“The mist that came from the Mediterranean sea blotted out the city that Pilate so detested. The suspension bridges connecting the temple with the grim fortress of Antonia vanished, the murk descended from the sky and drowned the winged gods above the hippodrome, the crenellated Hasmonaean palace, the bazaars, the caravanserai, the alleyways, the pools . . . Jerusalem, the great city, vanished as though it had never been. . .”
“’Oh, city of Jerusalem! What tales you have to tell! A tax-collector, did you hear, throwing away his money!’”
The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
The International Writers’ Festival in Jerusalem starts today at the Mishkenot Sha’ananim cultural center. Among the guests is Hungarian writer László Krasznahorkai, whose novel Satantango just recently came out in an English translation by George Szirtes and whose novel War and War, according to Hungarian Literature Online, just came out in Hebrew. At The Millions there is an interesting interview with Krasznahorkai where he begins with a quote that I’m seriously considering putting on my gravestone as an epitaph: “You will never go wrong anticipating doom in my books, anymore than you’ll go wrong in anticipating doom in ordinary life.” Of course, I’ll have to publish some books first to be able to use that.
Other guests at this year’s festival include Arnon Grunberg, who I recently interviewed when he came to Prague for the Prague Writers’ Festival (the interview will be published very soon), Aleksandar Hemon, Etgar Keret, Aimee Bender, Jo Nesbø, who was also just in Prague, Gary Shteyngart, A.B.Yehoshua, Amos Oz and David Grossman.
At Russia Beyond the Headlines there is a profile of the Overlook Press, which published Olga Slavnikova’s 2017 and Lyudmila Ulitskaya’s Daniel Stein, Interpreter. The publishers contact with Russian literature partly stems from their purchase of Ardis Books in 2002. The imprint is carrying out the Russian Library project noted here not too long ago and says that the first books published will be “unfamiliar but significant” work such as Russia’s only surviving ancient epic The Song of Igor’s Campaign and will extend to a selection of contemporary writers as well.