Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 2001: LITERATURE in English

YEAR IN REVIEW 2001: LITERATURE

Arabic Arab intellectuals were preoccupied in 2000 with globalization, and the dubious nature of that phenomenon was questioned in two Egyptian novels, Gamil 'Atiyyah Ibrahim's Khizanat al-kalam ("The Coffer of Words") and Amin al-'Ayyuti's Khamriyyah. Whereas Ibrahim relied on dramatic events to convey his message, 'Ayyuti used humour. (See Economic Affairs: Sidebar.) Increasingly, writers relied on history as a framework for their fiction. Historical novels by 'Abd al-Rahman Munif, Ahdaf Soueif, and Salw Bakr assessed the impact of Western culture on the Arab world. Both Munif's trilogy Ard al-sawad (1999; "The Arable Land") and Soueif's The Map of Love (1999)-which tracked the beginnings of Zionism during the Ottoman Empire-depicted and deplored the manipulation of their countries by the West. Bakr's Al-Bashmuri II was a sequel to Al-Bashmuri (1998) and harkened to the Abbasid period. Khairi Shalabi's Salih haisah ("Saleh Flight") was set against the backdrop of the British mandate in Egypt. Some Arab writers remained close to their roots and were motivated by a desire to act locally and think globally. This appeared to be the spirit animating Ahmad al-Tawfiq's novel Al-sayl (1998; "The Flood"), in which positive and negative human emotions were played out in a rural environment. Similarly, Youssouf Amine Elalamy's Les Clandestins tackled illegal immigration across the Strait of Gibraltar and other forms of clandestine activities. In Ni fleurs ni couronnes by Souad Bahchar, women controlled the action. Layl Abu Zayd released another autobiographical novel, Al-fasl al-akhir (The Last Chapter), remarkable for its great fluidity of style. 'Abd al-Karim Ghallab devoted Al-Qahirah tabuhu bi-asrariha ("Cairo Reveals Its Secrets") to his impressions and observations during a visit to the city after a 50-year absence. Muhammad Shukri published Wujuh ("Faces"), the third volume of his autobiography. The surprise of the year was the publication of La Ceinture by Ahmed Abodehman, the first novel ever published in French by a Saudi writer. The book evoked the drastic change that had occurred in his village following the discovery of oil. The reediting of the Syrian Haydar Haydar's Walimah li a'shab al-bahr (1983; "Banquet for Seaweeds by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture created a controversy when objections were raised against the work's religious and moral content. The vibrant literary production in Algeria reflected writers' deep need to share their experiences. While many wrote testimonies in which they vented their anger and sorrow, others managed to transcend reality and produce fictional narratives chronicling the absurdities of their contemporary history. Youcef Zirem's L'me de Sabrina and 'Abd al-Malik Murtad's Maraya mutashazziyyah ("Splintered Mirrors") adopted this approach. Published posthumously was Tahar Djaout's Le Dernier t de la raison (1999); Djaout was assassinated in 1993. Al-Tahir Wattar attempted to convey the nonsensical nature of that horror in Al-Wali al-Tahir ya'udu ila maqamihi ("Saint Tahir Returns to His Holy Abode"). Yamina Mchakra broke a long silence with Arris (1999), a novel concerned with the question of identity. Mahmud Darwish evoked his brush with death during heart surgery in Jidariyah ("The Mural"), and Jamal al-Ghitani's fight against cancer was the subject of Muqarabat al-abad ("Proximity to Eternity"). In DANSKO, Ghazi al-Qusaybi recounted the behind-the-scene plots for the choice of the UNESCO director, a position he coveted. The social problems of Egypt's working classes, set against the backdrop of Anwar al-Sadat's rule, informed Ibrahim Aslan's 'Asafir al-Nil (1999; "Nile Sparrows") and Muhammad al-Bisati's Layalin ukhra ("Other Nights"). In Mauritania, Ahmad ibn 'Abd al-Qadir concerned himself with his country's social history in his novel Al-'uyun al-shakhisa ("The Fixed Eyes"). Two Egyptians were recognized-Idwar al-Kharrat was honoured with a State Merit Award and a collection of articles, Idwar al-Kharrat, mughamir hatta al-nihayan ("Edouard el-Kharrat, an Adventurer to the End"), for his 70th birthday, and Ahlam Mustaghanimi received the Naguib Mahfouz Prize. Syria lost novelist Hani al-Rahib. Aida A. Bamia Brazil. In 2000 the most notable literary celebration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Brazil was the revival of major works of Brazilian theatre, ranging from plays by 19th-century dramatists to Oswald de Andrade's revolutionary O rei da vela (1937) to contemporary works. (See World Affairs: Brazil: Sidebar.) Several important critical studies appeared. Marcelo Ridenti's Em busca do povo brasileiro: artistas da revoluo, do CPC era da TV dealt with the continuing effects of the highly politicized culture of the 1960s and '70s. American critic David S. George reconsidered the fate of the Brazilian theatre of the 1980s and '90s in Flash & Crash Days: Brazilian Theatre in the Postdictatorship Period. Maria Antonieta Pereira's No fim do texto: a obra de Rubem Fonseca examined