Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 1998: LITERATURE in English


Brazil. The year 1997 was dominated by the deaths of major literary and cultural figures whose works had commented upon and profoundly influenced the direction of Brazilian culture over the past 40 years. Among them was novelist and playwright Antnio Callado, author of Quarup (1967), Reflexos do baile (1976), Sempreviva (1981), and other distinguished works--all of which confronted the social and political injustices in Brazil. Callado had been an outspoken defender of human rights and was imprisoned by the military regime that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. Anthropologist, politician, and novelist Darcy Ribeiro, who had fled into exile when the military took control, used Brazilian Indians' myths to eloquently question their destiny in modern Brazil, notably in the fictional work Maira (1976). Political novelist and dramatist Paulo Francis was Brazil's premier international newsman, and Caryb was known for his drawings, which depicted Brazilian street life within an Afro-Brazilian context; he also illustrated novels by Jorge Amado and Gabriel Garca Mrquez, among others. Sociologist Herberto (Betinho) de Souza and illustrious educator Paulo Freire also died.(See OBITUARIES.) Mrcio Souza's new novel, Lealdade, dealt with his native state of Amazonas during the 19th century. Antnio Olinto's Alccer Quibir, a historical novel about Portugal's fall to Spanish domination in 1580, returned to his favourite themes--the relationship of Portugal, Africa, and Brazil. Srgio Sant'Anna, Autran Dourado, and Antnio Torres all published new fictional works. Moacyr Scliar's latest collection of short stories was O amante de Madonna & outras histrias. A young writer, Antnio Fernando Borges, was awarded the Nestl Short Fiction Prize for his collection Que fim levou Brodie?, which echoed themes characteristic of the works of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges. Suzana Vargas published a new volume of poetry, Caderno de outono e outros poemas. Para sempre, a new play by Maria Adelaide Amaral, dealt with the intricacies of personal relationships. In late 1996 Valria Lamego's A farpa na lira offered a new perspective of the poet Ceclia Meireles, and Ceclia e Mrio, with an introduction by Alfredo Bosi, was a collection of the correspondence between Meireles and Mrio de Andrade. Josu Montello published a new study of Machado de Assis, and, finally, novelist Nlida Pion was elected president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, the first woman to hold the position in the academy's 100-year history. IRWIN STERN This article updates Latin-American literature. Canada. In 1997 Quebec writers joined the wave of stage performance in the literary arts. The Quebec Writers Union's literature festival in May was a decidedly youthful affair, mixing disciplines and moving away from the tradition of writers declaiming their works before chair-bound audiences in a hall. More established writers such as Suzanne Jacob and Madeleine Gagnon participated too, in October, with a joint French-English cabaret event that featured writers who represented both language communities. Leading thinkers such as essayist Franois Charron questioned the assumptions and uses of Quebec nationalism, long a mainstay of literary life in the province. Influential journalist, essayist, and editor Richard Martineau did the same, using his column in the entertainment weekly Voir to give the Quebec writing scene new room for political debate. On the language front, Georges Dor questioned the value of Quebec's celebrating its own patois in the work Anna braill ne shot (1996). Franois Ricard extended his exploration of one of French Canada's greatest writers with his biography of Gabrielle Roy. In a surprising move, the Can$10,000 City of Montreal Book Prize was awarded to the little-known Cristoforo, a lively and well-researched historical novel about the colonization of New France. The work was penned by a newcomer writing under the pseudonym Willie Thomas. The Governor General's Literary Award for fiction broke no new ground; the Can$10,000 award was given to Aude for her book Cet imperceptible mouvement, a short-story collection diaphanous in tone. An exceptional, almost unclassifiable work by Robert Lalonde was the year's commercial and esthetic success. In Le Monde sur le flanc de la truite, which follows in the tradition of Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Lalonde meditates on writing and nature and comments on and translates into French a variety of books heretofore unknown in French Quebec. Hard on the heels of Michel Tremblay's early 1997 best-seller Quarante-quatre minutes, quarante-quatre secondes, the perennially popular author weighed in with a second novel in the fall, Un Objet de beaut. Tremblay's success proved that in Quebec, like everywhere else, romanticized accounts of a people's history were always eagerly read. DAVID HOMEL This article updates Canadian literature. Canada. In 1997 the millennium was too close for comfort yet too distant for reality--an ideal