Summary and book reviews of Best European Fiction 2010 by Aleksandar Hemon

Best European Fiction 2010

By Aleksandar Hemon

Best European Fiction 2010
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  • Paperback: Dec 2009,
    448 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Beverly Melven

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Book Summary

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.

Preface

Anthologies are ill-fitting things - one size does not fit all. It’s 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 it’s tempting for readers to seek a family resemblance and I’m not sure we’re 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, isn’t it true that only a fool would be confused as to which was truly which?

It’s more than the obvious matter of foreign names and places. It’s hard not ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

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 Members Only (549 words).

Media Reviews
Library Journal

[I]deal for browsing and has something for almost every taste.... we can be thankful to have so many talented new voices to discover.

Publishers Weekly

This is a good start—one hopes that next year's volume will be a more consistent collection

Michael Schaub, Bookslut

Dalkey has published an anthology of short fiction by European writers, and the result, Best European Fiction 2010, is one of the most remarkable collections I've read—vital, fascinating, and even more comprehensive than I would have thought possible.

Time Out Chicago

The book tilts toward unconventional storytelling techniques. And while we’ve heard complaints about this before—why only translate the most difficult work coming out of Europe?—it makes sense here. The book isn’t testing the boundaries, it’s opening them up.

Booklist

Starred Review. Dalkey Archive Press inaugurates a planned series of annual anthologies of European fiction with this impressive first volume…an insightful preface by novelist Zadie Smith…as well as an introduction by Bosnian writer and volume editor Aleksander Hemon, author of the highly acclaimed novel The Lazarus Project.

Financial Times

The work is vibrant, varied, sometimes downright odd. As [Zadie] Smith says [in her preface]: ‘I was educated in a largely Anglo-American library, and it is sometimes dull to stare at the same four walls all day.’ Here’s the antidote.

Time

The writers in Best European seem a more adventurous bunch than their American counterparts. They experiment freely with structure and venture more often down the path of metafiction, debating the direction of a story even as their characters are entangled in it.

The Guardian (UK)

[A] precious opportunity to understand more deeply the obsessions, hopes and fears of each nation's literary psyche – a sort of international show-and-tell of the soul.

The Independent (UK)

Not only is Best European Fiction 2010 a worthwhile attempt to introduce readers to some contemporary literary trends in Europe, it is an enjoyable and intriguing journey.

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Beyond the Book

Best European Fiction 2010, by the numbers:

Stories: 35

Authors: 35

Countries Represented: 30 (with some countries represented by more than one language and therefore more than one story)

Translators: 29

Languages: 26 (with 6 languages used more than once, and one story using two languages)

Bulgarian
Castilian
Catalan
Croatian (2)
Danish
Dutch (2)
English (4)
Estonian
Finnish
French (2)
German (4)
Hungarian
Icelandic
Irish
Italian (2)
Latvian
Lithuanian
Macedonian
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Russian
Serbian
Slovak
Slovenian

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