Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 2000: LITERATURE in English

YEAR IN REVIEW 2000: LITERATURE

Arabic The attention of literary circles in the Arab world was monopolized in 1999 by both the sad news of the loss of a major Iraqi poet and three prominent Egyptian writers as well as a controversy at the American University in Cairo (AUC) over Muhammad Shukri's novel Al-Khubz al-hafi (1982; For Bread Alone, 1973). The death on Dec. 1, 1998, of renowned Islamic scholar and writer 'Aisha 'Abd ar-Rahman, known also by her pen name, Bint ash-Shati, was also mourned. Iraqi poet 'Abd al-Wahhab al-Bayyati, author of some 20 volumes of poetry, including his 1998 title, Al-Bahr ba'id (The Sea Is Far Away), died on August 3. The Egyptian writers who died were 'Ali ar-Ra'i, a critic and historian of the Arabic theatre; novelist and journalist Fathi Ghanem, author of Ar-Rajul alladhi faqada dhillahu (1966; The Man Who Lost His Shadow, 1980); and short-story writer and playwright Lutfi al-Khuli, who was perhaps better known as a journalist and political activist. The heart of the controversy over Al-Khubz al-hafi was the question of freedom of expressionparents of students at AUC requested that the book be removed from a course listand the issue was publicized in the United States via e-mail. There was also a rich crop of books by women authors. Fay 'Afaf Kanafani published her autobiography, NadiaCaptive of Hope: Memoir of an Arab Woman. Three Moroccan novels written in French, Fettouma Djerrari Benabdenbi's Souffle de femme, Siham Benchekroun's Oser vivre, and Yasmine Chami-Kettani's Crmonie, dealt with strikingly similar themes and were heavily autobiographical. The protagonists in the novels were modern women who aspired to change society, but their dreams were crushed once they married. A young Lebanese writer, Dominique Edd, published her first novel, Pourquoi il fait si sombre? Breaking with his tradition of writing historical novels, Amin Maalouf in his latest book, Les Identits meurtrires (1998), dealt with the new wave of ethnic cleansing. The Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, which dedicated 1999 to Morocco, marked the occasion by publishing and distributing Onze histoires marocaines, a small collection of translated excerpts from Moroccan Arabic literature. Moroccan journalist and fiction writer 'Abd al-Karim Ghallab published Ash-Shaykhukha az-zalima (Unfair Old Age), an autobiography about aging. Books dealing with the aftermath of the civil war in Lebanon and the resulting psychological effects also began appearing. Najwa Barakat published Ya salam (O Dear!); Layla 'Usayran producedHiwar bila kalimat fi'l Ghaybubah (1998; Wordless Dialogue in a Coma); and Etel Adnan explained in a letter to Elie the state of denial existing among Lebanese who referred to the civil war as the events. The continuing Algerian crisis was grist for fictional works that mirrored reality. The latest in the series was journalist Y.B.'s L'Explication; his lone other book, Comme il a dit lui (1998), won the Mimouni Award. Algerian novelist Ahlam Mustaghanmi dedicated Fawda al-hawas (1998; The Chaos of Senses), a sequel to Dhakiratu'l-jasad (1996), to Muhammad Boudiaf. Prolific writer Ghada as-Samman published Al-Abadiyya lahdhatu hubbin (Eternity Is an Instant of Love), a collection of romantic poetic prose vignettes on love and death; unlike her earlier works, it contained no reference to the Lebanese civil war. Nostalgia and a feeling of loss animated the protagonist of Iraqi writer Shakir al-Anbari's novel Mawten al-asrar (The Home of Secrets). Mahmoud Darwish pursued his symbolic expression of country and identity in a new collection of poetry, Sarir al-gharibah (The Bed of the Stranger). Ahdaf Soueif continued to write in English and published the novel The Map of Love (1999). Aida A. Bamia Brazil. The October 1999 death of Joo Cabral de Melo Neto (see Obituaries) overshadowed all other cultural events in Brazil. The most revered of Brazil's post-1945 poets, Cabral created works, notably the Pernambucan folk drama Morte e vida Severina (1955), that received international plaudits. Flix de Athayde published Idias fixas de Joo Cabral de Melo Neto,a collection of interviews given by Cabral over the course of his professional life, both as diplomat and as poet. Other notable deaths included distinguished dramatist, folklorist, and antidictatorship cultural hero Alfredo Dias Gomes, author of the drama O pagador de promessas (1961) among many other works that included prose, drama, and soap opera scripts; novelist J.J. Veiga; literary critic Soares Amora; lexicographer and cultural philosopher Antnio Houaiss; and poet Ary Quintella. In 1998 Rubem Fonseca published a new collection of stories, A confraria dos espadas, in which death and humour meshed quite harmoniously. Ana Miranda's first collection of stories, Noturnos: contos, featured a female narrator viewing her past and future. Women writers and protagonists also figured in two other novels. Adlia Prado's Manuscritos de Felipa presented, in her unique poetical prose, a woman's