres, she reviewed a number of books by her compatriots: Ludmila Oulitskaïa, Sacha Filipenko, Iouri Bouïda, Irina Bogatyreva, Roman Sentchine, Mikhaïl Tarkovski, Maxim Ossipov… Also a writer, she published Cinq Russes histoires (Édition Noir sur Blanc, 2015), Triangle isocele (Marie Barbier, 2019) and Decalcomanies (Marie Barbier, 2020).


Romain Bertrand (France, episode 8) is a historian and a director of research at the Centre d’Études et de Recherches Internationales (CERI, Sciences-Po). A specialist in modern and contemporary Indonesia, he has written extensively on the issue of European colonial domination in Southeast Asia. Amongst his most recent books are: L’histoire à parts égales: recits d’une rencontre, Orient-Occident (Xvie-Xviie) (Seuil, 2012), Le Long rmords de la conquete – Manille-Mexico-Madrid: L’affaire Diego de Avila (1577-1580) (Seuil, 2015), Le Detail du monde – L’art perdu de la description de la nature (Seuil, 2019), and Qui fait le tour de quoi? L’affaire Magellan (Verdier, 2020).

Sonya Bilocerkowycz (US, episode 9) is the author of On Our Way Home from the Revolution, selected by David Lazar and Patrick Madden as winner of the 2018 Gournay Prize. Her debut book, it was also named a “Most Anticipated Essay Collection” for Fall 2019 by Literary Hub. Sonya’s essays and poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Guernica, The Southampton Review, Ninth Letter, Image, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. Before completing her MFA at Ohio State, she served as a Fulbright Fellow in Belarus, an educational recruiter in the Republic of Georgia, and an instructor at Ukrainian Catholic University. At present, Sonya teaches Creative Writing at SUNY Geneseo and is Managing Editor for Speculative Nonfiction. Follow her on Instagram.


Jamey Bradbury (US, episode 2) is the author of The Wild Inside (William Morrow, 2018), published in French as Sauvage (Gallmeister 2019). Her work has appeared in Black Warrior Review (winner of the annual fiction contest), Spark + Echo, Sou’wester, and Zone 3. She won an Estelle Campbell Memorial Award from the National Society of Arts and Letters. Jamey has an MFA from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She lives in Anchorage, Alaska.


Wendy Delorme (France, episode 4) is a writer, translator, and a teacher of Media Studies at Université Lumière Lyon 2. Performer, lesbian porn films actress and LGBT rights militant, she also goes under the names, among others, of Wendy Babybitch and Klaus Engel, as a member of companies such as the Cabaret des filles de joie, of Kisses Cause Trouble, of Drag King Fem Show, and of Queer X Show. She is also part of the RER Q collective. Her recent publications include: Le Corps est une Chimere (Au Diable Vauvert, 2018 – novel), La Mere, la Sainte et la Putain (Au Diable Vauvert, 2012, novel), (ed.) In-Soumises : Contes Cruels au Feminin, with Gala Fur (La Musardine, 2012, short stories), Insurrections ! En Territoire Sexuel (Au Diable Vauvert, 2009, essay), Quatrieme Generation (Grasset 2007, novel).


Högni Egilsson (Iceland, episode 10) is one of his homeland’s best known contemporary singers and songwriters. With the 2007 release of Sleepdrunk Seasons, the debut album by Hjaltalín – an indie rock group fronted by Högni (also known from Ólafur Arnalds’ Late Night Tales) – that notion went national and within months his voice and compositions were seemingly everywhere in Iceland; on television, on the radio and on stages around the country. Still, Hjaltalín’s second album Terminal (2009) proved a much bigger hit – winning ‘album of the year’ at the Icelandic Music Awards and its five singles spending a combined 44 weeks on the National Radio’s Top 20. If Terminal is Hjaltalín’s most popular set of songs yet, 2012’s Enter 4 marks the height of their critical acclaim. The new album by Hjaltalín, Hjaltalín just came out. A chance encounter that revealed a shared interest in sailing brought Högni and President Bongo from the famed electronic group GusGus together. By 2011 Högni was a full-time member of the band and featured prominently on Arabian Horse – by many considered GusGus’s finest album to date. His voice and fingerprints are all over Mexico (2014) as well, not least in lead single” Obnoxiously Sexual.” With GusGus, Högni has toured extensively in Europe and North America, gaining a strong personal following, particularly in Eastern Europe. Högni has scored numerous theatre pieces, most notably The Heart of Robin Hood (dir. Gísli Gardarsson), staged by The Royal Shakespeare Company in 2011 and Angels of the Universe (dir. Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson), the Icelandic National Theatre’s 2013 adaptation of a well-known and loved novel and film of the same title. He has also written music for film and television, including a well-received score for short film Víkingar (dir. Magali Magistry, 2013) which won the Golden Rail award and was nominated for the Discovery award, both at the Cannes Film Festival. October 20th 2017 saw Högni release his solo debut album Two Trains by Erased Tapes. Follow him on Twitter.