condition for poetry, which feeds on time and death, the beat, and the silence between beats, as evidenced in Time Capsule: New and Selected Poems, which eloquently demonstrated why Pat Lowther's 1975 death was a great loss to Canadian literature. Anne Szumigalski soared forth On Glassy Wings: Poems New & Selected, a 25-year flight of verbal aerobatics, and Selected Poems: 1978-1997 was Patrick Lane's latest offering of poems as enigmatic as the volume's title. P.K. Page's collected works required two volumes to reveal the many dimensions of The Hidden Room: Collected Poems. Poets were the original blue-sky pilots, like the voyagers to the Long Lost Planet: Lesley Choyce and the Surf Poets, a talking book in which images blazed like meteors across the dark night of the mind; Francis Sparshott in Home from the Air, viewing a landscape charged with balloons and sinners, graves and academics; or Dionne Brand's dazzling displays of controlled metaphorics in Land to Light On. In contrast was Don McKay's austere, astutely crafted Apparatus, instrumental in stopping the eye on the nearly invisible present as it flashes past, swift as childhood. Those moving horizons were circumscribed by Linda Rogers in Heaven Cake, a delicious concoction of celestial visions and earthly delights. Robert Priest, seeking Resurrection in the Cartoon, sketched multiple perspectives with the tip of his mordant wit, whereas Al Purdy used a broader brush of humour, loaded with mixed messages, in The Gods of Nimrud Dag. Rosemary Aubert's audacious Picking Wild Raspberries: The Imaginary Love Poems of Gertrude Stein served as counterpoint to bill bissett's Loving Without Being Vulnrabul. Laura Lush, a poetic seismograph, mapped Fault Lines in meticulous detail, and George Bowering raced down the tracks of Blonds on Bikes, telling tales all the way. The tellers of real tall tales were found in short-story collections, as in Timothy Findley's Dust to Dust, elegiac reconstructions of lives too early lost, or too long extended; Holley Rubinsky's At First I Hope for Rescue, lives lived in the narrow valleys of the interior of British Columbia linked into a chain, each binding each; the inspired forgery of John Weier's Friends Coming Back as Animals, transformations under the hammer of events; and Maggie Helwig's Gravity Lets You Down, a descent into society's underbelly and back again. In one sense Larry's Party, Pulitzer Prize winner Carol Shields' latest novel, lasted for 20 years; in another it was over where it began, at the centre of Larry's labyrinthine heart, where everyone eventually arrives--amazed, bemused, and wonderfully confused. Funnily enough, Mordecai Richler snarled his characters in contradictions and myth in Barney's Version, for which he won Canada's $25,000 Giller Prize. For The Time Being Mary Meigs arranged the meeting of two women in the wilds of Australia and turned them loose with startling results. In Evening Light Harold Horwood saw clear to the core of the outport soul in his rendering of a Newfoundlander's life; Jane Urquhart used the medium of a minimalist artist to limn her meaning in The Underpainter, winner of the 1997 Governor-General's Award for English-language fiction; and Marilyn Bowering charted mysterious customs in Visible Worlds. In Austin Clarke's The Origin of Waves, immigrants meeting in Toronto after a hiatus of 50 years while away time in a bar during a blizzard; Margaret Gibson, in a storm of memories and pain, re-created the past in Opium Dreams. In Sleeping Weather Cary Fagan described a waking nightmare of invasion by the irrational and the irresistible. Even scarier was Bharati Mukherjee's protagonist in Leave It to Me, a goddess of revenge stalking the parents who abandoned her in infancy. Erika De Vasconcelos celebrated generations of women in My Darling Dead Ones, and Nino Ricci completed his trilogy with Where She Has Gone. ELIZABETH WOODS This article updates Canadian literature. Chinese Chinese literary works received two major awards in 1997. The first, the Third National Book Award, was shared by Tang Haoming and Zhu Shucheng's biographical novel Kuangdai yicai--Yang Du ("Outstanding Talent--Yang Du") and Zhou Meisen's Renjian zhengdao ("The Way of Living in the World"), published at the end of 1996. Kuangdai yicai portrayed Yang Du, a controversial reformer of early republican China, as a complex historical figure, illustrating his experimentation with a broad range of philosophies and his eventual conversion to Buddhism near the end of his life. The second major award was the Mao Dun Literature Award, given once every three years. Sharing the award were Wang Huo's Zhanzheng yu ren ("War and People"), a multivolume portrait of the war against Japan (1937-45) featuring many grand scenes; Cheng Zhongshi's Bailu yuan ("White Deer Plain"), which aroused considerable controversy with its weighty implications; and Liu Sifen's Baimen liu ("Willow at Baimen"), which depicted famous intellectuals in Chinese history. The number of fictional works published in 1997 was about the same as in 1996--more than 800. While most lacked depth in spirit or imagination