view of aging in a society that prizes youth and physical beauty. Snia Coutinho's latest novel, Os seios de Pandora, was a work of detective fiction following the reporter Dora Diamante's investigation into the death of a liberated woman. A collection of poetry by the late Eurico Alves, A poesia de Eurico Alves: imagens da cidade e do serto, included essays on the poet and his works and was edited by Rita Olivieri-Godet. A new study about the influence of Pedro Nava's grandmother and mother on his poetry was published by Ilma Salgado. Several new collections of literary and cultural essays placed Brazilian letters within an international context: Literatura e identidade, organized by Jos Luis Jobim, Psicanlise e colonizao, compiled by Luiz Andr de Sousa, and Literatura e feminismo, organized by Christina Ramalho. In an O Globo poll of Brazilian writers and intellectuals, the 100 most important works of 20th-century literature in Portuguese were selected. In first place was Joo Guimares Rosa's Grande serto: veredas (1956; The Devil to Pay in the Backlands, 1963), followed by Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis's Dom Casmurro (1899; Eng. trans. 1953). Irwin Stern Canada The emergence in 1999 of new publishing houses, including the evocatively named Planete Rebelle and L'Effet Pourpre, made news in literary circles because these small enterprises would be devoted to publishing the works of young writers who considered themselves cutting edge, such as Maxime-Olivier Moutier, whose work veered toward the confessional. The youth were not the only ones recognized during the year, however. Canada's richest literary prize, the Gilles-Corbeil, went to Paul-Marie Lapointe, also a well-known broadcaster. Senior poet Roland Gigure won the Prix David, given by the province of Quebec. Both winners represented Quebec's movement into modernity. Pauline Julien: la vie mort, Louise M. Desjardins's popular biography of singer-songwriter Pauline Julien, also an important figure in Quebec's post-World War II self-image, continued the search for the past. As interest in the Quebec separatist movement waned, so did books about it; fewer polemical essays were published during the year. The exception was the simultaneous French and English publication of Reed Scowen's Time to Say Goodbye (Le Temps des adieux). Scowen, a longtime English-speaking Quebec politician, was roundly condemned by everyone on the political spectrum after he suggested that Canada should tell Quebec to get lost. In fiction some old favourites put in an appearance, including Rjean Ducharme with his book Gros mots. The reclusive Ducharme was Quebec's answer to American writer J.D. Salinger, and despite his complete lack of public persona, his books continued to find a solid audience. The very public Sergio Kokis checked in with Le matre du jeu, a novel in which theology and sensuality met. Francine Nol (La Conjuration des btards) and Yves Beauchemin (Les mois d'un marchand de caf), mainstays on the literary scene, were rewarded for their efforts by strong showings on the best-seller lists. Quebec's litany of cultural complaints remained constant. The market was dominated by books from France, including American translations that traveled through Paris publishing companies, and the Quebec populace of some seven million shared the problems of many other small cultural communities; Quebec writers would be watching the latest round of World Trade Organization talks to see how the resulting agreements would affect their enterprise. David Homel Canada Women as authors and as protagonists abounded in 1999, from Audrey Thomas's Isobel Gunn, who disguises herself as a man to work for the North West Company in Rupert's Land, to Keith Maillard's Gloria, in which a self-centred, late-maturing antiheroine struggles to become her better self in West Virginia during the 1950s, and to the dead but relentlessly remembered Elizabeth, titular presence in Matt Cohen's Elizabeth and After, in which regrets and expectations blur past and future in the ever-evaporating now. The novel was honoured with the Governor General's award just weeks before Cohen's death (see Obituaries). Time makes no difference to the powerful ghost of Marie Ursule, rampaging through Dionne Brand's second novel, At the Full and Change of the Moon, while generations of women, related by blood even when only related by marriage, inhabit, and pass through, the rooms of Bonnie Burnard's Giller Prizewinning A Good House, the kind of house that Rachel Wyatt's midlife protagonist seeks to escape in Mona Lisa Smiled a Little. In a work translated from the original French, Anne Hbert wonders ironically Am I Disturbing You? as she details the significant effects one young woman can have on the lives of two men, and Nancy Huston, in The Mark of the Angel, draws the reader through scenes of emotional destruction, tracing the scars that warriors inflict on lovers, and vice versa. Divisions that brought people together lace through Thomas King's Truth & Bright Water, a tale of two little border towns that have a lot in common; David