In an age when we are being bombarded by articles about the end of reading and how today’s uncultivated youth only play violent video games, surf the web, mindlessly tap on the iPads and do other things that I can’t even identify it’s positively heartening to read something that starts off like this:
“It would be absurd to think a small library of books could incite young men to homicide, persuade them to accept the idea of suicide, or even precipitate a catastrophic European war. Nevertheless a small library that made the rounds of the Young Bosnians as they prepared for the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary in June 1914 suggested at the time, and later, that their reading influenced the course of events in that fateful year.”
In other words, as the Bosnian author of the magnificent novel Seven Terrors, Selvedin Avdić, writes in “A Great War Library” in Guernica, books can kill. Take that digital age!
Read my review of Seven Terrors in B O D Y
Speaking of Bosnia, novelist Pauls Toutonghi has an essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books entitled “Specimen Days: How Bosnia Qualified and I Survived” on Bosnia’s World Cup qualification, alcoholism, his Egyptian-Latvian heritage and the absence of ćevapi (Bosnian sausage) from its folk culture
Ulysses in the USSR
It’s the 25th anniversary of the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses in Russian and The Moscow Times has an account of the unlikely translation of this masterpiece of Modernism in the final days of communism, being done, by a physicist of all people, and one who started out by not believing in translation in principle.