Fonseca's characters within the context of "barbarous humanism." Luis Alberto Brando Santos's Um olho de vidro was a critical evaluation of the literary achievement of the highly regarded novelist Srgio Sant'Anna. In late 1999 Yudith Rosenbaum published Metamorfoses do mal: uma leitura de Clarice Lispector, in which she studied sadism as an important element in Lispector's fiction. Donaldo Schler and Linara Ferreira Pavani organized Gregrio de Matos: texto e hipertexto, a collection of essays reconsidering the colonial poet's works from a sociopolitical perspective. Marisa Lajolo's Monteiro Lobato sought to distinguish Lobato's seemingly divergent literary styles-the premodernism of his children's literature and the traditionalist conservatism of his regionalist stories. The growth of Internet sites dedicated to Brazilian letters and literary criticism was another highlight of the year. A new electronic publisher based in Paris, www.00h00.com (called Zero Hour), began to publish digital books of Brazilian and Portuguese literature. RBL Editora (http://members.tripod.com/~lfilipe) published all genres of literature as well as literary criticism. The Network of Brazilian Women Writers (Rede de Escritoras Brasileiras) featured younger women authors on its World Wide Web site: http://rebra.org. Joo Ubaldo Ribeiro, one of Brazil's most eminent writers, published his new novel, Misria e grandeza do amor de Benedita, as an electronic book (e-book). This e-book could be read on a personal computer screen or on a portable wireless computer. Discussion groups dedicated to Brazilian literature and sites featuring specific authors were also developed during the year. Highly esteemed literary scholar and critic Afrnio Coutinho died in August. Coutinho had organized the landmark A literatura no Brasil (3 vol., 1955-59), which introduced the "new criticism" movement into Brazilian letters. Irwin Stern Canada. Like most of the Western world, French Canada was swept by the Harry Potter craze in 2000. Potter was the central character in a popular series of books by British author J.K. Rowling. At one point the English version of Rowling's latest offering was the best-selling book in the French bookstore chain Renaud-Bray. Though the province of Quebec might be politically distinct from the rest of Canada, its reading habits were alarmingly global. In a year without a dominating homegrown title, the most popular works ranged from television personality Daniel Pinard's recipe books to the Dalai Lama's universal wisdom. There were few standout works worth noting. A book that broke with French Canada's obsession with itself, however, was Gil Courtemanche's Un Dimanche la piscine Kigali, a novel set in Rwanda. Longtime journalist Courtemanche followed in Graham Greene's footsteps to create a popular work that distinguished itself on the literary scene. The intersection of politics and culture again resulted in a shelfful of books. This time Daniel Poliquin checked in with Le Roman colonial, an essay that served notice that nationalism was a retrogressive force in Quebec. Poliquin provoked the ire of a good number of commentators, which was his intent. Another Franco-Ontario writer, Jean-Marc Dalp, won the country's top French-language fiction prize, the Governor-General's Award, for his novel Un Vent se lve qui parpille (1999), a story that mixed poetry and naturalism to portray life in northern Ontario. A surprising success was Un Parfum de cdre (1999), the French version of Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees (1996). Translations of books between Canada's two official languages are usually not rewarded with commercial success, but MacDonald's family saga set in Atlantic Canada proved that the country's two solitudes could touch each other. The year was marked by the loss of two very different writers-the much-loved novelist and poet Anne Hbert (see Obituaries) and beatnik-style poet Denis Vanier. David Homel Canada. Ghosts of many kinds enlivened the fictional offerings of 2000. In Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost, it is one of the many victims of Sri Lanka's interminable guerrilla war whom Anil, a forensic anthropologist, seeks to rescue from anonymity. In Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin, the younger sister, a long-ago suicide, bedevils the elder as the latter spins interlocking anecdotes of deceit and betrayal arising from their love for the same man. In Susan Musgrave's Cargo of Orchids, a blackly funny and bleakly honest account of one woman's sojourn to death row, the haunting is by the ghost of what might have been. Spirits of mythic proportions inform Eden Robinson's first novel, Monkey Beach, about a young native woman grappling with the death of her beloved brother amid the shifting mists of the British Columbia coast. In Steven Heighton's The Shadow Boxer, the ghosts of the doomed freighter Edmund Fitzgerald serve as companions to a young man seeking to find his own way in a deserted lighthouse on the shore of Lake Superior. The presence hovering over Elizabeth Hay's A Student of Weather is still alive, but no less potent; in another tale of sibling betrayal, two sisters compete for the same sweet fellow. Flight and denial were also common themes. In Catherine Bush's The Rules of Engagement, a young woman flees into exile to avoid discovering the outcome of a duel fought over her. In Burridge Unbound by Alan Cumyn, a survivor of terrorism returns to the place of his incarceration, and Fred Stenson's The Trade encompasses a host of fugitives-from the law, civilization, or themselves-forced to face the cold realities of the northern fur trade. Anita Rau Badami dealt with several levels of denial in The Hero's Walk, in which an old man, suddenly responsible for his young granddaughter, must face a future foreign to him, his family, and his caste. Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards presented the consequences of a pact with God as not entirely unlike those arising from a pact with the devil. Short fiction naturally spawned a number of diverse works. In Carol Shields's Dressing Up for the Carnival, a high-class midway was full of familiar yet unique people. Luck in all of its manifestations-good, bad, and indifferent-attends an engagingly eclectic assortment of individuals in the late Matt Cohen's Getting Lucky. In Lynn Coady's Play the Monster Blind, the cultures of the coasts of Canada were revealed through the idiosyncratic excesses of their inhabitants. Terence Young's Rhymes with Useless was a mixed bag of ordinary families coping in their separate ways with an extraordinary world. The first collection by Madeline Sonik, Drying the Bones, featured a series of investigations into and beyond the obvious. Though Al Purdy (see Obituaries), one of Canada's major poets, died in April, his voice lives on in the posthumously published Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems. Another death, that of Patrick Lane's mother, informed his latest collection, The Bare Plum of Winter Rain. The death of Charles Lillard, poet and husband, was mourned in Rhonda Batchelor's Weather Report. Winona Baker expressed the essence of life's transient seasons through haiku in Even a Stone Breathes. Although death was not ignored, a lighter note was struck in bill bissett's b leev abul char ak trs. In Ruin & Beauty: New and Selected Poems, Patricia Young explored the necessary contradictions at the heart of life, a concept that also animated A Pair of Scissors, Sharon Thesen's examination of how opposites work against each other to create something new. For Don McKay in Another Gravity, it was the contrariness of nature and the ambivalence of human nature that formed the dramas of people's lives. George Bowering, in His Life: A Poem, spins his timeless meditations on the rotations of solstice and equinox. What the Small Day Cannot Hold: Collected Poems 1970-1985 summed up Musgrave's mordant take on life in the late 20th century. Elizabeth Woods Chinese The 2000 Nobel Prize for Literature went to Gao Xingjian, a Chinese novelist and playwright who had lived in France since 1987. (See Nobel Prizes.) Gao, whose works had been banned in his native country because of their social and political criticism, was the first Chinese-born author to win the prize. The reaction from the Chinese literati was ambivalent. The spokesperson of the China Writers Association commented that "this is not a selection based on literature but on politics." Some observers argued that there were many writers in both China and Taiwan whose works were more significant than those of Gao. Others disagreed and voiced confidence in the Nobel judges' knowledge of Chinese literature. Many in China were simply happy that the prizewinner was a compatriot, no matter what Gao's political views were. Another Chinese writer in exile received a major literary award. Ha Jin, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1985, won the 2000 PEN/Faulkner Award, the largest prize for a work of fiction, for his first English-language novel, Waiting (1999). (See Biographies.) The novel, which had won the National Book Award in 1999, told the story of an army doctor in China who falls in love with a nurse during the Cultural Revolution but who vacillates about asking his traditional village wife for a divorce. The Mao Dun Literature Awards for fiction, given every four years, were announced on October 19. The awards were given to Tibetan writer Ah Lai's Chen'ai luo ding (1999; "When the Dust Settles"), female author Wang Anyi's Chang hen ge (1999; "Song of Everlasting Sorrow"), Zhang Ping's Jueze ("Hard Choice"), and Wang Xufeng's Nanfang you jiamu ("Fine Tree Possessed in Southland") and Buye zhi hou ("Delightful Marquis to Break Drowsiness"), the first two books of his trilogy Charen Sanbuqu ("Trilogy of Tea Men"). Ah Lai's novel told the story of a Tibetan chieftain. Wang Anyi's book described the daily life of urban Shanghai residents. Zhang Ping's Jueze depicted a city mayor fighting against corruption, and Wang Xufeng's novels painted the rise and fall of a tea merchant family. There were two excellent novels published in China in 2000. The first was Ye Guangcen's Caisangzi, which portrayed the lives of the descendants of a former Manchu royal family. The novel was characterized by its distinctive structure. The book's title was taken from the name of a poem written by Nalan Xingde during the Qing dynasty; the name of each chapter of the novel was taken from each line of the poem; and the final meaning of the novel fitted into the poem's artistic conception. The other notable novel was Wang Meng's Kuanghuan de jijie ("The Carnival Season"). This work used harmoniously mixed techniques to portray a group of energetic and enthusiastic men and women in their 60s and 70s. Presenting readers with the characters' different living situations, the book described their happiness and grief, sincerity and hypocrisy, losses and hopes, and awakenings and acts of forgiveness. In other news affecting the Chinese literary world, the government cracked down on a Hong Kong-based poets organization in November; three leaders of the organization were arrested after authorities discovered that dissident writers had been invited to a conference planned for November 6-11 in Guangxi province. Qian Zhongwen Danish. During 2000 Danish writers and poets explored new themes and modes of expression; created memorable characters, settings, and scenes; and plumbed the depths of emotion, meaning, and memory. In Vibeke Grnfeldt's novel Det rigtige (1999), combative Ena Jakobsen struggles to preserve her family's past in a dying village. Arthur Krasilnikoff's Nattens rygrad (1999) delves into the past of the Kalahari raconteur Kanta and that of his people. In Ccilie Lassen's Trio (1999), three Russian trapeze artists escape an ominous past in Moscow only to reencounter it in Copenhagen. Naja Marie Aidt's collection of poems Rejse for en fremmed (1999) interweaves the historical Joan the Mad (1479-1555) with a modern woman's search for identity. Tradition as well as past loves and losses also figured importantly in several novels. In Anne Marie Ln's Krlighedens rum, a casual acquaintance of the narrator, Edith Moreau, reveals a happy, secret love affair spanning 25 years. Morten Sabroe's Den spanske Gst focuses on young Ingeborg's love affair with a transient Spanish visitor and on their son, Arthur, the village outsider. In Anne Marie Ejns's Theas frd (1999), the title character breaks with tradition to follow her own path. Emma, the protagonist of Karen Fastrup's debut novel, Brnden, works on restoring both church frescoes in Lisbon and her connections to the past. The stories in Jan Sonnergaard's Sidste sndag i oktober record the passage of time and the loss of love for the aging characters from Radiator (1997). Imaginary worlds were also explored. Vagn Lundbye's collection of novellas Syv vidnesbyrd om vor Herre Jesu Kristi latter (1999) interweaves mystery and the magic in personal connection. In Janne Teller's richly satiric Odins (1999), Old Odin discovers an island beyond time. In Per Helge Srensen's crime novel Mailstorm, a student witnesses an Internet murder with serious ramifications. F.P. Jac created a new poetry of joie de vivre in Fugl fniks ajour (1999). For the second straight year, a Danish poet-this time, Henrik Nordbrandt, author of Drmmebroer (1998)-won the Nordic Council Literary Prize. Anne Marie Ttevide's Mellem himlen og verden received the Royal Library Prize for Medieval Novel, and Svend ge Madsen's Genspejlet (1999) captured Danish Radio's Novel Award. Bent Haller's Ispigen og andre fortllinger (1998) received the Nordic Children's Book Prize. Lanae Hjortsvang Isaacson Eastern European Writing in the journal Plamak ("Flame"), Bulgarian poet Georgi Konstantinov used the term vnezapnoto pokolenie ("the unexpected generation") to describe poets born in the 1960s and '70s who were grappling with the moral and ideological vacuum of postcommunist society such as prevailed in the Balkans in the last years of the 20th century. In recent decades the Serbian literary scene-which had produced about 5,000 new titles a year, including more than 100 novels-had been dominated by Postmodernist metafiction, but in 2000 several other works gained attention. They included Druid iz Sindiduna (1998; "Druid from Sindidun"), the third novel by exotic writer Vladislav Bajac; Poto Beograd (1999; "How Much Is Belgrade"), a collection of 15 stories by the prominent traditionalist Serbian writer Moma Dimic; and Mexico, the new war diary that Vladimir Arsenijevic wrote during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. A collection of poems by Kalin Donkov, Sabudi me vchera ("Wake Me Yesterday"), was viewed as the best Bulgarian book of the year. Besides several excellent recent works by Anton Donchev, other books that captured the limelight included Vlakat, v koyto patuvame ("The Train We're Traveling On"), the new novel by Stefan Poptonev, and Kogato Gospod khodashe po zemyata ("When God Walked the Earth") by Nikola Radev. Postmodern writer Zoran Feric won Croatia's Djalski Literature Award (named for Croatian novelist Ksaver Sandor Djalski, 1854-1935) for his novel Andjeo u ofsajdu ("An Angel, Offsides"), and feminist writer Julijana Matanovic found great success with Biljeka o piscu ("Note About the Author"). Established poet Vesna Parun came out with a collection, Politicko valentinovo ("A Political Valentine"). Change of the System, the first anthology of short stories and a new genre for Macedonian literature, was edited by Richard Gaughran and Zoran Ancevski and published in English and Macedonian. Aleksandar Prokopiev released his intimate diary, 77 Antiuputstva za licna upotreba ("77 Anti-Instructions for Personal Use"), while Tomislav Osmanli published a play, Zvezdite nad Skopje ("The Stars over Skopje"), about problems of transition in contemporary society. Perhaps the best collection of poetry in Slovenia was Krogi na vodi ("Circles on the Water") by Peter Semolic, who had won a top national poetry award in 1997. The best-received novels were by two writers, one middle-aged and the other young: Macja kuga ("Cat Plague") by Maja Novak and Pasji tango ("Dog Tango") by Ale Car. An important collection assembled by Slovak editor Stanislava Chrobkov, 100 Years of Slovak Literature, was presented in both Slovene and English at the Vilenica Literary Festival. British academic John Keane published Vaclav Havel: A Political Tragedy in Six Acts (1999), the first full-length biography of the playwright who had become president of Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic. The work concentrated more on Havel's politics than on his art. Meanwhile, at the end of 1999, Havel had brought out his complete works in a self-published edition titled Spisy ("Works"). Flora Brovina, an Albanian-language poet and writer from Pritina, Kosovo, was selected in April as a recipient-together with Chinese writer Xue Deyun, both in absentia-of the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom-to-Write Award. Brovina, a pediatrician by profession and organizer of the League of Albanian Women in Kosovo, was rounded up by government paramilitary troops in April 1999, charged with "terrorist acts," and sentenced in December 1999 to 12 years in prison. She was released from prison on Nov. 1, 2000, less than a month after Vojislav Kostunica took office as the new president of Yugoslavia. Two major Polish literary figures died during the year. Novelist Kazimierz Brandys, whose examination of the 20th-century history of his homeland culminated in the four-volume collection of diaries Miesiace (1980; volume 4, 1984; "Months," which first appeared in English as A Warsaw Diary, 1978-1981 ), died in March. Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski, an migr novelist and essayist best known for his A World Apart (1951), published in Polish as Inny swiat in 1953, died in Italy in July. (See Obituaries.) Dimitar Anakiev; Editor French France. In 2000 the two trends that had for years most strongly marked French literature continued to affirm their hold-the genre of autobiofiction by which authors novelize portions of their lives, and dprimisme, the thematic choice by which authors dwell on the failures of French society. Fernando Arrabal published one of the year's most moving autobiofictions, Port disparu, which recounted the author's childhood bereft of his father, who had been arrested in 1936 by Francisco Franco's police. The most poignant part of the novel occurs when the author discovers letters written by his mother, who, comfortable with her new, bourgeois life, repeatedly and successfully begged the government to keep her husband interred in prisons and asylums. Frdric-Yves Jeannet in his autobiofictional Charit writes of the loss of his mother, from whom he had been estranged for 20 years. Interweaving childhood memories and present-day realities, Jeannet tried to reconstitute the past and, thus, his identity. Hlne Cixous offered Les Rveries de la femme sauvage, another installment of her recent autobiofictional work; this time she concentrated on the enigma posed by her youth in Algeria, where she was born, but to which, because of her French citizenship, she had always remained a foreigner. The anguished quest for self-identity was also the subject of Richard Morgive's two autobiofictional works, Ma vie folle, in which the author recounted his orphaned childhood and his attempt to construct an identity without the guidance of adults, and Ton corps, in which Morgive, beginning with his own body, tries to pick up the shattered pieces of his life after his wife abandons him. Dprimisme, the almost morbid fixation with society's ills, was expressed in a number of works. Rgis Jauffret's Fragments de la vie des gens presented 56 vignettes of the various miseries married life can cause. In the bitter satire of Eric Laurrent's Dehors, the protagonist leaves his wife for a life of sexual adventure, only to fall from one grotesque romantic encounter to the next as he plunges into degeneration in a society devoid of meaning. In Yves Pags's Petites natures mortes au travail, dprimisme washes over the modern working world with 23 vignettes that show people brought low by their petty and demoralizing jobs and that belie the rosy picture painted by politicians boasting the recent decline in unemployment. Emmanuel Carrre wrote L'Adversaire, a dprimiste biofiction, which