Macfarlane's Summer Gone strips nostalgia to the bone as the wind strips leaves from autumn trees; and David Helwig deliberately stays Close to the Fire in his brief study of self-deceit and redemption. Timothy Findley, that writer of deathless prose, creates a deathless character in Pilgrim, a journey of verbal delights through various heavens and hells of immortality. Women overran short stories too, although the sad, self-punishing mothers and daughters, endlessly, repetitively searching for, and abandoning, and finding each other in Elyse Gasco's wryly humorous Can You Wave Bye Bye, Baby? were in sharp contrast not only to All the Anxious Girls on Earth, Zsuzsi Gartner's impious romp through contemporary mores of love and honour, and to Girls Around the House, M.A.C. Farrant's series of linked stories about survival amid one's kin, but also to the Young Men in Russell Smith's poignant collection, as vulnerable and tough in their own ways as any girl. At the heart of the Canadian identity myth is the idea of land, of wilderness, and of the half-known other, nurturer and nemesis, and during the year several books of poems bloomed on these long-established roots. Terrence Young's The Island in Winter captures the interplay of fog and rock, water and tree, heart and soul; Nelson Ball's Almost Spring releases language that alters one's perception of almost everything; and Richard Harrison's Big Breath of a Wish whistles through metaphors as fresh as all outdoors. In Speaking Through Jagged Rock, Connie Fife delineates the changing horizons of a Cree woman approaching the 21st century, while Marilyn Bowering explores the mysterious hinterlands of Human Bodies: New and Collected Poems 19871999, distilling a wry wisdom from often inhumane conditions. Lillian Allen twists reality like a pretzel in Psychic Unrest; Linda Rogers discovers different forms through which cruelty may sublime into understanding in The Saning; and Susan Musgrave in Things That Keep and Do Not Change shows the reader the nature of transformation itself. Carrying the Shadow was Patrick Friesen's remembrances of lives lost, and for Lorna Crozier it was What the Living Won't Let Go, which bares the meaning of bereavement. Some poets challenged the reality of language itself. In Scars on the Seehors, bill bissett convolutes tongue and eye in exuberant new concrete and performance poems; going even farther, Erin Mour deconstructs text and meaning in A Frame of the Book, creating her own wilderness of syntax in which to enthrall the reader. Elizabeth Woods Chinese During 1999 the list assembled by Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) of the 100 best Chinese fictional works of the 20th century was released in Hong Kong. The first-place winner was Lu Xun for his Nahan (Call to Arms); it was followed in order by Shen Congwen for Bian cheng (Remote Town), Lao She for Luotuo xiangzi (The Camel), Zhang Ailing for Chuanqi (Legend), Qian Zhongshu for Wei cheng (Enclosed City), Mao Dun for Ziye (Midnight), Pai Hsien-yung for T'ai-pei jen (Taipeiers), and Ba Jin for Jia (Family). As always, some found the judges' selections biased, but the chosen works reflected the opinions of a panel of 14 experts from several countries. Authors in China were prolific during the year, but much of their subject matter, as in the past, was intended principally to glorify the big national holidays. Ten novels were offered as gifts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, but their artistic quality was generally mediocre. During the year the process began of selecting the finalists for the fifth Mao Dun Literature Award, given once every three years. Works published from 1995 to 1998 were eligible, and, although the award was originally scheduled to be given in 1999, the presentation was postponed until 2000. The first cut was made by a group of critics who voted for the 25 best from hundreds of novels nominated; then a second group voted for the best 35 of those. Considered most likely to win were Zhou Daxin's epic novel Di ershi mu (The 20th Act), which, with deep historical insight and feeling, depicted the rise and fall over a century of a family's silk business; young Tibetan writer A Lai's Chen'ai luo ding (When the Dust Settles), a novel thick with cultural implications and dynamic language as well as unique scenes and symbols representing life changes as seen through the eyes of the son of a Tibetan chieftain; and female author Wang Anyi's Chang hen ge (Song of Everlasting Sorrow), which used delicate, exact, and somewhat gloomy language to portray the trivial daily life of urban Shanghai residents and the changes in their behaviour over the decades. Two other novels given a chance to win were Jia Ping'ao's Gao lao zhuang (The Old Gao Village), a straightforward story of an ancient scholar who travels back to visit relatives in his old village, a trip with resonance for life in contemporary China, and Cao Wenxuan's Hongwa (Red Tile), a story about children written in a classic style. On another front, Han Shaogong, the author of Maqiao cidian (Ma Qiao Dictionary), filed