Literary roundup: American Miłosz, Azeri satire and Hašek’s other writing

The US consulate in Poland has opened a photography exhibition in the central Polish city of Kielce titled “American Milosz.” The show consists of photographs of the poet Czesław Miłosz while he was living in the US taken by his brother Andrzej Miłosz in Berkeley in the 70s as well as by a Chicago-based Polish poet Adam Lizakowski, who took pictures of the poet during get-togethers in the 80s with the likes of Susan Sontag and Joseph Brodsky. Selections from Lizakowski’s diaries documenting the images and meetings are also on display.

The US consul opened the exhibition talking about what diplomats and cultural attachés do – this, because of widespread suspicions that they don’t do anything. Only kidding, it was to provide a window on Miłosz’s own role as Communist Poland’s cultural attaché in Paris after WWII, before defecting and eventually coming to Berkeley.

Azeri wit taking on the world

On the New York Review of Books blog there is an article about an early 20th century Azeri satirical magazine called Molla Nasreddin. Running from 1906 – 1930 the magazine “attacked the hypocrisy of the Muslim clergy, the colonial policies of the US and European nations towards the rest of the world, and the venal corruption of the local elite, while arguing repeatedly for Westernization, educational reform, and equal rights for women.”

The more things don’t change, the more they stay the same. While the religious fanatics had it in for the magazine it looks like it was the Bolsheviks who drained their satirical cup dry.

Swiss publisher JRP-Ringier has brought out a book Slavs and Tatars Presents: Molla Nasreddin: The Magazine That Would’ve Could’ve Should’ve. You can read the whole book online (massive PDF file) at the publisher’s site here.

The book is in conjunction with an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art by Slavs and Tatars called Beyonsense, running through December 10.

Out of Švejk’s shadow

There are a lot of one-book wonders; writers who break out with a successful, attention-grabbing, innovative – once in a while even good – books, only to find themselves living the rest of their life in that small rectangular object’s shadow. That is not the case with the great Jaroslav Hašek, though English-language readers might be forgiven for not knowing he wrote something other than The Good Soldier Švejk.

Radio Prague’s David Vaughn interviews Mark Corner, who translated the recently published collection Behind the Lines: Bugulma and Other Tales. The article includes some extracts from the stories and the information that Corner’s next Czech translation will be Ladislav Fuks’ 1970 novel Myši Natálie Mooshabrové (Natálie Mooshabr’s Mice) and his description of the novel at the end of the interview should make you want to go buy and read it immediately (though you might have to wait till he translates it first).

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