Publishing house Zavet: Contemporary European Literature: A Kaleidoscopic View

Publishing house Zavet: Contemporary European Literature: A Kaleidoscopic View

07/04/2016

The project Contemporary European Literature: A Kaleidoscopic View includes translation into Serbian language, publication, promotion and distribution of eight books.

The books are contemporary European novels originally written in Slovenian, Swedish, Dutch, German, French and English. The authors are from six countries: Slovenia (Aleš Čar), Sweden (Sara Mannheimer), the Netherlands (Herman Koch), Germany (Iris Hanika and Friedrich Christian Delius), France (Antoine Laurain) and the United Kingdom (Sam Byers and Taiye Selasi). All these novels were written in 21st century, and published in the period from 2009 to 2013.

Although the works were created in different cultural contexts, all selected works have something in common. In each of these works the protagonists are faced with a challenge in their life, they have a need to change their lives, or the circumstances necessitate the change. With each of these challenges a reader living in Serbia can be faced too, in different circumstances and a different environment. In addition to the reader identifying in the novel the challenges faced by himself or people around him, the reader in Serbia will have the opportunity to meet other cultural contexts, to expand knowledge of social processes in the modern world.

In each of the selected works, the protagonists pursue personal happiness that eludes them from different, subjective or objective reasons. The authors of each of these works deal with topics, raise questions and suggest the messages that are universal and thus relevant to readers in other countries and other cultures. Some of the protagonists are faced with a challenge in their family, or suffer due to the disintegration of their family, some suffer due to a loss, some are burdened by historical events from the past and question their attitude toward the past, while some are in trouble because of their attitude toward life and the world which possibly results from belonging to a particular generation.

In the novel by Taiye Selasi, a family of immigrants from Africa has fallen apart, its members have moved to different parts of the world and they suffer from the lack of family relations. Will their arrival at the funeral of the suddenly deceased father of the family give them a chance to recover severed relations? In the novel by Iris Hanika, two middle-aged people are suffering because of the past, burdened by the crimes of the Nazis in Germany, and they are faced with the need to reconsider their attitude towards the past, which turns out to be a necessity of vital importance to them.

Also, in the novel by Friedrich Christian Delius, the reader follows train of thought of a retired German archaeologist who works as a tour guide in Rome. He is sitting in a church not far from the Pope himself and thinking about Italy’s ecclesiastical and political history and the concept of the original sin; he wonders, then, how Italians look to the German tourists in the light of Nazi crimes, and their thoughts finally create a portrait of present-day Italy.  In the novel, which tells about four generations of one family, Aleš Čar comes to the conclusion that true happiness can only be sought in tolerance.

The protagonist of the novel by Sara Mannheimer suffers because of losing her unborn baby and begins to study obsessively the works of philosophy and literature, seeking the lost meaning of life in a library. In the novel by Antoine Laurain, quiet life of the protagonist, an accountant, is changed radically when he takes a hat which President Mitterrand accidentally forgot in a restaurant. It will turn out that this hat does not only change his life but the life of every future owner. Two couples meet in a fancy restaurant to talk about the crime that was committed by their children which disturbs what was until then a peaceful life in the novel by Herman Koch.

In the novel by Sam Byers readers are introduced to three protagonists who are members of the same generation, dissatisfied with their lives and trying to restore the former friendship hoping that will bring about a change. Is their perception of personal happiness wrong, and does it reflect the wrong attitude about personal happiness of an entire generation?

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