and won a libel suit in a local court against the critics of his work. His action caused a furor in literary circles, where it was felt that a literary dispute should not be the subject of legal action, and it was feared that the incident would set a bad precedent. Qian Zhongwen Danish The Danish literary scene in 1999 offered a rich variety of styles, character portrayals, familiar and foreign settings, and historical and contemporary stories. In Leif Davidsen's thriller Lime's billede (1998), for example, a vivid, nearly sensual Madrid is ground zero for a Danish paparazzo. One of his photos leads to the death of his wife and daughter, to intrigue, and eventually to new love. Ebbe Klvedal Reich's expansive novel Zenobias liv (1998) takes the reader far, interweaving stories of the divine queen Zenobia with contemporary searches for her lost autobiography. Two works, Katrine Marie Guldager's Det grnne je (1998) and Birgithe Kosovic's Om natten i Jerusalem (1999), recall Karen Blixen's use of frame stories and her voyages into the heart. In Det grnne je, Hanna Darting, a British woman in dire straits, shares tale after tale before finally coming to grips with the inherent chaos in life. In Om natten i Jerusalem, an old woman spins intricate tales of a pasha and his wives, especially the favoured Mihrimah, for the Franciscan monk Theodore, whose pilgrimage has taken him to Jerusalem. In Christina Hesselholdt's Hovedstolen (1998), a child's random anecdotes reveal unique impressions of the world. Jens Christian Grndahl's Hjertelyd (1999) explores the relationship of an unnamed narrator and his friend. The reader of Hjertelyd is essential in interpreting and assessing the narrator's memoirs. Christian Jungersen's debut novel,Krat, (1999) involves a search for significance; the elderly protagonist discovers that his old friend Eduard is a malevolent stranger in a different, but entirely parallel, reality. In Dvrgenes dans (1998), Anne Marie Ln creates a sensitive portrait of the dwarf Tyge Willhof-Holm, an organist in Copenhagen who, during a few weeks in 1922, is captivated by a woman he only glimpses above his console. An oddity in the picture-perfect but loveless Willhof-Holm family, Tyge finds personal renewal through love. Pia Tafdrup, winner of the 1999 Nordic Council Literary Prize for Dronningeporten, published new poems about poetry, Tusindfdt (1999). Niels Lyngs also offered a new cycle of poems on the self and significant events in Force majeure (1999). Hanne Kvist's tale of sibling devotion, Drengen med slvhjelmen (1999), captured the Danish Award in the Nordic Children's Book Competition, and Klaus Rifbjerg won the 1999 Swedish Academy Nordic Prize. Peter Seeberg, a master of the novella, died in January. Lanae Hjortsvang Isaacson Eastern European Poland suffered a great loss in 1999 with the deaths of three major talents: theatrical innovator Jerzy Grotowski, critic and editor Jerzy Turowicz, and poet Jerzy Harasymowicz. Zbigniew Kruszynski published his eagerly awaited work of documentary fiction, Na ladach i morzach (On Lands and Seas). Mariusz Wilk solidified his reputation with Wilczy notes: slowo/obrazy terytoria (Wolf's Notebook: Word/Pictures of the Territories). Edward Redlinski continued his assault on the conventions of literature with Krfotok (Hemorrhage). Antoni Libera's debut novel and winner of the Znak Award, Madame, was an ironic portrait of the artist during his formative early years. Olga Tokarczuk's Dom dzienny, dom nocny (Day Home, Night Home), considered her finest work, was nominated for the Nike Literary Award. Marcin Swietlicki's two personal and sardonic poetry collections, Piesni profana (Songs of the Profane) and Schizma (Schism), established his reputation as a leading talent. The central theme of a number of works in the Czech Republic continued to be the confrontation of present-day problems and the communist past. After 26 years of forced silence, Jir Kratochvil published Nocn tango: roman jednoho lta z konce stolet (Night Tango: A Novel of One Summer of the End of the Century) and was awarded the Jaroslav Seifert Prize. Jaroslav Putk's diary Odchod ze zmku (Departure from the Castle) concentrated on his experiences during a time of political and social changes. Petr abach's Babicky (Grandmothers) recalled the author's childhood and youth in communist Czechoslovakia with his two grandmothers. Jchym Topol's novella Andel (Angel) depicted the destiny of a rebellious drug addict who fights his addiction. Jan Jandourek's kvr (Trash), a satire on the public's taste for literary trash, was also an attack on the Czech literary elite. J.H. Krchovsk's Bsne (Poems) included verse from three earlier collections and oscillated between death and the anguish of erotic relationships. Literature from Slovenia included Drago Jancar's latest novel, Zvenenje v glavi (A Ringing in the Head), a fictionalized account of his seven-month incarceration in 1976 for political espionage. Tomaz alamun's reputation as an outstanding poet was solidified with his latest collection, Morje (The Sea). The literary event of the year in