literature
/lit"euhr euh cheuhr, -choor', li"treuh-/, n.
1. writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays.
2. the entire body of writings of a specific language, period, people, etc.: the literature of England.
3. the writings dealing with a particular subject: the literature of ornithology.
4. the profession of a writer or author.
5. literary work or production.
6. any kind of printed material, as circulars, leaflets, or handbills: literature describing company products.
7. Archaic. polite learning; literary culture; appreciation of letters and books.
[1375-1425; late ME litterature < L litteratura grammar. See LITERATE, -URE]
Syn. 1. LITERATURE, BELLES-LETTRES, LETTERS refer to artistic writings worthy of being remembered. In the broadest sense, LITERATURE includes any type of writings on any subject: the literature of medicine; usually, however, it means the body of artistic writings of a country or period that are characterized by beauty of expression and form and by universality of intellectual and emotional appeal: English literature of the 16th century. BELLES-LETTRES is a more specific term for writings of a light, elegant, or excessively refined character: His talent is not for scholarship but for belles-lettres. LETTERS (rare today outside of certain fixed phrases) refers to literature as a domain of study or creation: a man of letters.

* * *

(as used in expressions)
Anglo Saxon literature
children's literature

* * *

▪ 2009

Introduction

English

United Kingdom.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table.

      If one theme predominated in British literature in 2008, it was the experience of immigrants and the effects on their lives of globalization. Unsurprisingly, many novels bore witness to the U.K.'s changing demographics. The Road Home (2007) by Rose Tremain (winner of the 2008 Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction) tackled the recent wave of economic migrants from Poland. The novel's hero, Lev, a widower with a daughter and a mother to support, arrives in London hoping to find opportunities for economic advancement but soon finds himself sleeping on the streets. In depicting the British through the eyes of this likable character, Tremain intended to overcome prejudice. As Tremain said, “The moment we become engaged with an individual story, empathy arrives and our attitudes alter.” Chris Cleave's widely lauded second novel was inspired by his experience working at an Immigration Removal Centre in Oxfordshire. The Other Hand builds up to an account of a horrific encounter between the English O'Rourke family, a Nigerian teenager named Little Bee, and men with machetes on a beach in Nigeria. The novel opens after the central event, in an Essex detention centre, where Little Bee has spent two years as an asylum seeker after having escaped Nigeria on a tea ship. When she is accidentally released and contacts the O'Rourkes, disaster and turmoil ensue. James Urquhart in The Independent pronounced the novel to be “a timely challenge to reinvigorate our notions of civilized decency.” The book was short-listed for the 2008 Costa Novel Award.

      Three of the four novelists short-listed for the 2007 Costa First Novel Award were themselves immigrants. Nikita Lalwani brought her experiences of conflicting values and cultures to her novel Gifted (2007), about a young math prodigy torn between the ambitions held for her by her father, traditional Indian expectations for girls, and the pressures typically faced by British adolescents. Bangladesh-born Tahmima Anam's A Golden Age (2007) dealt with the effects of civil war in 1971 Pakistan on a woman and her family. Sri Lanka-born Roma Tearne's Mosquito (2007) was about a 44-year-old novelist returning to his native Sri Lanka after the death of his wife in London. The widower falls for a 17-year-old Singhalese girl, but their love is disrupted by civil war and its attendant bestiality, torture, suicide bombers, and despair. Tearne followed this with Bone China. Part Sri Lankan family saga, part migrant's tale, it carried themes of displacement, loss, and the tragedy of violence back home.

      Immigration enriched English literature in the realm of poetry as well. Daljit Nagra's debut collection, Look We Have Coming to Dover! (2007), was short-listed for several major awards and won the 2008 Arts Council England Decibel Award. In much of his poetry, Nagra employed Punglish, a form of English spoken by Punjabi-speaking Indians living in the U.K. The winner of the Forward Prize for Poetry, Mick Imlah, by contrast, borrowed more from the Victorian era than from Britain's new lexicons. The Lost Leader, his collection of portraits of iconic figures and events from Scottish history, was compared to the works of Browning for its “acuteness and variousness—and poetic resonance.”

      The U.K.'s enduring fascination with the Indian subcontinent was reflected in the choice of winner for the 2008 Man Booker Prize. Aravind Adiga's epistolary novel The White Tiger gives the reader a glimpse into the mind and life of a tea-shop boy turned entrepreneur. In contrast to the recent spate of colourful books on middle-class India, The White Tiger made little mention of saffron and saris. Nor did it grapple with familiar themes of colonialism. As Andrew Holgate pointed out in The Sunday Times, the provocative novel was an “unadorned portrait of the country as seen from the bottom of the heap,” showing poverty, corruption, and a merciless class system. Adiga, a first-time novelist, beat the seasoned Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh, whose Sea of Poppies was also short-listed. Meanwhile, Salman Rushdie's classic about pre- and postpartition India, Midnight's Children (1980), was voted the Best of the Booker as the award celebrated its 40th anniversary.

      The year 2008 was also one of attention-grabbing debuts. Ross Raisin astonished reviewers with his creation of a new fictional voice in God's Own Country. The novel's narrator, a teenage country misfit who becomes obsessed with a girl newly arrived from the city, elicited comparisons to the hero of J.D. Salinger's 1951 classic, The Catcher in the Rye. Equally talked about, but less successful, was Richard T. Kelly's state-of-the-nation novel Crusaders, about a cleric in Newcastle. Inspired by classic Russian writers, it received wide attention as an ambitious debut that ultimately failed. Reviewers noted that its 19th-century style and format were unsuitable for conveying the postmodern fragmentation suffered by its characters.

      Predictably enough, given the rehearsal of arguments for and against the Orange Prize in recent years, debate about the women-only literary award intensified. Novelist Tim Lott argued that the award bolstered sales of women's novels in a market that already favoured female writers. A.S. Byatt told the The Times (London) that it was sexist and that she forbade her publishers to submit her novels to the award for consideration. The academic John Sutherland claimed that it ghettoized women's literature. Organizers of the prize responded by emphasizing its international scope and usefulness in seeking out and promoting good literature.

      Strangely, the winner of the 2007 Costa Book of the Year award, A.L. Kennedy, was absent from the Orange Prize short list. The Scottish author's fifth novel, Day (2007), opens with the return of a Royal Air Force tailgunner to a German prisoner of war camp where he was interned in World War II. Only this time he is an extra in a war film. Using internal monologue and switching from first to second person, Kennedy explores both his troubled childhood and his decision to return to a fictional version of the war that has destroyed him. Like Kennedy's novel, Sadie Jones's The Outcast is set in the aftermath of World War II and features a young man damaged by an unloving father. Jones's well-received debut was short-listed for the Orange Prize. These were more successful examples of a prevalent trend in U.K. fiction, described by the chair of the Orange Prize as the “misery memoir” and typically featuring family secrets, child abuse, and psychosis.

      As in fiction, in the genres of history and biography, World War II remained an enduring theme. Nicholas Rankin released Churchill's Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914–1945, and Ben Macintyre's Agent Zigzag (2007), about Britain's “most extraordinary wartime double agent,” was short-listed for the 2007 Costa Biography Award. Less celebratory and certainly less colourful were the spate of books published to mark the 90th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. We Will Not Fight: The Untold Story of the First World War's Conscientious Objectors (2007) by Will Ellsworth-Jones gave a history of the abuse suffered by pacifists and the societal pressures that led many underage youths and unfit individuals to enlist. Brian MacArthur's For King and Country was an anthology of letters and diaries relating the stories of lives ruined by World War I. Michèle Barrett's Casualty Figures: How Five Men Survived the First World War (2007) similarly used original memoirs to relate the squalor of trenches, grotesque accounts of cadavers used as sandbags, and the unspeakable horror of witnessing mass slaughter.

      The winner of the 2007 Costa Biography Award was Simon Sebag Montefiore's exhaustively researched portrait of Young Stalin (2007). A strong contender for the award was Julie Kavanagh's Rudolf Nureyev (2007), based on 10 years of research. Kavanagh's study of the defected Russian dancer revealed, as one reviewer attested, “a man who danced like a god, but behaved like a violent, voracious beast.” A more likable subject was The Bloomsbury Ballerina: Lydia Lopokova, Imperial Dancer and Mrs John Maynard Keynes. In her biography of this earlier Russian dancer who enthralled the West, Judith Mackrell brings to life Lopokova's chilly reception among Bloomsbury intellectuals, her stint as a vaudevillian in the U.S., and her enigmatic and spirited form of ballet.

      On the more popular front, best-selling writer Ian Rankin, having wrapped up his hugely popular Rebus series about a Scottish detective, produced his first post-Rebus novel, Doors Open. This galloping art-heist novel enjoyed universal acclaim. Kate Atkinson, a former Whitbread Book of the Year winner, likewise delighted reviewers with her shift away from playful yet acerbic domestic sagas to crime writing. Her third crime novel, When Will There Be Good News?, was described in The Guardian as “funny, bracingly intelligent and delightfully prickly.” Writer Alexander McCall Smith, (McCall Smith, Alexander ) meanwhile, took a break from his well-known serial 44 Scotland Street to publish his first online interactive novel, Corduroy Mansion, set in a large house in London. Publishing in installments each weekday over 20 weeks, McCall Smith invited readers to send him feedback on his odd characters and how the plot might develop.

      With the global credit crunch, publishers rushed to bring out books on the financial market. One early offering was The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson, a Scottish professor at Harvard University. Ferguson charted the history of money from ancient times, but his account of the 2008 financial meltdown was marred by its hasty last-minute analysis. Meanwhile, The Gods That Failed: How Blind Faith in Markets Has Cost Us Our Future, by Larry Elliot and Dan Atkinson, blamed deregulation and the philosophies of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman for Britain's economic crisis. The financial crisis also gave rise to the publication of cookbooks aimed at the cash-strapped: U.K. cooking guru Delia Smith reissued her 1976 classic Delia's Frugal Food; Peter Higginbotham shocked food critics by declaring that The Workhouse Cookbook (a complete facsimile of the 1901 Manual of Workhouse Cookery) had topical relevance; and Fiona Beckett's timely contribution, The Frugal Cook, was voted one of the 10 best autumn cookbooks by The Independent.

      A recent trend of science books designed to answer little questions was superseded by another thriving genre: the great sweeping panorama, linking scientific phenomena to history and human activity. Science writers showed themselves masters of the art of scientific storytelling, bringing difficult concepts within the range of ordinary readers. This was very much in evidence in the 2008 short list for the Royal Society Prizes for Science Books. In Coral: A Pessimist in Paradise (2007), Steve Jones took the reader on a journey into the history of coral via subjects as diverse as naturalist Charles Darwin, painter Paul Gauguin in Tahiti, atomic bomb testing, and Roman poet Ovid. The judges of the award described the work as an “idiosyncratic discussion of how zoology, history and ecology meet.” Stuart Clark's short-listed book The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began (2007) told of Carrington's discovery that the Earth could be affected by influences in space after a vast solar storm in 1859 crashed telegraph systems and sent magnets reeling. His unfolding of Carrington's struggles with the scientific community showed the importance of personalities and life events in determining the course of scientific inquiry. One reviewer wrote, “The reader is left with the clear sense that science often advances in random, but very human, ways.” Ian Stewart, meanwhile, gave a dramatic account of the history of symmetry from ancient Babylon to the 21st century in Why Beauty Is Truth: The History of Symmetry (2007). The winner of the Royal Society's General Award was science writer Mark Lynas, who looked back to warmer periods in the Earth's history to predict what higher average temperatures might mean to human civilization in the future. Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet (2007) paints a grim picture of superstorms, vast conflagrations, crippling droughts, and millions upon millions of environmental refugees, but the judges felt that its overall message was one of “practical optimism toward the issues facing us.”

      The best of children's and teenage fiction confronted difficult issues in a way that did not patronize. The winner of the Carnegie Medal was likely to please 12-year-old boys with an appetite for gore, but it also dealt with issues of truth. Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve is a refashioning of the Arthurian legend, stripping it of its knights and Round Table and making its hero a brutish local tyrant who spends his time pillaging and stirring up boundary disputes. The reality of his thuggish character, however, is obscured by Myrddin, an old bard who uses storytelling and conjuring tricks to weave around Arthur the atmosphere of legend. The Guardian's Kathryn Hughes noted, “Particularly useful is the way that Reeve asks his young readers to think carefully about the way that stories harden into official narratives when enough people are prepared to believe them.” The winner of the 2008 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize was equally hard-hitting. The first in a trilogy for teenagers by Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go is set in a future dystopia known as Prentisstown where all the women are dead and everyone's thoughts can be heard in an uncensored cacophony, known as “the noise.” The fast-paced read pulled no punches, dealing with topical issues such as information overload and the attraction of violence. As Ness commented, “The thing a teenage audience will do for you is that if you don't insult their intelligence, they will often follow you to strange places.”

Carol Peaker

United States.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      In 2008, the year of the unending U.S. presidential primaries and then the unnerving stock market dive and the epoch-making election campaign, U.S. literature seemed to lurk in the shadows, except for those who loved it as much as life and political news.

      Some literary good news came in the form of Peter Matthiessen's huge novel Shadow Country, a one-volume reworking of a trilogy he published in the 1990s. Shadow Country took place in the early 20th century on the southern Florida frontier, in all of its watery, mythological, and intense psychological glory. The novel explored from multiple points of view the life and legend of frontier bad man/madman E.J. Watson, an Everglades farmer and outlaw; the character is large enough and dangerous enough to fill Matthiessen's nearly 900-page novel.

      Several other works were published by reigning American masters, including Philip Roth's raw college novel set in the period of the Korean War (the early 1950s), Indignation; Joyce Carol Oates's rendering of a recent American child murder case, My Sister, My Love; and Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison's tale of slavery in colonial America, A Mercy.

      Lifelong Pacific Northwest resident Ursula K. Le Guin looked back to the legend of the founding of Rome for the materials of Lavinia, her critically well-received new novel. The wife of Aeneas tells the story: “I remember Aeneas' words as I remember the poet's words. I remember every word because they are the fabric of my life, the warp I am woven on.”

      History played a role in a number of other admirable novels. Expatriate writer Jerome Charyn went back to American colonial times for his raucous story of soldiers, spies, and bawds in Johnny One-Eye, a pitch-perfect rendering of the Revolutionary War period. Nicholas Delbanco chose New England and Europe for his setting of a story from the same period in The Count of Concord, a novel about Benjamin Thompson, the brilliant American Tory whose scientific discoveries were largely unsung. In The Plague of Doves, Louise Erdrich took up the matter of a social atrocity out of the early history of the upper Midwest. In To Catch the Lightning, Alan Cheuse offered a fictive version of the life of Edward S. Curtis, Pacific Northwest photographer of the American Indian.

      Adultery lies at the romantic centre of Russell Banks's beautifully made novel The Reserve, which was set in the 1930s and etched in a stylized fashion that recalled the best of F. Scott Fitzgerald. In her whimsical second novel, The Invention of Everything Else, Samantha Hunt chose a friendship between a New York City hotel maid in the 1940s and Nikola Tesla, the eccentric genius of an inventor. An adulterous affair in the middle of a presidential primary campaign trips up one of the major characters in Ethan Canin's engaging novel America, America, which was published on the cusp of the general election. John Edgar Wideman brought out Fanon, an experimental novel about one of the founders of the postcolonial perspective. In his short novel Peace, Richard Bausch beautifully carved out a resonant moment on the U.S. front in Italy during World War II.

      Part of the present time is the raucous, ribald charm of The English Major, Jim Harrison's new novel about a 60-something Midwesterner, a schoolteacher turned farmer who, after his marriage crumbles, sets out on the road ready for any adventures that come his way. Also closer to home was Charles Baxter's novel The Soul Thief, which dealt with questions of family and identity. Joseph Olshan, in The Conversion, which was set among gay American expatriates in Europe, added the question of art and aesthetics to the mix. Paul Auster, in Man in the Dark, played with questions of illusion and reality in a brooding surmise of a contemporary American's life during the period of the Iraq War. Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire, poet and essayist David Mura's first novel, took up the question of family life under the shadow of the internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II.

      Novelist and futurist James Howard Kunstler published World Made by Hand, a subtle, low-key, and enormously persuasive portrait of an early 21st-century United States that suffers a series of terrorist attacks and the cutoff of foreign oil. Three of the country's most entertaining novelists—Stephen King, John Grisham, and Christopher Buckley—published, respectively, Duma Key, The Appeal, and Supreme Courtship.

      The distinguished Library of America added another Philip Roth volume to its series—Roth was the first living writer in the series—and brought out huge compilations of the work of William Maxwell (including a number of full-dress novels, story collections, and the luminous short novel about a Midwestern murder So Long, See You Tomorrow) and Katherine Anne Porter (represented by 500 pages of her short fiction and another 500 pages of essays and reviews).

      American short-story writers helped to make 2008 a fine year. Lost in Uttar Pradesh, Evan S. Connell's new and selected stories, led the pack in depth of vision and exquisite prose. Tobias Wolff published Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories; Joyce Carol Oates came out with Wild Nights!, her fictionalized versions of the last days of a number of American writers from Edgar Allan Poe to Ernest Hemingway. The highly regarded short-story writer Jhumpa Lahiri signed in with Unaccustomed Earth, a set of beautifully developed long stories about South Asians in the United States.

      Jay Parini tried to address the general neglect of poetry in Why Poetry Matters, as did publisher Robert Giroux and poet and music critic Lloyd Schwartz by editing the Library of America volume of Elizabeth Bishop's Poems, Prose, and Letters. Former poet laureate Charles Simic added That Little Something to his shelf of volumes. Frank Bidart stepped away from narrative poems to a more lyric tone in Watching the Spring Festival. Campbell McGrath offered Seven Notebooks: “Then the imagination withdraws, drifts across the table to investigate the glass flowers rolled in cloth tape. / It hovers, probes the petals, some like galaxies, some like figs or seashells. Dutiful and penitent, / it shimmers back across the gulf of air, without a metaphor, to doze away the afternoon.”

      Jane Shore got playful in a serious way—or was it the reverse?—in A Yes-or-No Answer: “Have you read The Story of O? Will Buffalo sink under all that snow? / Do you double-dip your Oreo?/ Please answer the question yes or no. / The surgery—was it touch and go? / Does a corpse's hair continue to grow? / Remember when we were simpatico? / Answer my question: yes or no.” Marie Howe employed plain speech in The Kingdom of Ordinary Time. Thomas Lux now and then went for the humorous in God Particles; for example, in “Eyes Scooped Out and Replaced by Hot Coals,” he wrote: “the eyes shall be gouged out / and replaced by hot coals / in the head, the blockhead, / of each citizen who, / upon reaching his/her majority, / has yet to read / Moby-Dick, by Mr. Herman Melville (1819–1891), American novelist / and poet.” In Dear Darkness, Kevin Young showed off a similar slyness of tone and attentiveness to the vernacular: “I love you like barbecue /You leave nothing on the bone / I love you like barbecue / Leave me nothing but bone / You make me go hogwild honey / Make me want to hurry home.”

      Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon published Maps and Legends, a collection of offbeat essays that ranged through themes of writing and reading. James D. Houston collected his essays about life in California in Where Light Takes Its Color from the Sea. David Shields came in with The Thing About Life Is that One Day You'll Be Dead, and Terry Tempest Williams offered Finding Beauty in a Broken World. Dreaming Up America showed off Russell Banks's estimation of the history of the American imagination. In The Writer as Migrant prizewinning novelist Ha Jin took up the question of literary exile and the displaced writer's relation to narrative language.

      This year saw the posthumous publication of William Styron's engaging personal essays under the title Havanas in Camelot. Ian Frazier came out with Lamentations of the Father; William T. Vollmann published Riding Toward Everywhere; and essayist Barbara Hurd was represented by Walking the Wrack Line. Jay Parini edited The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal. Novelist Larry Woiwode addressed his poignant and informative memoir, A Step from Death, to his only son, Joseph: “So, dear son, where to begin? … Let me step back as far as I can and say that what I remember most about my beginnings, besides the voice of my mother striding down through layers of dark to where I lay under the wonder of the onrush of sleep, is how I felt set apart.”

      The biographical year began with the late 2007 publication of Alfred Kazin: A Biography by Richard M. Cook. One of the most highly regarded literary critical works of the year was poet Stanley Plumly's Posthumous Keats. Adam Kirsch signed in with useful essays in The Modern Element: Essays on Contemporary Poetry, and among a number of interesting literary biographies were works by novelists Lily Tuck and Edmund White, who wrote on Elsa Morante and Rimbaud, respectively, in Woman of Rome and Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel. The Selected Letters of Thornton Wilder, edited by Robin G. Wilder and Jackson R. Bryer, arrived in the second half of the year.

       Wallace Stegner and the American West by Philip L. Fradkin showed off a highly regarded late 20th-century writer in a broad context. Historian David Levering Lewis delivered God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570 to 1215. Novelist Les Standiford deployed his narrative skills in Washington Burning.

      In 2008 Kay Ryan (Ryan, Kay ) was named the U.S. poet laureate. Junot Díaz won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007); in poetry Robert Hass was a co-winner for Time and Materials (2007) with Philip Schultz (for Failure, 2007); and Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father (2007) by John Matteson took the biography category. The PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction went to Kate Christensen for her novel The Great Man (2007). Matthiessen's Shadow Country won the National Book Award for fiction; the nonfiction prize went to Annette Gordon-Reed for The Hemingses of Monticello; and Mark Doty won in poetry for Fire to Fire.

      Prominent literary figures who died in 2008 included writers Studs Terkel (Terkel, Studs ), Oakley M. Hall (Hall, Oakley Maxwell ), William F. Buckley, Jr. (Buckley, William Frank, Jr. ), Michael Crichton (Crichton, (John) Michael ), Paula Gunn Allen (Allen, Paula Gunn ), James Crumley (Crumley, James ), Tony Hillerman (Hillerman, Tony ), David Foster Wallace (Wallace, David Foster ), Donald Westlake (Westlake, Donald Edwin ), and William Wharton (Wharton, William ); critic John Leonard (Leonard, John ); and publisher Robert Giroux (Giroux, Robert ). Among the other losses to American letters were those of S.J. Hamrick (who wrote as W.T. Tyler), George Garrett, Arturo Vivante, Helen Yglesias, and esteemed magazine editor Raymond J. Smith.

Alan Cheuse

Canada.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      Estrangement was a common theme of Canadian novelists in 2008. Rawi Hage's Cockroach portrayed society's outcasts as they endure the indignities of immigrant life; similar experiences were depicted by Austin Clarke in More, a tale of an immigrant woman who mourns her alienation from her gangster son. In Rivka Galchen's Atmospheric Disturbances, a character's disturbed mind ponders its condition with a skewed sense of humour. Canadian cowboy volunteers in the South African Boer War find that reality shatters their illusions in Fred Stenson's The Great Karoo. The aboriginal experience formed the backdrop both to Joseph Boyden's Giller Prize-winning Through Black Spruce and to David Bergen's The Retreat, a complicated tale of relations between and among white women and aboriginal men.

      Strange families provided material for many novelists. In Marina Endicott's Good to a Fault, a single woman takes in a homeless family, and they live together in a mélange plagued by guilt, gratitude, love, rage, and too much self-analysis. A family of a different sort, a woman and her niece and nephew, take to the road in search of the children's father in The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews. Even more troubled families predominated in Mary Swan's The Boys in the Trees, in which a man's murders of his wife and children threaten the secrets of other “ordinary” people, and in poet Patrick Lane's first novel, Red Dog, Red Dog, which chronicled the unfulfilled lives of a dysfunctional family in a dysfunctional community. In Neil Bissoondath's The Soul of All Great Designs, two families rise up in equal and opposite alarm when their children begin dating.

