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18/10/2011

Magazine Roundup

Neue Zürcher Zeitung 15.10.2011 (Switzerland)

Iraqi writer Najem Wali pens an article of support for Algerian writer Boualem Sansal, who has just been awarded the Peace Prize of the German Booktrade. In the Arab world, Wali explains, no one talks about Sansal because he has broken the "most sacrosanct taboo", by criticising the "glory of the Independence Movement: The connections between the Algerian revolutionaries and the German National Socialists remains taboo. Anyone who dares raise the issue must either be a Jewish sympathiser or be bending over backwards to win the Nobel Prize for literature - because according to the view upheld by Arab intellectuals, the Jews are pulling the strings of this institution. None of this is new, but it is new that an Arab author has immunised himself against this officious patriotic hypocrisy and dared to breach a subject no one dares to discuss." Read our feature "Cry for Life" on Algeria's youth by Boualem Sansal here.

Sansal's German translator Regina Keil-Sagawe also writes about the awarding of the prize to Sansal.


Elet es Irodalom 14.10.2011 (Hungary)

György Dörner, an actor known for his close ties to the far right Jobbik Party has been appointed by the mayor of Budapest, Istvan Tarlos, to be the head of the Uj Szinhaz theatre - although his concept for a nationalist Hatorszag-Szinhaz (Hinterland theatre) is dubious to say the least. The writer Peter Esterhazy is incensed: " I actually have nothing against my fellow citizens being nazis or neo-nazis, after all there is no country in Europe that doesn't have its share of such people, and we are part of Europe. And if they so wish (and if there is a demand for it) then they should work in the theatre. But the people who made this decision owe us an explanation as to why the state should endorse such a thing. If the radicals get into parliament, they should get everything that is legally their due: money, official cars, a party headquarters, whatever - but this does not mean we should welcome them with open arms. On the contrary: aversion is the least one could expect, it is a basic patriotic duty."


Magyar Narancs 06.10.2011 (Hungary)

In September, the Hungarian writer and Holocaust survivor Akos Kertesz wrote a desperate open letter (published in the left-leaning daily Amerikai Nepszava) about the state of his country in which he reviled the Hungarian people as "genetically inferior" (more here). A storm of outrage followed and the heated debate ended with the writer having his honorary citizenship to Budapest revoked. For the commentator György Vari this represents another squandered opportunity, because the words of Akos Kertesz, however unjust, testify above all to his bitter experience of not being accepted as a Jew by the Hungarian people. And all that is needed to put an end to this suffering Vari adds, is solidarity and empathy: "We Hungarians, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, whose Hungarian identity was taken for granted by virtue of having being born at a later date, are happier and stronger than Akos Kertesz (and indeed than the elderly, as well as the fearful and demoralised survivors who still live among us). It is up to us, therefore, to show how wrong he was, when he spoke about us [...] Of course we can also feel sorry for ourselves for weeks on end about the unfortunate choice of words by a bitter old man and after revoking his honorary citizenship, try to think up more stupid punishments for him. Or we can keep dragging out the case for years to come, to keep our frustrations in peak condition. It is possible to live in this sort of country, too."


La regle du jeu 14.10.2011 (France)

The five-week-long ode to meat continues in Bernard-Henri Levy's web magazine. This week's contributions include writer and critic Marc Lambron's homage to tartar, which waxes lyrical and strong: "Tartar is to meat what hard rock is to music. A raw force, stimulating, bordering on wild - and yet controlled. I would not say that that every time I plunge my fork into tartar that I'm listening to Led Zeppelin or AC/DC in my head, but this meat does have a musical colouration much like the riffs of Jimmy Page." The butcher Claude Bocquet also pens a declaration of love for his profession and filmmaker Gilles Hertzog adds a "Requiem for a Steak."

Further articles: The Moroccan-born psychologist Fouzia Liget explains, in the context of the efforts to free Rafah, the first psychoanalyst to practise in Syria, why psychoanalysis and Islam are in no way incompatible.


Le Monde 15.10.2011 (France)

Should colonialism be integrated into history or should history be rewritten completely in the "dark light" of colonialism - with France and the western nations shown as conquering nations which carried out crimes against humanity in the rest of the world?, asks the doyen of French historians, Pierra Nora. The second alternative is the one propounded by the anti-globalization camp on the left - and by historians keen to break with Eurocentrism. Nora reminds them that colonialism, particularly in France, was a discourse that came from the "left": "The left's retrospective identification with anti-colonialism is a fabricated cliche. To the contrary, the parties on the left were extremely late in converting to anti-colonialims, and this was because colonialisation was pushed forward in the name of revolutionary and Jacobin ideals."


Eurozine 07.10.2011 (Austria)

Ola Larsmo responds in Eurozine to Kenan Malik's article that draws parallels between the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik and the young Swede Taimour Abdulwahab, who blew himself up in the centre of Stockholm. But he thinks Malik overlooked one similarity: "The obvious link between the two is their hatred of modernity. They both express that their attacks against society aim to bring society back to an earlier undemocratic era. This is their goal. This is the same fear of modernity that we recognize from the Swedish nationalists who warned against democracy during the 1910s, '20s and '30s: democracy is a divisive force, it dissolves barriers and it brings the "wrong" kind of people into power. It allows the Other to enter the stage. Democracy is messy. It mixes things that should not be mixed. The opposite of democracy is purity."


Literaturen 17.10.2011 (Germany)

In the old days, when the poor still had dignity, there were also writers who would write about them, notes novelist Sibylle Lewitscharoff. Today only TV is interested in them. "To illuminate the hardships of the poor, which are entirely different of course in today's rich society than 19th century poverty, that would be an honourable task for literature. But what kind of literature could that be? The hard cement of realism, however, should not be indulged, with all its misanthropic hard and fast ideas. No, it would be much better if it allowed itself to be spurred on by bursts of energy, getting caught on a sense of possibility, so that the reader always has a strong sense of another life behind this one that is submerged and miserable."

There are also reviews of Lewitscharoff's novel "Blumenberg" (read English excerpt) and Eugen Ruge's novel "In Times of Fading Light" (English excerpt).


Highlights from the Anglophone press:

Toronto is going to the dogs because its people are so tight-fisted, The Walrus laments. The LRB profiles Putin's chief ideologue and grey cardinal, Vladislav Surkov, the 'Kremlin demiurge'. The Smithsonian delivers a reportage on the Egyptian Copts. Outlook India asks whether the superhuman can resuscitate the superstar Shahrukh Khan.The NYT portrays the Medicis of the Chicago Tribune. The Economist examines what the Arab spring means for the women in Egypt, Tunisia and Iraq.
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