Literary roundup: Sándor Márai isn’t hungry and fraught relations

At Project Forum’s Salon German writer Michael Krüger has a fascinating account of the numerous bonds that exist between Hungary’s great contemporary writers and Germany, of how virtually all of them speak excellent German (while, in my experience, many speak little or no English at all), and are extremely well-read in German literature. These connections, particularly since 1989, have developed into friendships and a close association, and Krüger is afraid that Hungary’s increasing nationalism is threatening this relationship.

Most arresting of all though, is the image he begins the article with of celebrating his 30th birthday 40 years ago in a San Diego fast food restaurant with Herbert Marcuse and Reinhard Lettau, and being told that an old man at a neighboring table picking at his food was a Hungarian writer suffering from homesickness and neglect. It was Sándor Márai.

Alisa Ganieva in Dagestan

Dagestani writer and 2009 Debut Prize winner Alisa Ganieva is very high on my to-read list, and with interview answers like these she climbs even higher up the pile (though I have her work on my Kindle so I’m not sure climbing is the right term): “Why read? Because the person who does not read lives in a cramped, musty room while the whole world rages around outside.”

The recent interview in question is titled “Alisa Ganieva, if the Caucasus separated from Russia” and is at Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, with Ganieva touching on her work as a coordinator of a symposium of young writers in the North Caucasus, the mutual distrust felt between Russians and Dagestanis, and the subject of her new novel The Festive Mountain.

Daša Drndić in London

On Tuesday January 23 at London’s Southbank Centre there will be a discussion with three international writers including author of The Investigation, France’s Philippe Claudel; Haiti’s Danny Laferièrre, who wrote The Enigma of the Return; and Croatia’s Daša Drndić, author of Trieste. The three writers will discuss “art and politics, memory and identity, and the importance of place,” which seems more than enough to fill an evening.

Photo – View of a gorge in the Caucasus Mountains in Dagestan by Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, 1909-1915

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