      The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway was based on the true story of the brave man who played his cello in the public square every day. A young man haunted by an extraordinary experience in the Galapagos Islands was the protagonist of Nino Ricci's The Origin of Species. Helen Humphrey's sixth novel, Coventry, traced the difficult search for one's bearings in a world at war. Daccia Bloomfield's Dora Borealis delved below the surface of Toronto's insular art scene to reveal what it means to be pursued by a dream. In Paul Quarrington's semicomic, semiautobiographical novel The Ravine, a writer squanders his talents through drink and knavery, yet he somehow survives to write the tale; and four disparate people in an assisted-living retirement home in Joan Barfoot's Exit Lines face the question of whether to support the suicide of one of them.

      Short stories ranged widely. Kunal Basu's collection The Japanese Wife wandered from student demonstrations in China's Tiananmen Square to funeral rites on the Ganges; The Cult of Quick Repair was Dede Crane's artful denial of the quick fix in stories of flagrant sinners and their seedy fates; and Sarah Steinberg's We Could Be like That Couple was peopled with characters who perpetually look elsewhere than their own lives for fulfillment. Anthony De Sa's Barnacle Love captured the immigrant experience through linked stories about a father and his son; in contrast, Pasha Malla took a different tack with a bizarre interplay of styles, voices, vices, and taboos in The Withdrawal Method. In Rohinton Mistry's story The Scream—issued by itself in a special illustrated edition—a dying man, who is confined to a Mumbai (Bombay) apartment, rails against the ending of his life.

      Poetry addressed a variety of situations. Barbara Pelman's Borrowed Rooms was about the temporary personas people try on to suit their circumstances; Daphne Marlatt's The Given was the story of a woman imprisoned in 1950s housewifery; and The Dream World by Alison Pick described the sojourn of an outsider “come-from-away” in backcountry Newfoundland. Don McKay's The Muskwa Assemblage juxtaposed poetry and prose to describe a wilderness trip in the Muskwa-Kechika region of British Columbia; A.F. Moritz's The Sentinel watched the planet's goings-on and reported in detached tones on the convolutions and risks of being fully human; and Sachiko Murakami's The Invisibility Exhibit tackled the resounding silences that have swallowed up Vancouver's “missing women.”

      A number of works were written in a lighter vein. These included Robert Priest's Reading the Bible Backwards, an innovative reverse engineering of the Bible and other cultural narratives; Weyman Chan's Noise from the Laundry, a breathtaking romp of wit, wisdom, and linguistic acrobatics; and Karen Houle's During, which marked the flux of events through disjointed abstract syntax and vocabulary, at once lyrical and cerebral.

Elizabeth Rhett Woods

Other Literature in English.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      The prodigious and diverse output of new books in 2008 from sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, and New Zealand was highlighted by outstanding literary works from both established and emerging authors. In Africa writers from Nigeria and South Africa dominated in offering critically acclaimed and commercially successful new releases. Veteran Nigerian novelist Chukwuemeka Ike joined a distinguished pantheon of other African writers to receive the prestigious Fonlon-Nichols Award. Nigeria also celebrated—with much of the rest of the world—the 50th anniversary of the first publication of favourite son Chinua Achebe's classic work Things Fall Apart (1958), the best-selling novel of all time by an African.

      Nigerian Sade Adeniran drew praise as the recipient of the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize (CWP) for best first book (African region) for her novel Imagine This (2007), a story based on the journal of Lola Ogunwole, which chronicled her life from age nine to adulthood. The CWP for best book (Africa region) went to another Nigerian woman, Karen King-Aribisala, for The Hangman's Game (2007).

       South African readers welcomed the release of two works by internationally renowned authors who wrote in both Afrikaans and English: Other Lives, a novel divided into three interrelated parts, by fiction writer, essayist, and university professor André Brink; and A Veil of Footsteps (Memoir of a Nomadic Fictional Character) by author, painter, and activist Breyten Breytenbach. Athol Fugard, arguably South Africa's finest living playwright, produced Coming Home, which was scheduled to have its world stage premiere in early 2009. The Caine Prize, awarded annually for the best short story in English by an African writer, went to South Africa's Henrietta Rose-Innes for her short story “Poison” (published in the collection Africa Pens, 2007).

       New Zealand honoured some of its finest writers with the annual Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Among the recipients were Opportunity (2007) by Charlotte Grimshaw, for fiction; Cold Snack (2007) by Janet Charman, for poetry; and The Blue (2007) by Mary McCallum, in the categories of best first book and readers' choice. Maori literature received much-deserved promotion in the West when Patricia Grace was named the latest winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature.

       Australians hailed the publication of Peter Carey's new novel, His Illegal Self. Also of note was worldwide best-selling author and prolific novelist Colleen McCullough's latest work, The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet, a novel inspired by Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Elsewhere, Steven Carroll won the coveted Miles Franklin Award as well as the CWP (best book, South East Asia and South Pacific region) for his novel The Time We Have Taken (2007), and The Anatomy of Wings (2007) by Australian Karen Foxlee won in the CWP category of best first book from the region. Tim Winton, brought out his ninth novel to date, Breath, which, like so much of his fiction, drew heavily from landscape and place, especially coastal Western Australia. Sydney-born author and first-time novelist Steve Toltz demonstrated great promise and delighted readers and critics alike with A Fraction of the Whole, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

David Draper Clark

German
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      At the beginning of the 2008 Frankfurt Book Fair, 40-year-old author Uwe Tellkamp won the German Book Prize for his novel Der Turm, an exploration of life in Dresden in the years leading up to the East German revolution of 1989. Four years earlier Tellkamp had won the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize for the best emerging author in the German language on the basis of the same novel, which was at the time still a work in progress. Since then Tellkamp's novel had been eagerly awaited, and it appeared to widespread critical acclaim. Tellkamp himself—somewhat like his protagonist, Christian Hoffmann—had grown up in Dresden as a doctor's son with literary ambitions, served in the East German National People's Army, and actually spent a short time in jail in the fall of 1989 because as a soldier he refused to go into action against East German protesters. His novel was set among the educated bourgeoisie in socialist East Germany, a class that largely separated itself from socialist politics and sought to create relatively independent niches for itself; one of those niches in the novel was the “tower” society from which the novel got its name. The notion came from one of the first German bildungsromans, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre. Whether the kind of literary education and elitism represented by the tower society would be able to survive the collapse of the social and political system it opposed was one of the novel's major themes.

      Another celebrated young author of the former East Germany, Ingo Schulze, also published a novel about the collapse of the former Eastern bloc: Adam und Evelyn. Adam is an East German tailor who often becomes erotically involved with his female clients; for this reason his girlfriend Evelyn decides to travel to Hungary without him. Adam follows her there and, because Hungary then opens its borders to the West, ultimately winds up with Evelyn in Munich. The novel alludes to the biblical story of Adam and Eve and their banishment from paradise, with the implication that the fall of the Berlin Wall ultimately banished the citizens of the East German state from a not-so-paradisiacal protective cocoon.

      In Turkish-born Feridun Zaimoglu's novel Liebesbrand, the protagonist, Richard, has a car accident in Turkey and is saved by a young German woman. He falls in love with her, but she quickly disappears from his life. Zaimoglu used his novel to explore the potential (or lack of potential) for real love in contemporary society. Similar concerns appeared in Iris Hanika's Treffen sich zwei, in which two lonely people suddenly find each other; but how long their love will last remains an open question.

      Sherko Fatah's Das dunkle Schiff was the story of a young man born in Iraq who becomes involved with a group of violent jihadists but manages to find refuge in Germany; his past, however, follows him to his new home. Another novel about contemporary politics was Swiss author Lukas Bärfuss's Hundert Tage, the story of a Swiss worker employed by a nongovernmental organization who is hiding out in Rwanda in 1994, during the genocide against the Rwandan Tutsis. Dietmar Dath's novel Die Abschaffung der Arten dealt with the potential for ecological catastrophe in the contemporary world. It was set in an uncertain future in which human beings no longer rule the world and animals have taken control, and its protagonist is a lion.

      A number of important works by older authors were issued in 2008. Günter Grass published Die Box: Dunkelkammergeschichten, the second volume of his autobiography, which had begun in 2006 with the controversial Beim Häuten der Zwiebel, in which Grass revealed the fact that as a young man during World War II, he had briefly been a member of the Waffen-SS. The second volume of Grass's autobiography, which centred on Grass's family and his literary works, proved much less controversial. The 82-year-old Siegfried Lenz, meanwhile, published Schweigeminute, a novel about a love affair between a female high school teacher and a male student. Martin Walser's novel Ein liebender Mann also featured age differences, but in this case the older person was Goethe, who at age 73 fell in love with and proposed marriage to a 19-year-old woman named Ulrike von Levetzow. Unsurprisingly, both in Walser's novel and in reality, Goethe did not marry the young woman; fortunately for posterity, out of his disappointment came the “Marienbader Elegie,” one of Goethe's most personal and most moving poems. Walser's novel revealed how personal disappointments could result in literary triumphs.

Stephen Brockmann

French

France.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      The most important literary event of 2008 in France was the awarding of the Nobel Prize for Literature to J.-M.G. Le Clézio, one of the country's leading writers. (See Nobel Prizes .) During his 45-year career, Le Clézio's work spanned many phases; early novels were dryly experimental, but later works incorporated luxuriant exoticism, an ecology-based confrontation of Western society, and, more recently, family stories inscribed in the history of Europe and of his own Mauritius. In Ritournelle de la faim, Le Clézio told of his mother's coming of age before and during World War II; her bourgeois, fascist-leaning family loses everything when France is occupied. They flee the Nazis, arriving in Nice, where his mother sheds her last childish illusions as she discovers the truth of hunger.

      This blending of autobiography with historical fiction, known in France as autofiction, was by far the year's most prevalent trend. In Jeudi saint Jean-Marie Borzeix was his own main character. While researching a Nazi massacre in his native village, he stumbles upon the existence of a previously unknown Jewish victim, and he launches a frenetic search to discover that person's identity.

      In his Impératif catégorique, Jacques Roubaud attempted to revive fading memories of his military service in the Algerian war of independence, which he protested through a hunger strike. He also told, through the haze of memory, of his brother's suicide and of his own beginnings in Parisian literary circles. In her autofiction Cafés de la mémoire, Chantal Thomas described her literary origins as a member of the post-Sartre generation through memories of the countless cafés she frequented, seeking freedom in the 1960s and '70s under the influence of Simone de Beauvoir and Roland Barthes. Whereas Thomas described an upward climb, Christine Jordis, in her autofiction Un Lien étroit, plotted a bleak descent: her unhappy childhood—during which she was abandoned by her father and left with her miserable mother—her failed marriage, and her present-day loneliness.

      Loneliness was also a major theme of the year's fictional works. Catherine Cusset's Un Brillant Avenir portrayed the slow crumbling of promise in one woman's life as she passes from orphaned child whose future seems boundless to her adoptive parents, to girl in love, to activist wife, to petty mother-in-law, and finally to sad woman on the verge of widowhood.

      Christian Oster treated the theme of loneliness from the male perspective in Trois hommes seuls, in which a man must visit his ex-wife in Corsica but is loath to go alone. Having no friends, he asks two acquaintances to accompany him on the ride. Because they barely know each other, the three men stumble awkwardly upon all the wrong questions to reveal the deeply fearful solitude of their existence.

      Another important theme of the year's literature was human duality. In Boutès, Pascal Quignard approached the question of human duality from his favourite perspective, music. He set two mythological figures as fundamental oppositions of the psyche: Orpheus, whose music is rational, social, ordered, and paternal, against Butes (the Argonaut who dived headfirst and almost drowned trying to reach the Sirens), who represents an ecstatic, solitary, and destructive longing for return to the sound-filled oneness of the maternal womb.

      In Le Rêve de Machiavel, Christophe Bataille explored the same duality in a historical setting: in 1527 Machiavelli flees a Florence ravaged by plague and arrives at the seemingly safe haven of a village that has not been touched by disease. Soon after, however, the plague strikes the village, and the rational scholar watches as the intellectual advances of his beloved Renaissance are swept away in the return of terrified irrationality, witch hunts, and religious insanity in the face of death.

      In Ce que le jour doit à la nuit Yasmina Khadra described human duality in the more recent setting of colonial Algeria. There an Islamic Algerian boy has been adopted into the Christian culture of the French colonizers. Treated with love and kindness, he finds beauty in a people most of his countrymen regard as oppressors, but at the same time, fights to retain his father's culture as his privileged comfort among the colonizers contrasts with the misery of his native people.

      The 2008 Prix Femina went to the best seller Où on va, papa?, in which Jean-Louis Fournier wrote with brutal humour and heartbreaking honesty about his two mentally disabled sons; he expresses his embarrassment and disappointment that they will never read, but reiterates throughout his undying love for them. The Prix Médicis was awarded to the long and complicated Là où les tigres sont chez eux, in which Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès intertwined many stories and voices—of characters ranging from a 17th-century Jesuit to a modern-day reporter and his cocaine-snorting daughter—to create a fresco of Brazil that spanned the centuries. The Prix Renaudot went to Guinea-born Tierno Monénembo's historical fiction Le Roi de Kahel, the story of a 19th-century French adventurer's attempt to carve out a kingdom for himself in what is now Guinea. Afghan-born Atiq Rahimi won the Prix Goncourt for Syngué sabour, in which an Afghan woman is nursing her comatose, vegetative mujahideen husband; she sits at his bedside, pouring out her frustration at her marital, social, and religious oppression, and in her husband's silence, she finally finds her voice.

Vincent Aurora

Canada.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table. (World Literary Prizes 2008)

      The biggest news on the literary scene during the year was not the work of one author but that of a group: the writers and artists who were able to make culture a page-one story during the Canadian federal election. Government cultural funding rarely emerged as an issue, but they brought it to the fore and kept the ruling Conservative Party from winning a majority by depriving it of seats in French Canada, where such issues were tied in with issues of identity.

      On the purely literary front, Jacques Poulin picked up the Prix Gilles-Corbeil, given for his entire body of work. True to form, the very reserved Poulin did not appear in person. Other veterans triumphed during the year: Marie-Claire Blais won her fourth Governor General's Literary Award, this time for her novel Naissance de Rebecca à l'ère des tourments. Francine Noël returned with J'ai l'angoisse légère, giving the characters from her past novels a new life. Popular writer Monique Proulx was short-listed for several prizes but came up empty. Her novel Champagne, however, about a group of characters living on a Laurentian lake, was a success among readers. Attendees of Montreal's Salon du Livre gave the nod to Michel Tremblay's La Traversée du continent as their favourite book. The prolific Tremblay had been turning out a new book every year.

      There was some room for younger writers as well. Pierre Samson won the Prix des Collégiens for his novel Catastrophes (2007). Catherine Mavrikakis won the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal for Le Ciel de Bay City, a story of death and anxiety. And authors such as Éric Dupont continued to build their careers, despite the domination of the older generation; his novel Bestiaire attracted critical praise.

      Senior writer Bruno Roy reached back to 1968 to recall Quebec's more turbulent years with L'Osstidcho; ou, le désordre libérateur, an essay about rock music and politics. On the other end of the age spectrum, Lino finished his graphic novel trilogy with La Chambre de l'oubli, an urban dystopia. In an example of solidarity, the writing community awarded Roger Des Roches the Prix Chasse-Spleen for his book of poems Dixhuitjuilletdeuxmillequatre, a work other writers considered worthy of attention.

David Homel

Italian
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      The literary event of the year was the surprising success of Paolo Giordano's La solitudine dei numeri primi, winner both of the Campiello Prize for a first novel and of the Strega Prize. The protagonists of the story were compared to a prime pair—prime numbers that are separated by only one even number—near each other yet always apart. The author was a 26-year-old researcher in the field of theoretical physics, and his arrival on the Italian literary scene brought a welcome new perspective. The novel was especially remarkable for its description of the complex thought processes of its male protagonist: a mathematician, scarred by a traumatic childhood experience, whose difficulty in dealing with human relationships bordered on the pathological.

      Michele, the protagonist of Francesca Sanvitale's L'inizio è in autunno, winner of the Viareggio-Rèpaci Prize for fiction, has difficulty cultivating meaningful attachments until he meets a Japanese art restorer. Michele—who is a psychiatrist—is drawn to the mystery that surrounds the man and begins to discern hidden analogies between their life choices and the crucial scene in Honoré de Balzac's short story Adieu (1830), in which Stéphanie cries out her farewell before descending into madness. The novel was inspired by the restoration of the Sistine Chapel and reflected the amazement visitors felt at the sight of the original brilliance of Michelangelo's frescoes, newly delivered to the public after centuries of dust and alterations. The central scene of the novel depicts Michele as he is lost in the contemplation of the artwork but also afraid to direct his glance toward Christ's head, the detail that could unveil the mystery of his Japanese friend.

      Un cappello pieno di ciliege, Oriana Fallaci's posthumous work, was preceded by an intense publicity campaign and met with predictable success. Fallaci (1929–2006), an international journalist and best-selling author who spurred controversy for her public contempt of Islam following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, returned to personal history in the epic saga of her family from 1773 to 1889. Maria Rosa Cutrufelli's novel D'amore e d'odio also proposed a long chronological span, from 1917 to 1999, but adopted a different narrative strategy. Each chapter (or “time,” as Cutrufelli called them) bears a date and the name of a woman who tells her story to an interlocutor whose reactions, objections, and emotional participation are not transcribed and therefore can only be imagined. The seven “times” of the novel take readers through different epochs and geographic locations to end five minutes before the advent of the 3rd millennium. Delina, the Italo-Albanian protagonist of the final segment, is a photographer who has just witnessed the plight of clandestine immigrants and found it strikingly similar to her childhood memories.

      La città dei ragazzi is the name of a community that was founded in Rome at the end of World War II and that brings together displaced children from all over the world. It was also the title of Eraldo Affinati's book about his experiences as a teacher in that community. The author's journey to Morocco with two of his students leads to an interrogation on his role as a teacher and on the meaning of being a father.

      Elvira Seminara's L'indecenza focused on the havoc caused by the arrival of a Ukrainian caretaker in the life of a Sicilian couple. The presence of the young foreigner brings to the fore the contradictions in the couple's ostensibly flawless daily routine and a secret tragedy in their life. This novel was one of the first to reflect on a new phenomenon in Italian culture—i.e., the advent of the badante, the often young and almost inevitably foreign and female caretaker who is charged with attending to the needs of the old and the sick. In her portrayal of Ludmila, the Ukrainian badante of her novel, Seminara masterfully explored the uncanny combination of distance and intimacy that the role entails.

      The enduring success of Roberto Saviano's Gomorra (2006), which forced the young author to live in hiding and under police protection, inspired several books on the city of Naples, such as Francesco Durante's Scuorno and Andrej Longo's Dieci (2007). The 10 stories in Longo's collection were a paradoxical reflection on the Ten Commandments, which are systematically perverted under the dire social conditions depicted by the author.

      Several important writers died in 2008, including Mario Rigoni Stern, whose memoir Il sergente nella neve (1953) was a celebrated representation of Italian soldiers' life and death on the Russian front during World War II, and Fabrizia Ramondino, author of Althénopis (1981), an elegant novel in which the complexity of Naples mirrors an intricate mother-daughter relationship. The same Mediterranean Sea that played such a prominent role in Ramondino's work was also responsible for her death: she drowned just before her last novel, La via, appeared in bookstores.

Laura Benedetti

Spanish

Spain.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      Chaos, fear, and secrecy were characteristic themes in the novels published in Spain in 2008. As a follow-up to the enormous success of his novel La sombra del viento (2001), Carlos Ruiz Zafón came out with the best-selling El juego del ángel, a narrative of intrigue, romance, and tragedy woven through a labyrinth of secrets in which the spell of books, passion, and friendship combined to create an amazing story. In the tragicomic Instrucciones para salvar el mundo, Rosa Montero reflected on senselessness and hope.

      Ray Loriga's Ya sólo habla de amor addressed the failure of love and the mental subterfuges people use to overcome it. In El país del miedo, Isaac Rosa explored the origin of a generalized fear that prompts people to accept abusive forms of protection and to make defensive responses that paradoxically create more vulnerability.

      A mixture of historical novel, detective novel, hagiography, and parody, El asombroso viaje de Pomponio Flato by Eduardo Mendoza was both his most unusual and one of his funniest books. El día de hoy by Alejandro Gándara was about the eternal struggle against luck and destiny, about the lies that structure experience and the memories that are forgotten. The novel was a unique view of a city as a biography, narrated as a walk that encounters corners, lies, escapes, and opportunities.

      Spain's richest literary prize, the Planeta Prize, was awarded to La hermandad de la buena suerte, a detective novel by writer and philosopher Fernando Savater. The book told the story of a rich man who hires mercenaries to look for someone who has disappeared. In Savater's words, “It's an adventure novel with a touch of the metaphysical.” The most renowned Spanish-language literary prize, the Cervantes Prize, was awarded to novelist Juan Marsé.

       Juan José Millás won the 2008 National Prize for Narrative with El mundo (2007), which had also been awarded the 2007 Planeta Prize; the novel related the childhood memories of a boy in what was essentially a literary psychoanalysis. The Primavera Prize went to Nudo de sangre by Agustín Sánchez Vidal, a historical novel that takes place in colonial Peru between the 16th and the 18th century. The book described the search for Inca emperor Atahualpa's treasure and for the lost city of Vilcabamba after the Jesuits were expelled from Spain. The unwanted Jesuits appeared also in Francisco Casavella's Lo que sé de los vampiros, which was awarded the Nadal Prize. In the novel an aristocratic young man named Martín de Viloalle travels around Europe with the exiled Jesuits, making a living with his drawings. The Alfaguara Prize was awarded to Cuban writer Antonio Orlando Rodríguez for his novel Chiquita. A loss to Spanish letters was the death in January of esteemed poet Ángel González (Gonzalez, Angel ).

Verónica Esteban

Latin America.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

       Detective novels were popular in 2008. Mexican writer Élmer Mendoza presented Balas de plata, which featured a depressed detective who struggles to complete his investigation as he confronts drug traffickers and the politicians associated with them. Balas de plata denounced corruption in an original, impeccable style; as a manuscript titled Quien quiere vivir para siempre, it had won the 2007 Premio Tusquets Editores de Novela.

      In La muerte lenta de Luciana B (2007; The Book of Murder, 2008) by Argentine author Guillermo Martínez, the detective is a writer and literary critic who, in the manner of Jorge Luis Borges, is more interested in examining differing versions of the crime than in finding the culprit. Tuya (2005) by Argentine Claudia Piñeiro was reedited in 2008 after a first edition was unsuccessful. In this crime novel the woman who acts as a detective is involved in a love triangle. The novel offered a thorough psychological analysis of the Argentine middle class. Another Argentine writer, Juan Sasturain, reintroduced his detective Etchenike in Pagaría por no verte, a good crime novel that depicted local customs against the tragic background of Argentina in the 1980s.

      The novel La sombra del púgil by Argentine Eduardo Berti was a sophisticated tale of family conflicts during Argentina's military dictatorship. At the end of 2007, Chilean writer Roberto Brodsky published Bosque quemado, in which the topic of state terrorism was treated in conjunction with the themes of exile and return. The novel won the 2007 Premio Jaén de Novela. Guerrilla wars and intergenerational family problems were the focus of Una familia honorable by Guatemalan Rafael Cuevas Molina.

      Ronald Flores of Guatemala searched for the origins of violence and religious conflicts in the 18th century. In La rebelión de los zendales, he told the story of the Indian uprising in an area extending from Guatemala into Mexico. The world of Bolivia's aboriginal peoples was represented in all its complexity in Música de zorros by Manuel Vargas. In this novel dreamlike and real aspects of the Indians' world are seen as present and overlapping. A dreamlike reality was also depicted with deft touches in Vidas perpendiculares by Mexican author Álvaro Enrigue. The main character relives or dreams other lives, which appear one on top of the other in a tale in which space and time are juggled with humour and sarcasm.

      Several works mixed autobiography and fiction. In his posthumously published novel La ninfa inconstante, Guillermo Cabrera Infante reminisced about the prerevolutionary Havana of his youth, and he depicted in detail the city's nightlife, streets, music, movies, and characters—all the obsessions already present in his two previous novels. In this historical setting, a mature film critic falls in love with a 16-year-old Havana-born Lolita. Cabrera Infante's great literary talent was again evident in the constant linguistic play that earned him the devotion of his readers. In a similar way, Carlos Fuentes's obsessions reappeared in La voluntad y la fortuna, a title intended as an homage to Machiavelli, whose political philosophy pervades the book. (In a famous passage from The Prince, Machiavelli asserts that fortune can and must be mastered by will.) This long novel encompassed earlier parts of Fuentes's story and a big part of Mexico's history, in particular the violence in daily life, drug trafficking, political corruption, and intractable problems that caused recurrent fratricidal fights. Argentine Graciela Schvartz explored in Señales de vida the bittersweet remembrances of adolescent joys and fears with a provocative language that moves seamlessly from colloquial to lyrical and back. In El boxeador polaco, Guatemalan Eduardo Halfon evoked the story of his grandfather, who was interred at the Nazi extermination camp in Auschwitz.

      La casa de Dostoievsky by Chilean writer Jorge Edwards won the Planeta-Casa de América award. This roman à clef was full of appearances by well-known poets—Enrique Lihn, Nicanor Parra, Heberto Padilla, “Nerón” Neruda—by name or thinly disguised. Patricio Fernández, founder of the satiric magazine The Clinic (the title was a reference to the London clinic where Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was treated), published Los nenes, a novel in which the characters are writers whose names are only slightly altered. The novel took on the literary world, portraying the writers as at times coarse and irresponsible. The work also incorporated the discovery of Pinochet in London, his return to Chile, and his death.

      Dominican writer Junot Díaz wrote in perfect English as well as in Spanish. His novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was published in Spanish in 2008 as La breve y maravillosa vida de Óscar Wao, translated by Cuban writer Achy Obejas.

      Two important anthologies of short stories were published in 2008, El descontento y la promesa: nueva/joven narrativa uruguaya, edited by Hugo Achúgar, and Sol, piedra y sombras: veinte cuentistas mexicanos de la primera mitad del siglo XX, edited by Jorge F. Hernández.

Leda Schiavo

Portuguese

Portugal.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      The 2008 short-story prize of the Association of Portuguese Writers was awarded to Angolan author Ondjaki, the most international of current young Lusophone African writers, for his book Os da minha rua (2007). Among the works of this prolific novelist, poet, children's storyteller, and documentarian were Bom dia, camaradas (2000) and O assobiador (2002), published in English in 2008 as Good Morning, Comrades and The Whistler, respectively. The 2008 Camões Prize, the most important trophy of Portuguese-language literatures, went to Brazilian novelist, journalist, and scholar João Ubaldo Ribeiro, author of such influential works as Viva o povo brasileiro (1984; An Invincible Memory, 1989) and A casa dos Budas ditosos (1999).

      Ten years after winning the Nobel Prize and following the publication of several less-successful titles, José Saramago returned to form with the novel A viagem do elefante. Critic Pedro Mexia described the book as the “itinerary” from Lisbon to Vienna of the eponymous elephant—a gift of the 16th-century King John III of Portugal to his cousin Maximilian of Austria. Saramago's worldwide success Ensaio sobre a cegueira (1995; Blindness, 1997) was adapted to film (2008) by acclaimed Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles. Another internationally celebrated Portuguese writer, António Lobo Antunes, published his 20th novel, O arquipélago da insónia. Antunes's most influential critic, Maria Alzira Seixo, linked this “story of family disintegration, seen from the perspective distorted by illness of the [autistic] narrator,” to Auto dos danados (1985; Act of the Damned, 1993) and to O manual dos inquisidores (1996; The Inquisitors' Manual, 2003).

      The 2008 Grand Prize of Poetry of the Association of Portuguese Writers went to Ana Luísa Amaral for her Entre dois rios e outras noites (2007). Herberto Helder, one of Portugal's most respected contemporary poets, published A faca não corta o fogo: súmula e inédita, his first collection since 2001. Renaissance scholar Vítor Manuel de Aguiar e Silva, author of Camões: Labirintos e Fascínios (1994), received in 2007 the Literary Life Prize of the Association of Portuguese Writers. The prestigious 2007 Pessoa Prize was awarded in 2008 to historian Irene Flunser Pimentel, the author of A história da PIDE (2007), a study of the Portuguese political police from 1945 to 1974. Earlier 20th-century history was revisited in D. Carlos (2006), Rui Ramos's acclaimed and timely biography of King Carlos I, who was assassinated in Lisbon in 1908; the regicide was commemorated throughout 2008.

Victor K. Mendes

Brazil.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      The major highlight of the 2008 literary year was the marking of the centenary of the death of Brazil's world-renowned novelist Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839–1908). Major colloquia and exhibitions in his honour were organized throughout Brazil and internationally.

      Several notable works of fiction gained wide attention, including Milton Hatoum's Órfãos do Eldorado, a family saga set in the rubber-boom Amazon of the early 20th century. Miguel Sanches Neto published A primeira mulher, a police thriller about a professor's midlife crisis. Paulo Coelho also turned to a thriller, in a departure from his esoteric fiction, with O vencedor está só, in which a serial killer searches for his ex-wife. The Bahian poet Ruy Espinheira Filho published a semiautobiographical novel, De paixões e de vampiros: uma história do tempo da Era, of life in his native rural Bahia in the 1960s, prior to the military dictatorship. Flávio Izhaki's De cabeça baixa narrates the life of a failed novelist who, upon discovering a copy of his novel with annotations by an unknown critic, decides to revive his literary career.

      Among the new theatrical works was Leopoldina—cartas e relatos, a montage of letters written by the Brazilian Empress Maria Leopoldina, mother of Dom Pedro II, at the time of Brazilian declaration of independence from Portugal in 1822. In this year devoted to Machado de Assis, Lygia Fagundes Telles finally published the award-winning play Capitu, written in 1968 with Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes, which focused on the “oblique and sly” eyes of the heroine in Machado's novel Dom Casmurro. The dramatist Aimar Labaki published a study of the life, works, and great influence of theatrical director José Celso Martinez Correa (Zé Celso).

      The Camões Prize 2008 for literature was awarded to the Bahian novelist João Ubaldo Ribeiro for his body of work. The Brazilian Jabuti prize for best novel was awarded to Cristóvão Tezza for O filho eterno (2007). Among the notable publications about Brazilian culture were Alberto Carlos Almeida's A cabeça do brasileiro (2007), which set out to describe the national mind-set in the early 21st century, and José Miguel Wisnik's Veneno remédio—o futebol e o Brasil, a cultural interpretation of the role of association football (soccer) in Brazilian life.

      Deaths included those of novelist-memoirist Zélia Gattai (wife of Jorge Amado), Bahian poet and musician Dorival Caymmi (Caymmi, Dorival ), and writers José Alcides Pinto, Fernando Barbosa Lima, and Fausto Wolff.

Irwin Stern

Russian
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      Several new, contradictory, and at times surprising trends were noticeable in Russian literature in 2008. The short list for the Russian Booker Prize bore clear witness to this. The nominees Ilya Boyashev's Armada (2007; “Armada”), Yelena Nekrasova's Shchukinsk i goroda (“Shchukinsk and Cities”), German Sadulayev's Tabletka (“The Pill”), Vladimir Sharov's Budte kak deti (“Be like Children”), and Galina Shchekina's Grafomanka (“The Graphomaniac”) ultimately lost to Mikhail Yelizarov's Bibliotekar (2007; “The Librarian”). Most of these novels were written in a style similar to magic realism, which only a few years earlier had been associated in Russia with popular literature. The latest work of the best known of these authors, Vladimir Sharov, was another of his paradoxical narratives that featured a collision of the everyday, the historical, and the fantastic in a Gnostic vein. In Budte kak deti Lenin and his fellow atheistic Bolsheviks are secretly Christian mystics. A no-less-paradoxical reconsideration of the Soviet period was at the heart of Yelizarov's Bibliotekar, which was heavily influenced by the work of Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortázar. The novel told the story of a conformist Soviet writer—author of rather ordinary Socialist Realist novels—whose works turn out to be the source of a mystical energy. The fantastic elements of Nekrasova's novel are rooted in daily life; in Boyashev's Armada, the setting was an antiutopia.

      In reaction to the playful postmodern novels of the 1990s, there was a marked increase of interest in novels of manners and of everyday life; eventually, however, such novels aroused interest only when they contained an element of social radicalism (as was the case with Sadulayev's Tabletka or in the works of Zakhar Prilepin, another popular young author and winner of the 2008 National Bestseller Prize for his novel Grekh [“Sin”]) or when they took an uncompromising stance on contemporary life (examples include Vadim Chekunov's novel about the contemporary Soviet army, Kirza [“Boots”], and Nataliya Klyuchareva's Rossia: obshchy vagon [“Russia: The Third-Class Car”]). Novels depicting Russian prosperity, which were common during the early 2000s, clearly had fallen out of fashion. By contrast, books about personal and private life found an audience—e.g., Pavel Sanayev's Pokhoronite menya za plintusom (“Bury Me Behind the Plinth”), which went unnoticed when first published in 1996 but became a best seller in 2008. (Its success did have a sensational side: it was a novel about a family of easily identifiable contemporary actors by an author who was the son of well-known actors.)

      Significantly, new works published in 2008 by two of the 1990s' most noted authors, Vladimir Sorokin and Viktor Pelevin, were greeted with indifference. Sorokin's Sakharny kreml (“Sugar Kremlin”), a book of thematically linked short stories, was a sequel to his last, highly political antiutopian novel, Den oprichnika (2006; “Day of the Oprichnik”). Pelevin's book, P5: proshchalnye pesni politicheskikh pigmeyev Pindostana (“P5: Songs of Parting from the Political Pygmies of Pindostan”), was generally panned.

      Interesting works by talented authors that went largely unnoticed by critics and prize givers included Demyan Kudryavtsev's structurally complex 20th-century family saga Bliznetsy (“Twins”); Aleksey Lukyanov's elegant metaphysical novella Zhestokokryly nasekomy (“Coleoptera”); a collection of prose fiction combining the surreal and grotesque from one of the Leningrad underground's most venerable figures, Boris Dyshlenko; Yury Buyda's Tretye serdtse (“The Third Heart”), a stylized gothic tale about Russian immigrants in the 1920s in Europe; and Lev Usyskin's collection of stylized historical stories, Russkie istory (“Russian Stories”).

      The attempt to integrate poetry into popular culture (for the first time since the Soviet era) was visible in the appearance of a new glossy magazine called POETomu (a wordplay pulling the English word poet from the Russian word for “because” [poetomu]) and the televising of the competition King of the Poets. The winner was well-known writer Dmitry Vodennikov, a leading practitioner of the “new sincerity” in Russian poetry. Vodennikov's success, and that of several other young authors, at winning a popular audience for poetry provoked a vigorous critical debate, whose participants included leading figures such as Mikhail Aizenberg and Dmitry Kuzmin, on the relationship between popular success and critical judgment. Yelena Fanailova's latest highly charged and very political poems, especially the cycle Baltisky dnevnik (“Baltic Diary”), provoked a no-less-sharp and heated discussion. Some saw in her work a new direction in Russian poetry, but others discerned a return to the language and style of thought of Soviet literature (or rather anti-Soviet literature, its mirror image).

      The publication of the third and fourth volumes of Yelena Shvarts's Collected Works was a significant event for Russian literature in 2008. Other noteworthy books of poetry came from Aleksey Tsvetkov (Andrey Bely Prize winner for 2007), Nataliya Gorbanevskaya, Mikhail Aizenberg, Andrey Rodionov, and Vadim Mesyats. Among first books the most significant came from Alla Gorbunova and Vasily Borodin. The launching of the Internet site Openspace, devoted exclusively to culture, proved quite valuable for the discussion of Russian literature.

      The year 2008 marked the passing of the 1970 Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr Isayevich ). A biography of him by Lyudmila Saraskina, published shortly before his death, won the second prize for the Big Book Award. First prize was captured by Vladimir Makanin's Asan.

Valery Shubinsky

Persian
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table.

      The much-diminished number of published literary works marked 2008 as the year in which the efforts of Iranian Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government to limit intellectual freedoms, including literary activity, finally bore fruit. On the positive side, 2008 was also the year in which the Internet as an alternative literary forum took hold in Iran and the rest of the Persian-speaking world. Among the most-read noteworthy works of fiction were two short-story collections, An gushih-yi danj-i samt-i chap (“That Secluded Corner to the Left”) by Mahdi Rubbi and Zindagi mutabiq-i khastah-yi tu pish miravad (2006; “Life Goes On as You Would Expect”) by Amir-Husayn Khurshidfar. Ziyaʾ Muvahhid's Nardban andar biyaban (2006; “A Ladder in the Desert”) became the year's top innovative poetry collection. Two other poetry collections, Sarvenaz Heraner's Sarrizha-yi sukut (“Overflowing of Silence”) and Ruʾya Muqaddas's Ruʾyaha-yi ʿashiqanah: ʿashiqanahha-yi Ruʾya (“Loverly Reveries: Love Songs of Ruʾya”), were the most notable works of Persian poetry. Paul Sprachman's 2006 English translation of Ahmad Dehqan's Safar bih gara-yi 270 darajah (Journey to Heading 270 Degrees) was the best seller among translated Persian works.

      Among Persian Web sites that published recently censored or long-suppressed literary works on the Internet, Gooya (http://mag.gooya.eu/culture/archives/cat_croman.php), which listed hundreds of short stories and poems throughout the year, remained the most popular. Other major Web sites with literary content included http://www.iransliterature.com/pe/, http://www.golshirifoundation.org/, and http://www.andischeh.com.

      Hundreds of new personal blogs were also set up, mostly by authors eager to publish without having to submit their work to a government ministry for vetting. The rift between the state and the youth of Iran became clear in official speeches and Internet discussions on the functions of literature. While younger poets such as Rosa Jamali experimented with ever-newer forms and styles of expression, state authorities continued to urge writers to capture the spirit of Islam and the revolution in their works. Meanwhile, the deaths of Afghan poet ʿAqil Birang Kuhdamani in December 2007 at age 56 and Iranian expatriate novelist and singer Shusha Guppy in March 2008 at age 72, both in London, topped the list of literary losses.

Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak

Arabic
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      The 2008 Arab literary scene was characterized by topical diversity and intellectual fatigue. Further, the continued repercussions from the events of Sept. 11, 2001, created a state of confusion that is at the centre of Naṣir ʿIrāq's novel Min farṭ al-gharām (“From an Excess of Love”).

      In Egypt, motivated largely by what the critic Sabry Hafez described as “national worry,” writers tackled issues of exploitation, abuse of power, and corruption. The critic ʿIzzat al-Qamḥāwī wondered sarcastically where the government had gone as the people missed it. ʿIzz al-Dīn Shukrī wrote his Ghurfat al-ʿināyah al-murakkazah (“The Intensive Care Unit”), which—in its tale of the Sudanese government's improvisations and half-solutions during the aftermath of a consulate bombing in Khartoum—pointed out the country's fundamental political and administrative disorder. While awaiting excision from the wreckage, the bomb victims could not help but wonder if they would live long enough to make it to the emergency room. Muḥammad Nājī's al-Afandī (“The Gentleman”) touched on the absence of standards in the field of publishing, where review committees were rare and money seemed the sole determinant of worthiness for publication. Somewhat detached from daily political life in his country, Jamāl al-Ghīṭānī published Rinna (“Was Sounded”), the sixth volume of his memoirs collectively titled Dafātir al-tadwīn (“Notebooks”). It was a largely spiritual journey in the footsteps of the great Sufi mystic Abū al-Fayḍ Dhū al-Nūn al-Miṣrī (Dhun-nun).

      The prolific Lebanese novelist Rabīʿ Jābir wrote about his country's civil war and acts of revenge in al-Iʿtirāfāt (“The Confessions”). Ibrāhīm Nasr Allāh, a Jordanian-Palestinian writer, in his Zaman al-khuyūl al-bayḍā (2007; “The Time of White Horses”), offered an epopee of Palestinian history from Ottoman times to 1948, the year Palestinians call the nakbah (“castastrophe”). The action of the novel occurs in a village strongly anchored in Palestinian culture and traditions of honour. Tunisian Al-Habib al-Salmī (ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Ḥabīb) presented a love story in Rawaʾih Marie-Claire (“Marie-Claire's Perfumes”) against the background of the cultural divide between East and West. Moroccan Tahar Ben Jelloun wrote (in French) a semiautobiographical novel about his mother's dementia in Sur ma mère (“About My Mother”), revealing at the same time much about Moroccan culture and his own childhood memories. Libyan novelist Aḥmad Ibrāhīm Faqīh made waves at the end of 2007 with the publication of his 12-volume epic novel Kharāʾiṭ al-rūḥ (“The Maps of the Soul”). The novel was set in Libya from 1931 to the early 1950s, after independence.

      In the Gulf countries women writers raised their voices in objection to their lack of personal freedom and to male control over their lives. Kuwaiti novelist and journalist Munā Shāfiʿī addressed the need for freedom and personal choice in women's lives in Laylat al-junūn (“The Night of Madness”). Zainab Ḥifnī's Sīqān multawīya (“Intertwined Legs”) examined the lives of Saudis living in England and their struggle to rear their daughters according to Saudi traditions.

      Arab intellectuals were united in their preoccupation with the state of the Arabic language. They deplored its deterioration among writers and students as some writers paid little attention to correct grammar and did not seem embarrassed by their shortcomings. The issue motivated the Arab League and Egypt's al-Majmaʾ al-Lughawi (Egyptian Academy) to debate the question in search of ways in which to restore respect for Arabic and to improve language competency among Arabs. They pointed out the growing tendency among institutes of higher education to dispense education in foreign languages. This deterioration took place at a time of growing interest in Arabic language in the Western world, particularly in the United States.

      In February 2008 French-language writer Yasmina Khadra (pseudonym of Mohammed Moulessehoul, a former Algerian army officer), who wrote of Algeria's colonial history in Ce que le jour doit à la nuit (“What the Day Owes to the Night”), received the trophy Createurs sans Frontieres at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris. The 2008 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature was awarded to Hamdī Abū Jalīl of Egypt for Al-Faʾil (“The Labourer”). Jābir ʿUṣfūr was a co-winner of the 2008 Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture. In August 2008 the Arab world lost its best-known and most creative contemporary poet, Palestinian Maḥmūd Darwīsh (Darwish, Mahmud ). His passing left a huge void in the genre of poetry, especially the poetry of resistance.

Aida A. Bamia

Chinese
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2008).

      In 2008 four novels shared the seventh triennial Mao Dun Literary Award, the highest official award for fiction in China. First on the list was Qinqiang (2005; “Qin Music,” the name of a local opera form and favoured pastime in northwestern China) by Jia Pingwa, a well-known writer whose 1993 novel Feidu (“The Ruined Capital”) scandalized many with its theme of illicit sex, graphically described. Qinqiang, however, helped redeem the author's reputation. Based on memories of his hometown in Shanxi province, it was commonly considered an elegy on rural life in northwestern China. The book was a powerful expression of Jia's concerns for the future of Chinese rural society presented in a detailed—some might even say long-winded—narrative.

      The second recognized book was Ergun He you an (2005; “The Right Bank of the Argun River”) by Chi Zijian. This novel was the first to focus on the Evenk, a reindeer-herding people eking out a living on the borderlands between China and Russia. It was written in the voice of the group's current shaman, a woman more than 90 years old, who relates a series of affecting tales that reflect the Evenk way of life and struggle for survival.

      The third winner was Zhou Daxin's allegorical novel Hu guang shan se (2006; “Landscapes of Lakes and Mountains”). Its protagonist was Nuan Nuan, a young rural woman who returns to her village after living for a few years in Beijing as an immigrant worker. The author allegorized the story by equating elements in the narrative of Nuan Nuan's return with wuxing, the traditional Chinese cosmological and moral system in which the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth) overcome and succeed one another in an immutable cycle.

      The final winner was Mai Jia's An suan (2003; “Plot Against”), a spy story that had gained a large popular following since 2005, when it was made into a 34-part teleplay with the same title (and with Mai as screenwriter). It was the first spy story ever to receive the Mao Dun award.

      Another 2008 literary event worthy of mention was the establishment of Shengda Literature Ltd. (SDL), a subsidiary company of Shengda, now the leading Web-based interactive entertainment media company in China. Owning the three biggest Chinese literary Web sites, including Qi dian zhong wen wang (Starting Point Chinese Web [SPCW]), SDL had aggressively developed a paid online literary model. In September, as a part of this development, SPCW—which was said to have more than 8 million unique visitors and more than 300 million page views per day—organized an online exhibition of fiction by chairmen of 30 provincial writers associations. These writers allowed their works to be published on SPCW in an effort to attract more online viewers.

Wang Xiaoming

Japanese
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2008, seeTable (World Literary Prizes 2007).

      In 2008, for the first time in its 73-year history, the Akutagawa Prize, awarded twice yearly to promising Japanese fiction writers, went to a writer whose mother tongue was not Japanese. The prize for the year's first half was awarded—not without controversy (some critics thought her Japanese crude)—to Yang Yi, whose “Toki ga nijimu asa” (“A Morning Steeped in Time”) was first published in the June 2008 issue of the literary magazine Bungakukai. Yang was born in Harbin, China, in 1964 and went to Japan in 1987 as a student. Her Japanese then was virtually nonexistent. Twenty years later she won the Bungakukai New Writers Award with her debut novel, Wan-chan (“Mrs. Wang”). It concerned the struggles of a Chinese bride in Japan to become an intermediary for Japanese men seeking Chinese wives. In “Toki ga nijimu asa,” however, Yang portrayed a Chinese student during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and his later immigration to Japan.

      The Akutagawa Prize for the second half of 2007 (announced in January 2008) went to the musician and poet Mieko Kawakami's “Chichi to ran” (“Of Breasts and Eggs”), first printed in the December 2007 issue of Bungakukai. It was written in an innovative style using rather breathless long sentences in the Kansai dialect of western Japan.

      Jakuchō Setouchi, a prominent writer and Buddhist nun, surprised Japanese readers with her confession that at age 86 she had written Ashita no niji (“Tomorrow's Rainbow”), a “mobile phone novel” (keitai shosetsu). Most of these stories, so called because they were downloaded from mobile phone Web sites, were written by younger authors for a younger audience. Setouchi, the author of a noteworthy modern translation of The Tale of Genji, had used the pen name Murasaki (“Purple”) to disguise her identity.

      Haruki Murakami, another prominent writer, in 2008 published Tifanī de chōshoku o, a new translation of Truman Capote's novella Breakfast at Tiffany's, and 50 years after its original publication in English, it was one of Japan's best sellers. Well-known writer Banana Yoshimoto again made the best-seller list, this time with a new long novel, Sausu pointo (“South Point”). The runaway best seller of 2008 was Takiji Kobayashi's Kanikōsen (The Factory Ship), originally published in 1929, a classic novel of slave labour that was seen as having some bearing on 21st-century economic conditions.

      The Yomiuri Prize for Literature was given to Rieko Matsuura's Kenshin (2007; “Dog's Body”). The Jun'ichirō Tanizaki Prize, for the year's most accomplished literary work, was awarded to Natsuo Kirino's Tōkyō-jima (“Tokyo Island”). The Yasunari Kawabata Prize, given to the year's most accomplished short story, went to Mayumi Inaba's “Miru” (“Codium fragile,” the scientific name of an alga commonly known as Dead Man's Fingers), first published in the February 2007 issue of Shinchō, and to Shin'ya Tanaka's “Sanagi” (“The Chrysalis”), first published in the August 2007 issue of Shinchō. The second Kenzaburō Ōe Prize to be awarded was given to playwright Toshiki Okada's Watashitachi ni yurusareta tokubetsuna jikan no owari (2007; “The End of Our Special Time”). The novelists Kunio Ogawa and Saeko Himuro died in 2008.

Yoshihiko Kazamaru

▪ 2008

Introduction
Globalization was well-established in the literary world, as migration, immigration, and displacement were important themes in many countries. Well-known English-language writers produced new works. Books from Canada, Europe, and East Asia often focused on internal concerns. Politics played a huge role in South American literature, and religion remained a lively topic in many regions. Persian and Arabic literature explored limits of language and behaviour. Cutting-edge Japanese devoured novels on their cell phones.

English

United Kingdom.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

 The 2007 Nobel Prize (Nobel Prizes ) for Literature was unexpectedly bestowed on British author Doris Lessing in recognition of her large and profound body of work. Much of her writing was informed by her experiences as a colonial subject in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

      Also unexpected was the awarding of the 2007 Man Booker Prize—Britain's most prestigious literary award—to Irish writer Anne Enright. The other six novels on the short list were higher profile before the announcement that her novel, The Gathering, had won. The story was told from the point of view of Veronica as her family comes together for the funeral of her brother, who has committed suicide. The author acknowledged that the novel was a depressing read, but she said that it was like a “Hollywood weepie.”

      One of the favourites for the prize had been Ian McEwan's novel On Chesil Beach. Set in 1962, it told the story of Edward and Florence on their wedding day, both of them nervously contemplating their first sexual encounter. Owing to its brevity, the book's inclusion on the short list was controversial. Responding to this, Sir Howard Davies, chair of the judging panel, said, “We don't think it's at all slight in terms of its emotional steps. It's a very tight and very taut novel.” The short list also raised eyebrows because of the number of important writers with new books that were not included—Michael Ondaatje, J.M. Coetzee, Graham Swift, and William Boyd, for example.

      The other Man Booker front-runner was Mister Pip (2006) by New Zealander Lloyd Jones. The novel, his 11th book, was only his second to be published in the U.K. (The first was Biografi [1993].) Mister Pip was set in 1991 on the island of Bougainville, off the coast of Papua New Guinea, at the beginning of the 10-year civil war. The story was told from the perspective of a girl named Matilda. As violence erupts, her teachers and all of the white people flee, except for Mr. Watts, an eccentric recluse. He decides to teach the children, but the only book he has is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. The children are entranced by the story, but misunderstanding and lack of imagination among the adults lead to disaster, and Great Expectations becomes a catalyst for violence.

      The Costa (previously Whitbread) Book of the Year was The Tenderness of Wolves (2006), the first novel of Scottish-born Londoner Stef Penney. Set in an isolated community in northern Canada in 1867, the novel opens with the murder of a French trapper and the disappearance of a strange local boy. News of the violent crime draws unwelcome outsiders; secrets are unearthed and old resentments stirred up. The Costa judges said that they “felt enveloped by the snowy landscape and gripped by the beautiful writing and effortless story-telling.” The British public agreed, and the book quickly became a best seller.

      The winner of the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, awarded to a female author for a work written in English and published in the U.K., was Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi ). Her widely praised novel Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) had as its backdrop the Nigeria-Biafra civil war of 1967–70. The story was told by Ugwu, a 13-year-old houseboy, and was about a small group of people—Odenigbo, the charismatic university lecturer who employs Ugwu; Odenigbo's beautiful girlfriend, Olanna, who abandons a life of privilege (and therefore relative safety) to live with him; her twin sister, Kainene; and Richard, a diffident Englishman who is in love with Kainene. Their lives cross and drift apart and weave together again as the civil war unfolds around them and eventually affects them all.

      In nonfiction The God Delusion (2006) by Richard Dawkins continued to be high-profile and controversial, and it remained on the best-seller lists. A rash of books came out in response to Dawkins's atheistic stance. Among the most notable of these was Darwin's Angel: An Angelic Riposte to “The God Delusion,” by John Cornwell. The Times newspaper described Cornwell's book as “a piece of sheer heaven … deliciously wise, witty and intellectually sharp.”

      The 2007 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction was awarded to Rajiv Chandrasekaran, assistant managing editor of the Washington Post, for Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone (published in the U.S. in 2006 and in the U.K., with a slight change in title, in 2007). The book was about the ill-prepared attempts of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority to rebuild Iraq after the downfall of Saddam Hussein. Baroness Helena Kennedy, chair of the judging panel, praised the book as being “up there with the greatest reportage of the last 50 years. … Chandrasekaran stands back, detached and collected, from his subject but his reader is left gobsmacked, right in the middle of it.”

      Gen. Sir Mike Jackson's Soldier: The Autobiography also drew attention because of its criticism of the coalition's actions in Iraq. A career soldier and former head of the British army, the general was renowned for the care he took of the men and women under his command as well as for his ability to court the media. His autobiography described his experiences in some of the world's most troubled places.

      The Royal Society Prize for Science Books (formerly the Aventis Prize) was awarded to Stumbling on Happiness (2006) by Harvard psychology professor Daniel Gilbert. Reviewers gleefully pointed out the many paradoxes in the book; in the Times Christopher Hart noted, “Reading it won't make you any happier, the author assures us; but by the end you will at least realise why it was really dumb of you ever to have thought it might.”

      The Royal Society's junior prize was awarded to Can You Feel the Force? (2006), a children's introduction to physics by British television host Richard Hammond and a team of advisers. This brief compendium explained the scientific principles behind many everyday phenomena—such as rainbows, bouncing balls, and friction—and suggested experiments to demonstrate them. The prize was judged by panels of young people from more than 100 organizations in the U.K.

      The Dangerous Book for Boys (2006), by brothers Conn Iggulden and Hal Iggulden, remained at the top of the nonfiction best-seller charts in 2007. Although the publishers initially positioned the title as a children's book, they quickly found that grown-up boys were also eager to read it. Hoping that girls (and their mothers) were equally interested in revisting a golden age of innocent childhood pastimes (playing simple playground games and making their own toys, for instance), a rival house published The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls by Rosemary Davidson and Sarah Vine.

      Without doubt, the most talked-about novel of 2007 was the final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling. Ten years and six books after the first Harry Potter, the last was published simultaneously around the world; having been fed numerous hints that Harry himself might die, fans were in a frenzy of anticipation by the time the book came out. It sold 11 million copies in the first 24 hours in the U.K. and U.S. alone.

      The most prestigious children's book prize in the U.K. is perhaps the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) Carnegie Medal. The recipient (of this and of its picture book equivalent, the Kate Greenaway Medal) is chosen by children's librarians in conjunction with hundreds of schools nationwide. The 2007 medal was awarded to Just in Case (2006) by London-based American writer Meg Rosoff. It was about a 15-year-old boy—who begins the story as David Case but changes his name to Justin Case—who is convinced that fate is out to get him. The CILIP Carnegie judges said that the novel was “distinctive and outstanding” and the writing style “intelligent yet spare,” while the Times called it “a modern The Catcher in the Rye.” The recipient of the Kate Greenaway Medal was British artist and writer Mini Grey, for The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon (2006), the story of what happened after the dish and the spoon from the nursery rhyme “Hey diddle, diddle” ran away together. The judges commented that the book “conveys beautifully the idea of villainous cutlery!”

      The year saw a number of eagerly awaited children's book sequels, including Outcast by Michelle Paver—the fourth book in her prehistoric “Chronicles of Ancient Darkness” series—and Anthony Horowitz's Snakehead, starring the ultimate boy spy, Alex Rider. Another interesting publication was the graphic-novel version of 2001's best-selling Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, adapted by Andrew Donkin and illustrated by Giovanni Rigano and Paulo Lamanna. Nick Hornby, long a chart-topping writer for adults, wrote his first book for teenagers, Slam. In picture books, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, the pair behind The Gruffalo (1999), produced Tiddler, much to the delight of the youngest book lovers.

      In poetry two titles stood out, one set far away and the other locally. The first, John Haynes's Letter to Patience (2006), received the Costa Poetry Award. The book-length poem, in iambic pentameter, took the form of a letter written by the father of a Nigerian family living in England in 1993 and addressed to his friend Patience. Once a university lecturer in politics, she now works in a bar in Nigeria, which is in the throes of political unrest. The Costa judges pronounced the book “a unique long poem of outstanding quality, condensing a lifetime of reflection and experience into a work of transporting momentum, imaginative lucidity, and consummate formal accomplishment.” The second, Seamus Heaney's District and Circle (2006), was awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. The collection opened “in an age of bare hands and cast iron” and ended “as the automatic lock / clunks shut.” Like all of Heaney's work—and all of the best U.K. literary fiction in 2007—it inspired the reader to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Polly Nolan

United States.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

 Amid flat sales figures for trade books and in the face of the rising use of gadgets born of technology—iPods that download music and now films—and a growing new interest in comic books for adults (so-called graphic novels), the good old-fashioned superabundance of American literature once again emerged in 2007. Novelist Norman Mailer (Mailer, Norman Kingsley ) pursued his obsession with the questions of good and evil by publishing a fascinating fictional study of the childhood of Adolf Hitler. The novel, titled The Castle in the Forest, received many good reviews and others that were mystifying (a number of critics, for and against, deciding to review Mailer rather than the novel). Mailer followed through with a nonfiction book, On God, in which he debriefed himself on matters holy and profane and advanced his argument that God is an artist. Mailer died soon after the publication of this provocative volume.

      Don DeLillo, a master of the so-called postmodernist novel, boldly took up the subject of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City in the novel Falling Man, which received mixed reviews. Exit Ghost, Philip Roth's farewell to the character of writer Nathan Zuckerman (who held sway in eight other novels over the course of many decades), fared a little better with the reviewers and critics than his contemporaries. “Maybe the most potent discoveries are reserved for last,” Zuckerman declared. Some critics said maybe; some said maybe not. Returning to Earth, Jim Harrison's novel about a man dying of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Lou Gehrig disease), also had a fine reception. Five days up the river and they came upon another, flowing in from the mountains to the east to meet the Sacramento, causing it to swell and double its width to form a kind of bay, and at last they get a look at those who live here. A crowd of men stand on the bank, two hundred or more, armed with bows and arrows, their bodies painted yellow, black and red. Three sailors level their pistols, but Sutter tells them, “Wait!” James D. Houston's late 19th-century California historical novel Bird of Another Heaven followed on the success of his Donner Party fiction Snow Mountain Passage (2001).

      The winner of the 2007 National Book Award for best fiction was Denis Johnson's 600-page Tree of Smoke, which took its name from a biblical text that in part sets the tone for the novel: Joel 2:30–31. And I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and palm trees of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon come to blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. The novel, which follows the story of a CIA agent in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, won copious praise.

      Some younger but well-established fiction writers published novels that met with warm praise. Michael Chabon demonstrated the definition of prolific by bringing out two novels in one year, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, a serious alternative historical fiction about life in a Jewish state set aside in Alaska, and Gentlemen of the Road, a historical fantasy about a Jewish adventurer and his African pal in an adventure set in an ancient myth-tinged central Asian kingdom during the Middle Ages. Sherman Alexie also delivered two books—the novel Flight and a young-adult fiction titled The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Nigerian-born fiction writer Chris Abani had two offerings—the full-length novel The Virgin of Flames and the short novel Song for Night. Story writer Amy Bloom had, in Away (the period saga of a female Jewish immigrant to the U.S.), a momentary best seller. Ann Patchett's novel Run found itself on the best-seller list soon after publication.

      Five Skies by Ron Carlson took up with great success the world of men and machines in this story about the construction of a stunt ramp in the middle of the Idaho wilds. In Red Rover Deirdre McNamer took her readers to a Montana bustling with youthful vigour and then rife with old age. Thomas Mallon's Fellow Travelers went back to the period of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's prominence during the early 1950s and opened up the hidden world of gay Washington, D.C., at that time. Christopher Buckley used Washington, D.C., for the setting of Boomsday, another of his comic successes. Lynn Stegner's Because a Fire Was in My Head portrayed a powerful, if disastrous, western Canadian antiheroine. Three writers turned in volumes of novellas: Rick Moody, with Right Livelihoods (which contained “The Albertine Notes,” one of the finest science-fiction stories of recent years); Paul Theroux, with The Elephanta Suite (three long stories set in contemporary India); Michael Knight, with The Holiday Season; and Alan Cheuse, with The Fires.

      Some younger writers, mostly first-generation Americans, produced debut novels of real mastery, among them Dominican American Junot Díaz, with The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (the pathetic tragedy of a Dominican kid from New Jersey who is a dangerously hopeless romantic); Nathan Englander, with The Ministry of Special Cases (which takes the reader into the lives and hearts of a Jewish Argentine family during Argentina's “dirty war”); Peruvian American Daniel Alarcón, with Lost City Radio (about the aftermath of a guerrilla war in an unnamed Latin American country); and Iranian-American Dalia Sofer, with The Septembers of Shiraz (a lyrical lament about an Iranian family's struggle following the end of the Iranian Revolution). Hawaii served as the setting for story writer Kaui Hart Hemmings's pleasurable first novel, The Descendants. Story writer Margot Singer put her linked stories into a volume called The Pale of Settlement, which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. Los Angeles poet Wanda Coleman came out with Jazz & Twelve O'Clock Tales, mainly in the vernacular. (“Follow me, Jack or Jill—if you will. You know, in Chinese lore, white is the color of death and corruption. ‘Tain't necessarily so, like the Man sings in the Song. Howsumevah, kick back and allow me to hip you to my color-whacked past … then you tell moi. … ”: “Shark Liver Oil”) San Francisco writer Kiara Brinkman made her debut with a novel, Up High in the Trees.

      Two former U.S. poet laureates brightened the year in poetry with new volumes of verse. Robert Hass, in Time and Materials: Poems, 1997–2005, wrote of love and politics and nature. (“Tomales Bay is flat blue in the Indian summer heat. / This is the time when hikers on Inverness Ridge / Stand on tiptoe to pick ripe huckleberries / That the deer can't reach. This is the season of lulls— / Egrets hunting in the tidal shallows, a ribbon / Of sandpipers fluttering over mudflats. …”: “September, Inverness”) His book took the National Book Award in poetry. Robert Pinsky's Gulf Music fuses song and history and the vexing connections or lack of them between all things in this world, as in the title poem: “Mallah walla tella bella. Trah mah trah-la, la-la-la, / Mah la belle. Ippa Fano wanna bella, wella-wah. / The hurricane of September 8, 1900 devastated / Galveston, Texas. …”

      Among other prizewinning poets, John Ashbery came out with A Worldly Country, and C.D. Wright released One Big Self: An Investigation. Other offerings included Gary Soto's A Simple Plan, Grace Schulman's The Broken String, Linda Gregerson's Magnetic North, Tom Sleigh's Space Walk, and Karl Kirchwey's The Happiness of This World. Poet and novelist Kelly Cherry produced Hazard and Prospect: New and Selected Poems.

       Mary Lee Settle, who died in 2005, left a memoir titled Learning to Fly: A Writer's Memoir, notably about her World War II experiences in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. Scholar Arnold Rampersad's Ralph Ellison was the first full biography of the late American writer. Novelist and experimental biographer Beverly Lowry offered Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life. Some interesting journals and notebooks also appeared: Notebooks (2006; covered the journal entries [1936–81] of playwright Tennessee Williams), edited by Margaret Bradham Thornton; The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates, 1973–1982, edited by Greg Johnson; and Guy Davenport and James Laughlin: Selected Letters, edited by W.C. Bamberger. Page Stegner, son of the celebrated Western writer, edited The Selected Letters of Wallace Stegner.

      Some sprightly criticism and essays appeared in book form, including novelist and story writer George Saunders's The Braindead Megaphone and story writer Steve Almond's Not That You Asked: Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions. (“William Butler Yeats, when he was riding the bus, would occasionally go into a compositional trance. He would stare straight ahead and utter a low hum and beat time with his hands. People would come up to him and ask him if he was all right.”) The New Yorker dance critic Joan Acocella, who added literature to the subjects she expatiated on, published a number of her short essays and reviews of writers, sculptors, and other artists in Twenty-Eight Artists and Two Saints.

      Janice Ross focused on an experimental American choreographer in her Anna Halprin: Experience as Dance. Critic Philip Joseph tackled the question of literary regionalism and placed it in an international context in American Literary Regionalism in a Global Age. Sheldon M. Novick took up a much-examined subject, Henry James, scrutinizing his later work in Henry James: The Mature Master. In The Death of Sigmund Freud: The Legacy of His Last Days, spirited critic Mark Edmundson drew the biography of the master of psychoanalysis during the Nazi siege of Europe. Stacy A. Cordery took on the subject of one of the most famous female figures in Washington in Alice: Alice Roosevelt Longworth, from White House Princess to Washington Power Broker. (She had a cheerful countenance, and that sometimes disguised her habit of looking on the world with what she called ‘detached malevolence.' She laughed easily and often, finding humanity wryly funny in its capricious and frequently self-destructive march. She was personally shy—just one reason she never sought elected office.) Cultural critic Alan Trachtenberg added to his productions with Lincoln's Smile and Other Enigmas. Much-honoured historian James M. McPherson augmented his studies with This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War.

      Roth won the PEN/Faulkner Prize—for a record-breaking third time—for his novel Everyman (2006). The PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction went to Elizabeth Spencer. Chicago writer Stuart Dybek, recipient of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, was given the Rea Award for the Short Story. Robert Olmstead's Civil War fiction Coal Black Horse won the Heartland Prize. The Pulitzer Prize committee, known for its taste for uplifting fiction, stretched those limits when it gave the prize in fiction to Cormac McCarthy for his dramatically composed postapocalyptic allegory The Road, a novel that had also been a pick of the Oprah Winfrey television book club and that stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for a number of weeks.

      Aside from Mailer's, the deaths during the year were those of novelist and story writers Tillie Olsen (Olsen, Tillie ) and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr. ), short story writer and poet Grace Paley (Paley, Grace ), fiction writer and essayist Elizabeth Hardwick (Hardwick, Elizabeth ), and humorist Art Buchwald (Buchwald, Art ). Also leaving the scene were novelist and short-story writer Daniel Stern and literary critic John W. Aldridge.

Alan Cheuse

Canada.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

 Historical novels were plentiful in Canada in 2007, ranging from Mary Novik's Conceit, an artistic concept daringly realized in the raunchy, spirit-ridden 17th century; to David Chariandy's Soucouyant, in which an evil spirit haunts a woman's dementia-frayed memories; to M.G. Vassanji's The Assassin's Song, which traced the effects of 800 years of history and mythology on the turmoil and strife of modern India and Pakistan; to Alissa York's Effigy, the spellbinding tale of a family whose members share a wide-open faith and a closetful of secrets.

      Then there was the aptly titled Spook Country, William Gibson's sinister romp through a hyperspace inhabited by counterfeiters of all kinds—spies, double agents, geohackers, and journalists. In The Empress Letters, Linda Rogers drilled down through the layers of early 20th-century Victoria (B.C.) society from the heights of moneyed privilege to caves of smuggled drugs and the illicit affairs of mismatched mates. Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes transported the reader from an African village to a Deep South plantation, to the polyglot crowds of Halifax (N.S.) docks to the manor houses of London, while in Claire Mulligan's The Reckoning of Boston Jim, the hero repays a woman's kindness by searching for her errant husband on an epic journey from Vancouver Island to Barkerville's untamed gold fields.

      The more recent history of the MacKenzie pipeline hearings (1974–77) formed the backdrop for Elizabeth Hay's Giller Prize-winning Late Nights on Air, in which the foibles of a cast of eccentric characters are played out against the barrenness of northern landscapes and southern hearts. In Divisadero Michael Ondaatje used the base of a closely shared childhood from which to launch the diverging stories of three lives divided by a single brutal incident. For that work Ondaatje was rewarded with the Governor General's Literary Award for fiction (his fifth).

      Michael Winter's The Architects Are Here was built on the mutable structure of a long friendship with all its odd angles and shady corners. October was Richard B. Wright's masterful evocation of a month of contrasts—two people dying, two lives lived, two moments in time—then and now. Barbara Gowdy, in Helpless, delved the depths of that most-hated predator, the pedophile kidnapper, while in Lauchlin of the Bad Heart, D.R. MacDonald dissected the life of a man captive of, and sustained by, the village he was born in and returned to.

      Short stories were all over the map. Tom Wayman explored the Boundary Country of British Columbia's Kootenay valleys, while Barry Callaghan viewed the wild country Between Trains, and Patricia Robertson juxtaposed the dark realities of war and the glittering spells of exotic dancing in The Goldfish Dancer. The stories in Mary Borsky's Cobalt Blue were set somewhere between here and there in landscapes physical and metaphysical together. The even more surreal habitat of Salvatore Difalco's Black Rabbit & Other Stories was in stark contrast to the brutal fact of loss in Mary Lou Dickinson's One Day It Happens. M.A.C. Farrant in The Breakdown So Far led readers from bare beginnings through broken bits of thought and narrative to unsettling conclusions.

      Poetry was as idiosyncratic as ever. Margaret Atwood opened The Door to the conundrums of growing old in a turbulent world; Yvonne Blomer compared and contrasted Japanese and Canadian cultures in A broken mirror, fallen leaf; Lorna Crozier meditated on The Blue Hour of the Day; Patrick Friesen managed to keep his poetic balance as he investigated the secrets of Earth's Crude Gravities; and Erin Mouré navigated her way through the downfalls of life most tellingly in O Cadoiro. Dennis Lee presented another collection of short poems in his quirky Yesno, while Don Domanski in All Our Wonder Unavenged used intensely distilled language and form to imbue each detail with unearthly clarity; Domanski won the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry for this work. Barbara Nickel's Domain established its own poetic spaces—mental, physical, and social—while Brian Henderson's Nerve Language offered windows into the mind of a madman, based on his own memoirs. In Muybridge's Horse, a long, sensual poetic study of passion and obsessive brilliance, Rob Winger exposed the career of the 19th-century photographer Eadweard Muybridge. In Torch River Elizabeth Philips illuminated the thoughts and experiences of the denizens of a wilderness-challenged society, as, from another angle, did Joanne Arnott in Mother Time, chronicling children's lives in chronological order, while Agnes Walsh's Going Around with Bachelors, offered a seriously lighthearted look at a gallery of Newfoundland's vanishing people.

Elizabeth Rhett Woods

Other Literature in English.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

      Outstanding new works in English by authors from sub-Saharan Africa, New Zealand, and Australia were among the highlights in world literature in 2007. Booker Prize winner (in 1991) and Nigerian-born author Ben Okri released the novel Starbook: A Magical Tale of Love and Regeneration, and compatriot poet and fiction writer Chris Abani brought out his second novella, Song for Night, a first-person narrative about a soldier who suffers when he is separated from his platoon. Similar themes were present in Biyi Bandele's coming-of-age novel Burma Boy. Elsewhere, second novels proved successful for Helon Habila (Measuring Time) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi ), whose Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) won the Orange Prize for Fiction.

       South African-born 2003 Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee, who was living in Australia, addressed numerous social, political, aesthetic, and interpersonal concerns in his latest novel, Diary of a Bad Year, which highlighted the profound problems of millions of people living in democracies throughout the world—all presented in a unique narrative divided into two and then three distinct parts running concurrently on each page. Fellow Nobel Prize winner (in 1991) Nadine Gordimer of South Africa received France's Legion of Honour and rewarded readers with her memorable collection Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black and Other Stories. Also from South Africa, Shaun Johnson (Native Commissioner [2006]) and Maxine Case (All We Have Left Unsaid [2006]), won regional Commonwealth Writers' Prizes in the categories of Best Book (Africa) and Best First Book (Africa), respectively. Prolific South African novelist and playwright Zakes Mda enjoyed continued popularity with the publication of his latest novel, Cion, which centred on the character of Toloki, who had invented his own occupation as a professional mourner and had first been introduced in Ways of Dying (1995).

 Several other fine works from sub-Saharan Africa worth noting included Ugandan author Monica Arac de Nyeko's story “Jambula Tree” (from the collection African Love Stories [2006, edited by Ama Ata Aidoo]), which captured the Caine Prize for African Writing. Moreover, Ghanian-born poet, critic, musician, and performance artist Kwame Dawes amply displayed his talents in Impossible Flying, perhaps his most personal verse collection to date.

       New Zealand author Lloyd Jones published to great fanfare his most recent work, Mister Pip (2006), inspired in part by the Charles Dickens classic Great Expectations. The novel not only won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Overall Best Book and the Montana (N.Z.) Medal for fiction but also was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Janet Frame's posthumously released beautiful and thought-provoking verse collection The Goose Bath (2006) gave witness to the depth and breadth of the author's life and took the top honour in the poetry category for the Montana Medal competition.

      In Australia, David Malouf, one of the finest practitioners of the short story, delivered 31 selections constituting his epic collection The Complete Short Stories. Renowned author, historian, and film director Richard Flanagan drew popular and critical acclaim with The Unknown Terrorist (2006), a spellbinding mystery that offered a cynical post-Sept. 11, 2001, view of the political climate in and plight of large cities. Alexis Wright, one of Australia's finest Aboriginal writers, published her second novel, Carpentaria (2006), an epic set in northwestern Queensland that won the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Established authors Les Murray and Janette Turner Hospital saw the release of their latest works (Selected Poems and Orpheus Lost, respectively), and Colleen McCullough added a seventh novel to her Masters of Rome series, Antony and Cleopatra.

      On a sad note, the year was marked by the deaths of British-born Australian author, poet, and scriptwriter Elizabeth Jolley (Jolley, Elizabeth ); Australian award-winning author Glenda Adams; New Zealand poet and actress Edith Hannah Campion; Senegalese writer, film director, and producer Ousmane Sembène (Sembene, Ousmane ); and Australian author, playwright, and television scriptwriter Steve J. Spears.

David Draper Clark

German
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

 The German Book Prize was awarded in 2007 to Julia Franck for her novel Die Mittagsfrau, the story of a woman who spends a large part of the 20th century struggling for independence and happiness. The novel's protagonist, Helene, experiences World Wars I and II and loses her father and her Jewish mother to war or racial prejudice. Living in Berlin in the turbulent 1920s, she also loses her fiancé, and when she ultimately marries and gives birth to a son, she makes the painful decision to abandon him in order to find herself; but this she never does. The novel, which reflected on the way in which history impinges on the lives of individuals in unexpected and frequently unpleasant ways, showed that people's efforts to elude the constraints of history often end in failure. With this novel and with the winning of the German Book Prize, Franck established herself as one of the most important German authors of the younger generation.

       Ingo Schulze's short-story collection Handy, the recipient of the Leipzig Book Fair Prize, was one of the most interesting books of the year. Following up on the remarkable success of Schulze's 1998 book Simple Storys—a novel told in the form of interconnected short stories—Handy further demonstrated Schulze's mastery of short fiction. Schulze's stories were seemingly modest and unimposing, but they were told with such cleverness that they gripped the reader with the urge to know more. One short story, “Die Verwirrungen der Silvesternacht,” reflected on the collapse in 1989 of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) via the private life of a young couple who are driven apart by the very historical events that they have helped bring about; 10 years later, on New Year's Eve, the couple is briefly brought together again, only to be separated for good. In this story, as in many others, Schulze showed how the great dramas of history often play out in a much more banal way at the individual level.

      Another important collection of short stories was Wolfgang Herrndorf's Diesseits des Van-Allen-Gürtels, a series of tales about contemporary 30- and 40-somethings living in present-day Berlin. Herrndorf flirted with the connection between fiction and reality; many of his characters were themselves involved in the world of contemporary literature and seemed to be based on real people—frequently authors with a viewpoint similar to his own. Herrndorf regarded Berlin's often self-centred literary milieu satirically but not without sympathy; after all, he was part of it.

      Austrian author Thomas Glavinic, whose novel Die Arbeit der Nacht (2006) had been well received, followed up with another novel, Das bin doch ich. Like Herrndorf, Glavinic played with the relationship between reality and fiction; the main character in his new novel was Thomas Glavinic, the author of a book called Die Arbeit der Nacht, who reflected enviously on the international success of another German-language novel by another young author who had written a book called Die Vermessung der Welt. Glavinic's novel humorously suggested that in the lives of writers, fiction and reality cannot be neatly separated.

      Glavinic's Austrian colleague Sabine Gruber published Über Nacht, a cleverly constructed novel that told the parallel stories of two women—one an Austrian patient named Irma who is waiting for a liver transplant and the other an Italian nurse named Mira—who will ultimately cross paths. The novel reflected on the philosophical and moral implications of organ transplants and the various other kinds of sharing and transubstantiation that are connected to them. The names of the two main characters are in fact simply permutations of each other, and their lives correspond in unusual and unexpected ways. Gruber's novel also suggested that literature itself is based on the transplantation of life into different, but strangely familiar, contexts.

      Young German author Thomas von Steinaecker's well-received first novel, Wallner beginnt zu fliegen, told the story of three generations in a single family whose lives and problems seemed to repeat from generation to generation. Arnold Stadler's novel Komm, gehen wir was a reflection on love, or on the impossibility of love; it revolved around a ménage à trois between a young German couple and an equally young American who meet each other on a beach on the Island of Capri. In Alexander Osang's novel Lennon ist tot, the protagonist moves to New York to study but soon gives up his work at the university in an effort to participate more fully in everyday American life; as the novel's title suggests, the central event for the protagonist is the murder in 1980 of singer John Lennon. Finally, Katja Lange-Müller's novel Böse Schafe also addressed the problems, and impossibility, of love: its protagonist, Soja, falls hopelessly in love with Harry, but her attempts to help him beat his drug addiction are doomed to failure.

      Martin Mosebach (Mosebach, Martin ) was named the winner of the 2007 Georg Büchner Prize in recognition for the body of his literary output. On June 2 Wolfgang Hilbig, one of the most important authors from the former GDR, died of cancer.

Stephen Brockmann

French

France.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

 A new record was set in 2007 for the number of books published in France, and during the rentrée littéraire alone (the high publishing season between August and October), 727 books came out, of which more than 400 were novels. In this annually increasing proliferation, much fiction passed unnoticed as a new trend toward journalistic realism made itself felt among the year's literary successes, sparking a new polemic on “reality fiction” and the lack of imagination in French literature. For example, one of the year's best sellers and winner of the Prix Médicis was Jean Hatzfeld's third tome of his portrait of Rwanda in the wake of genocide. La Stratégie des antilopes told the tale of Nyamata, a village in which Tutsi survivors must now live in fear and memory side by side with their Hutu persecutors, recently released from prison. Another popular example of the new journalistic trend was François Bégaudeau's Fin de l'histoire, which described in detail the true-life press conference given in June 2005 by Florence Aubenas, a French reporter who had been kidnapped and held hostage in Iraq for five months.

      Inspired by reality fiction's journalistic concerns, many novels took aim at European social problems. In A l'abri de rien, Olivier Adam concentrated on the problem of illegal immigration in France: when a middle-class woman in the north of France slowly enters the world of humanitarian aide workers caring for clandestine refugees, she comes to see the dignity of people she has barely noticed before, except to decry their presence. In Au secours pardon, Frédéric Beigbeder brought back Octave Parango, the antihero of his successful 2000 novel 99 francs, this time setting him in a modeling agency in order to attack the world of cosmetics. As he seeks a new face for a leading cosmetics firm, Parango is cynically aware that his choice of ever-younger, ever-blonder models is paving the way for pedophilia, racism, and the tyranny of youth. In Portrait de l'écrivain en animal domestique, Lydie Salvayre lampoons the creeping commercialization of art as her heroine, a talented novelist, takes a job writing for Jim Tobold, the “king of hamburgers,” a successful fast-food businessman. Forced to follow Tobold everywhere, copying down his words in order to condense them into a capitalist manifesto, the writer grows to hate and yet admire the vulgar, cutthroat businessman, into whose faithful pet her job has transformed her, as she sells out her art for money.

      The one true literary sensation of 2007 was another work of journalistic realism, Yasmina Reza's L'Aube le soir ou la nuit, for which the author, a famous playwright, followed Nicolas Sarkozy throughout his successful presidential campaign. Granted unprecedented access, Reza described Sarkozy's unbridled ambition and lust for power in a portrait that gripped French readers in its display of their new president's personality, from his quick anger and boredom to his childlike humour.

      Though “reality fiction” dominated book sales, a few works of pure fiction did attain success with their portrayal of the perennial French theme of isolation. In Mon cœur à l'étroit Marie NDiaye told of a proper, if starchy schoolteacher who suddenly discovers that her entire town has inexplicably begun to hate her. As she struggles in vain to understand why, the schoolteacher sinks into insanity, questioning her past and reliving her many sins. In Tom est mort, Marie Darrieussecq imagined the life of a mother struggling with guilt, grief, and the absurdity of death 10 years after the accident that killed her four-year-old son Tom, in a novel that, despite its subject, gained poignancy by avoiding sentimentality. In Sans l'orang-outan Éric Chevillard took on a subject much darker than those of his past works, namely the approaching extinction of the great apes, but did so in his usual, humorous way; after the death of the last two orangutans, mankind slips into chaos and devastation brought on by its own nonchalant destructiveness. On a lighter note, the tireless champion of the French language Erik Orsenna published a fairy tale in defense of the accent marks some French are trying to eliminate from their language. In La Révolte des accents, an island community sinks into bland boredom when a visiting theatrical troupe leaves, taking all accent marks with them, until in order to bring spice back to language, an islander sets out to persuade the accents to return home.

      In addition to the Prix Médicis awarded to Hatzfeld's journalistic La Stratégie des antilopes, the Prix Renaudot went to Daniel Pennac's Chagrin d'école, an autobiofiction in which the author relives the guilt and embarrassment he felt in his childhood as the class dunce, until he was finally saved by a teacher who understood him. The Prix Femina went to Eric Fottorino's Baisers de cinéma, in which, after his cameraman father's death, the lawyer Gilles Hector meets a married woman at the movie theatre where he seeks any clue to his lost and unknown mother's identity amid images of 1950s starlets. As the two impossible quests for inaccessible women merge, Gilles finally opens himself up to love, even if it means vulnerability to the pain of loss. Last, the most coveted literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, was awarded to Gilles Leroy's Alabama Song, another “reality fiction,” which told the story of Zelda's first meeting with F. Scott Fitzgerald, their marriage, and Zelda's attempts to defend herself against her husband's overwhelming selfishness.

Vincent Aurora

Canada.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

      The year 2007 in Quebec literature was rich and varied. Jean-François Beauchemin's slender semiautobiographical work about his near-death experience, La Fabrication de l'aube (2006), won the coveted Prix des Libraires in the Roman Québécois category. In the book, which attracted attention because of its unusual theme, the narrator dies—or almost succumbs—then returns to tell the tale of the great beyond. Among other new writers to garner attention was first-time novelist Simon Girard with Dawson Kid, whose title referred to the shootings at Dawson College, a sad evocation of rare domestic violence in urban Quebec. Old stalwarts weighed in as well, with poet and novelist Elise Turcotte adding to the breadth of her oeuvre with a book of linked poetic short stories, Pourquoi faire une maison avec ses morts, and popular favourite Marie Laberge moving from her usual romantic tales to the crime genre with Sans rien ni personne, a “cold case” story. Daniel Poliquin, a writer from French-speaking Ontario, scored with La Kermesse (2006), a novel that won the 2007 Prix des Lecteurs of Radio-Canada and was also, in its English version (A Secret Between Us), a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. The accolades underscored the continuing pattern of crossover successes between the two literary cultures within Canada. Writer Stanley Péan celebrated nearly 20 years of publication with a short-story collection, Autochtones de la nuit, which was accompanied by the reissue of four of his earlier works.

      Leméac Éditeur Inc. marked its 50th anniversary, which was considered quite an accomplishment in the perilous marketplace of Quebec. In the meantime, Montreal's two literary festivals, Blue Metropolis and the Festival International de la Littérature, vied for a place in the hearts of the city's book-loving population.

      As always, politics and the pen crossed paths, quite literally. Former Canadian prime ministers Jean Chrétien (Passion politique) and Brian Mulroney (Mémoires) managed to avoid each other at the Montreal Book Fair as both launched their books, continuing their campaigns for a place in Canada's and Quebec's history. More substantial issues were on writers' agendas as well. Journalist Dominique Forget offered up Perdre le nord?, an essay that addressed Canadians' concerns about the disappearing polar ice cap and issues relating to Canada's sovereignty over its northern frontier.

David Homel

Italian
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

 One of the most popular books of 2007 was not a novel; it was an investigative report showing the exorbitant costs Italians bore to support the luxurious lifestyles of their politicians. In La casta: così i politici italiani sono diventati intoccabili, journalists Sergio Rizzo and Gian Antonio Stella highlighted the many privileges associated with a career in politics—such as retirement with full benefits at age 50—and denounced widespread practices that led to an oversized government sector. Although the authors did not uncover much new information, they gathered impressive statistics, from the ratio of functionaries to inhabitants—which in some regions was about 1 to 400—to the number of hours officially flown by planes carrying Italian politicians—a stunning 37 per day.

      Some of the year's novels dealt with tragic events in Italy's recent history. Mauro Corona's I fantasmi di pietra was a moving tribute to the small village of Erto, in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. The narrator moves from door to door through the abandoned hamlet, re-creating the ties that held together a community forever displaced by the 1963 Vaiont landslide. In Cosa cambia Roberto Ferrucci gave voice to the questions and anguish of a journalist who returns to Genoa, where he and scores of peaceful demonstrators were victims of police brutality during the 2001 Group of Eight summit.

      In recent years several novels had focused on harsh social realities, depicting Italy as a country of vulgarity, consumerism, and latent—or sometimes blatant—violence. Niccolò Ammaniti's Come Dio comanda, which received the Strega Prize (Italy's highest literary award), was a notable example of this trend. A less- dark and less-unsettling work was Sandro Veronesi's Brucia Troia; in two parallel stories the novel traced the effects of economic progress and urban development from the 1950s to 1970 on a fanatic priest who wants to impress the faithful with elaborate electronic machines and on a gang of petty criminals that specializes in arson.

      Giancarlo Pastore's complex novel Regina centred on the struggle of a young protagonist to distinguish between reality and fiction or, more precisely, to come to terms with the myths that he is forced to confront. Openly acknowledged in the novel as an inspiring force, writer Elsa Morante (1912–85) was again confirmed as a durable influence on Italian literature, thanks in particular to her unsurpassed ability to depict the world of childhood. Morante's final novel, Aracoeli (1982), provided the epigraph for Silvia Dai Prà's La bambina felice, which addressed its protagonist's difficult transition from childhood to adolescence.

      Alessandra Neri and Marosia Castaldi chose to focus on women at the end of their lives in their respective novels, Nove mesi and Dentro le mie mani le tue: tetralogia di Nightwater. The title of Neri's work (“Nine Months”) ominously referred not to the normal duration of a pregnancy but rather to the time elapsed between the protagonist's diagnosis and her last words: “I am about to die.” The author meticulously described hospitals and the rituals of the communities that inhabit them. Comparisons between the experiences of terminal patients and those of prisoners in concentration camps call into question medical practices and public attitudes toward death and dying. A meditation on concentration camps and a prognosis of nine months to live also figured in Dentro le mie mani le tue. The two novels, however, could not be more different. While Neri's slim volume followed the protagonist's descent to darkness in a sober style, Castaldi's work was highly unusual in the Italian contemporary landscape because of its length (721 pages), its experimental prose, and its attempt to create a universe wherein the dead and the living, reality and literature, converge.

      Sicilian dialect attained privileged status in the Italian literary scene, as attested not only by the continued success of Andrea Camilleri's novels (such as La pista di sabbia, the latest of Inspector Montalbano's adventures) but also by the publication of Terra matta, an edited version of Vincenzo Rabito's memoir. Rabito's lack of formal education did not prevent his filling more than 1,000 typed pages with the story of his life, in energetic prose modeled on spoken Sicilian and marked by the author's idiosyncrasies—such as the habit of separating words with semicolons. Afraid that the original work's difficulties would discourage even the most ambitious readers, editors Evelina Santangelo and Luca Ricci produced an approximately 400-page adaptation that, while respecting as much as possible the author's style, improved readability by presenting the text with standard spelling and punctuation.

      A passion for local language was also a distinctive feature of the writing of Luigi Meneghello, who died in 2007. He would chiefly be remembered for Libera nos a Malo (1963), a tender and ironic representation of his native village of Malo (near Vicenza).

Laura Benedetti

Spanish

Spain.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

 Most of the books of Spanish writers in 2007 were either psychologically oriented novels or adventures with a historical setting. One of the most anticipated was Veneno y sombra y adiós, the third volume of Javier Marías's Tu rostro mañana trilogy; in this story the main character—variously Jaime, Jacobo, or Jacques Deza—who has been able to see others' destinies, finally sees his own true self as well. He finds himself immersed in a world of betrayal and violence.

      In Nunca pasa nada, José Ovejero explored how life could become an accumulation of secrets and concluded that people are less ashamed of what they do than they are afraid of being caught. Juan José Millás won the Planeta Prize with El mundo, the memoir of a preadolescent boy. Millás explained, “Juanjo Millás's only dream is to escape from the street where he lives; when he does escape, he finds the same street everywhere because it is a metaphor of the world.” Camino de hierro, by Nativel Preciado, received the Primavera Prize. This novel about the universal themes of death and memory, although harsh, also exhibited sensitivity and kindness.

      Vicente Molina Foix won the National Prize for Narrative with El abrecartas, an epistolary novel that consists of about 70 years of correspondence between fictional and historical characters, including Federico García Lorca, Vicente Aleixandre, and Rafael Alberti. Juan Manuel de Prada received the Biblioteca Breve Prize for El séptimo velo, the story of Julio, a man who learns a family secret after his mother's death and becomes obsessed with following the steps of Jules Tillon, another man who was obsessed with his hidden history.

      El alma de la ciudad, by Jesús Sánchez Adalid, was set during the time of King Alfonso VIII and was the story told by a pilgrim, Blasco Jiménez, who must choose between his loyalty to a recently established city named Ambrosía (Plasencia) and his personal freedom. In Antonio Gala's El pedestal de las estatuas, previously unknown writings of Antonio Pérez, secretary to Philip II, revealed the hidden history of Spain in the late 16th century—the sinister and violent activities of the Spanish monarchy, the Roman Catholic Church, and most of the nobility.

      The Nadal Prize was awarded to Felipe Benítez Reyes for his parody novel Mercado de espejismos, in which two retired art thieves are commissioned to steal the remains of the Three Wise Men from the cathedral at Cologne, Ger. Benítez invites the reader to reflect on the need for people to invent their lives in order for them to become real.

      Luis Leante received the Alfaguara Prize for Mira si yo te querré, a narrative of contrasting cultures and social classes. In the story Montse Cambra, after losing a daughter and being abandoned by her husband, goes to the Spanish Sahara to look for her first boyfriend.

      The highest distinction in Spanish letters, the Cervantes Prize, was awarded to Argentine poet Juan Gelman, whose more than 20 books of poetry addressed social and political conditions in his native country.

Verónica Esteban

Latin America.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

 Latin American literature in 2007 continued its usual oscillation between addressing political reality and escaping into the imagination. Some works did both.

      Combining themes and texture with great literary skill made two works by Argentine writers worth noting. New York-based María Negroni's La Anunciación described in lyrical and surrealistic prose the shifting inner world of Emma, an Argentine woman exiled to Rome for political reasons. In La batalla del calentamiento (2006), Marcelo Figueras addressed Argentina's recent past in a wildly imaginative allegorical tale about people in a small invented town.

      Three notable Argentine short novels were built on particular obsessions. Esther Cross's Radiana portrayed a pianist who repeats the same tune until she becomes an automaton. In Martín Murphy's El encierro de Ojeda—which received the Juan Rulfo award for short novel in 2004 but was published in 2007—the main character is obsessed first with mathematics and then with words that he uses to describe everyday objects in bizarre ways. In La vida nueva, by the prolific César Aira, publishers deceive writers, writers truthfully or falsely devote themselves to their work, life and literature get mixed up, and publication of the narrator's first novel is repeatedly postponed.

      El enigma de París by Argentine Pablo De Santis was a masterful detective novel, erudite and witty, set in Paris during the Exposition of 1889. The novel won the Premio Iberoamericano Planeta Casa de América de Narrativa.

      In Cuba the Premio Alejo Carpentier was awarded in December 2006 to Las potestades incorpóreas by Alberto Garrandés, a symbolic novel in which reality and allegory are balanced. Senel Paz published En el cielo con diamantes (the title refers to the Beatles' song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”), set in Cuba in the 1960s.

      Several exiled Cuban writers produced novels that were critical of the regime of Fidel Castro. In Amir Valle's Las palabras y los muertos, the history of the revolution is narrated after Castro's death by one of his bodyguards. La fiesta vigilada by Antonio José Ponte was set in the period 1968–93, when bars and cabarets were closed and parties were held only in private. In Salidas de emergencia by Alexis Romay, an expatriate living in Spain decides to return to Cuba, where his son still lives; he becomes enmeshed with numerous other people, all of them trapped in some way.

      Colombian Evelio Rosero's short novel Los ejércitos featured a memorable main character, a retired professor; the novel portrayed the disintegration of a remote mountain town, a casualty of the cruelty of guerrillas, the paramilitary, and the army. This heartrending story won the Premio Tusquets Editores de Novela in 2006. In the nonfiction La puta de Babilonia, Fernando Vallejo criticized the theology and practice of religious institutions—especially the Roman Catholic Church but to some extent Protestantism, Islam, and Judaism as well—from their foundations to the present day. Juan Gabriel Vázquez's Historia secreta de Costaguana mixed fiction and reality in a very original way.

      Well-established Uruguayan writer Mauricio Rosencof was represented by Una góndola ancló en la esquina. Humour, cruelty, and tenderness mixed together in the tale of a town that has to deal with the unreality of actual historical events, as well as with its day-to-day life.

      Alejandro Zambra, a successful young Chilean author, published his second novel, La vida privada de los árboles, a short work of original design about a mediocre professor who decides not to think about what he is experiencing—his wife's absence during the entire night—imagining instead alternative stories. Two posthumous works by Roberto Bolaño also appeared in 2007: El secreto del mal, a compilation of incomplete short stories, essays, and autobiographical sketches, and La universidad desconocida, a collection he had prepared of his complete poems.

      Guadalajara de noche (2006) by the Chicago-based Honduran León Leiva Gallardo takes place during the Guadalajara, Mex., book fair. There the narrator's wild nights and days are both a descent into hell and a celebration of life.

      In August Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska was awarded the 2006 Rómulo Gallegos Prize for El tren pasa primero (2005). The novel dealt with Mexico's rail strike of 1958–59 and the government's suppression of the strike. With her usual mastery, the author wove historical testimony with fiction and public life with private life. Xavier Velasco's Éste que ves explored the anguish and desperation of childhood in a self-referential tale. In Llamadas de Amsterdam, Juan Villoro mixed a failed artist's domestic misfortunes with ironic references to the Mexican leadership.

       Lost City Radio by California-based Peruvian Daniel Alarcón (Radio ciudad perdida, translated by Jorge Cornejo) illustrated the tragedy of civil war. In an unspecified Latin American country, sometimes recognizable as Peru, the host of a radio program devoted to finding missing people heads for the jungle to look for her own husband. La felicidad de los muertos by Enrique Cortez was a reflection on the causes of political violence and a metanarrative game well played in only 80 pages. Award-winning poet Jorge Nájar's El árbol de Sodoma included three independent narratives with common topics: terrorism, narcotraffic, and the cultural diversity of the Peruvian Amazonia.

Leda Schiavo

Portuguese

Portugal.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

      The enigmatic writer of Spanish descent Maria Gabriela Llansol won the 2007 Fiction Prize of the Association of Portuguese Writers for her book Amigo e amiga: curso de silêncio de 2004 (2006). “[Amigo e amiga] re-creates life after suffering, without any sentimental pathos or transcendent pretension,” declared Luís Mourão, one of the five members of the jury. Llansol had won the same award in 1991 for Um beijo dado mais tarde (1990) and thus became the fourth writer to have received the prize twice since its inception in 1982. Since her literary debut in 1962 with Os pregos na erva, Llansol had published 35 volumes of narrative and diary that established her reputation as a master of intricate poetic prose with a devoted circle of admirers. Another acclaimed Portuguese woman writer, Lídia Jorge, published an important new novel in 2007; at once lyrical and suspenseful, Combateremos a sombra followed its protagonist, the psychoanalyst Osvaldo Campos, through a densely plotted maze of personal and political deception.

      The 2007 Camões Prize, the most important trophy of Portuguese-language literatures, went to António Lobo Antunes, who during the year published his 19th novel, O meu nome é legião. The prolific young Portuguese poet, essayist, playwright, and novelist Gonçalo M. Tavares received his most significant literary prize to date, the 2007 Portugal Telecom Prize, for his novel Jerusalém. Praising the book, the philosopher and critic Eduardo Lourenço stated: “With recent [Portuguese] literature we find ourselves, as it were, in a world of death in parentheses. Perhaps no other writer conveys this feeling better than the author of Jerusalém.” Among Tavares's other recent works were the short-story collection Água, cão, cavalo, cabeça (2006) and the novel Aprender a rezar na era da técnica (2007).

      The poet Fiama Hasse Pais Brandão, initially linked to the movement Poesia 61, died in January. A collection of her poems was published as Obra breve (1991, 2006). Some of her most celebrated works appeared in the last years of her life, among them Epístolas e memorandos (1996) and Cenas vivas (2000). Another great loss for Portuguese letters was the death of Eduardo Prado Coelho. The author of Os universos da crítica (1982) and several collections of essays, he was an influential public intellectual who since the 1990s had written a daily column of cultural criticism for the newspaper Público.

Victor K. Mendes

Brazil.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

  Brazil's fiction in 2007 was characterized by variety. Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza's latest novel, Espinosa sem saída, published in late 2006, found his urban philosopher-detective Espinosa investigating connections between two seemingly quite different crimes. Beatriz Bracher's linguistically dense novel Antônio concerned the life of an upper-middle-class man from São Paulo who seeks to expiate past sins. Bernardo Carvalho's O sol se põe em São Paulo was a family mystery centred on Japanese-Brazilian life. The novel addressed both today's metropolis and the family's forebears in Osaka during World War II. In Antônio Vicente Seraphim Pietroforte's Amsterdã SM, the protagonist, Cláudio, delights in the sadomasochistic activities of the Dutch city.

      Distinguished author Autran Dourado published a collection of short fiction, O senhor das horas (2006), in which he returned to his detailed observations of the lives of normal people; for example, in the story “O herói de Duas Pontes” (“The Hero of Duas Pontes”), the protagonist's series of “firsts” (first day in school, first love affair) ends in his death—as the first person to die in a 1932 revolt. A recurrent theme of Ricardo Lísias's story collection Anna O. e outras novelas was shades of psychological instability; the title story was inspired by Freud's famous case. The collection Entre nós: Contos sobre homossexualidade brought together classic stories on gay themes from 150 years of Brazilian literature.

      Two notable theatrical works about homosexual characters were produced in 2007. Os Disponíveis.com by Herny Domingues Filho focused on the lives and problems of characters seeking sex on an Internet site. A revival of José Vicente de Paula's Santidade, written in 1967 but suppressed in the same year by Brazil's military dictatorship, examined the relationships between an older man, a youth, and a seminarian.

      An official Web site for the works of Clarice Lispector (www.claricelispector.com.br) was launched by Editôra Rocco to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Lispector's death. The publisher also released Clarice Lispector: Entrevistas, which included Lispectors's interviews with leading Brazilian intellectuals in the 1960s and '70s. In 2007 Brazilian letters lost poet Alberto da Cunha Melo as well as several notable critics: Léo Gilson Ribeiro, Joel Silveira, and Paulo Dantas. German Brazilianist Ray-Güde Mertin, whose efforts brought the works of many important Brazilian writers of the late 20th century to world attention through translations, died in January.

Irwin Stern

Russian
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

 After several years in eclipse, the “thick journals” reclaimed their place in 2007 at the centre of the Russian literary scene. This was in part due to the absence of new book publications from several of the leading fiction writers of the post-Soviet period (such as Vladimir Sorokin, Viktor Pelevin, Dmitry Bykov, and Boris Akunin). Two of the year's Russian Booker Prize nominees were published in literary journals: Andrey Dmitriyev's Bukhta Radosti (“Haven of Joy”) in Znamia and Aleksandr Ilichevsky's Matisse in Novy mir. Although written in different styles and by writers of different generations, both novels focused on the psychological experience of their protagonists and “reflected” post-Soviet life via memories of the past and featured grotesque comparisons between the experiences of successful people and those of people at the bottom of the social ladder. Ilichevsky won the award.

      The year's most controversial novel, and also a Booker nominee, came from Lyudmila Ulitskaya. Daniel Shtayn, perevodchik (2006; “Daniel Stein, Translator”) told the story of a Jewish Holocaust survivor who is rescued by monks and then converts to Roman Catholicism; he becomes a priest and attempts to reconcile Judaism and Christianity on the level both of ritual and dogma. Reviled by fanatics on both sides, Shtayn is ultimately murdered. The actual model for the character, Daniel Rafayzen, died of natural causes. The novel, which was reviewed widely (including in a group of articles in Novy mir), was praised by some for its boldness but criticized by others for its oversimplification of complex religious and philosophical issues as well as for its melodramatic plotline. Nonetheless, the novel captured the Big Book Prize. Other works that made the Booker short list included Yury Maletsky's Konets igly (2006; “The End of the Needle”), Igor Sakhnovsky's Chelovek, kotoryi znal vse (“The Man Who Knew Everything”), and Aleks Tarn's Bog ne igrajet v kosti (“God Does Not Play Dice”). Ilichevsky's book was also short-listed for the Big Book Prize, along with Aleksey Varlamov's 2006 biography of leading 20th-century Russian writer Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy, Pelevin's 2006 Empire V (generally considered one of his weaker efforts), and Dina Rubina's novel Na solnechnoi storone ulitsy (2006; “On the Sunny Side of the Street”). The latter, a work of adventure-fantasy, was a change of pace for a writer better known for ironic portraits of Russian, Israeli, and Central Asian life.

      Works of imagination continued to dominate the sphere of serious literature. Oleg Yuryev completed his prose trilogy with the novel Vineta, which was published in Znamia. Begun in 2000 with Poluostrov zhidyatin (“The Zhidyatin Peninsula”) and followed by Novy golem, ili voyna starikov i detei (2002; “The New Golem, or the War of the Old Folk and the Children”), the trilogy dealt with the tragic relationship of European, Russian, and Jewish peoples. Vineta (the title refers to an ancient Slavo-Germanic city located on the south Baltic coast) tells the grotesquely phantasmagoric story of the sudden international rivalry for control of the city, which in the end turns out to be St. Petersburg. This combination of real and fantastic elements creates a link between the novel and the “Petersburg myth,” a central strand of Russian literature inaugurated in the works of Aleksandr Pushkin, Nikolay Gogol, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

      Fairy-tale-based fiction also, and somewhat unexpectedly, had success in 2007. For example, the surprisingly popular novel Put Muri (“Muri's Way”), written by St. Petersburg schoolteacher Iliya Boyashov and recounting the adventures of a cat named Muri, was awarded the National Best-Seller award. Linor Goralik, a well-known Moscow-based writer who was reared in Ukraine and in Israel, came out with two books about wild animals: Zayats PTs (“The Hare PTs”), about a rabbit, and Martin ne plachet (“Martin Doesn't Cry”), featuring a talking elephant. The Andrey Bely Prizes, among Russia's most prestigious, were awarded to Aleksandr Skidan for poetry, to the late Aleksandr Golshteyn for prose, and to Roman Timenchik for the humanities (on the basis of his exhaustive study of the poetry of Anna Akhmatova in the 1960s).

      The Bunin Prize for poetry produced a major literary scandal when the jury, which was to award it, dissolved itself because of interference and pressure from sponsors. In the end, a new jury was hastily formed and the award given to Andrey Dementyev, an aged poet of the Soviet period. The Moscow-based publishing house Novoe Izdatelstvo published important new volumes of poetry from Oleg Yurev, Aleksey Tsvetkov, Yevgeny Saburov, Yuly Gugolev, Yevegnya Lavut, and Nikolay Baitov. The same publisher also came out with a collection of articles from the important poet-critic Mikhail Aizenberg and a book from Lithuanian poet-critic Thomas Ventslova about Joseph Brodsky (of whom Ventslova was a close friend). Other important works of contemporary poetry came from Yelena Shvarts, Olga Martynova, and Arkady Shtypel. The publication in 2006 of the two-volume complete works of Leonid Aronzon (1939–70) filled an important gap in the presentation of modern Russian poetry.

      Biographies continued to be very popular with the reading public. The most important of these was a myth-challenging study of the legendary Soviet poet Sergey Esenin, written by Oleg Lekmanov and Mikhail Sverdlov.

      The greatest loss to Russian literature in 2007 was the sudden death in July of Dmitry Aleksandrovich Prigov (Prigov, Dmitry Aleksandrovich ) at age 66. Prigov was a founder of Moscow Conceptualism and a leading poet, artist, and theoretician of postmodernism in Russia.

Valery Shubinsky

Persian
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

      Various events brought into relief the increasingly precarious situation of Persian literary activity in 2007. In Iran fears that the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might not allow the 20th Tehran International Book Fair to proceed and concerns that draconian censorship measures would further restrict publishing activities proved largely unfounded. Cumbersome regulations did slow the pace of book publishing considerably, though, and the closure in the fall of several “book cafés” complicated literary life. Not everyone agreed with the description of Iran's cultural challenges in the May 27 New York Times article “Seeking Signs of Literary Life in Iran.”

      In Afghanistan in May the first post-Taliban book fair was held in Mazar-e Sharif. Iran's participation in this event proved largely successful, although some of its books were deemed insulting to the majority Sunni population of the host country. At the end of the year, the National Assembly of Tajikistan was debating a bill to name Tajiki Persian the country's official language, as well as whether to declare a gradual return to the Perso-Arabic alphabet a long-term goal.

      Major prizewinners included Hamid-Riza Najafi's Baghha-yi shini (“Orchards of Sand”) and Husayn Sanʿatpur's Samt-i tarik-i kalamat (“The Dark Side of Words”)—both short-story collections—as well as Munir al-Din Bayruti's novel Chahar dard (“Birth Pangs”). Qaysar Aminpur's Dastur-i zaban-i eshq (“A Grammar of Love”) proved the best-selling poetry collection of the year. The publication in Iran of Jalal Khaliqi-Mutlaq's edition of Firdawsi's epic, the Shah-Nama (“Book of Kings”), was perhaps the most notable literary event in 2007.

      The year marked the 800th anniversary of the birth in Balkh (now in Afghanistan) of 13th-century mystic poet Jalal al-Din Rumi. Most notable among the events held to celebrate the anniversary were the congress held in May in Kabul and academic conferences held in September in London and at the University of Maryland. International recognition focused attention on the poet's legacy and on Persian literary tradition. The death in London on November 29 of Jaleh Esfahani at age 86 was a significant loss to Persian literature.

Ahmad Karimi Hakkak

Arabic
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

      Novels continued to get the most attention in Arabic literature in 2007. In Saudi Arabia a surge began in 2006, when approximately 50 novels were published. Half of them were by female writers, including Rajāʾ ʿAbd Allāh al-Ṣāniʿ, whose daring novel Banāt al-Riyāḍ (2005; Girls of Riyadh, 2007) broke new ground. As a literary form, the novel was well suited to respond to reform trends and the sense of freedom sweeping the country. In his Ikhtilās (“Embezzlement”), Hānī Naqshabandī, who was the editor of the Saudi women's magazine Sayyidatī (“My Lady”), produced a semiautobiographical story. The novel addressed shortcomings of Saudi society as revealed in clandestine correspondence between Hicham, the editor of a women's magazine, and Sarah, a married reader in Saudi Arabia.

      In Egypt, ʿAlāʾ al-Aswānī's Shīkājū (“Chicago”) met with even greater success than his ʿImārat Yaʿqūbiyān (2002; The Yacoubian Building, 2004). Informed by the writer's own experiences as a dental student in Chicago, the novel addressed the dislocations of Egyptian students and immigrants in the U.S. and was critical of all parties, including the governments and societies of Egypt and the U.S. The author received the Mediterranean Award for Culture at the Galassia Gutenberg book fair in Naples.

      A growing boldness characterized the Arabic novel as more writers felt free to describe sexual relations within and outside of marriage. The glorification of the body and women's right to sexual pleasure were central in Saḥar al-Mūjī's novel N (or Nūn). Bahāʾ Ṭāhir was less explicit in Wāḥat al-ghurub (2006; “The Sunset Oasis”) as he portrayed the sex life of an Egyptian man and his Irish wife. Yūsuf Abū Rayyah's Ṣamt al-ṭawāḥīn (“The Silence of the Mills”) featured strong female characters, including Shāhīnāz, a member of the impoverished aristocracy who makes advances to a male guest, and Shahda, who—to please her father—married a man she did not love. London-based Ahdaf Soueif's latest collection of short stories, I Think of You, included rather subdued descriptions of sexual relations.

 Novelists continued to experiment with form and language, among them Ṣunʿ Allāh Ibrāhīm, who used a documentary style in his novel Al-talaṣṣuṣ (“Sneaking”). In this story a nine-year-old boy in Cairo during the volatile late 1940s observes the world of adults, including that of his elderly father. Palestinian poet Maḥmūd Darwīsh's latest publication, Fī ḥadrat al-ghiyāb (2006; “In the Presence of Absence”), was a set of autobiographical essays in poetic prose.

      The traditionally dominant literary form, poetry, seemed to have been pushed aside by readers; Aḥmad ʿAbd al-Muʿṭī Ḥijāzī—although his public appearances drew many fans—questioned whether Egyptians liked poetry. Literary critics pointed to a decline in Arabic literacy, and even Egyptian novelist Muḥammad ʿAlāʾ al-Dīn, as he prepared to publish his first collection of poetry, acknowledged his limited mastery of Arabic grammar. Literary critic Ṣalāḥ Faḍl called for schools to use more appealing reading texts.

      Poetry was, however, not ignored by its small but devoted readership. Fārūq Shūsha, who introduced the work of new poets in the Egyptian press, praised the elegance of the language and the beauty of the images in Sūzān ʿUlaywān's collection, Bayt min sukkar (“A House Made of Sugar”). On the official level, poetry maintained respect and recognition; in Egypt the poet Muḥammad ʿAfīfī Maṭar received the national appreciation award. The fiction award went to Jamāl al-Ghīṭānī.

      Egypt's first lady, Sūzān Mubārak, led a campaign to encourage reading and the creation of children's literature. The winning books for 2007 (all published in 2006) were Influwanzā…yā fāyzah (“It Is Flu, Faiza”) by Syrian writer Līna Kīlānī, Ayna ikhtafā ākhir al-dīnāṣawrāt? (“Where Did the Last Dinosaurs Go?”) by Amal Faraḥ, and Al-bālūnah al-bayḍāʾ (“The White Balloon”) by Fāṭimah al-Maʿdūl. An honorary award was given to Yaʿqūb Shārūnī for his novel Sirr malikat al-mulūk (“The Secret of the Queen of Kings”), a narration of Hatshepsut's life.

      Conferences on writers in exile were held in Qatar and Algiers; the Algiers meeting featured long-shunned Francophone Maghribi literature. Nostalgia was at the centre of Niʿmāt al-Buḥayrī's novel Ashjār qalīlah ʿinda al-munḥana (“Few Trees on the Slope”). Ibrāhīm al-Kūnī vividly evoked the desert in his novels. Many writers stressed geographic displacement, whereas the poet Adūnīs stressed his inner exile.

      The passing in 2007 of prominent Cairo-based Iraqi poet Nāzik al-Malāʾikah marked the year. Al-Malāʾikah took Arabic poetry in a new and much freer direction with the publication of her poem “Cholera” (1947).

Aida A. Bamia

Chinese
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

      Wang Anyi, one of China's leading contemporary writers, attracted notice in 2007 with her novel Qimeng shidai (“The Age of Enlightenment”). Like other of her recent novels, Qimeng shidai was a reminiscence of Shanghai, where the author lived for nearly 50 years. Set during the early years of the Cultural Revolution, the novel was composed of a series of stories, the main characters of which were all middle-school students. Among other things, the book explored the disturbances of adolescence, the delicate relationships between boys and girls, and sexual troubles posed by the impulses of youth. Wang was particularly interested in the process of spiritual maturity in boys. The novel featured long talks between the boys as well as conversations between boys and their fathers and grandfathers about the Cultural Revolution, the world communist movement, feelings of pessimism and optimism, and the meaning of life. By a very fine process of description, Qimeng shidai showed that the period of the Cultural Revolution—usually considered to have been a harsh, even miserable time—was also for some an age of enlightenment.

      Another notable novel to appear in China during the year was Shanhe ru meng (“Shadow in Her Dream”) by Ge Fei, a well-known novelist and literature professor in Beijing. The book was the last volume of a trilogy that had taken the author some eight years to write. Shanhe ru meng told the story of a county official in eastern China who returns from a visit to the Soviet Union intent on quickly implementing communist reforms, only to lose his position as his supporters rebel against him one by one. In the book's closing chapters, the protagonist travels to a neighbouring area where a communist community has already been established, but he ultimately decides to leave the community to return to his native county and to the girlfriend he left there. Shanhe ru meng was permeated with detestation for bureaucracy as well as deep doubts regarding communist social construction.

Wang Xiaoming

Japanese
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2007, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2007).

 One of the most notable events in 2007 for Japanese literature was the publication of Tetsushi Suwa's first novel, Asatte no hito (“A Distracted Man”), initially published in the June issue of the literary magazine Gunzō. Suwa received the magazine's new-writer prize as well as the year's second Akutagawa Prize, awarded twice a year to promising Japanese fiction writers. In Suwa's novel the protagonist struggles to understand the life of his uncle, who has suddenly disappeared, leaving behind an unintelligible diary. This experimental work contemplated the meaning of language and the relationships between words and the world. Suwa's recognition marked the first time in 30 years that the winner of the Gunzō New Writer's Award also won the Akutagawa Prize—the last having been Ryu Murakami in 1976 for Kagirinaku tōmei ni chikai burū (Almost Transparent Blue).

      Nanae Aoyama's Hitori-biyori (“Being Alone”) won the Akutagawa Prize for the first half of 2007. Young writers such as Suwa and Aoyama received more attention than established authors, who published relatively few notable works in 2007. Best sellers by well-known writers included Banana Yoshimoto's Maboroshi Hawai (“Phantom Hawaii”) and Noboru Tsujihara's Encho shibai banashi: Meoto yurei (“The Playacting of Encho: A Ghost Couple”). Haruki Murakami's new translation of Raymond Chandler's The Long Goodbye and Ikuo Kameyama's new translation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov were discussed more often than Japanese literary works.

      Best-seller lists were dominated by books that originated as serialized “ mobile phone novels” (keitai shosetsu), works that were downloaded in very brief installments to phones from Web sites. Young people, who were used to text messaging on their phones, read the small-screen works everywhere they went. Among the most popular writers were Yoshi, Rin, Mika, and Mei.

      In 2005 Kenzaburō Ōe, seeking to promote the revival of literature as an alternative to the culture of the Internet and the mobile phone, established a prize in his own name. In May 2007 the first winner was announced: Yū Nagashima's short-story collection Yūko-chan no chikamichi (2006; “Yūko's Shortcut”). Nagashima said that he was happy to have received the prize, yet he was a little uneasy because he had never read Ōe's stories. He also commented that he could, however, sympathize with Ōe's wish to introduce new Japanese literature to the world.

      The Yomiuri Prize for Literature was not awarded. The Jun'ichirō Tanizaki Prize, for the year's most accomplished literary work, was awarded to Yūichi Seirai's collection of short stories about people in Nagasaki, Bakushin (2006; “Ground Zero”). The recipient of the Yasunari Kawabata Prize for the year's outstanding short story was Masayo Koike's “Tatado” (“Tatado Beach”), which was first published in the September 2006 issue of the literary journal Shincho.

      Deaths in 2007 included novelist Saburō Shiroyama, who was best known for his use of business subjects, and antiwar writer Makoto Oda.

Yoshihiko Kazamaru

▪ 2007

Introduction

English

United Kingdom.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

      A speech at the Man Booker Prize ceremony by prize chair and academic Hermione Lee summed up the recurring threads in 2006 British fiction: “A sense of exile, displacement and alienation was a powerful theme in many of these books … children's vulnerability, women in repressive communities, old age, and institutions. We came across many characters looking for a secret past, of a family or a country, searching for a lost parent or uncovering a hidden trauma. We found a lot of anti-American feeling, many allusions to war and terrorism. … If all this sounds rather grim, well, it was a serious year.”

