ELit Dossier April to June 2015 by Walter Grond

“The Migrants”

In preparation for the main theme of the European Literature Days (22 to 25 October 2015), writers present their views on literature, exile and foreignness.

Iman Humaydan, a writer originally from Lebanon and now living in Paris, recounts her haunting (first) encounter with the Salon de Livre, which was boycotted by the Arabs because Israel was the guest of honour at the Book Fair (Murderous Identities), about the first widespread writers’ protest against the fall in book prices in France – although immigrants hardly participated in this (The Writers’ Protest at the Paris Salon du livre) and about writing in foreign places (Wrting in Transient Places). Najem Wali, who emigrated from Iraq to Berlin, approaches writing through his abandoned home (An Attempt to Define Exile) and Agnes Orzoy from Budapest describes a novel about the destiny of Angelo Soliman, an African living at the Austrian Court at the end of the 18th century, whose stuffed corpse was on show as a curiosity at Vienna’s Museum of Natural History (The Stuffed Barbarian).

“Literary Trends in Europe”:

Agnes Orzoy reports on an Internet platform in Hungary (Hungarian Literature Online), László Szabolcs on the attempt of the Hungarian Minister of Culture to cut all public funding for literary print media (Digital Horizons I. – Print vs. Online Literary Journals).

In the German-speaking context, a debate is ongoing about the status of literary criticism (Rainer Moritz: Literary criticism and the content of literature, Peter Zimmermann: Unterstanding Austria – On Literary Criticism). Beat Mazenauer gives a reminder of alternative ways of writing and experiments that no longer get noticed in the traditional media (Writing in Space).

Christian Gasser draws attention to a paradox of the book market with the example of sales figures for comics in France. The sector is growing, yet apparently it is facing its demise (The angst of growth).

News from the English-speaking world is provided about the interest in international literature (Rosie Goldsmith: The Annual Hay Party), collaborative work with Europe (Steven J. Fowler, The future of our living literature: Europe as a continent of collaboration) and intercultural relations (Judith Vonberg: An inside view of the Centre for Anglo-German Cultural Relations). This is contrasted with the results of the parliamentary election and its effect on the literary sector (Sophie Wardell: What do the results of the British general election mean for British and European support for the arts?).

Philosophical theatre and a journal with a European outlook are at the centre of the blogs from Slovenia and Serbia (Manca G. Renko: The epic theatre of Tomas Piketty, Saša Ilic: BETON: A look ahead to Europe’s future).

“Innovations in the digital field”:

László Szabolcs describes the Internet as a marketing machine for corporate publishing houses and tentative efforts at setting up the ebook as typical for Central- and South-Eastern Europe (The paradox of digital transformation). Karina Böhm sketches a conservative picture of the Swedish book market: sales figures are in constant decline, the acceptance of ebooks among the readers continues to be minimal (Sweden and the ebook). In the comic sector, Christian Gasser views the digital trend as suppressed and neglected (Who’s afraid of the e-Comic?). Sam Sedgman recalls books’ haptical qualities and the power of nostalgia (Why does it feel so difficult to throw books away?).

Meanwhile, far away from the literary divisions of publishing, successful new business models are emerging, according to Dirk Rumberg who gives the example of an open access self-publishing platform for calendars (A Leaf Out of the Calendar Publishers’ Book). Renata Zamida reports developments in libraries (The Problem of E-Book Lending in Public Libraries).And Beat Mazenauer highlights the multimedia narrative space Désordre set up by the Frenchman Philippe de Jonckheere (Writing in Space).

©Walter Grond

Translated by Suzanne Kirkbright

This blog was originally published on ELit Literature House Europe on 6 July 2015.


Category: ELit Literature House Europe Observatory


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *