GERMANIC: Danish. The year 1995 saw the eagerly awaited final volume of Ib Michael's Vanillepigen trilogy, Brev til mnen, bringing his autobiographical fantasy into the present. Otherwise, thrillers seemed to be in vogue in Denmark. Michael Larsen published his highly successful Uden sikker viden, about murder and the pornography trade, in which all evidence was gradually subject to doubt because of the possibility of doctoring by computer. Bjarne Reuter's Langebro med lbende figurer was a book about a serial murderer in which the two main figures hunted each other. Helle Stangerup, after her historical novels, returned to the thriller with Stedfar. Hans Lyngby Jepsen moved in a similar direction with Sin lykkes smed, once more showing psychological insight. The same author's Endnu en god dag was in a completely different vein, a reflective diary on his wife's life after she was affected by a stroke. Poul rum, also known for his thrillers, changed course and published his memoirs in Den magiske dimension: Et barns oplevelsesverden. The reflective note was continued in Jens Christian Grndahl's collection of essays entitled Ved flodens munding, an attempt to overcome what the author saw as the lethargy of the 1990s. In Datter af Henrik Stangerup wrote about the often tense relationship with his mother, the actress Betty Sderberg. The occupation, which figured in these memoirs, also was featured in those of the graphic artist Lars Bo, En underlig dreng. One of the younger writers, also acclaimed for her poetry, produced another volume of short stories. Naja Marie Aidt's Tilgang centred on the relationships between people close to each other--parents and children, siblings and lovers--and was written in a style reminiscent of her poetry. Kim Fupz Aakeson, a leading literary experimenter, also contributed a collection of short stories, Sidemanden. Benny Andersen wrote lighthearted poetry about the Danes in Verdensborger i Danmark, published at the same time in English as Cosmopolitan in Denmark. Poetry was well represented in volumes by Henrik Nordbrandt, Ormene ved himlens port; Per Hjholt, Lynskud; Marianne Larsen, Chance for at danse; Morti Vizki, Eliksir; and Rolf Gjedsted, Lorcas hus. (W. GLYN JONES) GERMANIC: Netherlandic. A substantial number of new novels in Dutch were written either by immigrants or by Dutch novelists writing about immigration. Together, these categories reflected the changing nature of the population of The Netherlands and the adjustment of the Dutch people to it. Representative of the first group was Naima El Bezaz, who, in De weg naar het Noorden, described the emotions of a young Moroccan who leaves his fatherland and attempts, unsuccessfully, to settle as an illegal immigrant in The Netherlands. The Iranian Kader Abdolah's De meisjes en de Partizanen, another example of what might be termed immigrant writing, focused on the immigrant's sad but apparently unavoidable loss of identity. Dutch authors writing about the same topic were represented by Joost Zwagerman, who, in De buitenvrouw, described the relationship between a married high-school teacher and his black female colleague. Typical of many modern Dutch novels, the erotic element of the relationship dominated the narrative. International awareness was given a different dimension in several books related to the loss of the former Dutch colony of Indonesia. In Indische lessen: Nederland en de koloniale ervaring, J.A.A. van Doorn demonstrated the inability of the Dutch to sever their emotional ties with Indonesia, in contrast to the Indonesians, who never looked back after gaining independence following World War II. The renowned South African author Etienne van Heerden's novel De Stoetmeester, which might well constitute one of the last novels on apartheid, was translated into Dutch. Adding a historical perspective to the theme of internationalism was Imme Dros's highly original series on Odysseus, of which the latest volume, Odysseus: Een man van verhalen, was published in 1995. Though primarily written for young people, it could be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Charles Vergeer's Een verlies van vleugels argued that the idea that the Romans slavishly imitated the Greek philosophers was unfounded. Dutch literature suffered a loss with the death of the leading novelists Annie M.G. Schmidt and W.F. Hermans. Hermans had completed Ruisend gruis only weeks before his death. (MARTINUS A. BAKKER) GERMANIC: Norwegian. The year 1995 confirmed the strong position of the short story in Norway. Lack of communication was a central theme in Sigmund Jensen's debut collection Antikvarens datter, and human relationships were subtly analyzed in Sidsel Mrck's Svevet og andre noveller. ystein Lnn carried the enigmatic to extremes in Hva skal vi gjre i dag og andre noveller. In the novel, Finn Carling analyzed the writer's art in his Matadorens hnd. In Tove Nilsen's metanovel Lystreise, an author's pregnancy parallels her planned novel about Rembrandt's mistress Hendrickje