and taste, some were better. Wo shi taiyang ("I Am the Sun") by Deng Yiguang portrayed a soldier's inspiring but somehow tragic life with none of the old stereotypical expressions. Qianjuan yu juejue ("Close Affection and Breaking Up") by Zhao Changfa was a complicated and fascinating tale of love and hate in a landlord's family and of the relationship between farmers and the land. Bai lazhu ("White Candle") by Wang Zhaojun concerned the difficult times of the early 1960s but was unlike other such works in its meek and touching nature. Ge Fei's Qingshui huanxiang ("Clear Water Illusions") was a story with a classical flair; it told of a landlord's concubine who, while bathing in a pond, recalls the decline of members of the landlord's family. Xianggang de zaochen ("Hong Kong Morning") by Hong Kong writer Liu Wenyong was an autobiographical novel written in strong and colourful language and depicted all types of people in Hong Kong as well as the author's own struggle with himself. Also attracting interest was the work of Mosuo writer Lamu Gatusa, a three-time winner of China's Minority People Literature Award. Gatusa, who spent two months recording a shaman's recitation of the entire oral history of the Mosuo people in Yunnan province, finished translating the recitation into Chinese in 1997. The work was to be published by the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences. Chinese poetry remained at a critical juncture as poets pursued such innovative and bizarre techniques that even critics wondered how the poems should be read. In contrast, Taiwanese poet Yu Guangzhong's touching poems on his travels to the mainland were rich in imagination and flavour. QIAN ZHONGWEN This article updates Chinese literature. Danish. A number of 1996 and 1997 Danish publications captured international attention in 1997. In Anne Marie Ejrns's Thomas Ripenseren (1996), a young Dane is caught up in 14th-century religious and political struggles in Denmark; Brugge, Belg.; and Paris. Mette Winge's Nr fisken fanger solen (1996) told the sad fate of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe's sister Sophia, who followed an alchemist into exile and ended up living in dire poverty. Merete Pryds Helle's Men Jorden str til evig tid (1996) mixed scientific meticulousness with musicality and myth, and Kirsten Hammann produced a second fantastic novel, Bannister. Ib Michael's Prins combined fantasy with realism, starting with the discovery by a 12-year-old boy of a well-preserved body floating off the Danish coast. In Anders Bodelsen's Den bne dr, a 40-year-old mystery is solved, and Tage Skou-Hansen's P sidelinjen (1996) was the latest installment in his series of novels about Holger Mikkelsen. Jens Smrup Srensen's Kulturlandsbyen (1996) was a modern-day judgment on a Danish village that saw its native culture disappear after it was proclaimed a European Union village of culture. Suzanne Brgger's Jadekatten traced the rise, fall, and disintegration of a Jewish immigrant family. Social and ethical disintegration were seen in Jens-Martin Eriksen's Vinter ved daggry, which was inspired by ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina; that theme was also the setting for Jan Stage's De andres krig. Three established writers produced volumes of short stories: Klaus Rifbjerg's Andre Tider recounted the moments that change lives; Henrik Stangerup's Lille Hbs rejse contained three youthful fables that seemed to echo many of the themes in his mature work; and Peter Seeberg's Halvdelen af natten was a collection of short stories and essaylike reflections.Naja Marie Aidt published Huset overfor: Digte (1996), more poems in her delicate yet incisive style, and Thomas Boberg reinforced his position as a leading poet of the 1990s with Under Hundestjernen, a mixture of verse and prose. Morti Vizki, another '90s poet, found inspiration in Egyptian King Akhenaton for Sol, and Jrgen Gustava Brandt's selected poems were published in three volumes. A very different writing style characterized Sila (1996), a collection of Greenlandic short stories translated into Danish and edited by Aqqaluk Lynge. W. GLYN JONES This article updates Scandinavian literature. Eastern European During 1997 Polish literary circles showed a renewed interest in the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska, who had won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. Once again, of all the genres, poetry proved to be the most vital one in Poland. In her volume Adresat nieznany: Notatnik poetycki 1993-1996 ("Unknown Addressee: A Poetic Notebook 1993-1996"), Agata Tuszynska exhibited a precision and lyricism that was devoid of sentimentality. Artur Szlosarek, whose earlier poetry was marked by influences of poets Rainer Rilke and Paul Celan, developed a voice of his own in Popi l i mid ("Ash and Honey"), which was free of the exaltation and egotism that characterized his earlier work. Pawel Marcinkiewicz received the 1997 Award of the Foundation for Culture for his volume of verse Swiat dla opornych ("The World for Insubordinates"); Marcinkiewicz, one of the most interesting poets of the