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14/07/2009

Magazine Roundup

The Times Literary Supplement | Outlook India | Le Monde | The New Statesman | Al Ahram Weekly | Le point | Babelia | The Spectator | Plus - Minus | NZZ Folio | L'Espresso | The Economist


The Times Literary Supplement 09.07.2009 (UK)

Frederic Raphael was gripped by Claude Lanzmann's memoir "Le Lievre de Patagonie" (The Patagonian Hare) which is overflowing with lives and loves. "The creepiest moment in the whole narrative describes how, when [his sister] Evelyne was making her stage debut, Simone de Beauvoir and Lanzmann, now a contingent lover officially embraced by Sartre, went to see her in Sartre's play Huis Clos (locus of 'L'enfer, c'est les autres'). Lanzmann soon sensed that Sartre was preparing to play the devil's role. The more he praised Evelyne's performance, the more certain was Lanzmann that Sartre intended to set her up (in the usual flat in the rue Jacob) as his contingent lover: he and Le Castor would then each have their pet Lanzmann."

Outlook India 20.07.2009 (India)

India's star writer Vikram Seth, who has just received a two-million euro advance for the sequel to his book "A Suitable Boy", advises his fellow authors to drive a hard deal. "I think a lot depends on what your bargaining power is. I don't know how much bargaining power I would have had at the beginning. But even at the beginning one should read the contract and not be so grateful that you just roll over and accept whatever a publisher demands. Publishers are tough cookies."

Chander Suta Dogra is looking forward to the reopening of the 122-year-old Gaiety Theatre in Mumbai. Namrata Joshi is not amused by the blatantly sexist Bollywood comedy "Kambakkht Ishq"


Le Monde 09.07.2009 (France)

In Le Monde du Livres Jean Birnbaum reads a book (except in English) by American historian John Merriman about Europe's first terrorist, the anarchist Emile Henry who blew up a popular Parisian cafe in 1894. "Emile ordered a cigar and a beer. After paying the bill, he decided that the moment had come. His deed was a landmark in the history of political violence. For the first time an anarchist in Europe decided not to attack a state representative, but to kill an anonymous mass at random."


The New Statesman 13.07.2009 (UK)

Do we still need the monarchy asks the British New Statesman. Not anymore, concludes historian and former royalist sympathiser A.N. Wilson. "What would make Britain new? We urgently feel the need for renewal, for refreshment, after a period of bad government. Would it help to get rid of the monarch and reach forward with 'humanity' towards a political system in which anyone of great abtility a British Barack Obama or Nelson Mandela could provide us with the inspiring leadership we need? Or is our way to the golden age only to be found in our rootedness, our connection with the past? The cliche that the present Queen has 'never put a foot wrong' during her long reign points to the nature of our dilemma. As head of state she did nothing discernible to prevent the horrendous abuses perpetrated by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown over the past 12 years."


Al Ahram Weekly 09.07.2009 (Egypt)

Doaa El-Bey writes about the European reaction to the Marwa Al-Sherbini case:"'The attacker was a Russian immigrant. So this is yet another case of a
non-Western immigrant killing another non-Western immigrant. This means that none of us in the West are to blame for this, except that we should stop letting all those non-Westerners in as they are just too much trouble.' The reaction of an anonymous European citizen commenting on Euroislam website on the death of Marwa Al-Sherbini, killed in a German court in Dresden, is precisely the kind of opinion that led to her murder in the first place."

The Islamic world should follow the example of young Muslims in India, who are excelling against all odds, writes Aijaz Zaka Syed. "This year, more than 30,000 Muslim students from Hyderabad and surrounding districts in Andhra Pradesh made it past the 'Eamcet', the impossibly overwhelming entrance examination that the state conducts for admission to medical and engineering colleges. In fact, a Muslim student, a young Alauddin, from engineering topped the Eamcet to emerge as the first ranker. In another heart-warming example, a married Muslim girl has topped the 'Edcet' or entrance examination for education colleges. ... These are not isolated cases of individual or fluke success. A quiet revolution is taking place among India's Muslims, the largest religious minority and perhaps the biggest Muslim population anywhere in the world. Increasingly, Muslim students are not only putting in unusual and stellar performances and competing with the best of the best in realms where they rarely ventured before, but they are even outshining their peers."

Yahia Lababidi bids farewell to Michael Jackson; Walid Aouni mourns Pina Bausch.


Le point 09.07.2009 (France)

After the courtroom stabbing of Marwa Al-Sherbini in Dresden, which the media reported on so laggardly, it is interesting to read Bernard-Henri Levy's column in Le Point, which remembers another hate crime: the gruesome gang murder of the young Jewish man Ilan Halimi in a Parisian banlieue last year. "We must remember that France is a country in which a man just like Daniel Pearl in Karachi was held captive, transported from one place to another, starved and fed, killed little by little, tortured and transported again for an entire 24 days and with the tacit consent of an entire neighbourhood." Those involved in Ilan Halimi's murder were sentenced in court this week.


Babelia 14.07.2009 (Spain)

"Once upon a time there was revolution," Chilean writer Rafael Gumucio ponders the possibilities and challenges of the contemporary novel. "Until now the revolution was the secret hero of almost all South American novels. But how do you write about a sad revolution. What do you do when Chile is in the clutches of a neoliberal counter-revolution? How do you describe dictators in suits and ties, armies addicted to elections, Che Guevaras who deal in drugs, bank managers who in their youth robbed the banks they are now running? (...) The great works of the masters of Latin American literature boom are child's play by comparison. Those writers who believed that the world was developing in a particular direction could express their doubts about the role of the narrator, play with this. Today writers have only themselves to rely on. We are now faced with the challenge of writing about a change without revolution. In other words, no longer writing about things that terrify the North Americans and the Europeans, but about what no longer surprises us."