Hélène Frappat (France, episode 2) is a writer, translator, and film critic. She also studied philosophy. She is the other of many books: Le dernier fleuve (Actes Sud, 2019), N’oublie pas de respirer (Actes Sud, 2014), Lady, Hunt (Actes Sud, 2013), Inverno (Actes Sud, 2011), Par effraction (Alia, 2009), L’agent de liaison (Alia, 2007), Sous réserve (2004).


Jón Gnarr (Iceland, episdoe 3) is a writer, playwright and comedian. As a founder of The Best Party, he was the Mayor of Reykjavík from 2010 to 2014. He is the author of several books including a memoir trilogy published in the USA by Deep Vellum: The Indian (2015), The Pirate (2016) and The Outlaw (2017).


Alison S. M. Kobayashi (Canada/US, episode 8) makes short videos and performances that have been exhibited widely in Canada, the United States and overseas. She was a guest artist at the 2008 Flaherty Film Seminar and her body of work was a Spotlight Presentation at Video Out, Jakarta International Film Festival, Indonesia and is a 2016 Yaddo and MacDowell Colony fellow. In 2012, she was commissioned by Les Subsistances in Lyon, France to produce her first live performance, Defense Mechanism. Alison S. M Kobayashi was born in Mississauga, Ontario and is based in Toronto and Brooklyn, NY where she is the Director of Special Projects at UnionDocs. She recently wrote, directed and performed in Say Something Bunny! (a performance she co-wrote and co-produced with Christopher Allen), which was a NY Times Critics’ pick, a Time Out Top 10, was Nominated for Drama Desk Award, and solidly sold-out for 2 years. 


Andri Snær Magnason (Iceland, episode 7) is  writer born in Reykjavik in 1973. Andri has written novels, poetry, plays, short stories, essays and films. He studied Icelandic literature at the University of Iceland. His novel Lovestar got a Philip K. Dick Special Citation, the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire in France, and “Novel of The Year” in Iceland. The Story of the Blue Planet was the first children’s book to receive the Icelandic Literary Award and has been published or performed in 35 countries. Andri has collaborated with various artists. He has been active in the fight for preserving the nature of Iceland. His book Dreamland: A Self Help Manual for a Frightened Nation takes on these issues and has sold more than 20,000 copies in Iceland. He co-directed Dreamland, a feature-length documentary film based on the book. Footage from an interview with Andri can be seen in the Oscar Award winning documentary Inside Job by Charles Ferguson. His book, The Casket of Time, has now been published in about 10 languages and was nominated as the best fantasy book in Finland in 2016, along with books by Ursula K. le Guin and David Mitchell. On Time and Water was published in Icelandic in October 2019 will be translated into many languages in the next few months. Follow him on Twitter


Jonathan Metzl (US, episode 1) is Professor of Sociology and Medicine, Health, and Society, Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society (Vanderbilt University). He is the author of Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland (Basic Books, 2019), The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease (Beacon Press, 2010).


Rick Moody (US, episode 7) is the author of the award-winning memoir The Black Veil and of the novels Hotels of North America, The Four Fingers of Death, The Diviners, Purple America, The Ice Storm, and Garden State, as well as three collections of short fiction, including Demonology. Moody is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and of an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, as awarded by the French Republic. His work has been anthologized in Best American Stories, Best American Essays, and the Pushcart Prize anthology. He writes regularly about music at the Rumpus. He has recently published The Long Accomplishment, A Memoire of Hope And Struggle in Matrimony. He teaches at Brown University and lives with his family in Cranston, Rhode Island. 


