Literary roundup: Budapest bookfest, Polish crime writing and a literary fabrication

The 20th International Book Festival Budapest runs from April 18 to 21 with Italy as the country Guest of Honor and Michel Houellebecq as the writer Guest of Honor. Houellebecq’s novel Lanzarote will be published in Hungarian for the occasion.

Among the Hungarian writers attending the festival are Noémi Szécsi, György Konrád, László Krasznahorkai and György Spiró

Added note: We usually think of the communist past as gray and featureless, and the present as more colorful (for example) but the building names of the festival location puts paid to this idea. What today is called Building D, for example, was previously called the Palace of Miracles, while today’s Building B was the House of Future. I don’t know if the former names were from the communist era, but regardless, who came up with the new names?

When Dickens didn’t meet Dostoevsky

Over a year ago there was an article on literalab about the supposed meeting between Dickens and Dostoevsky that various biographers and literary critics had taken on faith after its mention in one short article in the Dickensian journal. I tried to do some research online at the time to dig further into the murky origins of what clearly appeared to be a fabricated story. I didn’t get very far, but that no longer matters as the Times Literary Supplement has published Eric Naiman’s seeming untangling of a story of assumed identities, bitter resentment in academia, self-plagiarism and horribly-written erotica. It’s a long, long article but that’s because it’s a warped and convoluted story – much more Dostoevsky than Dickens.

Interview with Zygmunt Miłoszewski

This was up a little while back but I didn’t want to neglect it. At Words Without Borders, Polish writer Zygmunt Miłoszewski talks about the fact crime novels have long gone beyond being a simple “whodunit” and can have more ambitious aims. His latest novel, A Grain of Truth, translated into English by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, is a perfect example of this in taking on the subject of anti-Semitism in a way that doesn’t avoid the tensions and controversies that still linger in Polish-Jewish relations.

He also makes a case for putting more attention on crime fiction from Poland and other countries formerly behind the iron curtain. He also mentions some other Polish crime writers he likes.

Photo – László Krasznahorkai by Marc Blanchot Tour, 2011

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Categories: Literary Events, News

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