Excerpt of Best European Fiction 2010 by Aleksandar Hemon
(Page 3 of 3)
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This formal diversity is, naturally, directly related to the intellectual
wealth, cultural richness, and historical conflict contained in a geographical
space that is, by North American standards, fantastically, ridiculously
small. European history is at the same time a history of fragmentation,
caused by wars and political reconstitutions, and a history of transcending -
by necessity - differences, borders and distances. No country in Europe
can be understood outside its historical relations with other European
countries, no culture in Europe can be comprehended outside its interactions
with other cultures. Europe is a fragmented space that always strives
toward some form of integration. This has, I believe, always been the case,
but the simultaneous processes of fragmentation, interaction and integration
have certainly been intensified with the formation of the European
Union. In this context, European literatures have found themselves
stretched between the reductive demands of national culture (the culture
that is for us, by us, whoever we may be) and the transformative possibilities
of transnational culture that can exist only in the situation of constant
flow of identity and exchange of meaning - in the situation of ceaseless
Hence the stories you will find in this volume (which have not been selected
for any kind of thematic continuity) inescapably question and probe
and sabotage various national myths, often featuring migrants and vagrants,
unabashedly questioning the propriety of the old forms in the new
set of historical and political circumstances. These stories not only cross
and trespass all kinds of borders, they are, quite literally, generating translation
in doing so.
At the heart of this project, which we hope to undertake annually, is a
profound, non-negotiable need for communication with the world, wherever
it may be. The same need is at the heart of the project of literature.
That project is most obviously impossible without translation and if the
communication is to be immediate and uninterrupted - which seems to
be a self-evident need in todays world - the process of translation must
be immediate and uninterrupted. We simply have to keep in continuous
touch, translation has to be a ceaseless process. Not only do we have to provide
a continuous flow of literary texts from other languages into English,
we also have to be able to monitor in real time, as it were, the rapid developments
in European literatures.
And there is no better gateway than the short story, which has retained,
from the days when every decent newspaper or magazine printed short
stories, the immediacy that comes with the daily engagement of the press
with the world; the immediacy, I might add, that is currently flourishing
on the Web. The short story still has the flavor of a report from the front
lines of history and existence.
This anthology is, then, not putting up a fight in the battles that to many
seem lost, it is indeed declaring a victory. As far as we are concerned, translation
and the short story - essential means of communicating with and
understanding this world of ours - have been restored to their rightful
place. Now, start reading.
Excerpted from Best European Fiction 2010
by Aleksandar Hemon. Copyright © 2009 by Aleksandar Hemon.
Excerpted by permission of Dalkey Archive Press. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.