Aleksander Hemon (Ed.): Best European Fiction 2010
[Fiction: Dalkey Archive Press]
Anthology of contemporary Euro-fiction long overdue
Aleksandar Hemon begins his introduction to Best European Fiction 2010 by citing the sad statistic that translations account for less than five percent of the literature published in the United States. This is the first anthology of its kind, and after reading it you may be so furious that such quality work has been kept from you that you’ll repeat that stat to anyone who’ll listen.
Historical privileges aren’t reconstituted with this anthology, which represents Russia and England alongside Estonia and Albania, and which includes both known and previously untranslated writers. Inventiveness reigns in short stories and novel excerpts: Jean-Philippe Toussaint studies an infamous footballer in “Zidane’s Melancholy”; the brief pieces by Antonio Fian, “Some Short Stories After Dreams,” are haunting and visual.
The common ground in this collection (acknowledged in Zadie Smith’s preface) is not a European agenda, but good writing essential to understanding our world.