Bulgaria was the publication of Vreme i suvremennitsi: dnevnitsi na Kiril Khristov (Time and Contemporaries: The Diaries of Kiril Christov) after a 50-year-long ban. Blaga Dimitrova's two poetry collections, Noshtna lampa sred byal den (A Night-Lamp in Broad Daylight) and Balkaniada-ada (Balkanalia), were well received, especially her poems about Kosovo. Yordan Radichkov's Avtostradata (The Highway), a compilation of short stories and novels, marked the writer's 70th birthday. (A Natural Novel) was awarded the Razvitie Award, and Konstantin Terziev's Chukala moma leshnitsi (A Lassie Was Cracking Hazelnuts) won the Razvitie Award. Donka Petrunova's trilogy Gangsterskata voyna (The Gangster War) captured the Grand Prix of the Academy of the Ministry of the Interior. Several works appeared that investigated political injustices, including Khristo Khristov's Sekretnoto delo za lagerite (The Secret File Concerning Concentration Camps) and Dimitur Shishmanov's four-volume collection of short stories published under the title Stranni khora (Strange People). A record number of outstanding collections of poetry appeared in Romania: Mihai Ignat's Eu (I), Serban Foarta's Un castel in Spania pentru Annia (A Castle in Spain for Annia), Mariana Marin's Multilarea artistului la tinerete (The Artist's Maiming Early in His Youth), Marta Petreu's Apocalipsa dupa Marta (Apocalypse After Marta), Constantin Abaluta's Crtita lui Pessoa (Pessoa's Mole), Denisa Comanescu's Urma de foc (The Fire Track), and T.O. Bobe's poem in prose, Bucla (The Curl). The novel was also well represented with new entries by Daniel Vighi, Anamaria Beligan, Constantin Eretescu, Dan Stanca, Dumitru Tepeneag, Dumitru Radu Popa, and Mirela Roznoveanu. In Macedonia several outstanding collections of poetry were published: Mateja Matevski's Isklucuvanje na Ida (Disconnection of Ida), Radovan Pavlovski's Sinot na sonceto (The Son of the Sun), Jovan Kotevski's Razor, Jovan Strezovski's Blik, and Alajdin Tahir's Fotografii (Photographs). New novels were welcomed from Vladimir Kostov, Krste Cacanski, and Danilo Kocevski. Two highly praised works were translated into Albanian: Slavko Janevski's Secema prikazna (The Sugar Story) and Resul Shabani's Sedum drami (Seven Dramas). In Croatia, Dubravka Ugreic's The Museum of Unconditional Surrender, translated into English by Celia Hawkesworth, proved to be the literary event of the year. The book, a hybrid of diary, memoir, notebook, and novel, contained moving vignettes from the writer's past. oko Stojicic's Kopno, kopno na vidiku! (Land, Land in Sight!) proved to be one of his best collections and established his reputation as one of Serbia's leading poets. Referred to as the Serbian Rambo, Dragan Jovanovic Danilov completed his poetic trilogy with Kuca Bahove muzike (The House of Bach's Music). Edward J. Czerwinski French France. The 1999 literary output in France was marked by the continuing trend, termed dprimisme or depressivism by its detractors, to paint a hopelessly gloomy picture of French society. One of the most tender products of this melancholic tendency was Jean-Claude Izzo's Le Soleil des mourants, in which the homeless drifter Rico, intent on ending his life after watching his friend die in the subway, wanders through France until he takes a runaway boy under his wing. Although thereby presented with a chance for a meaningful life, Rico nonetheless abandons the boy in his sleep just after the boy calls him papa for the first time. Franois Taillandier's Anielka traced a young woman's struggle to find her own identity amid the strident chaos of competing philosophies: her parents' Roman Catholicism, her boyfriend's Marxism, society's consumerism, and other women's feminism. On a lighter note, Lydie Salvayre's La Confrence de Cintegabelle recounted an imaginary conference meant to bolster the dying art of leisurely conversation in ever-accelerating French society, a conference that tumbles into delirium as the speaker hints that he murdered his wife because she was unable to converse. This dprimisme was even projected into the fantasy of the postapocalyptic future in Antoine Volodine's Des anges mineurs, in which 200-year-old babushkas create a communist saviour for themselves out of rags following the collapse of technology and capitalism, only to watch him treacherously reinvent the injustices of capitalism. The novel was formed by the stories the condemned saviour tells himself as he awaits his endlessly postponed execution. The ills of society were telescoped into small, stifling relationships in three successful novels. In Rgis Jauffret's Clmence Picot,a woman, driven to psychosis by the death of her family, devises a plan to abduct the son of her next-door neighbour, a single mother; when that fails, she destroys their love, which is an affront to her lonely misery. In Marie Ndiaye's Hilda, it was society's institutionalized hierarchy and the hypocrisy of those who profess to combat it that was put on trial. Madame Lemarchand, a wealthy leftist, hires Hilda as a governess because she must have a woman with such a unique name and