The subscribers of Tageszeitung newspaper received on 10th March this year the second issue of Beton International, a 32-page annual supplement dealing with cultural and broader social issues, illustrated with comic-frames by Belgrade alternative comics authors. TAZ devoted readers are well aware of it, as they received the Beton supplement last year, which covered different topics of course. Given that 2014 was the year when the centenary of the First World War was commemorated, Beton International presented a selection of critical and literary writings by authors from Southeast Europe, as well as from Austria, Hungary and Germany. The 2015 annual did go a couple of steps further into future by bringing together authors from all corners of Europe to reassess the fundamental European value – antifascism here and now (http://rs.boell.org/sites/default/files/beton_2015_interactive.pdf).
My colleague Alida Bremer and I strived to bring the debate about founding European values, as well as the future of Europe itself, to the next level, so we invited authors from France, Greece, Germany, United Kingdom, Austria, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia in order to make the dialogue on the topic as broad and comprehensive as possible. Authors participating in the Secession Europe project, the project by The European Society of Authors from Paris (www.seua.org), made an exceptional contribution to the debate. We have received remarkably interesting responses in regard to what has happened to the legacy of ”antifascism”, especially in light of the current conflict in Ukraine, and we have published, on the other hand, dozens of writings which imagine a Europe of migrations, hybrids and multilingualism, and translation as the official language of EUtopia.
In Beton International writings are divided into sections which could serve as a literary guide for travel through current political and cultural affairs in Europe. The section on the Ukraine crisis brings valuable insights into the misuse of antifascism in political discourse nowadays and the media representation of the conflict. The most interesting in that respect is the article by Ukrainian political analyst Mykola Riabtschuk. On the other hand, French author Mathias Énard, who wrote the highly acclaimed novel Zone, penned a pretty amusing text about the European Parliament. However, the three most provocative articles were all written by female authors: Serbian poet Dragana Mladenović wrote on the evil of fascism, French writer Marie Cosnay on the drama of exile, and Croatian author Ivana Bodrožić on the suspension of women’s rights in the Balkans.
The second issue of Beton International was supported by the Heinrich Boell Foundation. This is the sixth issue published by Beton in the German language. Beton started in 2010 and has been promoted at the Leipzig Book Fair. One of its most interesting issues was one from 2011, which was focused on contemporary literature in Kosovo and Serbia, the first project of a kind in Europe in forty years.
Translated by Svetlana Rakocevic
This blog was originally published on ELit Literature House Europe on 4 May 2015.