World Books Update

By Bill Marx

Two new World Books reviews up at PRI’s The World.

elegy-for-easterly Alexander Nemser lauds “An Elegy for Easterly,” a collection of sharply-written stories by Petina Gappah that explores the hyperbolic disaster of Robert Mugabe’s presidency. “Here are the daily lives of the country’s mechanics, bankers, students, housewives, traveling salesmen, beggars, and madwomen, everyone lost in the flood of Zimbabwe’s inflated currency.”

I review “Anonymous Celebrity,” Brazilian writer Ignácio de Loyola Brandão’s surprisingly entertaining satire of our culture’s terminal obsession with fame. The fun served up by this book is unexpected because the target — the tyranny of the photo-op — is so easy. But this is a highly inventive burlesque of the desire to be over-the-top.

Author Drago Jančar

Author Drago Jančar

Next week I plan to review “The Prophecy and Other Stories” by Drago Jančar, “one of the leading Slovene prose writers of the past thirty years,” according to editor, translator, and scholar Andrew Baruch Wachtel.

Jančar won the 2007 Jean Améry Award for Essay Writing. The citation reads:

A novelist, playwright and essayist, the Slovene Drago Jančar, born in 1948, is one of the most prominent figures of Central European literature. A dissident par excellence who has maintained a critical distance to the rulers of every regime and has never shied away from breaking national taboos and intellectual fashions, Jančar, as an essayist, knows how to put forward his arguments based on historical knowledge, consistent thinking and passionate ethics. However, he does not care for dogmatic certitude but rather for questioning such certitudes and showing the inconsistency of things. In numerous books including the last published collection of essays “Brioni”, Jančar has proved to be an independent thinker, competent stylist and an author who takes up Central European history with all its upheavals in order to constantly renegotiate the key questions of our epoch.

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