then, though sincerely believing she is improving her servant's lot, slowly obliterates Hilda's identity in her need to possess another person completely. In Hugues Pradier's Pendant la chaleur du jour, the defeat of aristocracy by capitalism is represented by a dwindling family of provincial nobility, slowly being swallowed by a nouveau riche family that has bought its land, hired away its servants, and is about to force a marriage between their son and the nobles' daughter. In the final spasm of inexorable destiny, the noble family implodes but takes the nouveau riche son with them. Despite pervasive dprimisme, the characters in three noteworthy novels manage to carve a place for themselves through their revolt against society. In Sbastien Lapaque's Les Ides heureuses, a dandy fancying himself an ancient Greek meets a Marxist girl, and despite the mismatch, their common revolt against consumerist society proves fertile ground for love. In Cllie Aster's O.D.C. (a wordplay on odyssey), the main characters, including the author herself, revolt against society with a 10-day plunge into sex and drugs; the revolt permeates the style of the novel, which use the French of the streets. In Eric Chevillard's L'Oeuvre postume de Thomas Pilaster, the revolt, this time against sellout literature, is conducted with acidic humour; when the successful novelist Pilaster dies, his friend, the unsuccessful poet Marson, is asked to compile a volume of the late author's unpublished works. The envious Marson collects only Pilaster's worst writings into a volume intended to destroy his name. Three other authors made narrative innovations worthy of note. In her collection of short stories, Guide par le songe, Batrix Beck chronicles the lives of the poor in a style that makes use of proverbs and word games and magically imbues with voice such unexpected characters as cats, gargoyles, lawn gnomes, and the ox and ass of the Christmas manger. In Jean Echenoz's Je m'en vais, the story of an Inuit treasure shipwrecked, recovered, then stolen, the omniscient narrator destroys the conventions of both detective and adventure stories, interrupting the plot to toy with the reader, destroy suspense, and fixate on details described at length with the most bizarre of similes. Jean-Pierre Milovanoff's L'Offrande sauvage, the fictionalized account of a Norwegian resistance fighter's life, also has an omniscient narrator, but one who transforms the true story into a legend that sings one man's pains and glories as universal mysteries and marvels of life. The Prix Femina was awarded to Maryline Desbiolles's Anchise, the story of an old man at the end of a life filled with endless mourning for the wife he lost to fever while he was away at war. Christian Oster won the Prix Mdicis for Mon grand appartement, in which a man who has lost everything falls in love with a woman already pregnant, in the hope of filling his life with a ready-made family. The Prix Renaudot was given to Daniel Picouly's L'Enfant lopard, in which policemen during the French Revolution search for a black-and-white-spotted boy, the illegitimate son of a noblewoman and an African, conceived at a black mass. The Prix Goncourt went to Echenoz's Je m'en vais. Germanic German. The most controversial issue among German-language writers in 1999 was the fighting in the Serbian province of Kosovo, which elicited heated debate throughout the first half of the year in the PEN club and elsewhere. The unrest represented the first major offensive use of the German military since 1945, and writers debated about the lessons of history: Did the horrors of World War II teach Never again war or, rather, Never again Auschwitz? Peter Handke's play Die Fahrt im Einbaum, oder, Das Stck zum Film vom Krieg was a bitter pro-Serbian attack on both the NATO bombing action and the Western European press; other respected writers, however, including Gnter Grass (see Nobel Prizes) and Wolf Biermann, supported German involvement in the NATO effort in Kosovo on humanitarian grounds. Grass's Mein Jahrhundert, one of the most discussed books of the year, was a collection of 100 stories, each representing one year of the century. The first story, set in 1900, dealt with a German who participated in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in China; in the last story, set in 1999, Grass's mother comes back to life to comment on family affairs and politics, as well as her dreams and fears for the future. In the course of the book, readers encounter, in rapid succession, World Wars I and II, the Weimar Republic, the Nazi era, postwar reconstruction, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and its collapse, and the tensions ensuing in the wake of national reunification. Gert Neumann's novel Anschlag was a linguistically ambitious and complex exploration of contemporary German identity and the East German past. Thomas Brussig's novel Am krzeren Ende der Sonnenallee dealt with some of the same issues but in a less-demanding and more nostalgic way. Its young hero, who lives close to the Berlin Wall, remembers a delightful childhood