younger generation, experimented with poetic conventions in his latest effort. With the publication of Nobel laureate Czeslaw Milosz's collections of essays Piesek przydro "ny ("A Little Side-Road Dog") and Zycie na wyspach ("Life on Islands"), he remained visible mainly as a critic of mass culture and the superficial values so prevalent in the late 20th century. Finally, a long-overdue biographical work appeared that was dedicated to the late poet Miron Bialoszewski. Carefully edited by Hanna Kirchner, Miron: Wspomnienia o poecie ("Miron: Memories of the Poet") offered a wide assortment of personal recollections by friends and critics and thereby gave readers a new dimension to his life. Although residing in Italy, Gustaw Herling-Grudzinski marked his presence with the appearance of Gor acy oddech pustyni ("Heated Breath of a Desert"), a collection of short stories written in 1993-95 and representative of the writer's metaphysical meditations. Serbian literature, which had been dominated for 50 years by traditional historical fiction, found new expression with postmodern "self-reflective" metafiction; most illustrative of this trend was David Albahari's 1996 novel Mamac ("Lure"), which won the prestigious 1997 NIN Award. In the book, Albahari, who had lived in Canada since 1994, sought shelter in the Serbo-Croatian language while exploring the process of dying; in the end, language became the only palpable reality. Another postmodern novel, published in 1997 by Svetislav Basara with the English title Looney Tunes, became a best-seller; it offered an absurdist picture of a political establishment. A shorter work not written in the realistic mode was Basara's "Uncle Vanja," considered by NIN the best short story of 1997. Historical fiction, the traditional centre of Serbian literature, was best represented by Milica Micic-Dimovska's Poslednji zanosi MSS ("The Final Raptures of MSS"); the novel evokes the life and dynamic personality of Milica Stojadinovic Srpkinja, the 19th-century nationalist and woman activist. In the field of poetry, much praise was given to Miroslav Maksimovic, an award-winning representative of middle-aged poets. His recent collection of verse, Nebo ("The Sky"), deals with the political reality of urban life in a cool, ironic voice. Matija Beckovic, a prominent figure in Serbian literary circles and known for his anticommunist and royalist proclivities, published a collection of poems, Ceracemo se jo ("We Will See Each Other in Court Again"); his poems were recited in the streets of Belgrade during the November 1996-February 1997 pro-democracy demonstrations. Like most other Eastern European literature, the Czech literary market was dominated by translations, mostly from English. Besides the death of internationally known writer Bohumil Hrabal (see OBITUARIES), the Czech literary year was distinguished by new editions and reeditions of other Czech masters, such as Milan Kundera's novel Valck na rozloucenou ("The Farewell Party"), which included a forward by the author. The works of Jaroslav Seifert, the first Czech to win a Nobel Prize (1984), were also reedited, notably one of his most memorable collections of verse, Maminka ("Dear Mom"). The appearance of Ivan Slavk's juvenile poetry, Snmn s krise ("Descent from the Cross"), was hailed by critics and showed the author's fascination with the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire. Eda Kriseov's long historical novel Kocici sivoty ("Cats' Lives") was cited for its lyricism and transported readers from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day in multiethnic Volhynia. Vclav Havel, best known for his plays, published ' 96, a volume of his recent speeches and articles. In Romania the Writers' Union awarded the National Prize to etefan Banulescu, renowned for his prose, and poet Marta Petreu was awarded a prize for her latest volume, Cartea mniei ("The Book of Anger"), and Andrei Plesu was recognized for his collection of essays Chipuri si masti ale tranzikiei ("Faces and Masks of the Transition"). Newly elected members to the Romanian Academy were literary critic Nicolae Manolescu, critic and historian Mircea Zaciu, and novelists Nicolae Breban and Dumitru Radu Popescu. BO"ENA SHALLCROSS France. Although the emphasis on authors' individuality continued to prevent the precedence of any one literary movement, during 1997 a group of diverse novels had themes whose cohesion compensated for the lack of a unified theory. One predominant theme was that of the drifting social outcast. Jean Echenoz's Un An told of a young woman, falsely implicated in her boyfriend's death, who flees across France for a year, slowly sinking into poverty and abasement. The meanderings of an abandoned boy in Emmanuel Darley's Un Gchis were even more somber; he finds love with a lost little girl, only to lose it owing to their inability to communicate and hounding by the police. Finally, in Jean-Christophe Rufin's L'Abyssin, a 17th-century French ambassador exiles himself from his own culture when his travels cause him to fear of the imperalistic spread of Christianity and French power. In contrast