  Kiran Desai's Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Inheritance of Loss contained many of these themes. Set in the 1940s in the Indian Himalayas during a time of Nepalese insurgency, it told the stories of a Cambridge-educated Anglophile judge, his orphaned granddaughter, and the son of his cook, a member of New York's “shadow class” of illegal immigrants. Described by one critic as “a poet of modern disenchantment,” Desai ruthlessly illustrated the bitter pain of immigration, the lasting demoralization that colonialism inflicted upon India, and her view that globalization is an affront to the less-developed world. First-time novelist Hisham Matar was short-listed for In the Country of Men, a portrait of de facto leader Muammar al-Qaddafi's 1970s Libya from the half-comprehending perspective of a nine-year-old boy. The Times heralded the book as a movement away from the teen-angst-ridden “maturation” stories of the late 20th century: “In Hisham Matar's extraordinary first novel [the voice of youth] becomes again what it was in David Copperfield and Jane Eyre, the universal cry of an innocent victim of institutional sadism.”

      Critics and booksellers expressed surprise that well-known writers such as David Mitchell, Peter Carey, and Nadime Gordimer failed to make the Man Booker short list. Ion Trewin, administrator of the prize, said, “It seems to be a seismic moment in English literature with the old guard perhaps passing on the baton to new talent.” Desai, at 35, was the youngest woman ever to receive the award. In her acceptance speech, she paid tribute to the influence of her mother, Anita Desai, who had been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize three times.

       Zadie Smith also treated issues of class and race in her novel On Beauty (2005), winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction. Part satire of American universities, part postintegration drama, On Beauty featured a white academic, his black hospital-administrator wife, and their three children, each struggling with racial identity in different ways. An urban middle-class academic family was also at the centre of Ali Smith's The Accidental (2005), winner of the 2005 Whitbread Novel Award. Lighter in tone than many of the year's novels, The Accidental was appreciated for its beautiful construction and the different styles—each conveying the workings of one of its four principal characters' minds—in which it was written. A reviewer in The Sunday Times wrote, “Smith has written a proper novel with a beginning, a middle and an end, but turned it into an exuberantly inventive series of variations.” Family issues again arose in Edward St. Aubyn's Mother's Milk, short-listed for the Man Booker, which explored how mothers affect the past, present, and future of their children's lives.

      The serious climate in fiction writing was reflected in stylistic devices; some novelists engaged in experiments with literary form in a purposeful way, but some deviations cost the work popular appeal. M.J. Hyland's novel Carry Me Down (short-listed for the Man Booker) was written in the claustrophobic voice of its 11-year-old narrator, a needy, affection-starved misfit of a boy living in a tower block in 1970s Ireland. The protagonist's narrow vision and flat language—a consequence of his lack of opportunity and grim surroundings—were described as “painful” and “utterly believable” but left one reviewer “gasping for air.” Sarah Waters (short-listed for the Man Booker and Orange prizes) exchanged the straightforward first-person thriller style that characterized her earlier “lesbian Victorian romps” for sombre realism in The Night Watch, a novel about World War II and its aftermath. Narrated from the points of view of four characters, The Night Watch told its story backwards, opening with a portrait of its weary, gray, war-damaged characters in the stale year of 1947 and ending in 1941. As one commentator pointed out, although the novel's listlessness and reverse chronology made it “a struggle for the reader to engage,” this was “part of Waters's design.”

      Given the current tendency among fiction writers to explore the impact of historical and political realities on the lives of individuals, it was perhaps fitting that the winner of the 2006 Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction went to 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2005) by James Shapiro. In what was deemed “a revolution” in Shakespeare studies, Shapiro challenged the prevailing view that Shakespeare was a universal writer who transcended his age by showing how he was shaped by the events and climate of a very localized world of “plague, conspiracy and invasion.” Matisse: The Master, the second volume of Hilary Spurling's monumental biography A Life of Henri Matisse (2005)—a work that took 15 years to write—won the 2005 Whitbread Book of the Year Award. Children's writer Michael Morpurgo, one of the judges, noted that it read like a story and was accessible to readers who knew little about art. Another notable biography was Matt Ridley's Francis Crick, a colourful portrait of the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.

      High-brow subjects like Matisse and Shakespeare aside, in the buildup to the Christmas scrum, when sales promised to more than triple, bookstores and publishers placed their hopes on celebrity biographies, a genre that had proliferated recently. As Aida Edemariam reported in The Guardian newspaper, Christmas publishing was now “dominated by the celebrity life story.” Suzanne Baboneau, publishing director at Simon & Schuster, noted, “I think there are about 60 celebrity biogs. Two years ago, it was 10 or 15. It used to be that the sort of books that sold at Christmas were carriage-trade books … the solid literary ones.” Best sellers in this vein included film star Rupert Everett's autobiography Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins and celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh's Nobbut a Lad: A Yorkshire Childhood.

      Although some critics proclaimed the end of the popular- science-book boom, the number of such books on the market continued to proliferate. Fewer books, however, tackled “big questions” such as the meaning of life or the mind of God. Topics were now more specific, ranging from Andrew A. Meharg's Venomous Earth: How Arsenic Caused the World's Worst Mass Poisoning (2005) to Vivienne Parry's The Truth About Hormones (2005), which was short-listed for the 2006 Aventis Prize for science writing. Even smaller questions were answered in Does Anything Eat Wasps? (2005), a collection of quirky queries submitted to New Scientist magazine, and its sequel, Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?, both edited by Mick O'Hare. Despite a cautious initial print run of 10,000 copies, Does Anything Eat Wasps? sold well over 500,000 copies in the U.K. alone. Commenting on the diverse subjects of the latest science books, a Guardian reviewer remarked, “Never has so much been explained so well.”

      Many science books abandoned the new journalism style of recent years—with its fixation on minute detail and dramatic technique—for a straightforward expository approach. This in no way diminished their readability, however. The journalist Nick Ross, chair of the 2006 Aventis Prize, noted, “This stuff is so accessible it is sometimes hard to put down, and the science is so absorbing and surprising it can make fiction seem dull.” The winner of the Aventis Prize was David Bodanis for Electric Universe (2004), a book that explored electricity from the birth of the universe to the “construction of electromagnets powerful enough to raise an ironmonger's anvil.” Bodanis politicized the prize by donating the £10,000 (about $18,400) he received to the family of government scientist David Kelly, who had committed suicide, apparently after leaking Iraq-war intelligence to a journalist. Bodanis explained: “Science is all about truth. … [Dr. Kelly] was aware of what was really going on and the government lied and tried to feel they could suppress the truth.”

      Certainly a quest for truth characterized the book on the Aventis Prize short list that received the most press coverage. This was Jared Diamond's grimly topical Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive (2005), an exploration of how factors such as climate change, hostile neighbours, and trade influence the fate of societies and civilizations. His most elaborated case was that of Easter Island, where islanders committed “ecocide” by cutting down every tree, a subject that he showed to have analogies to the present day. Many books, however, treated the impending crisis of climate change more directly. According to Michael Bond, opinion editor at the New Scientist, the most important British contribution to the subject was The Last Generation, by British journalist Fred Pearce, touted by booksellers as “the story that scientists are scared to tell us, because they fear they won't be believed.”

      Another prominent theme in nonfiction was international religious tensions. Richard Dawkins invited controversy with The God Delusion, his response to growing religious fundamentalism in the U.S. and the Middle East. Pitched by one publisher as “a hard-hitting, impassioned rebuttal of all religion,” The God Delusion remained atop best-seller lists but was lambasted by Terry Eagleton in the London Review of Books. The reviewer and popular academic called Dawkins's attack on the faulty logic of religion and the suffering it causes as “theologically illiterate” and accused him of treating “religion and fundamentalist religion as one and the same.”

      On the surface, children's fiction in 2006 offered an escape from contemporary problems. Best-seller lists and children's-book-prize short lists were crammed with stories of witchcraft, boys' own adventures, and futuristic fantasies, featuring robotic or cloned characters, art thefts, discoveries of mysterious moldering tomes, and child-heroes prevailing against evil villains. A notable debut was Matthew Skelton's Endymion Spring, about an adolescent, left to his own devices by his academic mother, who discovers in an Oxford library a time-worn volume with a cryptic riddle inside. Meanwhile, best-selling fantasy writer Terry Pratchett added to his legacy with the children's book Wintersmith, about a trainee witch trapped in winter.

      In an apparent move away from gritty realism, The Guardian children's-book-prize jury were “ ‘determined that this year's winner would be a real “children's book,” ' something they would have enjoyed when they were children which would also appeal to children today.” Its short list included Frances Hardinge's Fly by Night (2005), “a richly conceived alternative world full of floating coffee houses and illicit printing presses,” and Frank Cottrell Boyce's Framed (2005), about a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-obsessed boy who discovers a Renaissance masterpiece in a disused mine. The winner was A Darkling Plain, the final installment in Philip Reeve's quartet about a boy's adventures in a postapocalyptic world characterized by movable, rampaging cities and filled with the detritus of the 21st century. Despite Reeve's blend of fantasy, science fiction, and action-packed adventure, like many best-selling children's books A Darkling Plain had crossover appeal in the adult-fiction market. Beneath its apparent frivolity lay a satiric commentary upon Thatcherism and social Darwinism.

      A new children's classic was created, thanks to a competition hosted by London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. The hospital had received royalties from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan since 1929, but it was due to lose this source of income in 2007 as the book went out of copyright. The competition was for an “official sequel”; half of the royalties would go to the hospital. By many accounts Geraldine McCaughrean, whose synopsis for Peter Pan in Scarlet won the contest over 200 entrants, created a timeless story similar in tone to the Edwardian original and without a hint of pastiche. One reviewer gushed, “Books such as this are as rare as fairy dust.”

      Notwithstanding the prevailing vogue for fantasy, some children's writers engaged with real and challenging subjects. Mal Peet's Tamar (2005), winner of the CILIP Carnegie Medal for children's books, echoed the mood of adult novels, with their current emphasis on the long-range impact of historical forces in shaping the lives of individuals. Meanwhile, Siobhan Dowd's widely short-listed novel A Swift Pure Cry described the plight of a motherless adolescent called Shell, whose God-fearing Irish community fails to protect her from the consequences of an unplanned pregnancy. Based partly on a true story, Dowd's poetically rendered debut was described by one reviewer as a “plea for tolerance,” but the triumph of Shell's spirit over adversity also marked it as a song of hope.

Carol Peaker

United States.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

      The year 2006 in American literature turned out to be a scandal-ridden one. Television personality Oprah Winfrey, who often featured writers on her talk show, suffered a certain loss of face and credibility when best-selling writer James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces (2003), was revealed as a fraud for having passed off as a memoir a clumsy series of fictionalized, highly exaggerated (if not wholly invented) scenes from his pathetic 12-step life. Winfrey had endorsed his book as one of her book-club selections. In another case Harvard University undergraduate Kaavya Viswanathan, billed by her publisher as a new national fiction prodigy on the basis of the merits of her first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life, was found to have included some 40 plagiarized passages in her book. Before the year was out, Dana Shuster, who had claimed that her highly praised poetry (Battle Dressing [2000]) came from her experiences in the Vietnam battlefield, turned out to be neither a nurse nor a Vietnam War veteran and thus joined the growing number of literary frauds.

      The serious authentic work of the year in fiction came from some giant truth tellers. Philip Roth released the short novel Everyman (“He never thought of himself as anything more than an average human being,” we hear, and most people, he believed, “would have thought of him as square.”); Cormac McCarthy offered his apocalyptic picaresque novel The Road (“The clocks stopped at 1:17. A long shear of light and then a series of low concussions”); and Richard Ford reintroduced his own everyman, Frank Bascombe, the subject and narrator of The Lay of the Land, the third and final novel in the Bascombe series (“Toms River, across the Barnegat Bay, teems out ahead of me in the blustery winds and under the high autumnal sun of an American Thanksgiving Tuesday. From the bridge over from Sea-Clift, sunlight diamonds the water below the girdering grid.”).

      A number of other well-constructed pleasurable works of fiction appeared. Charles Frazier, the highly acclaimed author of Cold Mountain (1997), brought out Thirteen Moons, his second novel, to mostly positive reviews. Stephen King once again battered at the gates of literary respectability with his highly readable psychological thriller Lisey's Story, while John Updike's crown slipped ever so slightly when he came out with Terrorist, the fictional study of a young convert to Islam who carries his jihad to northern New Jersey; the book apparently sold well, however. The new Thomas Pynchon novel, Against the Day, was a book utterly important to Pynchon fans and completely uninteresting to those who had fallen away from the Pynchon readership cult or had never joined it. As if to illustrate this, the New York Times ran a highly negative daily review and highly positive Sunday review.

      Sigrid Nunez in The Last of Her Kind wrote an intriguing portrait of an American female radical. Gail Godwin's novel Queen of the Underworld was set in Miami during the early days of the Cuban Revolution and gave readers an interesting portrait of the artist as a young woman. Godwin's main character was a young journalist named Emma Gant. My plan was to become a crack journalist in the daytime, building my worldly experience and gaining fluency through the practice of writing to meet deadlines. Then, in the evening and on weekends, I would slip across the border into fiction, searching for characters interesting and strong enough to live out my keenest questions. My journalism would support me until I became a famous novelist. Perhaps I would become a famous journalist on the side, if I could manage both.

      In The Willow Field William Kittredge followed in the tradition of A.B. Guthrie and delivered his version of the “great Montana novel,” a beautifully written book that told the story of a young cowboy who followed a way of life that eventually becomes only a memory in modern times. Sweeps of thin rain would evaporate over the alkaline playa of the Black Rock Desert before reaching the ground.… They traveled across an elevation of brush-covered dunes into the dry valley … then over the swell diving the Limbo Range from the San Emido Mountains, black in the far distance with lava and thickets of gin-smelling juniper. Dust ghosted up behind as they fell to greasewood flatlands toward the playa of the Black Rock Desert. Allen Wier took up the subject of American frontier life in an ambitious work titled Tehano. Susan Straight went to antebellum Louisiana for her novel A Million Nightingales, which recounted slavery times. In what some critics praised as the finest adventure novel of the year—The Western Limit of the World (2005)—Berkeley, Calif., writer David Masiel wrote about the last days of a chemical tanker on the high seas en route to Africa. North Carolinian Angela Davis-Gardner won some praise with Plum Wine, a quiet but supremely crafted novel about a love affair between an American schoolteacher and a Japanese potter under the shadow of Hiroshima. Another quiet success was Robert Hellenga's affecting novel Philosophy Made Simple.

      Talk Talk by T. Coraghessan Boyle, a novel about identity theft, showed off the entertaining hand of this flashy but intelligent novelist and storyteller. Carolyn See's version of California's near future—There Will Never Be Another You—displayed her palpable but underappreciated talents as an entertaining novelist. The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud garnered much praise. Chris Adrian demonstrated the powers of experimentalism in The Children's Hospital. Mark Z. Danielewski won the prize for the most exasperating novel of the year with Only Revolutions, which featured two title pages and challenged readers with its inverted text, which was used to distinguish the stories of its two narrators, Sam and Hailey. Marita Golden's After kept readers thinking about important justice issues and questions of conscience.

      For short-story readers the year brought great gifts, among them Thomas McGuane's collection Gallatin Canyon, Deborah Eisenberg's The Twilight of the Superheroes, and Edward P. Jones's All Aunt Hagar's Children. Joyce Carol Oates's High Lonesome: New & Selected Stories, 1966–2006 was an exceedingly impressive volume. Other notable works included The Dead Fish Museum by Charles D'Ambrosio, his first collection of short stories since 1995; Nocturnal America by John Keeble; and Valerie Martin's The Unfinished Novel and Other Stories. Erich Puchner's Music Through the Floor (2005) was the best-reviewed debut collection of the year.

      Among works of nonfiction prose, there were some towering successes, such as The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan's best-selling book about the origins of the stuff of four representative American meals; Mark Bowden's Guests of the Ayatollah, about the Iranian hostage crisis during the presidency of Jimmy Carter; and Hampton Sides's Blood and Thunder, a narrative about Kit Carson and the winning of the American West. The Discomfort Zone, essays by the esteemed novelist Jonathan Franzen, won a lot of critical attention.

      William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism by Robert D. Richardson stood out as one of the year's major biographies. Former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky published The Life of David (2005), and poet and translator David Rosenberg chimed in with Abraham: The First Historical Biography.

      Among literary biographies of note were I Celebrate Myself: The Somewhat Private Life of Allen Ginsberg by Bill Morgan, Zane Grey (2005) by Thomas H. Pauly, Frank Norris: A Life by Joseph R. McElrath, Jr., and Jesse S. Crisler, and The Wit in the Dungeon: The Remarkable Life of Leigh Hunt—Poet, Revolutionary, and the Last of the Romantics (2005) by Anthony Holden. Journalist Gay Talese signed in with an autobiography titled A Writer's Life. The Din in the Head by Cynthia Ozick showed off in a gathering of her essays and reviews the wit and intelligence of one of the most interesting literary critics and practitioners of the art of fiction. David Treuer's Native American Fiction, a critical revaluation of American Indian writers, begged for controversy, though not much stirred. Double Lives: American Writers' Friendships was Richard Lingeman's intriguing take on American literary biography. Novelist Francine Prose in Reading Like a Writer weighed in with the most interesting and valuable approach to the craft of fiction writing since John Gardner's The Art of Fiction (1983).

      Standing out among a slew of memoirs were My Confederate Kinfolk: A Twenty-First Century Freedwoman Confronts Her Roots by Thulani Davis, Frantic Transmissions to and from Los Angeles by novelist Kate Braverman, and The Afterlife by novelist Donald Antrim. Highly regarded essayist Scott Russell Sanders turned in A Private History of Awe, and The New Yorker magazine writer Roger Angell added to his output with Let Me Finish. Susan Garrett's Quick-Eyed Love: Photography and Memory (2005) was a lovely addition to the offerings.

      Historians turned their hand to various American subjects, as in Andrew Jackson (2005) by Sean Wilentz and A Godly Hero: The Life of William Jennings Bryan by Michael Kazin. Novelist Winston Groom wrote a history, Patriotic Fire: Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite at the Battle of New Orleans. Several quite idiosyncratic works caught readers' attention, such as Greil Marcus's knotty argument in The Shape of Things to Come: Prophecy and the American Voice and playwright David Mamet's polemical The Wicked Son: Anti-Semitism, Self-Hatred, and the Jews. Somewhat more accessible was Recovering Your Story: Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Faulkner, Morrison by academic Arnold Weinstein. The most accessible science writing of the year came from California cosmologist Joel R. Primack and his wife, the writer Nancy Ellen Abrams, in The View from the Center of the Universe.

      Poetry readers were treated to a banner year of new offerings. The late Allen Ginsberg's Collected Poems, 1947–1997 made a big splash. When The New Yorker poetry editor Alice Quinn put together Edgar Allan Poe & the Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments, a posthumous volume of work by Elizabeth Bishop, she created a lot of controversy because the collection contained poems that Bishop apparently had not authorized for publication in her lifetime. More appreciatively received was White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems, 1946–2006 by Donald Hall (Hall, Donald ) (see Biographies), the new U.S. poet laureate. Pulitzer Prize winner C.K. Williams published his Collected Poems late in the year.

      During the year some of the country's most skilled lyric poets brought out new work. Jane Hirshfield published After (“The grated lemon rind bitters the oil it steeps in. / A wanted flavor. / Like the moment in love when one lover knows / the other could do anything they wanted, yet does not.”); Henry Taylor offered Crooked Run (“Strolling the banks of Crooked Run / I round a bend and happen on / a skeleton and rippling shreds / of bone-white skin in the oxbow pool.”), and Maryland poet Michael Collier signed in with Dark Wild Realm (“In cartoons they do it and then get up, / a carousel of stars, asterisks, and question marks / trapped in a caption bubble above a dizzy, / flattened head that pops back into shape. / But this one collapsed in its skirt of red feathers / and now its head hangs like a closed hinge and its beak, / a yellow dart, is stuck to the gray porch floor / and seems transformed forever—”).

      Harvey Shapiro came out with The Sights Along the Harbor: New and Collected Poems. Galway Kinnell released Strong Is Your Hold, Alan Shapiro published Tantalus in Love (2005), and Mary Karr turned out Sinners Welcome. Quincy Troupe showed off his strong lines in The Architecture of Language, as did Rodney Jones in Salvation Blues, Natasha Trethewey in Native Guard, Victor Hernández Cruz in The Mountain in the Sea, and Jim Harrison in Saving Daylight. David Tucker made an impressive debut in Late for Work. Miller Williams's essays on reading and creating poetry in Making a Poem attracted attention as one of the year's most interesting professions of technique. Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch stood out among books of criticism for its fusion of intelligence and readability as the author reflected on the work of more than 100 poets, ancient and modern.

 The Pulitzer Prize for fiction went to Geraldine Brooks for her novel March (2005), and the award in history was given to David M. Oshinsky for Polio: An American Story (2005). Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin won for biography with American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer (2005), and Claudia Emerson captured the poetry prize for Late Wife (2005). Luis Alberto Urrea won the Kiriyama Prize in fiction for The Hummingbird's Daughter (2005). The P EN/Faulkner Award for fiction went to E.L. Doctorow for The March (2005). Tobias Wolff and Adam Haslett shared the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. The newly inaugurated Dayton Literary Peace Prizes went to Studs Terkel for lifetime achievement, Francine Prose for her novel A Changed Man (2005), and Stephen Walker for his nonfiction Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima (2005).

      Among the prominent deaths during the year were those of novelists William Styron (Styron, William Clark, Jr. ), Gilbert Sorrentino (Sorrentino, Gilbert ), and Frederick Busch (Busch, Frederick Matthew ) and science-fiction writer Octavia E. Butler. (Butler, Octavia Estelle ) (See Obituaries.) Writer-critic Charles Newman, the founding editor of TriQuarterly literary magazine, died in March.

Alan Cheuse

Canada
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

 Themes and subject matter in Canadian novels were wide in scope in 2006, ranging from David Adams Richards's sanguine tale of the lumber industry in The Friends of Meager Fortune to the entangled destinies of two brothers in Mary Lawson's The Other Side of the Bridge to the Afghanistan military compound–suburban Ontario mix of tough bodies and fragile souls in Trevor Cole's The Fearsome Particles to the claustrophobic world of Inside, where Kenneth J. Harvey's protagonist coped with the paranoia induced by a sudden reversal of fortune. Joanna Trollope's Second Honeymoon explored the familiar irony occasioned by the return of the young to the once-empty nest. The rollicking cynicism of Randy Boyagoda's Governor of the Northern Province, in which an unscrupulous Canadian politician joined forces with a recently emigrated African warlord, was far distant from the starving fields of 1840s Ireland in Peter Behrens's The Law of Dreams and the low misery and sideways humour staining the ever-circling memories of Wayne Johnston's cantankerous Sheilagh Fielding in The Custodian of Paradise.

      Contrasts were everywhere. Annette Lapointe's Stolen portrayed a thief, while Wendy Jean's Unstolen depicted the life of a child whose sibling was kidnapped. Alan Cumyn's The Famished Lover detailed the ghost-ridden anguish of a survivor of a prisoner-of-war camp and lost love, while in Can You Hear the Nightbird Call? Anita Rau Badami chronicled a new generation flowering in Canada from the soiled memories of communal warfare in India. In The Birth House Ami McKay recorded the skirmishes between midwives and doctors and the clashes between white witchcraft and medical science, and Kim Moritsugu's The Restoration of Emily enacted the fantasies of primitive freedom against the practicalities of restorative architecture.