and adolescence, even though he acknowledges the many negative aspects of the GDR regime. Like Brussig's 1995 novel, Helden wie wir, this was an attempt to treat contemporary German history with humour and popular appeal. Other novels dealing with German reunification included Marcia Zuckermann's Das vereinigte Paradies, Joachim Lottmann's Deutsche Einheit, and Jrgen Becker's Aus der Geschichte der Trennungen. Christian von Ditfurth's novel Die Mauer steht am Rhein was a fictional experiment exploring what might have happened if East Germany rather than West Germany had been the stronger player in German reunification. In Ditfurth's treatment West Germans under the thumb of a communist regime showed many of the same East German weaknesses, the very ones criticized by West Germans. Irene Bhme's well-received first novel, Die Buchhndlerin, explored both the Nazi and the GDR past and featured two female figures from different generations who must come to terms with life in those periods of German history. Monika Maron's memoir, Pawels Briefe, also probed German history, addressing the fate of Maron's grandfather, a Polish Jew converted to Christianity and ultimately murdered by the Nazis; at the same time, the memoir examined the relationship between Maron and her mother, whose response to Nazi tyranny had been to support socialism in the GDR. Peter Schneider's novel Eduards Heimkehra loose sequel to the 1992 Paarungendealt with the return to Berlin of a German expatriate who had spent almost a decade living in California; through his experiences as a contemporary Rip van Winkle in the once and future capital, readers encounter a sense of the changes in Germany since 1989. Sten Nadolny's novel Er oder icha sequel to Nadolny's first novel, Netzkartealso explored the psychological situation of contemporary Germany; its hero, the middle-aged, disillusioned consultant Ole Reuter, travels randomly through the country by train. Friedrich Christian Delius's novel Die Flatterzungea fictional work based on a true 1997 incidentrecounted the misfortunes of a talented Berlin musician who, during a concert trip to Israel, signs a restaurant check with the name Adolf Hitler. The novel, which took the form of a personal notebook, explored the musician's attempt to understand his own seemingly inexplicable actions and painted a literary landscape of contemporary Berlin. Peter Bichsel's long narrative Cherubin Hammer und Cherubin Hammer was a complex story of two Swiss men who represent reverse mirror images of each other. The loud, gregarious man is an imaginative wish projection of the quiet, lonely man. Thomas Brasch's sophisticated novella Mdchenmrder Brunke also deals with the thoughts of a man who imagines himself in the life of another mana notorious murderer. Durs Grnbein's poetry collection Nach den Satiren, widely hailed as the poet's best to date, referred back to the satires of Juvenal and thus made a connection between ancient Rome and contemporary Berlin. In his poetry collection Leichter als Luft: moralische Gedichte, Hans Magnus Enzensberger also reflected on the situation of the contemporary German living in a state of confusion and unrest. Jewish Hebrew. The main events in Hebrew literature in 1999 were the publication of Yuval Shimoni's Heder (A Room) and S. Yizhar's Giluy Eliyahu (Discovering Elijah). Shimoni's triptych was a richly condensed depiction of the many faces of contemporary Israel and an insightful examination of the ability of art to cope with the complicated nature of human existence. Yizhar, who renewed his literary career in the early 1990s, published a telling memoir on the background of the October 1973 war that broke out in Israel on Yom Kippur. Other notable novels included Orly Castel-Blum's Hasefer hahadash shel Orly Castel-Blum (1998; Taking the Trend), Hai'm Be'er's Havalim (1998; The Pure Element of Time), Eyal Megged's Hesed ne'ura'yich (Early Grace), and Dorit Rabinyan's Hahatunot shelanu (Our Weddings). Among the works of several veteran writers that failed to match previous achievements were Aharon Appelfeld's Kol asher ahavti (All That I Have Loved), Natan Shaham's Mikhtav baderekh (A Letter in the Mail), and Judith Katzir's Migdalorim shel yabasha (Inland Lighthouses). Highlights among the many collections of short stories were Alex Eptstein's Ahuvato shel metapes heharim (The Mountaineer's Beloved) and Nurit Zarhi's Mishakei bedidut (Games of Loneliness). First novels were published by Yael Ichilov, Nasikh levavot adom (Knave of Hearts), and Ayelet Smair Tulipman (Gnessin 3). Notable books of poetry included Aryeh Sivan's Dayar lo mugan (Unprotected Tenant), Rachel Chalfi's Nosa'at smuya (Stowaway), Lea Ayalon's Kan Beitzim (A Nest of Eggs), Israel Eliraz's Tavor(Tabor), Dan Armon's Alim (Leaves), Joseph Sharon's Hayorshim (The Inheritors), and Aharon Shabtai's controversial Politika (Politics). A first book of poems, Rmoz eich ata ohev lehithazer (Tell Me How You Want to Be Wooed), was penned by Tamir Lahav-Radlmesser. The premier event in literary scholarship was the publication of the last volume of Gershon