to the theme of exile, two successful novels dealt with the inescapable effects of home. The young academic of Jean-Philippe Toussaint's La Tlvision decides to stop wasting time watching television in order to write, but slowly all of his energy is diverted from his work into the fight against television, and his life is absorbed by the very passivity he had tried to avoid. Home was a source of lasting trauma in Patrick Villemin's La Morsure, in which a young man attempts to make sense of his painful childhood, during which he was victimized by his parents, teachers, and classmates. Three novels were coming-of-age stories. In Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clzio's Poisson d'or, an African girl, stolen in infancy and abandoned at age 13, learns to fend for herself in France and the United States as she discovers pride in her heritage. In Tahar Ben Jelloun's La Nuit de l'erreur, a Moroccan girl learns to fight for independence as she avenges the cowardly hypocrisy of men by destroying them with her sexuality. The lessons of Morgan Sports's Lu were less laudable; a vacuous woman interested solely in her own beauty learns to use her wiles to marry into money and thus take advantage of a world that had always taken advantage of her. Two best-selling novels maintained the French tradition of satire. Jean d'Ormesson's Casimir mne la grande vie recounted the misadventures of a fallen nobleman, his nostalgic grandfather, a young Trotskyite, and an Arab woman--who agree that the world must be changed but disagree on how to go about it--as they become modern-day Robin Hoods, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. In former thriller writer Tonino Benacquista's Saga, four screenwriters, hired without a budget to fill the government's quota of French-produced television series, manage against all odds to come up with a hit. The novel engaged readers in the lives of the struggling writers while poking fun at television and its audience. In the realm of autobiography, Annie Ernaux's La Honte recounted the author's claustrophobic small-town childhood and the shame she suffered over her vindictive neighbours' knowledge of her father's attempt to kill her mother. On a lighter note, in Hlne Cixous's Or: les lettres de mon pre, the writer discovers the existence of her dead father's love letters to her mother. Before reading them, she imagines what they will say and how they will resurrect the past and bring back to life a man she had thought lost forever. Two major essays aimed alarmist criticism at France. Pierre Bourdieu's Sur la tlvision (1996) denounced television's growing control over books in general and of the press in particular, whereas in La Guerre des rves, Marc Aug attacked the steady impoverishment of collective and individual imagination at the hands of what he considers totalitarian and imperialistic image makers, particularly the theme park and mass tourism trades. Poetry was marked by two divergent foci. The first was the foreignness of everyday objects, as in Nathalie Quintane's Chaussure, a collection obsessively preoccupied with shoes, feet, and walking. A second poetic trend, inherited from Surrealism, was the exploration of dreams. In Anatolie Marie Etienne attempts to put her dreams on display in the hope that they will gain solidity and reveal the unconscious, a hope sadly unrealized at the end of the collection. Between these two trends, Lionel Ray's Syllabes de sable (1996) attempted to discover the inner self by examining a person's reaction to loss--be it the loss of a friend, the loss of youth, or separation from home. The 1997 Prix Goncourt was awarded to Patrick Rambaud for La Bataille, the meticulously researched novelization of an 1809 Napoleonic battle told from the soldiers' point of view. Pascal Bruckner won the Prix Renaudot for Les Voleurs de beaut, the philosophical tale of a couple who kidnap and disfigure beautiful women in order to redress the injustice of their own ugliness. The Prix Femina went to Dominique Noguez's Amour noir, the story of an all-consuming passion that ends inevitably in death, and Philippe Le Guillou won the Prix Mdicis for Les Sept Noms du peintre, the tale of a young painter's mystic initiation into sexuality and spirituality. VINCENT AURORA This article updates French literature. German. The controversy that had surrounded German-language literature since German reunification in 1990 finally began to abate in 1997. The year saw the 50th anniversary of the first meeting of the legendary Group 47, which had profoundly influenced the creation and reception of postwar German-language literature. The most visible sign of improvement was an agreement at the spring meeting of the two German PEN clubs to work toward the organizational unification of German writers. In previous years the push toward unification of the PEN clubs had been blocked by members of the West German club critical of some of their East German colleagues. The most disputatious ongoing controversy of 1997 was the German spelling reform decided on by the educational and cultural authorities of the German-speaking nations of