Nell Irvin Painter (US, episode 5) is the Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, at Princeton University. Her acclaimed works of history include Standing at Armageddon (W. W. Norton, 2008), Sojourner Truth, and the New York Times bestseller The History of White People, recently published in France as Histoire des Blancs (Max Milo, 2019) which have received widespread attention for their insights into how we have historically viewed and translated ideas of gender, value, hierarchy, and race. She holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts. Her visual artwork has been shown at numerous galleries and in many collections, including the San Angelo Museum of Fine Art, the Brooklyn Historical Society, and Gallery Aferro. She lives in Newark, New Jersey and the Adirondacks. She has recently published Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over (Counterpoint, 2018).


Mathieu Potte-Bonneville (France, episode 1), philosopher, writer, director of the cultural development of the Centre Pompidou. He’s the author of Voir venir. Ecrire l’hospitalité (Stock, 2019) and Recommencer (Verdier, 2018).


Claire Richard (France, episode 6) is a writer, a journalist, and a translator. She is interested in connections between the intimate and the political, in forms of collective action, and in the paradoxes of political emancipation. She is the author of Young Lords. Histoire orale des Black Panthers Latinos (éditions L’Échappée, 2017), La souverainete technologique (éditions 369—2018) and Les chemins de desir (Le Seuil—2019). She also writes fictions for Arte and France Culture, was award the Prix Nouveau Talent Radio from the SACD in 2017, and received the Bourse Beaumarchais for radio writing in 2018. She is a member of the editorial board of Panthère Première.


Elias Rodriques (US, episode 6) is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and a writer living in Philadelphia. His work has been published inThe Nation, Bookforum, n+1, and other venues. His first novel, All The Water I’ve Seen Is Running, is forthcoming from Norton.


Dan Safer (US, episode 4) is a director, choreographer, performer, and teacher at MIT. He is the Artistic Director of Witness Relocation, an internationally recognized dance/theater company known in NYC as one of the “ensembles who now lead the city’s progressive theater scene” (Village Voice), and the recipients of three New York Innovative Theater Awards. One of their most recent show, The Loon, was a NY Times Critics pick. Dan choreographed and co-directed the acclaimed Ubu Sings Ubu with Tony Torn and Julie Atlas Muz. His work as a choreographer has been at BAM, DTW, Danspace, Ash Lawn Opera, and many other places. He is a certified Yoga teacher, used to be a go-go dancer, and once choreographed the Queen of Thailand’s Birthday Party. He also directed, choreographed and performed in Surveys the Prairie of Your Room with Ae Andreas. 


Omaid Sharifi (Afghanistan, episode 3) is an artivist and curator, co-founder and president of ArtLords, a grassroots movement of artists and volunteers motivated by the desire to pave the way for social transformation and behavioural change through art and culture.


Reggie Watts (US, episode 10) is an internationally renowned vocal artist/ beatboxer/ musician/ comedian who wows audiences with his live performances which are 100% improvised. Using his formidable voice, looping pedals, and his vast imagination, Reggie blends and blurs the lines between music and comedy. As a solo performer, Reggie opened nightly on Conan O’Brien’s sold out North American Prohibited From Being Funny on Television tour. Reggie released his debut comedy cd/dvd Why $#!+ So Crazy? on Comedy Central Records. At the prestigious TED Conference he received a standing ovation. As a musician, Reggie can be seen as musical co-hort in the IFC series Comedy Bang! Bang! and in his many Reggie Makes Music videos. On screen, Reggie can currently been seen on The Late Late Show with James Corden as well as in the IFC series Comedy Bang! Bang! His special Reggie Watts: A Live At Central Park aired on Comedy Central in May 2012.


Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed (Algeria, episode 5) is an International consultant in Psychology, Anthropology and inclusive Liberation theology. He holds doctorates in Anthropology and in Psychology of religious facts. He is also an imam, founder of the first European inclusive mosque (Paris), founder and rector of the Calem Institute. He is the author of Révoltes extraordinaires: un enfant du sida autour du monde (L’harmattan, 2011), Le Coran et la chair (Max Milo, 2012), Homosexuality, Transidentity, and Islam: A Study of Scripture Confronting the Politics of Gender and Sexuality (Amsterdam University Press, 2019).