Shaked's study of 100 years of Hebrew fiction, Hasiporet ha'ivrit (Hebrew Narrative Fiction; 18801980; vol. v, 1998). Other works of literary scholarship included Dan Miron's studies of modern Hebrew poetry, Ha'adam eino ella (Man in Nothing But), and Ziva Shamir's examination of Natan Alterman's poetics and politics in Al et ve'al atar (Sites and Situations). Avner Holzman discussed Hebrew literature against the backdrop of the visual arts in Melekhet mahshevet: tehiyat ha'uma(Aesthetics and National Revival), and Shlomo Yaniv studied tradition and innovation in Haballada Ha'ivrit bat zmaneinu (The Contemporary Hebrew Ballad). Italian The most remarkable development of 1999 was the conquest of the literary market by what was traditionally considered a marginal and inferior work lacking in qualitythe detective story, a genre known in Italy as the giallo. A significant sign of the new status afforded the genre was the success of Delitti di carta, a scholarly journal founded in 1998 at the University of Bologna and devoted to research in the field. Italians had always been avid readers of detective and mystery novels, mainly by American authors, but in 1999 several homegrown gialli were regularly included in the weekly best-seller lists. Most popular were La mossa del cavallo and Gli arancini di Montalbano, two of the many novels by the Sicilian writer Andrea Camilleri, a 74-year-old television producer and filmmaker whose literary talent had achieved recognition only recently. His stories, typically set in Sicily and written in a sort of Siculo-Italian language, showed some of the ambitions of Leonardo Sciascia's classical investigations of excellent murders while stylistically echoing Carlo Emilio Gadda's linguistic experimentation. What made Camilleri's hero, Inspector Montalbano, a captivating character was his passionate yet coolly collected determination to pursue the truth, coupled with his awareness that defeat might always be possible. Dacia Maraini, too, borrowed some formal features of the giallo for her latest book, Buio, which presented 12 separate cases investigated by Adele Sfia, a woman detective already known for her role in Maraini's earlier novel, Voci. What distinguished this detective was her compassion and strong moral conscience. The darkness she explored in these true stories was that of the human mind that degrades, violates, and corrupts the souls and bodies of children, particularly through sexual violence within the family. The book, which expressed the author's profound participation in the silent suffering of the innocent, effectively denounced the growing tide of adult brutality in a society that traditionally considered itself to be eminently child-loving. Though shocking enough, Maraini's picture of Italian society was not quite as bleak as the one that emerged from Vincenzo Consolo's latest book, Lo spasimo di Palermo, the most intense, harrowing, and difficult novel of the year and, not surprisingly, one of the least popular. More than a narrative, it was the lyrical expression of a heartrending pain, a wound that a father and son shared without ever finding a remedy for it in their separate lives. For the father, a dissatisfied writer, it was the gap that grew between the hopes and illusions he entertained at the end of the war and his actual achievements; for the son, a former revolutionary and terrorist living in exile, it was the bitter disappointment that followed his own violent involvement in recent events. The drama was both existential and political; it suggested the failure of the father and the son, of Sicily, and of Italy to change. Consolo, a Sicilian by birth and one of Italy's most gifted contemporary writers, worked in the tradition of Sciascia and Gadda yet forged a difficult language all his own that was uniquely suited to exploring and expressing the deep malaise that he sensed around him. Moving from the extreme south of Italy to the northeast, the picture was different but the despair similar. Well-known novelist Ferdinando Camon's slim and accessible book of verse, Dal silenzio delle campagne, synthesized the new barbarity of affluence and consumerism, or the 50-year progress of the Veneto peasant from subhuman to supermonster status. The collection's ostensibly comic subtitle was a summary of what the region had lately become: Bulls, cows, devils, peasants, drug addicts, merchants of women, and serial killers. Equally gloomy in substance, though more amusing in tone, thanks to an irresistible irony, was Paolo Barbaro's novel L'impresa senza fine, about two young brothers from the Veneto who make a fortune by leaving the university and starting a garbage-collection-and-disposal enterprise. Their business grows so much that it eventually covers the whole worldan apologue of the unspeakable devastation brought on by recent economic progress. Among young narrators, Alessandro Baricco took on contemporary American culture with City. The story centres on a physics geniusa lonely and sad 13-year-old American boy whose mother is permanentl

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