BookBrowse Reviews Best European Fiction 2010 by Aleksandar Hemon

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Best European Fiction 2010

by Aleksandar Hemon

Best European Fiction 2010 by Aleksandar Hemon
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Dec 2009, 448 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Beverly Melven

Buy This Book

About this Book



The inaugural installment of what will become an annual anthology of short stories from across Europe

There is something for everyone here - at least, everyone who loves short stories. Belgian author Peter Terrin writes about a future where, rather than restricting birth rates, the government allows each citizen a few murders, no questions asked. Meanwhile, Bulgarian Georgi Gospodinov writes of a future where one must chose when to die, because it won't happen naturally. The Sky over Thingvellir is a sweetly powerful story of deflected emotions and difficult breakups, while The Orphan and the Mob is a witty, murderous satire full of clichés put to outrageous use. Stories of displaced peoples in the aftermath of war, rivalries between father and son, soccer, estranged families, infidelity, lost love, and even a story in verse (written by a Scotsman, naturally). On second thought - maybe those who look for joyful characters and happy endings should give this collection a pass.

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. There was no mystery waiting to be solved or landscape to be further explored, so I would put the book down and have no desire to pick it up for days. 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.

The editor, Aleksandar Hemon, bemoans the lack of works in translation available in the U.S. (one of the motivating factors for this volume) and he probably has a point - the only author I recognized was Zadie Smith (an English author), who wrote the short preface. The volume includes biographies and personal statements from the authors, as well as translator biographies and online resources for additional European fiction, should this collection peak your interest.

One of my favorite stories is Carlo Doesn't Know How to Read by Giulio Mozzi of Italy. Carlo is a man who says he cannot read - all he remembers from books are the pictures in his head. When he tells others of the books he reads, he speaks as if they are dreams or true experiences from his life. He remembers details that others don't remember reading - indeed, details that authors don't remember including. This story contains the best description I've read of the experience of living inside the stories we read, while pretending to be the story of a man who seems to have some kind of impairment. For this story alone, the book is worth picking up.

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

This review is from the May 5, 2010 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Rules of Magic
    The Rules of Magic
    by Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman's Rules of Magic is the long-awaited prequel to one of her most cherished novels,...
  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...
  • Book Jacket: Five-Carat Soul
    Five-Carat Soul
    by James McBride
    In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

"A powerful, provocative debut ... Intelligent, honest, and unsentimental." - Kirkus, starred review

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee

    A moving exploration of growing up and growing old, and the ties that bind parents and children.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.