Stoffels. Terje Stigen's Allegretto depicted the last weeks in the life of a middle-aged teacher, diagnosed as incurably ill, who returns to his childhood world in northern Norway to die. The 18th-century western Norwegian farming and fishing community was brilliantly brought to life in Johannes Heggland's Jordparadiset. Varherres nedfallsfrukt, whereas upper-middle-class eastern Norway and Copenhagen in the same period were portrayed in Sissel Lange-Nielsen's Trylleflyten. Marital, economic, and political problems in farming as well as in rural industry around 1930 were central in Anne Karin Elstad's best-seller Som dine dager er. Ebba Haslund's I mangel av sverd was a recapitulation of the German occupation as seen through the eyes of an Oslo family. Jan Erik Vold combined humour and biting satire in his collection of poems Kalenderdikt. The late Hans Brli's collected poems, Samlede dikt, were also published. Hans Aaraas' monograph Peer Gynt gave a detailed analysis of the dream motifs in Henrik Ibsen's play, and Merete Morken Andersen provided a detailed guide to Ibsen's dramas in her illustrated Ibsenhandboken. Knut Hamsuns brev, 1896-1907, edited by Harald Nss, contained 374 letters showing the author troubled by financial difficulties, partly caused by gambling and by bohemian escapades, and pestered by defamatory anonymous letters received by people Hamsun knew. The tempestuous life of Finn Alns was documented in Truls Gjefsen's Finn Alns. Titan og sisyfos, and the trouble-filled existence of Olaf Bull was presented by Fredrik Wandrup in his Olaf Bull og hans samtid. The value of Janneken verland's Cora Sandel. En biografi was enhanced by its excellent illustrations, including nine colour reproductions of Sandel's paintings. The Norwegian Literary Critics' Prize for 1995 was awarded to Torgeir Schjerven for his novel Omvei til Venus. The Brage Prize for poetry went to yvind Berg for his collection Forskjellig and for prose to Ingvar Ambjrnsen for his novel Fugledansen. The poet Halldis Moren Vesaas died in 1995. (TORBJRN STVERUD) GERMANIC: Swedish. The short story experienced a renaissance in Sweden in 1995. Inger Edelfeldt's Den frunderliga kameleonten revolved around feminine identity, Ninni Holmqvist's Kostym depicted relationships with impressive control and detachment, and Kerstin Strandberg's Undangmda berttelser opened up the mysteries of character and milieu. Similar themes preoccupied many novelists, with some producing texts also formulating a critique of society. Kjell Espmark's Hatet, narrated by a murdered prime minister, traced the end of an era, with political illusions finally being laid to rest, while Torgny Lindgren's Hummelhonung was a haunting tale of hatred and the need for love. Family relationships, memory, and death were the themes of Lars Gyllensten's Ljuset ur skuggornas vrld. Feminine identity was explored in Eva Adolfsson's Till Moskva and Ellen Mattson's Vgen hrifrn. Marie Hermanson's Vrddjuret ventured into a context of dissolving boundaries, and Birgit Hggkvist's Den bldiga enforced the perspective of a young girl. Peter Nilson's Rymdvktaren was an elegant and learned novel set in the 21st century that focused on an apocalyptic theme recurring in Maria Gummesson's Jordens sng till mnen, while Lars Andersson's Artemis drew on myth and technology to investigate the relationship between humankind and landscape. Stig Claesson's Eko av en vr and P.C. Jersild's En gammal krlek told of love in middle age. Margareta Ekstrm's En levande och en dd formulated a daughter's sense of loss on the death of her mother. With Tanten och krokodilen, Merete Mazzarella tantalizingly transcended conventional genre categories. It was a major year for poetry in Swedish. Birgitta Lillpers' Propolis asserted the role of poetry in an uncertain world. The voices in Ernst Brunner's Mr Skylight conveyed the horrors of a ferry disaster, while the sharp image in Bo Carpelan's I det sedda centred on love, old age, and death. While Magnus William-Olsson's Att det ur din eld drew on classical metres to state the certainty of death and Bruno K. ijer's Det frlorade ordet defined a sense of abandonment in carefully controlled stanzas, the formless verbosity of Stig Larsson's Matar had the effect of undermining the texts. Bengt Emil Johnson's selection of poetry from 1958 to 1993, Vittringar, made a rewarding collection. Krister Gidlund's Hallonens rda konster, Catharina Rysten's Ormsmn, and Mats Sderlund's Lyfter din kropp till sist were other notable volumes. Lars Norn's De dda pjserna consisted of four volumes containing 14 plays, sketches, and fragments from the period 1989-94. The volumes significantly enhanced readers' understanding of the work of this leading playwright. (HELENA FORSs-SCOTT) ITALIAN In the climate of deepening institutional crisis, weakening political debate, and increasing ideological disorientation, the general public in Italy seemed to show a marked appetite in 1995 for ordinary tales of good feelings and "true" emotions, preferably told in a