Central Europe and scheduled to go into effect in 1998. Many of the most prominent German-speaking authors, including Ilse Aichinger, Ulla Hahn, Sarah Kirsch, Martin Walser, Gnter Grass, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and Siegfried Lenz, protested against the reform during the year, arguing that because of it their literary works would be changed without permission, sometimes to the detriment of intended meaning. Owing to the many legal challenges mounted against the spelling reform in the Federal Republic, it was unclear at the end of the year whether the reform would actually be carried through as planned. Botho Strau continued his critical reflections on modern life in his book Die Fehler des Kopisten, a blending of aphorism and observation typical for the author. The work centred on the narrator's relationship to his young son, for whom the narrator would like to provide beautiful childhood memories and whom he must soon partially relinquish to the school system. This dilemma furnished the opportunity for critical reflections on contemporary education and child rearing. At the same time, the joyous presence of the son gave the book a more positive tone than Strau's other recent work. Peter Handke's novel In einer dunklen Nacht ging ich aus meinem stillen Haus was a return to fictional narration after the massive, plotless meandering of Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht (1994) and the political controversy of Handke's intervention in favour of Serbia in 1996. The hero of the novel is a lonely Salzburg pharmacist who is hit over the head one night and becomes mute. He then sets out on an adventurous trip to Spain, where, after a long pilgrimage, he ultimately regains the power of speech. The novel was full of references both to Handke's earlier works and to Cervantes's Don Quixote; Handke sought to re-create the miraculous and the wonderful in an alienated postmodern world. In his novel Von allem Anfang an, Christoph Hein made a valuable contribution to the growing body of literature that seeks to reexamine life in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) with an honesty difficult to achieve prior to 1989. Set in November 1956, the story revolved around Daniel, the son of a Silesian pastor whose family was forced to move to Saxony at the end of World War II. Combining family memories of war and devastation with Daniel's own coming of age and reflections on the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, this story realistically depicted both the problematic early decades of the GDR and the lack of warmth and friendliness in the West. In his much-less-successful work, Amerikahaus und der Tanz um die Frauen, Friedrich Christian Delius also combined a coming-of-age story with a political awakening, this time set in the Berlin of the mid-1960s and focusing on a loser figure with no compelling power. Perhaps the most important novel by a young author in 1997 was Tobias O. Meiner's cult hit Starfish Rules, an unwieldy, apocalyptic fantasy set in a mythical U.S. in the years 1937-39 but including anachronistic characters like Jimi Hendrix and the rap group Public Enemy. The "starfish" of the title was a symbol for the U.S. and its supposed five driving forces: hatred, violence, chaos, sex, and revolution. Heavily influenced by the paranoid brilliance of Thomas Pynchon, Meiner here attempted a postmodern pastiche of pop culture and grand narrative; his novel demonstrated how important American postmodern literature had become for many of the young German authors. Gnter Kunert, who had experienced both the Nazi dictatorship and the socialism of the GDR, published his memoirs, Erwachsenenspiele, containing fascinating and humorous reflections on figures such as Bertolt Brecht, Johannes R. Becher, Herbert Marcuse, and Uwe Johnson. Herbert Achternbusch's undisciplined but gripping Der letzte Schliff was the semiautobiographical story of a failed love affair. Wilhelm Genazino's Das Licht brennt ein Loch in den Tag (1996) contained a lyrical series of observations and memories. The year also saw the publication of Robert Gernhardt's clever and thoughtful poems Lichte Gedichte, based partially on Gernhardt's painful experience of a heart bypass operation during the previous year. Jurek Becker, whose life work bridged the East-West and German-Jewish divides, died on March 14.STEPHEN BROCKMANN This article updates German literature. Hebrew. The premier event in Hebrew fiction in 1997 was the publication of A.B. Yehoshua's novel Masa el tom haelef ("Voyage to the End of the Millennium"), which examined societal and cultural issues in contemporary Israel by means of a plot that takes place near the end of the first millennium. Other works by veteran writers included Aharon Appelfeld's Mihkre hakerah ("The Ice Mine"), his first attempt to describe the horrors of a German labour camp, and collections of short stories--Yitzhak Orpaz's Laila beSanta Paulina ("A Night in Santa Paulina") and Dalia Rabikovitz's Kvutzat hakaduregel shel Winnie Mandela ("Winnie Mandela's Football Team"). The most interesting novels published by the