Description of a Struggle: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Eastern European Writing
a very nice recent anthology with an introduction by Ivan Klima. Though the title is from Kafka, everything is much more contemporary. The Struggle in the title refers to the common struggle shared by the authors and artists of countries under 'totalitarian' rule. This is a very nice place to learn about some new authors.
Forty-three distinguished writers from sixteen Eastern European nations--including Poland, Russia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Albania--provide illuminating studies of the absurdities, tragedies, and conditions of their homelands and the world at large.
and Publishers Weekly blurb:
Editor March's outstanding collection presents 43 short stories from 16 Eastern European nations. Westerners, naturally, will search them for some shared socialist imprint. In his introduction, Czech novelist Klima clues readers where to look: the universal piercing despair and the surreal or absurd attempts to escape it. Despite exquisite, visceral renderings of the likes of Slavenka Draculic, Peter Esterhazy, Bohumil Hrabal and Ismail Kadare, Westerners may never fathom the state control and attendant breakdown of humanity. Nowhere is the bitterness more evident than in the stories from Bulgaria, best represented by Ivan Kulekov's three-page ``My Past, My Future,'' an acerbic contrast of beauty and brutality. Poland's Hanna Krall dispassionately re-creates the life of a terrorist, a life that links the violence of Hitler's camps to the Red Army faction. Latvian Andra Neiburga traces death in quotidian banality, while his countryman Andrei Levkin paints an impressionistic journey of vast futility. The surreal flourishes amid decay in Victor Lapitskii's Russian story, ``Ants,'' while Igor Klekh expounds on the Ukrainian national character. There are some gentle stories, like Albanian Mimoza Ahmeti's wise, lyrical love story. The selections are all well-crafted, moving achievements, expressed with singular focus and metaphor.
bullet cartridges, one Colt revolver . . . At 5.30p.m. the blue Mercedes carrying director Hans Martin Schleyer and his driver approached, followed by a white Mercedes with three police officers. As they turned right the yellow Mercedes parked on the pavement cut in front. D r Schleyer’s driver started to brake. Assailants jumped out o f the van and opened fire at the driver and the police officers. D r Schleyer was pulled into the van unharmed and driven off in an unknown direction. The assault
have a go at the stove!’ H e didn’t respond, but clenched his fists and went backwards towards the stove, as if it were a fortress he was determined to defend. W e had central heating,’ he said, ‘and anyway I never really did anything much at home. Just sat about all the time and read.’ T h e n let me have a go,’ she asked. W hen I was little . . .’ ‘Even then you knew how to do everything?’ ‘Give over.’ Eva is hurt, and I, hidden behind a beam, suffer. What if they quarrel and break up ? What i
itself to sit down in the wheelchair. T h is is love.’ The words didn’t scare her, but suddenly it seemed to her she felt cool air, a breeze on her knees, and she realized . . . but that’s the sentence, and she felt like when, in the dark, a bat flits past, close above your head: The blanket! Where’s the blanket?! ‘It’s love, and all that various stuff that’s talked about, described, in that book o f yours as well . . . is this.’ With sudden panic she tried to resist, but that only meant that her
know, for example, that a stingy man can suffer impotency? I mean it, seriously. A psychiatrist colleague just came back yesterday from an international congress - he told me. You don’t believe me, Don Giovanni? You’ll have to grin and bear it a litde while longer. Terrible, the things I say, eh? D on’t make anything o f it: the unbelievable is really quite normal.’ H e looked at the laboratory result again. ‘You don’t believe me? Then I’ll prove it to you - even the unbelievable is normal.’ I
leaned against the door - and it immediately gave way. The lock was hanging in the sense of: I’m hanging here, but just for appearance sake. And terrible rain. So I went in, into this synagogue. The alarm was over, I knew that, but I couldn’t go home yet. I switched on my torch: in the middle o f the synagogue there was a pile o f sacks o f cement. Maybe a hundred. O r more. Aha, that’s the point o f the lock, I thought. Broken windows everywhere, everything upside down. A mess. It was the first