traditional style. That may be why Umberto Eco's third novel failed to make more than a passing impact on the literary scene. The problem with L'isola del giorno prima--a story of love and adventure set in 17th-century Europe with perhaps too few events and, in true baroque fashion, too many words--was that the tale it told was hardly as compelling as its telling was clever and interesting. (The novel was published in English during the year as The Island of the Day Before.) On the contrary, the homespun matrilinear theme continued to steal the limelight, and Susanna Tamaro's Va' dove ti porta il cuore triumphed, for a second year, on the best-seller list. It was closely followed by another 1994 favourite, Antonio Tabucchi's Sostiene Pereira, which enjoyed continuing success, thanks also to its much-publicized film version. The triumph of the ordinary was confirmed with the awarding of the Strega Prize to the posthumously published Passaggio in ombra by the hitherto unknown Mariateresa Di Lascia, who died in 1994 at the age of 40. The work was an intensely lyrical and painful first-person account of the experiences of a woman and her southern Italian family from the 1940s to the present. In this evocation there was no room for joy unless marred by impending anguish and doom. The destiny of sorrow that ruled over its main characters (the narrator's mother, her aunt, and her great-aunt) was avoided by the protagonist and narrator only at the cost of social marginalization and total loneliness. At least on the surface, nothing seemed more distant from this work than Jack Frusciante uscito dal gruppo by the 20-year-old Enrico Brizzi. The book was an amusing portrait of a "late teenager," epitomizing all the ties and tastes of his generation. The most striking feature of the novel--one already widely exploited by a number of recent young writers--was its language, a new type of Italian modeled entirely on the real-life jargon of teenagers' subculture. The story it told and its narrative form, however, had little that was transgressive, the protagonist's irony being no more than a device to keep at bay an underlying sentimentality that often came to dominate the story. Nonetheless, with his mixture of bold language, good heartedness, and social conscience, Brizzi cleverly managed to appeal to both his contemporaries and older generations of readers. Another novel full of good intentions was Voci by Dacia Maraini, a writer who for many years had been actively engaged in giving artistic expression to some of the most pressing problems of our time. In Voci these social and moral concerns (including violence against women, ecological degradation, and social marginalization) were once again at the fore, but they coexisted somewhat uncomfortably in what was a typical whodunit, ultimately failing to coalesce into an imaginative and coherent narrative unity. A serious attempt to move out of and to challenge the everyday was made by Sebastiano Vassalli in his work 3012: L'anno del Profeta, an interesting and provocative narrative meditation. Conjuring up a future, upside-down world in which the present was, however, transparently recognizable, Vassalli probably intended to challenge his reader at various levels, ironically envisaging hatred and war, rather than love and peace, as humanity's vital force. It was unfortunate that the form in which the provocation was realized--an uneasy blend of science fiction, fable, prophecy, and pseudoacademic prose--was inadequate to bear its ideological ambition, and for this reason the book failed to convince either the critics or the public. One of the most widely acclaimed books of the year was Daniele Del Giudice's Staccando l'ombra da terra, which, rather unusual for the Italian literary tradition, was entirely focused on a technical subject: flying. It included eight prose pieces, one of which was a conventional short story that enacted a national mystery, the still-unexplained crash of passenger flight Itavia 870 in waters off Sicily. The other pieces were accounts of different flights, mostly by the same amateur pilot with, occasionally, the company of his laconic instructor. What was particularly memorable in Del Giudice's writing was his ability to communicate to the reader the sense that the technical error, the wrong command that causes an irreversible chain of events, was never far away from the pilot's fingertips and that the instruments were ready to register it with impassible objectivity. This sense was made more compelling by the use of a vocabulary that, in keeping with the writer's past novels--especially Atlante occidentale--was so precise and technical as to seem to be inspired by a flying manual. Del Giudice's style convincingly managed to convey the sense of almost total symbiosis, in which the pilot and his aircraft hung suspended in the air, and without making any concessions to sentimentality and earthly matters, it achieved in its intense, almost astringent purity a kind of severe, geometric lyricism. (LINO