(L-R) Anne-Marie Reuter, publishing director at Black Fountain Press; John-Paul Gomez, 2022 National Literary Competition winner; Credit: Otilia Dragan/Chronicle.lu

On the evening of Thursday 28 September 2023, Luxembourg’s first English-language publishing house, Black Fountain Press, held the launch of John-Paul Gomez’ short story book, The Idiot of St. Benedict and Other Stories, at Oekosoph in Luxembourg-Pfaffenthal.

Anne-Marie Reuter, publishing director, welcomed the guests in an opening address and introduced the book’s author, John-Paul Gomez, an American national who moved to Luxembourg in 2007. He writes the satirical blog “The Luxembourg Wurst” and was awarded first prize in the 2022 National Literary Competition for his short story collection The Idiot of St. Benedict and Other Stories. Anne-Marie Reuter noted the jury was “awed by the ‘cinematic atmosphere of the stories that imagine with anguish and realism what our near future may be like’”.

John-Paul Gomez quipped that this short story collection is “a bit different from what you might normally read on [his] blog,” showcasing a different side of his “sick, twisted sense of humour”. He proceeded to read fragments of some of his six short stories in a humorous, energetic tone although the stories are a combination of unusual, anguish-inducing fantastical occurrences in the everyday, taking place in an unravelling or senseless universe.

This is his first published book and already a prize winner, as Anne-Marie Reuter noted. In the following Q&A, John-Paul Gomez spoke more about this “passion project”, greatly helped along by writer friends who assisted him to “collect his thoughts”. He noted that his inspiration comes from “people acting a bit strangely”, remarks that may stick with him for days or dreams and memories of dreams. He said that he started writing when he was six years old, and his first story was a present for his teacher – one about a lifeguard on the beach who forgot his hearing aids. He explained that he enjoys “cheekier” bits of writing.

The evening ended with a dinner of traditional, Luxembourgish dishes: a sausage (possibly as a nod to The Luxembourg Wurst), mashed potatoes with salad and "Kniddelen" (flour dumplings) with mustard sauce.