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.
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .