There really should be a RSS feed, or weekly summary, or title list recap, or something for the comments section of this Guardian blog feature. Every month the Guardian and its readers discusses literature from a particular country. Last month it was Germany, this month Hungary.
And every month we post about this, make silent promises to check in on a weekly basis to see which titles are being praised, and yet, and yet . . .
Thankfully, this first post about Hungary includes a brief recap of which authors came up during the German discussion. Most of the typical names were referenced: Mann, Heine, Holderlin, Hesse, Rilke, and Timm. Sasa Stanisic also got some praise for How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone, which is especially interesting, since he was born in Serbia, but has spent half his life in Germany. (This book is coming out from Grove in the very near future, and, if 2666 doesn’t arrive today—please US Postal Service gods, please—is the book that I’m going to start reading tonight.)
Anyway, the discussion on Hungary should prove interesting. Although the host has only read Kertesz’s Fatelessness, there are actually a number of interesting Hungarian writers whose books are available in English. There are many more Kertesz books available, including a few from Melville House, and George Konrad is a very interesting writer. Laszlo Krasznahorkai is fascinating, and his The Melancholy of Resistance pretty amazing, and Sunflower by Gyula Krudy was one of my favorite books of 2007.
Good to see Hungarian lit getting some attention . . . Maybe Sara Kramer from NYRB really is on to something when she claimed that this would be the year of the Hungarians . . .
The Guardian World Tour is off to China this month, which should be interesting. I assume that there are a lot of great untranslated Chinese books, but over the years I’ve found it more difficult to get info about Chinese lit than any other country. Thankfully, China is scheduled to be the guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2009, so things might get easier.
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .