Best European Fiction 2010 is the inaugural installment of what will become an annual anthology of stories from across Europe. Edited by acclaimed Bosnian novelist and MacArthur "Genius-Award" winner Aleksandar Hemon, and with dozens of editorial, media, and programming partners in the U.S., UK, and Europe, the Best European Fiction series will be a window onto what's happening right now in literary scenes throughout Europe, where the next Kafka, Flaubert, or Mann is waiting to be discovered.
Anthologies are ill-fitting things - one size does not fit all. Its no surprise
to find the authors in this volume, collected under the broad banner "European,"
voicing a consistently ornery resistance (with variations): "Well,
yes, I am European, Slovakian, actually, but I am also an individual, and
what really matters to me is Nabokov, Diderot and J. G. Ballard."
Which is as it should be. Good writing cannot permit itself to be contained
within checkpoints and borders. But still its tempting for readers
to seek a family resemblance and Im not sure were wrong to do so. It
seems old fashioned to speak of a "Continental" or specifically "European"
style, and yet if the title of this book were to be removed and switched with
that of an anthology of the American short story, isnt it true that only a
fool would be confused as to which was truly which?
Its more than the obvious matter of foreign names and places. Its hard not ...
There is something for everyone here – at least, everyone who loves short stories... Many short story collections are planned around a theme – same author, subject or place, perhaps – and this one suffers a little from the disparate nature of the stories involved. I liked most of the stories, and was really impressed by others – but the lack of cohesiveness made it difficult to commit to reading the book through... That being said, I often turned the page in disappointment at reaching the end of a particular story. For those of us not lucky enough to visit Europe ourselves, or not ambitious enough to read in more than one language, this collection is a chaotic, exciting glimpse into the reading pleasures of the Continent... If you like short fiction, cultural oddities, contemporary literature or surprising techniques, you'll find something to love in this collection.
(Reviewed by Beverly Melven).
Full Review (549 words).
Best European Fiction 2010, by the numbers:
Countries Represented: 30 (with some countries represented by more than one language and therefore more than one story)
Languages: 26 (with 6 languages used more than once, and one story using two languages)
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