The Spectator 11.07.2009 (UK)

Andrew Gilligan made a name for himself as an investigative journalist for the BBC. Which is why Rod Liddle is so surprised that he has now taken a job with PressTV, a propaganda channel run by the Iranian government. For Liddle, this is symtomatic of the the moral decline of an entire profession, and he sees judgement day approaching. "It will be the journalists who next cop the brunt of public fury at what they see as a money-grubbing, amoral, privileged elite and quite right too, I suppose. Much though we may joke, our expenses are usually nothing to write home about, save for one or two magnificent exceptions. But the question of who we whore ourselves out to without asking too many questions 500 quid for a 500-word topless hand shandy? no problem, Ayatollah will, I think, begin to be asked."


Plus - Minus 11.07.2009 (Poland)

"For all the prophecies of doom which have pronounced the death of the Gutenberg era, it is still possible to have a career as a writer, even a shining one," Krzysztof Maslon writes in the magazine of the Polish Rzeczpospolita. At the same time, successful authors like Joanne K. Rowling, Stephen King or Ken Follet have become slaves of the market: publishers constantly demand new bestsellers, the media are hungry to write about them and the readers want to share in the lives of their stars. Sadly this status is reserved solely for English-speaking writers without overly high intellectual ambitions. In Poland the last writer to combine huge sales with literary recognition (Nobel prize) was Henryk Sienkiewicz! He was a truly modern writer, skilled at dealing with agents and the media, with translation and the political correctness of the times," Maslon explains.

Further articles: The conservative journalist Rafal A. Ziemkiewicz is deeply impressed by the writings, collected under the title of "Autobiography", by the dissident and political activist Jacek Kuron, who died five years ago. And Leszek Madzik visited an exhibition in Kielce of contemporary artists inspired by Bruno Schulz.


NZZ Folio 06.07.2009 (Switzerland)

Peter Haffner explains how the 62-year-old Californian Charles Moore happened across a new continent during a yacht race in 1999. The "Garbage Patch" is a floating island of plastic waste (youtube) in the Pacific that is bigger than Texas. "The ocean currents form what is known as the South Pacific Gyre, a gigantic whirlwind which rotates clockwise, collecting up all the plastic waste from the coasts of Japan and China and the Pacific coast of Mexico, North America and Canada. A plastic cup that falls into the ocean in San Francisco will be carried by the Californian current towards Mexico, where it meets the North Equatorial current which takes it to Asia, where it is sucked along by the Kuroshio and on Eastwards to the North Pacific current, which takes it past Hawaii and on to the Garbage Patch. It takes one year, Moore says, for plastic garbage from Asia to reache this waste disposal site, and two if it comes from America." But it's ultimate destination is to reunite with its maker. "What he saw is only the first stop in the journey of all this brightly coloured, shiny and so practical plastic. It then enters the stomachs of birds and fish and soon, no doubt, our own, in the form of nanoparticles of fish and seafood."

Other articles in this issue on "garbage": Reto U. Schneider explains how future generations of Americans will prevent radioactive waste from being dug up accidentally: using a 3km long rampart, 48 monoliths and comics hewn in stone. Thomas Shenk explains how recycling works. And Florian Leu introduces the astronomer Thomas Schildknecht who has spent the last decade cataloguing space junk.

When Luca Turin compares musical and perfume chords it sounds like this (article is in English): "When Egberto Gismonti and Mauro Senise play a fast tune called Loro on piano and flute in exact unison it sounds for all the world like a new instrument, a concert grand made of Baccarat crystal. Listen to 30 seconds of it on iTunes, and I am sure you'll agree that no computer would give the correct answer. Perfumery chords are no different: the classic bergamot-cistus-oakmoss of chypre is, once invented, as self-evident and capacious as perspective drawing. It's as if the citrus-sweet-bitter were orthogonal axes of an invisible space, and once you had made them appear into thin air you could then put in walls and floors, hang paintings, slide sofas, move in and have a party."


L'Espresso 10.07.2009 (Italy)

The focus of this week's Espresso is an endangered species: freedom of the press. Umberto Eco was also collared into writing something despite his reluctance to embark on so futile an undertaking. "The Italian problem is not Silvio Berlusconi. History and this has been the case since Catilina is teeming with adventurers who have not been lacking in charisma and who have not taken the state too seriously, preferring to focus on themselves. They were concerned only with their own power, for which they would walk over parliaments, courts, and constitutions, for which they would bestow favours on their minions and courtesans. Their pleasure was after all in the interest of the community. But these men were not always successful in their push for power, because society did not always permit it. But if society did allow it, why should we blame these men instead of the people who tolerated them? So what's the point of saying anything against Berlusconi and his tight hold on the press?"


The Economist 10.07.2009 (UK)

Hollywood is raking in a steady profit as the recession rumbles on. But the Wall Street money that used to pour in to finance the movie business has dried up. The message in Tinseltown is spend and risk less, the Ecomist reports. "There will be plenty of spectacular, big-budget summer action films and a steady supply of cheap comedies (at a big studio, a 'cheap' film is one that costs less than about 40m dollars to produce). What these films have in common, producer Kevin Misher points out, is that they promise a collective experience. People like to watch spectacular action films, comedies and horror films in groups and will abandon their televisions and mobile phones to do so. The inevitable losers in all this will be complex, well-made films that do not fit neatly in a single genre, such as 'Duplicity', a hybrid of comedy, drama and romance starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen."
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