younger generation were Gidi Nevo's Ad kan ("So Far"; 1996), an intriguing dialogue with Ya'akov Shabtai's Past Continuous, and Tsruya Shalev's Hayei ahava ("Love Life"). Other important books were Nurit Zarchi's Mekhonit kemo orchidea ("A Car like an Orchid"), Leah Aini's Hardufim ("Oleanders"), Rachel Gil's Isha yoshevet ("A Woman Sitting"), and Eyal Megged's Sodot Mongolia ("Secrets of Mongolia"). Hanna Bat Shahar (the pseudonym of a female writer who used a pen name because of her Orthodox family) published her fourth book, Sham sirot hadayig ("Look, the Fishing Boats"). Other books that showed traces of the authors' religious background were Rina Brandle's K. lo shel Kafka ("K. Not Kafka's") and Judith Rotem's Kri'a ("Mourning"; 1996). The most significant books of poetry were the second volume of the collected poems of Avot Yeshurun and the first volume (the long poems) of the collected poems of Abba Kovner (1996). Other notable books of poetry were Aharon Shabtai's Behodesh May hanifla ("During the Wonderful Month of May"), Mordechai Geldman's Sefer Sh'al ("Book of Ask"), Yigal Ben Arieh's Kav parashat hazman ("Time Dividing Line"), and Zvia Ben-Yosseph Ginor's Isha bor ("Womanswell"; 1996). Such works as Asher Reich's Musikat horef ("Winter Music"; 1996) and Itamar Yaoz-Kest's Dlatot tsrifim od niftahot bi ("Doors of Bunks Are Still Opened in Me") examined the Holocaust. First books of poetry were offered by Daliah Fallah, Dodi hashofet hamehozi Dorban ("My Uncle the Circuit Judge Dorban") and Shimon Adaf, Hamonologue shel Icarus ("Icarus's Monologue"). Works of literary scholarship included Dan Laor's Hayei Agnon ("The Life of S.Y. Agnon") and Dan Miron's Hahim bea'po shel hanetzah ("Posterity Hooked: The Travail and Achievement of U.N. Gnessin"). Hamutal Bar Yosef studied the decadent trends in the writings of Hayyim Bialik, Micah Berdychevski, and Joseph Brenner, and Nitza Ben-Dov wrote about erotic frustrations in Agnon's fiction. Yigal Schwartz examined Appelfeld's world view (1996), and Uzi Shavit discussed enlightenment (Haskala), poetry, and modernism (1996). AVRAHAM BALABAN This article updates Hebrew literature. Italian While academics were disputing in 1997 the authenticity of Eugenio Montale's 1996 Diario postumo, actor and playwright Dario Fo was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, much to Fo's amazement and the Italian literary establishment's discomfiture. (See NOBEL PRIZES.) Also sparking controversy were the "cannibals"--a vociferous band of young pulp-fiction writers, whose works were united in the anthology Giovent cannibale. Susanna Tamaro, author of the exceptionally successful Va' dove ti porta il cuore (1994), incensed critics without enthralling many readers with her new novel, Anima mundi, which introduced as protagonist a worthless young man who moved from Trieste to Rome, there to be all too suddenly converted. Most intriguing among the other distinguished works by women writers was Marta Morazzoni's Il caso Courrier, which painted a picture of provincial life in 1917 in the Auvergne region of France and culminated in the unexpected suicide of its central character. In Dolce per s Dacia Maraini recounted a love affair between a much-traveled middle-aged woman and a violinist 20 years her junior. The woman's resulting self-portrait was unusually structured as a series of letters that she (the narrator) sends to the musician's six-year-old niece. Memories of childhood and adolescence in Naples and Rome during the 1950s and '60s were the subject of Elisabetta Rasy's Posillipo, a sober and terse narrative in which beauty and pain are inextricably interwoven. At the other end of the spectrum was Francesca Sanvitale's collection of short stories, Separazioni, about loss, old age, and loneliness. A rare example of a present-day narrative was found in Francesca Duranti's Sogni mancini, in which an Italian woman, an academic, finds independence, perhaps significantly, not in Italy but in New York City. Whereas the autobiographical novel was favoured by women writers, the thriller was particularly popular among male authors. Antonio Tabucchi's La testa perduta di Damasceno Monteiro, a story about a murder and the collusion between police and drug traffickers in Oporto, Port., had some of the stylistic qualities of his earlier Sostiene Pereira, but it lacked the latter's narrative rhythm and structural coherence. More compelling was Daniele Del Giudice's Mania, a collection of six short stories that were subtly united by the theme of death. The first, "L'orecchio assoluto," was a remarkable example of a classic plot that went back to Edgar Allan Poe. The consistently high quality of the collection gave further proof of Del Giudice's unusual ability to combine a rich and mobile imagination with a rigorous control of style. Very impressive for its inventiveness and stylistic novelty was Silenzio in Emilia, Daniele Benati's first book. In the 11th tale the characters of the previous 10 make up, as in a Federico Fellini movie, a fantastic soccer team. In fact, they are all dead souls of ordinary men haunting their homeland in the