chronicled the life of Jean-Claude Romand, who had murdered his entire family in 1993. Without trying to explain Romand's crime, Carrre traced his progression from his first successful lie, that of acceptance into medical school, to his full-blown life of fiction as he passed himself off as a doctor while embezzling his friends' money. Carrre exposed a society in which appearances are more important than reality and may, when threatened, become as deadly as fact. Three authors published novels that, though marked by dprimisme, nonetheless lightened the overwhelming gloom of the year's works. In Les Belles mes, Lydie Salvayre joyfully attacked the hypocrisy of many who professed sympathy for the disadvantaged. Taking part in a European tour organized to visit the poor in their natural habitats, the slum safarigoers are ridiculed by their own words-from the writer wishing to remain in touch with street culture to the well-off socialists eager to finally see the poor up close to the businessman seeking a humbler replacement for the wife he has just divorced. No one escapes mockery until the group is finally abandoned at the side of the road by a guide who can stand no more. Linda L injected the hope of redemption in Les Aubes, in which a young man, blinded after a suicide attempt, finally begins to heal with the help of three inspiring women-the first embodying love, the second purity, and the third poetic resistance. Finally, Pascal Quignard's tender Terrasse Rome tells the story of a 17th-century engraver who, horribly scarred when a romantic rival throws etching acid at his face, is abandoned by his love, whom he spends the rest of his life reproducing in his art. The engraver, who scratches light from inky darkness, meets his opposite mirror image in a painter who sees the world as a play of light and colour, a difference as much in philosophy as in art that is the foundation for a lifelong friendship. The Prix Goncourt went to the biofiction Ingrid Caven, in which Jean-Jacques Schuhl recounts the story of a German singer and of the glitzy debauchery of the 1970s art world. Cte d'Ivoirian writer Ahmadou Kourouma, famous for his recasting of French to African rhythms, won the Prix Renaudot for his Allah n'est pas oblig, in which the 10-year- old narrator tries to make sense of the insanity of wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone while wandering through those countries, machine gun in hand. The Prix Fmina was awarded to Camille Laurens's Dans ces bras-l, in which the heroine tries to understand the effect men, from her father to lovers, have had on her with the help of the analyst she hopes will learn to love her for what she truly is. Yann Apperry won the Prix Mdicis for his Diabolus in musica, the story of a musician's quest for perfect orchestral symmetry. Germanic German. Wolfgang Hilbig's 2000 novel Das Provisorium-the author's first major work since "ICH" (1993), his masterful literary examination of the East German Stasi (secret police)-was an anguished, moving autobiographical account of the life of an East German writer who, unable to live productively in the communist state, descends into alcoholism and moves to West Germany. There he leads a peripatetic and problematic existence, moving from town to town while continuously forced by western expectations to play the role of the persecuted East German writer. Hilbig depicted realistically and without euphemism his protagonist's inability to leave behind the German Democratic Republic (GDR), his failed relationships with women, his foreignness in the provisional world of the German west, and his desperate addiction to alcohol. Brigitte Kronauer's magnificent novel Teufelsbrck was a complex and ambitious examination of love and desire as well as a celebration of the sensuous qualities of language and literature. Set in a Hamburg milieu depicted in realistic, sensuous detail, the novel tells the story of the triangular relationship between two women and the much-sought-after man with whom they are both romantically involved. Dieter Wellershoff's novel Der Liebeswunsch also was about a romantic triangle-this time between two men and a woman who has married one of the men after first having had an affair with the other. Into this established triangle of experienced and somewhat jaded adults enters a young female student who longs for pure romantic rapture, no matter what the risks, and whose longing ultimately leads to her demise; her character simultaneously highlights the hypocrisy and compromises of the other, more mature characters. The Austrian writer Josef Haslinger published his second novel, Das Vaterspiel, five years after the appearance of his remarkably successful political thriller Opernball. The main character of Das Vaterspiel was Rupert Kramer, who rebels bitterly against the politics and viewpoints of his father, an opportunistic and financially successful socialist. The son ultimately creates and markets a computer game, the patricidal theme of which provides the title for the novel. Interspersed with Kramer's story is that of a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant to the United States who has survived the Holocaust. His life intersects with that of Kramer's after Kramer-who has gone to the United States to pursue a love interest as well as to work further on his computer game-discovers a war criminal hiding in a basement on Long Island, N.Y. The Swiss writer Ulrich Schmid also published a novel with a trans-Atlantic political theme-Der Zar von Brooklyn, a powerful thriller about the Russian mafia in New York City and the transformation into a criminal of its main character, a young journalist from Moscow. The novel also touched on many of the problems of Russia itself after the demise of communism. Bernhard Schlink followed up his 1995 international best-selling novel Der Vorleser with Liebesfluchten, a well-received and popular short-story collection. As the title suggested, most of the seven stories in the collection revolved around the theme of love and escape, particularly the perceived inability of men to give and receive love. As in Der Vorleser, some of Schlink's stories delved into the problems both of the German past and of a younger generation coming to terms with it. Another literary work dealing with the themes of love, retreat, loss, and politics was Michael Kumpfmller's novel Hampels Fluchten, the picaresque story of a sexual and political adventurer who travels from East Germany to West Germany and back again, fleeing various personal and political failures. David Wagner's first novel, Meine nachtblaue Hose, was the story of a young West German man seeking, together with the woman of his affections, to remember a childhood in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) that, together with the GDR, came to a kind of end in 1989-90. The work was an attempt to interpret the present and past for a generation of West Germans whose world, the author seemed to suggest, was radically transformed by national reunification. Maxim Biller's first novel, Die Tochter, was a reflection on German and Jewish identity in contemporary Europe, whereas Ralf Bnt's second novel, Gold, was a bitter, sarcastic account of life in Berlin, the reunified German capital. Doris Drrie's first novel, Was machen wir jetzt?, was a compassionate portrait of middle age and personal decline. The young Swiss writer Zo Jenny's second novel, Der Ruf des Muschelhorns, was an account of loneliness and betrayal. German writer Susanne Riedel's debut novel, Kains Tchter, was a sensational and improbable account of family anger and hatred. Finally, Botho Strauss's Das Partikular, a collection of short prose, dealt with problems of love and individuality in the contemporary world. Jewish Hebrew. The year 2000 was yet another year of illusory prosperity in Hebrew literature. Though bookstores were filled with new novels and collections of short stories, most of these new works failed to achieve significant literary stature. The main events in Hebrew fiction were the publication of Ronit Matalon's Sarah, Sarah and of Mira Magen's Beshokhvi uvekumi, isha ("Love, After All"). The two separate subplots of Sarah, Sarah carefully examined the intricate connections between the personal and the political in contemporary Israel. Magen's novel richly depicted the tensions of a single mother torn between her sense of responsibility to her son and her attempts to find new love. Other notable novels included Jonathan Ben Nahum's Indianapolis (1999), Yoel Hoffmann's Halev hu Katmandu ("The Heart Is Katmandu"), Gail Hareven's She'ahava nafshi ("My True Love"), and Ruth Almog's Ha'agam hapnimi ("The Inner Lake"). Several works by veteran writers failed to match previous achievements. Among them were Aharon Appelfeld's Masa el hahoref ("A Journey into Winter"), Aharon Megged's Persephona zokheret ("Persephone Remembers"), David Grossman's Mishehu larutz ito ("Someone to Run With"), Zeruya Shlev's Ba'al ve'isa ("Husband and Wife"), and Savyon Liebrecht's Nashim mitokh katalog ("Mail-Order Women"). Noteworthy short-story collections included Yossel Birstein's Sipurim rokdim birhovot Erushala'yim ("Stories Dancing in the Streets of Jerusalem") and Orly Castel-Bloom's Radikalim hofshiyeem ("Free Radicals"). First books of prose that gained attention were Joshua Sobol's Shtika ("Silence"), Amir Guttfreund's Sho'ah Shelanu ("Our Holocaust"), and Avraham Balaban's Shiv'ah ("Mourning"). Notable books of poetry included Israel Pincas's Kol hashirim ("Collected Poems"), Meir Wieseltier's Shirim iti'yeem ("Slow Poems"), Gad Kaynar's Dgimat neshima ("Breath Sampling"), Tamir Greenberg's A'l hanefesh hatzme'ah ("The Thirsty Soul"), and Agi Mishol's Mahberet hahalomot ("The Dream Notebook"). Among the works of literary scholarship were Shmuel Werses's S.Y. Agnon kipshuto ("S.Y. Agnon Literally") and Benjamin Harshav's Shirat hatehia ha'ivrit ("Hebrew Renaissance Poetry"). Chaya Shacham studied Israeli female poetry in Nashim umaseikhot ("Women and Masks"); Avidov Lipsker examined the poetry of Avraham Broides in La'amal yulad ("Born unto Trouble"); and Ziva Shamir's Lintiva hane'elam ("A Track of Her Own") followed the traces of Hayyim Nahman Bialik's secret affair with Ira Jan as they