PERTILE) JAPANESE Two voluminous and remarkable novels, Saigyo kaden ("The Glorious Life of Saigyo") by Kunio Tsuji and Nejimaki-dori kuronikura ("The Chronicle of the 'Screw-turning' Bird") by Haruki Murakami, were published in 1995. Tsuji's novel was awarded the Jun'ichiro Tanizaki Prize. Murakami's trilogy was especially popular among young readers, but the critics were divided. Tsuji's biographical novel of Saigyo, a 12th-century samurai turned priest-poet, was impressive for its evocative prose and rich texture in describing the historical milieu. Saigyo had long been an appealing character to the Japanese imagination, and many legends and much academic research had accumulated on him, but Tsuji's narration, which made use of multiple points of view, revived interest in the enigmatic figure. Murakami's trilogy was remarkable for its curious mixture of fantasy and realism. The central story was the abrupt, mysterious disappearance of a young wife and the search by her husband, Toru, nicknamed Nejimaki-dori (hence the title). In his search he comes across various interruptions and unexpected encounters, sometimes in dreams, sometimes in reality. Some of the characters he happens across are ominous and violent, and some of them, especially women, sexually liberated or endowed with prophetic visions. There were two charming collections of short stories, both by women novelists, published in 1995. Nobuko Takagi's Suimyaku ("Vein of Water"), winner of the Women Writers' Prize, was successful in evoking a curiously sensuous mood with rich overtones by interweaving apparently unrelated short stories around the central motif of water. Mizuko Masuda's Kazekusa ("Wind Grass") was a straightforward, even prosaic, account of various aspects of family relationships in contemporary Japan. Masuda's stories were not simply gloomy and depressing but rather revealed an unexpected sense of family solidarity. The Sakutaro Hagiwara Prize in Poetry was awarded to Sachiko Yoshihara, whose Hakko ("Radiation") was remarkable for its limpid, pure lyricism, something quite rare in contemporary Japanese poetry. Mutsuo Takahashi's Ane no shima ("Island of My Elder Sister") was half mythical and half autobiographical; it tried to fuse the mythical motifs of an ancient island in Kyushu with the memories of a deceased sister. Hiroko Takenishi's Nihon no bungakuron ("Literary Criticism in Japan") was an analysis of classical poetics that revealed insights by traditional poet-critics. Eisuke Nakazono's Torii Ryuzo-den ("Life of Torii Ryuzo") was a remarkable contribution to biography, dealing with the explorer-archaeologist (1870-1953) who, even though he did not finish grade school, came to teach at the University of Tokyo and whose researches covered wide areas in East Asia. (SHOICHI SAEKI) JEWISH Several veteran writers published novels in 1995 that did not match their previous achievements. Among them were Savyon Liebrecht's Tsarikh Sof le-Sipur Ahavah ("On Love Stories and Other Endings"), Judith Katzir's LeMatisse Yesh et haShemesh baBeten ("Matisse Had the Sun in His Belly"), Yitzhak Ben-Ner's Dubim veYa'ar ("Bears and Forests"), and David Schtz's Sheva Nashim ("Seven Women"). Even Orly Castel-Bloom's HaMina Liza ("The Mina Lisa") was less intriguing than her previous novels. The only novel that rose above this tendency was Ronit Matalon's Ze Im haPanim Eileinu ("The One Facing Us"). Originality and promise could be found in the first novels of Benny Ziffer (Marsh Turki ["La Marche Turque"]), Ronit Yedaya (Vacuum), Dorit Rabinyan (Simtat haShkediot beOmerijan ["The Almond Tree Alley in Omerijan"]), and Masha Waisel (Michtavim leMartha ["Letters to Martha"]). The main publications in Hebrew poetry were Dalia Rabikovitch's Kol haShirim Ad Ko ("The Complete Poems So Far"), Meir Wieseltier's Mahsan ("Storage"), and Aharon Shabtai's HaLev ("The Heart"). Others included Rahel Halfi's Ahavat haDrakon ("Love of the Dragon"), Nathan Yonathan's Re'ul Panim haZman ("Veiled Face Is the Time"), Agi Mishol's HaShfeila haPnimit ("The Interior Plain"), and Admiel Kosman's Ma Ani Yakhol ("What I Can"). Among works of literary scholarship were Dan Miron's studies in classical Jewish fiction (Harofe haMedume ["La Mdicin Imaginaire"]), Yitzhak Laor's Anu Kotvim Otakh Moledet ("Narratives with No Natives"), and Hillel Barzel's Dramah Shel Matsavim Kitsoniyim: Milhamah ve-Sho`ah ("Drama of Extreme Situations: War and Holocaust"). Avraham Balaban examined postmodern trends in Hebrew fiction in Gal Aher baSiporet haIvrit ("A Different Wave of Hebrew Fiction"). Dan Laor studied aspects of Shmuel Yosef Agnon's fiction in S.Y. Agnon: Hebetim Hadashim ("S.Y. Agnon: New Perspectives"), and Avraham Holtz published an edition of Agnon's Hakhnasat Kala ("The Bridal Canopy"). Zvia Ben-Yosef Ginor discussed Abba Kovner's poems in Ad Ketz haBedaya ("Beyond the Legend"). The Israel Prize was awarded to the poet Nathan Zach and the novelist A.B. Yehoshua. (AVRAHAM BALABAN)

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