Emilia region and still talking, and thinking, in its inimitable language. Claudio Magris's Microcosmi, winner of the Strega Prize, was a fascinating journey of exploration through ever-changing public and private microcosms, including the literary, artistic, historical, and scientific. The narrative--a combination novel, essay, journal, and autobiography--involves animals, woods, mountains, rivers, and seas, as well as dead and living people, and ancient and contemporary settings. At journey's end, however, the points of departure and arrival turn out to be on either side of Trieste's public gardens, which suggests perhaps that the journey of life never took place. Difficult to classify was Ombre dal Fondo by Maria Corti. Like Magris, she was a university professor, scholar, and part-time creative writer. Her book chronicles how a collection of manuscripts by contemporary writers was developed at the university of Pavia; each manuscript evokes the shadow of its author, at times in a very moving manner. University life and education were again central to Luigi Meneghello's latest prose collection, La materia di Reading, which contained autobiographical essays and reflections on his previous writings and offered further insights into contemporary culture in Italy and Britain. History from the Middle Ages to the 20th century inspired several novels. The first crusade served as the background for Franco Cardini's L'avventura de un povero crociato; Sebastiano Vassalli's Cuore di pietra explored national disappointments following major historical events since Italy's unification, such as World War I and the Resistance against Fascism; and Enrico Palandri's Le colpevoli ambiguit di Herbert Markus focused on the ideological crisis that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall. Most popular in this category was La parola ebreo, a narrative by Rosetta Loy that compellingly told of both the heroism and the indifference of Italian Catholics concerning the persecution of Italian Jews before and during World War II. Two major projects were completed for the prestigious "Meridiani" collection of Italian classics: Dante's Commedia and Petrarch's vernacular works, painstakingly annotated by Anna Maria Chiavacci Leonardi and Marco Santagata, respectively. LINO PERTILE This article updates Italian literature. Japanese Two best-sellers--a novel and a nonfiction work--were the standouts in Japanese literature during 1997. The curious pair comprised Jun'ichi Watanabe's Shitsuraku-en ("Paradise Lost") and Haruki Murakami's Andaguraundo ("Underground"). Although there was little similarity between Watanabe's highly erotic story of extramarital love, which ends in double suicides, and John Milton's biblical epic of the same title, the allusive title seemed to add a mysterious flavour to the novel, especially for nonreligious Japanese. A newspaper serialization of the work proved remarkably popular, and the two-volume hardcover edition sold more than one million copies. The novel was then adapted for a motion picture and serialized on television. Murakami's nonfictional Underground was a collection of more than 60 interviews of the victims of the underground disaster on March 20, 1995, in which members of the religious cult Aum Shinrikyo released the deadly nerve gas sarin in a crowded Tokyo subway. Although there had been numerous sensational reports of the event in the mass media, Murakami was the first to use a subdued tone in order to meticulously detail the touching yet vivid account of the victims' panic, confusion, and suffering, which for some lasted long after their initial hospitalization. Nobuo Kojima's Uruwashiki hibi ("Beautiful Days") was another example of a literary triumph marked by quiet appeal. This novel detailed the domestic predicament of an elderly couple whose divorced, middle-aged son turns into an incorrigible alcoholic and becomes hospitalized. Although obviously autobiographical and at times rather monotonous, the story, however, was not gloomy. The title befitted the work, and the pervasive tone was consoling and even humorous--an amazing tour de force on the part of Kojima. Two remarkable collections of short stories appeared, and, although their settings and subjects were quite different, both were refreshingly vivid and moving. Taku Miki's Roji ("Alley"), winner of the Tanizaki Jun'ichiro Prize, evoked the monotony of life in Kamakura, a historic city not far from Tokyo. Each story recounts, vividly and effectively, the petty drama of various types of eccentrics. Aiko Kitahara's Edo fkyoden ("Biographies of Edo Eccentrics"), winner of the Women Writers' Prize, showcased the author's narrative skill and her remarkable ability to portray an assortment of amusing, artistic, and scholarly eccentrics during the feudalistic Edo period. Takanori Irie's Taiheiyo bunmei no kobo ("The Rise and Fall of the Pacific Civilization") was a brilliant book about cultural history and criticism, both readable and broad in historical perspective. The 1997 Sakutaro Hagiwara Prize in Poetry was awarded to Kosuke Shib

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