are implicitly conveyed in his work. That secret affair was also depicted in eda Zoritte's novel Ahavat Hayyim ("Life Long Love"). Leading Hebrew poet Yehuda Amichai died in September. (See Obituaries.) Italian Two major Italian writers died during 2000-Attilio Bertolucci and Giorgio Bassani. (See Obituaries.) Bertolucci was one of the most intense and accessible poets of the 20th century. At the centre of his verse was the landscape of his native region, the Po valley, the city of Parma, and his own family life. Bassani, the Jewish novelist and poet from Ferrara, was the author of Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini (1962), which chronicled the plight of an aristocratic Jewish family under Fascism; it was one of the most highly cherished and esteemed modern Italian novels. While most writers were busy building their World Wide Web sites, new books seemed to be quite traditional and tame. The popular success of Andrea Camilleri's detective stories, both new and old, continued unabated. One of the most widely acclaimed books was Fosco Maraini's autobiographical Case, amori, universi (1999). Writer, anthropologist, teacher, and tireless explorer of distant cultures, Maraini transposed in fictional form the many and diverse experiences of a life spent mainly in the Far East. It was a rich tapestry of both different cultures and worlds beautifully woven together by a very expert hand. More immediately historical was N, Ernesto Ferrero's novel about Napoleon Bonaparte. In the work, written in the form of a diary, Napoleon's librarian recounts, with an initial contempt that eventually turns to compassion, the 300 days spent by the emperor as both king and prisoner of the island of Elba. The narrator's vivid imagination transformed historical minutiae into the stuff of a compelling novel. A rigorous documentation also inspired the 20 charming Russian tales of Serena Vitale's La casa di ghiaccio. Equally well researched was Melania G. Mazzucco's Lei cos amata, an elaborate portrait, part documentary and part fictional, of Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908-42), the writer, archaeologist, photographer, and journalist with whom so many men and women, including Thomas Mann's twin children, Klaus and Erika, fell desperately in love. Several novels explored the joys and pains of family relationships. The protagonist of Sandro Veronesi's La forza del passato discovers that his dead father-a general in the army and ostensibly a mediocre man and bigot-was in fact a KGB spy. This revelation destroys for the son all other certainties about himself and his family and compels him to review and rewrite his entire life. In Domenico Starnone's novel Via Gemito, set in Naples, a son remembers how his father-a would-be painter who must settle for a career as a rail worker-took out his frustrations on his wife and children. Though told in such a way as to express a son's hatred for a violent father, the story ultimately revealed the persistence of filial love and made memorable the very person it set out to condemn to oblivion. Against the contemporary myths of forever healthy and athletic bodies, Nati due volte by Giuseppe Pontiggia praised the virtue and beauty of physical weakness. In this novel a father teaches his disabled son how to accept his condition and live "normally"; in the process, the father discovers a new and more authentic way of life for himself. In Giorgio Pressburger's Di vento e di fuoco, four women write a series of letters, faxes, and e-mail messages to a fifth woman who is about to have a baby. The correspondence revolves around the pregnant woman's dead father, a man the four writers loved and by whom they were all loved. The death in 1968 of this troubled, restless, and mysterious man who survived the Holocaust signals the beginning of the new baby's journey through life. Andrea De Carlo's Nel momento (1999) was a love story of sorts-a detailed diary of self-discovery and of a newfound love following the protagonist's fall from a horse. Quite popular was Sveva Casati Modignani's Vaniglia e cioccolato, in which the aptly named Penelope finally abandons her husband, after his umpteenth affair, to find self-respect and happiness with someone else. Social satire was strong, albeit at the margins of the literary scene. In Ermanno Cavazzoni's Cirenaica (1999), the protagonist travels by train to a station in an unspecified "lowland," where he is besieged by hordes of pseudorelatives who quickly relieve him of all his possessions. Equally surreal was Maurizio Salabelle'sIl caso del contabile (1999), in which an accountant lives in a superficially ordinary world, which conceals a madness that suddenly explodes and just as suddenly is absorbed. Most surreal, fierce, and comical of all was Spiriti, by the very popular Stefano Benni; it was a visionary portrait of a mad, fantastic, and futuristic society-a fusion of Italy and the U.S., called Usitalia. Pithy and humorous sketches that were part of Carlo Emilio Gadda's unfinished novel were published from recently discovered notebooks fr

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