Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Milan Kundera the Informant?

As mentioned widely, a historian in Prague has uncovered evidence that Milan Kundera informed on Miroslav Dvoracek, a Czech spy for the West, who subsequently was tortured and spent fourteen years in a labor camp. The Economist notes that:

True or not, the story echoes themes of guilt, betrayal and self-interest found in Mr Kundera’s own work, such as “unbearable lightness” (dodged but burdensome responsibility). In “The Owner of the Keys”, a play published in 1962, the hero kills a witness who sees him sheltering a former lover from the Gestapo.

Adam Zagajewski on Milosz

In the Threepenny Review Adam Zagajewski remembers Czeslaw Milosz:

One of the last humans who spoke to him in his hours of agony was an uneducated woman who took care of his small household, a wonderful person with a great heart. I like to think of it: in the vast polyphony of the almost hundred years of his dramatic existence, the ultimate sound he heard was an unschooled voice of goodness. Perhaps in this soothing voice he found something like an arch between his early idyllic childhood in the Lithuanian countryside and his closing moments; and in between there remained, bracketed out for once, the rage of modern history, the loneliness of his long exile, the violence of his struggles, of his thought, his imagination, his rebellions.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Coming Soon: Absinthe 10

Absinthe 10 is coming soon and features Polish poets Jacek Podsiadło, Andrzej Bursa, and Krystyna Lenkowska; fiction and poetry from Turkey by Orhan Kemal, Birhan Keskin, and Murathan Mungan; and an essay taking us on a pilgrimage to Bulgaria’s monasteries with Tsvetanka Elenkova and Jonathan Dunne. And much more. Subscribe now at the Absinthe web site.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Review of Maxim Biller

In The New Republic Francesca Mari reviews Maxim Biller's Love Today, a collection of short stories , published by Simon & Schuster and translated from the German by Anthea Bell.

An excerpt:

Biller's fragments are fresh and terrible--terrible being high praise. They are terrible in their effect, in their severe style and harrowing ability to arouse awe and anxiety simultaneously. The collection is called Love Today, which should set off some internal alarms. The two words are--or at least should be-- mutually exclusive. So before going any further, we should clarify that Biller's episodes are actually about the pursuit of love rather than what can assuredly be called love itself. In fact, whether love ever exists is almost impossible to tell. That is the ambiguity that makes Biller's texts so seductive.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

French Writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio Wins Nobel Prize

The 2008 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to French writer Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio. The announcement described Le Clézio as an "author of new departures, poetic adventure and sensual ecstasy, explorer of a humanity beyond and below the reigning civilization."

As usual, you can find excellent coverage and additional information about Le Clézio over at the Literary Saloon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Olga Tokarczuk wins Nike Prize

Olga Tokarczuk has won the 2008 Nike Prize for her novel Bieguni (Runners). The Polish Cultural Institute describes the novel as "the story of many journeys, a tale of contemporary nomads who travel across the globe not only in the search for new sensations, but also for dreams and aspirations. The title refers to a 17th Century Orthodox sect who believed that only those who are in constant motion can resist the devil."

Olga Tokarczuk's short story "The Bean Prophecies" (translated by Jennifer Croft) appeared in Absinthe #4.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ingmar Bergman Archives

There was a very large box waiting for me when I returned home this evening and I was excited to find my copy of TASCHEN's The Ingmar Bergman Archives. It's an incredible collection of rare photos, interviews, and writings by Bergman, along with a DVD of documentary footage. Much more information can be found at TASCHEN's web site.