      The games of the sophisticated denizens of the borderland where contemporary life abuts the future were the territory of Douglas Coupland's JPod, while De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage was played out in the narrow realm where past conflicts encroach on the present and future. The past also infused Billie Livingston's Cease to Blush, a journey backward in time in which a daughter, going through her deceased mother's effects, is both horrified and strangely proud to discover the glamorous, dangerously living, yet trapped woman her mother had been in her youth.

      Short stories too showed great disparities, from the fine etchings of small, ever-recurring sins in Margaret Atwood's Moral Disorder to the odd-angled humour of Vincent Lam's fantastical Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures to Carol Windley's precise and disciplined Home Schooling, in which home truths, both bitter and sweet, were learned by teachers and students alike. In Airstream by poet Patricia Young, individual stories were crafted to contribute tellingly to the whole. Russell Wangersky's The Hour of Bad Decisions laid bare mistakes that were bred in the interstices of secrecy and denial, while Bill Gaston's Gargoyles depicted minds too open to the elements and too closed to themselves. Caroline Adderson's Pleased to Meet You delineated how successive generations repeated the sins and redemptions of their forebears, and Alice Munro's The View from Castle Rock combined history, family memoir, and fiction into narratives of questionable questions and obscure replies.

      Poetry crossed the generations from the well-traveled P.K. Page's Hand Luggage: A Memoir in Verse and Margaret Avison's meditations on matters of the heart and the divine in Momentary Dark to Leonard Cohen's Book of Longing, which expressed love and sexuality in rich and joyous metaphors, to Elizabeth Mayne's A Passionate Continuity, explorations of women's love of sex after 70. Matthew Holmes's debut volume, Hitch, was a quirky and surrealistic collection, and Anita Lahey's domestic eccentricities were showcased in Out to Dry in Cape Breton, the artful washing of one's own—and the community's—linen. In Ken Babstock's Airstream Land Yacht, language wheels, smooth and gleaming, crossed the page.

      Poetry crossed other frontiers—reality, belief, and society—notably in Elizabeth Bachinsky's Home of Sudden Service, set in gritty, glittery low-class malls; Ven Begamudré's The Lightness Which Is Our World, Seen from Afar, in which a neglected wife consorted with a minor god; Wayne Clifford's The Book of Were, featuring a world of changelings existing on the edges of the mundane; and Sharon Thesen's The Good Bacteria, an exploration of ironic subcultures. Maxine Gadd's tender assault on language and syntax in Backup to Babylon acknowledged and defied the world of Dionne Brand's grim Inventory, which covered war, religion, and death.

Elizabeth Rhett Woods

Other Literature in English.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

      Much-anticipated works by established authors as well as impressive contributions from young writers were among the many outstanding works in English from sub-Saharan Africa, New Zealand, and Australia in 2006. Exiled Kenyan novelist, playwright, and literary critic Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o caused both controversy and delight among readers in his homeland and abroad with the publication of what might be his most accomplished work to date, Wizard of the Crow, a satiric novel that denounced African despotism. Translated by the author from his native Kikuyu, the work explored the multiple themes of globalization, greed, power, love, corruption, and resurrection of the spirit.

       Nigeria's Wole Soyinka, Africa's first Nobel laureate in literature, brought out You Must Set Forth at Dawn, a sequel to his highly acclaimed childhood memoir Aké (1981). Compatriot Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie published her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, and Segun Afolabi garnered the 2005 Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story “Monday Morning.” Elsewhere, Ghana's Benjamin Kwakye won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize (Africa region) for his novel The Sun by Night. South Africa was well represented by Zoë Wicomb's latest work, Playing in the Light, a novel set in Cape Town during the 1990s, and “Jungfrau” by Mary Watson, the 2006 Caine Prize winner.

      New Zealand's former poet laureate Bill Manhire released his latest volume, Lifted, which was the top selection in the poetry category of the prestigious Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Moreover, Manhire was responsible in part for the recent publication of The Goose Bath, a posthumous selection of more than 100 poems by the legendary Janet Frame. Fiction writer Charlotte Grimshaw won the 2006 Katherine Mansfield Award for her short story “Plane Sailing,” 45 years after her father, prolific author C.K. Stead, received the prize. Veteran author Maurice Gee's latest novel, Blindsight (2005), was named winner of the Deutz Medal for Fiction or Poetry as well as the best novel in the fiction category for the Montana Awards.

  Australia had its share of outstanding and award-winning releases in 2006 as well. Peter Carey, a two-time recipient of the British Booker Prize, enjoyed continued success with his new novel, Theft: A Love Story, in which he mocked the international art market within an ingeniously conceived and humorous art-fraud plot. Kate Grenville (Grenville, Kate ) (see Biographies) won the overall Commonwealth Writer's Prize and numerous other awards for her novel The Secret River. Other notable works of fiction from Australia included David Malouf's Every Move You Make, Geraldine Brooks's March (2005; winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction), and Roger McDonald's The Ballad of Desmond Kale (2005; winner of the 2006 Miles Franklin Literary Award). Les Murray's latest verse collection, The Biplane Houses, incorporated concrete local themes with abstract and political elements.

      The year was marked by the deaths of democratic South Africa's first poet laureate, Zulu author and critic Mazisi Kunene (Kunene, Mazisi ); writer, activist, and feminist Ellen Kuzwayo (Kuzwayo, Ellen ), the first black writer to win South Africa's CNA Prize; and Colin Thiele (Thiele, Colin Milton ), a beloved Australian author of children's books. (See Obituaries.)

David Draper Clark

Germanic

German.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

 The most hotly debated German-language book of 2006 was not a novel but rather Günter Grass's memoir Beim Häuten der Zwiebel, in which the 1999 Nobel Prize winner publicly acknowledged for the first time his membership, at the age of 17, in the Waffen-SS, the military combat organization of the dreaded Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS). The publication of this book caused a major uproar, since it became apparent that Germany's most famous living writer, far from having opposed the Nazis, had in fact supported them and had been a member of one of their most notorious organizations—even if as a young man and a draftee. Many criticized Grass's decision to wait so long to make a public revelation of his membership in the Waffen-SS. The debate about Beim Häuten der Zwiebel raised important questions about authorial ethics as well as about people's expectations with regard to writers' behaviour. Did Grass's membership in the Waffen-SS discredit him as a moral authority or, on the contrary, did Grass's own feelings of guilt about his complicity with the Nazis ultimately lead to the searing moral questions that were asked in so many of his novels? Grass's memoir was, among other things, also a peeling away of onionlike layers of memory in many of his most famous books, including Die Blechtrommel (1959) and Hundejahre (1963).

      The winner of the 2006 German Book Prize, announced on October 2 on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair, was the young author Katharina Hacker for her novel Die Habenichtse. The story dealt with a young German couple who meet at a party in Berlin on Sept. 11, 2001, and go to London, where their lives begin to spin out of control. These young German thirtysomethings experience life passively, observing how the forces at work in recent history intervene in their own lives. At the same time, Hacker asked fundamental questions about ethics and the structure of the contemporary world as it is experienced by individual human beings.

      A number of other novels by younger writers dealt with problematic aspects of the contemporary world. Thomas Hettche's novel Woraus wir gemacht sind, for instance, featured a young German writer who travels to the United States in the fall of 2002 in order to do research on the life of a German-Jewish emigrant. The protagonist finds himself being blackmailed to reveal key details about the emigrant whose life he is researching. All of this happens in the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, and the personal and the political become inextricably intertwined. The very young author Saša Stanišić's novel Wie der Soldat das Grammofon repariert, meanwhile, told a semiautobiographical tale about the civil war in Bosnia in the 1990s; the novel's protagonist, like its author, fantasizes about an idyllic Bosnia that no longer exists, if it ever did.

      Tanja Dückers's novel Der längste Tag des Jahres told the story of a contemporary German family whose five grown children must come to terms with the unexpected loss of their father. The novel was divided into five sections, each one devoted to one of the children and told from that child's perspective, and in each section a child comes face-to-face with the fact of the father's death, altogether painting a moving portrait of contemporary German family life. Annette Pehnt's novel Haus der Schildkröten also dealt with contemporary German family life and mortality; its setting was an old people's home, and it addressed the relationships between the home's inhabitants and their adult children.

      Austrian writer Wolf Haas's formally innovative novel Das Wetter vor 15 Jahren involved the interplay between two forms: a fictive interview with an author named Wolf Haas about a novel he is writing and the novel itself. The interview in a sense becomes the novel itself, which deals with the life of a man who becomes famous for remembering the precise weather conditions in his hometown 15 years earlier. Austrian Christoph Ransmayr also experimented with form in his epic novel-poem Der fliegende Berg, which told the story of two mountain-climbing brothers on an expedition to the Himalayas; one of the brothers dies, and one survives. Ransmayr's book touched closely on the real history of his friend Reinhold Messner, the great mountain climber. Meanwhile, the Austrian feminist author Marlene Streeruwitz's novel Entfernung addressed the problems of contemporary women living in large, densely populated cities. One of the most unusual novels of the year was Austrian Thomas Glavinic's Die Arbeit der Nacht, which addressed a very different existential problem. Its protagonist wakes up in Vienna one morning to discover that he is the only human being left on Earth; everyone else has mysteriously disappeared overnight.

Stephen Brockmann

French

France.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table. (World Literary Prizes 2006)

 One of the most refreshing developments in French novels of 2006 was the new openness to Africa that marked many best sellers. In Eldorado, Laurent Gaudé, winner of the 2004 Prix Goncourt, portrayed the flight of Africans from the misery of their countries to the imagined land of milk of honey of Europe. Eldorado was split into two narratives—the first the tale of Commander Piracci of the Italian Coast Guard, ever more uncomfortable returning illegal refugees to their poverty, and the second the tale of two desperate Sudanese brothers who leave their families to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean.

      Exile from Africa was also the theme of Tahar Ben Jelloun's Partir, which told of Moroccan youths' desperate need to leave and of the heartbreak that leaving causes them as they gather in cafés in Tangiers to stare at the lights of Europe glimmering on the horizon, just out of reach. One of the most potent novels of 2006 was the Cameroonian newcomer Léonora Miano's Contours du jour qui vient, which told the story of Musango, a 10-year-old girl living in war-torn Africa, whose mother, unable to feed her, casts her out when she is accused of witchcraft. As Musango tries to find her way back to her mother, she crosses a landscape of devastation and horror but never once gives up hope.

      Another trend prevalent among 2006 best sellers was the well-established condemnation of contemporary French society. Marc Weitzmann's Fraternité offered a scathing critique of French suburban life from the point of view of a biologist who returns to France for the first time in 25 years and finds hopelessness, boredom, and socialism crushing the spirit of his family and former neighbours. In Michel Braudeau's Sarabande, the target was the other end of the French economic spectrum, the corrupt and powerful Parisian elite, to whom the heroine, a gossip columnist, sells her body, soul, and morality in order to further her ambitions. Finally, Jean Anglade's Le Temps et la paille spotlighted modern loneliness; an old man abandoned by his family puts himself up for “adoption” to any family needing a grandfather and receives dozens of answers to his ad.

      Another striking trend of French literature of 2006 was the profusion of historical novels. Didier Daeninckx published Itinéraire d'un salaud ordinaire, which portrayed the long career of a policeman who began hunting protesters under the Vichy régime, collaborating in the Nazi horror, and who then quietly and efficiently continued his dirty work for the next 40 years, through decolonization, the 1968 student movement, strike-breaking, and underhanded political plots, all in service to the state.

      In Le Chat Botté, Patrick Rambaud went back farther in history to 1795 to tell of Napoleon's rags-to-riches rise when in the space of a single year, by intrigue, daring, and cruelty, the future emperor managed to take control of the French army in Italy, the first step in attaining his ambitions. In L'Imitation du bonheur, Jean Rouaud told the story of Constance, the young wife of a rich merchant, who in 1871 falls in love with an idealist escaping from the massacre of the Paris Commune. In the three nights they have together, Constance learns the dream of social equality, but after his disappearance she spends the next 10 years becoming her village's reality. When her idealist finally returns, his illusions have been shattered by exile and disappointment.

      One of the year's most celebrated novels was François Vallejo's Ouest, in which Lambert, the traditionalist game warden of a castle in the 1860s, takes an immediate dislike to the new baron who inherits the castle and who immediately fills it with sexual playmates. The strained relationship between the reactionary hunter and his libertine employer turns venomous and violent when the young baron turns his attentions to the hunter's daughter.

      Historical novels, both written by foreign-born authors, won two of the most important literary prizes. The Prix Goncourt went to the year's one runaway literary sensation, Les Bienveillantes, written in French by the American Jonathan Littell, who told the story of the Holocaust from the point of view not of its victims but of a perpetrator, SS Officer Aue, who commits genocide for ideology, as a necessary bloodletting sacrifice to the state. Breaking the long-standing taboo against fictionalizing the Holocaust, Les Bienveillantes shot to the top of the best-seller list, where it remained for months.

      The Prix Femina went to Canadian-born Nancy Huston's Lignes de faille, a portrait of an American family spanning four generations, in which each of the four narrators is the six-year-old child of the next, caught at the moment the family curse of abuse is transmitted. The novel proceeded back in time from 2004 New York to 1944 Germany, when the Ukrainian great-grandmother was kidnapped by Nazis to be raised as German, the event that would infect the family like a poison, destroying generation after generation.

      The Prix Renaudot crowned the year's African trend, going to another foreign-born writer, Alain Mabanckou of the Republic of the Congo, in whose Mémoires de porc-épic a sorcerer uses his spiritual double, a porcupine, to commit murder after murder across Africa, in a tale that both celebrated and parodied African tradition. The Prix Médicis was awarded to Tunisian-born Sorj Chalandon's Une Promesse, in which seven friends visit the home of a dead couple as if their friends were still alive, keeping a promise to save them from the true death of forgetfulness.

Vincent Aurora

Canada.
      The year 2006 was marked by the literary old guard jockeying for position with the younger generation. Stalwart filmmaker and novelist Jacques Godbout, who predicted that Quebec cultural identity would disappear within the century, weighed in with La Concierge du Panthéon, a story about a meteorologist who takes a year off in Paris to write a novel. Political cartoonist Serge Chapleau put out L'Année Chapleau 2006, the latest offering in his annual album of sharp-edged satires skewering the high and mighty. Meanwhile, veteran commentator Robert Lévesque, French Quebec's militant intellectual voice, issued Récits bariolés, a collection of his columns from the weekly magazine Ici.

      While the old guard issued its salvos, the young were not idle. Confessional writing, or autofiction, was the order of the day. Marie-Sissi Labrèche published La Lune dans un HLM, a harrowing story of mother-daughter relations, and Mélikah Abdelmoumen, after several lesser-known efforts, attracted greater attention with a short novel titled Alia. Abdelmoumen's confessional work also toyed with autofiction conventions. In the case of both authors, media attention focused on their personal lives helped spur sales.

      Myriam Beaudoin's novel Hadassa represented a more traditional approach to storytelling. It told of a love affair within the Hasidic community, which, though extremely small in numbers, had the power to fascinate the French Canadian imagination. Meanwhile, the Bryan Perro phenomenon continued. Perro, who could be considered a Quebec version of J.K. Rowling, the British author of Harry Potter fame, attracted crowds of younger readers with his sword-and-sorcery tales featuring hero Amos Daragon. The latest installment was Amos Daragon, le masque de l'éther. Though Marie Hélène Poitras's La Mort de Mignonne et autres histoires appeared in 2005, she was hailed by many in 2006 as the up-and-coming voice in fiction.

      The two language communities in Canada occasionally intersected when global issues were involved, and this was the case when ecologist David Suzuki's English-language autobiography was translated into French; it was titled Ma vie. The celebrity book of the year was actress Dominique Michel's memoirs, Y'a des moments si merveilleux.

David Homel

Italian
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

      The 2006 Italian literary scene confirmed some established trends, such as readers' passion for detective stories, attested in particular by the success of Andrea Camilleri's La vampa d'agosto. In a torrid Sicilian summer, aging and introspective Inspector Montalbano is haunted by regrets and nostalgia. While he successfully unravels yet another mystery, he fails to find a solution for his enduring melancholia. Camilleri was at his best in the exploration of the parallel between his hero's disposition and the surrounding luxuriant natural landscape, which, in its full maturity, suggests the inevitable decline of a looming autumn. While Camilleri's signature style often resorted to the expressive richness of Sicilian dialect, Salvatore Niffoi obtained original results by combining standard Italian with Sardinian in La vedova scalza, a tale of fierce passion, sensuality, and revenge that earned its author the Campiello Prize.

      Several novels focused on emerging trends in Italian society. The past 30 years witnessed the striking transformation of Italy from a country of emigrants to one of immigrants in an evolution that had forever altered the urban landscape. One of the areas most influenced by this change, Piazza Vittorio in Rome, was at the centre of Amara Lakhous's Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio, first published in Arabic and then rewritten by the author in Italian. Forced to leave his native Algeria for political reasons, Lakhous showed in this novel his familiarity with the Italian literary tradition. The style of innovative writer Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893–1973), in particular, was a clear model for the polyphonic narration of the intrigue surrounding the creaking elevator of a condominium building. Another theme often debated in recent years was that of a new job market in which what was advertised as flexibility and opportunity often translated as short-term contracts, job insecurity, and professional and existential frustration. This new trend was investigated in 2006 by works that included Michela Murgia's Il mondo deve sapere and Mario Desiati's Vita precaria e amore eterno.

      One of the most remarkable works of the year was unfortunately destined to be remembered also for the dangers to which it exposed its young author. Roberto Saviano's Gomorra focused on Camorra, the particular form that organized crime took in Naples and the Campania region. At the same time painstakingly detailed and artistically accomplished, the novel earned its author the Viareggio Prize for a first book but also fueled the resentment of those who felt that the writer's courage and openness challenged their control over the territory. Forced by death threats to live under police guard, Saviano nonetheless enjoyed the solidarity of many intellectuals united in a public campaign in defense of freedom of expression.

      Paolo Nori focused on one of the most troublesome events in the history of the Italian republic. On July 7, 1960, state police attacked unarmed citizens at a rally in Reggio nell'Emilia, leaving five people dead, in the bloodiest of a series of police excesses that shocked the country and eventually led to the resignation of Fernando Tambroni, the Christian Democratic prime minister. In Noi la farem vendetta, a fictionalized account of these events, Nori reflected on their significance and on their links with other infamous episodes in the country's recent past but also on the importance of historical memory, on the various forms that vengeance can take, and on the relevance of these issues to the upbringing of children.

      Ostensibly oblivious to literary trends and contemporary concerns, Pietro Grossi structured the three elegant short stories that composed his volume Pugni around a classical opposition between two characters. The encounter with the alter ego marks, each time, the protagonist's entry into adulthood. Also centred on a binary opposition, this time complicated by the passage of time, was Cristina Comencini's published play Due partite; four housewives spend their Thursday afternoon playing a card game while their daughters amuse themselves in a different room. Years later the girls, who have grown up and become professional women, meet at the funeral of one of their mothers, in a juxtaposition that leads to an analysis of the differences between two generations of women.

      Scholars and lovers of Italian classics welcomed the publication of Saggi e interventi, Luigi Pirandello's essays, finally collected in a rich volume that allowed for a better understanding of the 1934 Nobel Prize winner's intellectual profile. Several important writers departed in 2006, among them Enzo Siciliano, a prominent journalist, novelist, and expert on cinema, and Pier Maria Pasinetti, author of several successful novels set in his native Venice. Also gone from the scene was Oriana Fallaci (Fallaci, Oriana ), arguably the most famous female Italian journalist of all times. (See Obituaries.) With her abrasive, highly personal interviewing style, Fallaci confronted some of the most important political figures of the 20th century. Following the 2001 attacks in the U.S., she gained international renown—and attracted sharp criticism—for works in which she called the Western world to arms to fight a supposed Muslim invasion and threat.

Laura Benedetti

Spanish

Spain.
      Spanish publishing companies in 2006 paid particular attention to works with high doses of mystery and suspense, especially when there was a constant interaction between history and fiction. Arturo Pérez-Reverte published El pintor de batallas: in a tower overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, thinking of the picture that he could not take, an aging photographer paints a big 360° fresco on the wall—the timeless landscape of a battle. The Primavera Prize went to Fernando Schwartz's Vichy, 1940, set during the second half of 1940 in this French city, where the collaborationist government was founded during World War II after the signing of the French-German armistice. Second place was awarded to Puerto Rican novelist and poet Mayra Santos-Febres, for her book Nuestra señora de la noche, a story of impossible love.

 In Los libros arden mal, Manuel Rivas presented several characters whose lives interlace for more than a century. Suspense is the connecting thread of this thriller, which begins on July 18, 1936, with the uprising against the Spanish Republic and takes the reader to cities that include Paris, London, and Havana. The Peruvian Santiago Roncagliolo received the Alfaguara Prize for his novel Abril rojo, a thriller about what happens when death becomes the only way of life. The young writer Ignacio del Valle presented his book El tiempo de los emperadores extraños, a novel set in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1943, where the lifeless body of a soldier of the División Azul is found with an enigmatic sentence carved on his chest, the first of several brutal and random crimes.

      The Nadal Prize was awarded to Eduardo Lago for his first novel, Llámame Brooklyn, an homage to the power of the written language, a story about love, friendship, and solitude. During the year, Lago was appointed director of the Instituto Cervantes in New York City, where he had lived for many years. The Planeta Prize went to Álvaro Pombo for his novel La fortuna de Matilda Turpín, a story of love and resentment that focuses on the contemporary woman and portrays her with all her contradictions. Ya verás was Pedro Sorela's latest published work, a novel about human beings' need to search and to construct their own personal and geographic identities. It was a book of journeys and of complicities, written in a remarkable novela negra (hard-boiled detective story) style.

      Ramiro Pinilla was awarded the National Prize for Narrative for his work Las cenizas del hierro (2005). This was the third book of his trilogy titled Verdes valles, colinas rojas, an attempt to answer the many questions around the human reactions that took place in the Basque Country. The National Prize for Poetry went to José Manuel Caballero Bonald for his 2005 book Manual de infractores, an approach to life and culture through memory, eroticism, moral transgressions, and the evanescence of time. The Cervantes Prize, the highest prize in Spanish-language literature, was awarded to the Spanish poet Antonio Gamoneda.

Verónica Esteban

Latin America.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

      Latin American literature moved between tradition and discontinuity during 2006. In Mexico authors of the “crack generation” published two novels in which they eluded national themes. The first, No será la tierra by Jorge Volpi, was located in two places, North America and the Soviet Union, where real people, primarily famous scientists, mingled with fictitious characters, while the historical prevailed over the novelistic. To a great extent the book put on display 20th-century ideological debates and scientific discoveries along with the lives of three female characters. Another member of the “crack” group, Ignacio Padilla, wrote La Gruta del Toscano, an adventure book, a parody of a travelogue, and an exploration of evil and hell. The work related the misadventures of successive explorers in the Himalayas and had as protagonists a Western man imbued in literature and a Sherpa who could not stop wondering why all these people had come to this place to suffer.

       Carlos Fuentes, in Todas las familias felices, brought together 16 independent stories about the family and parent-child relationships. Using characters from different classes, the author created something of a mural of Mexican society, which he coloured with his ironic gaze. The narratives showed different styles, each one ending in a “chorus” that sometimes, though not always, commented on the preceding text.

      Gonzalo Celorio blurred the boundaries between fiction and reality in Tres lindas cubanas by introducing autobiographical information into the narrative. The author, a Mexican with Cuban roots, expressed his love for the island, its literature, and its revolution with a critical eye that avoided falling either into complaisance or diatribe. The family saga—the three Cuban women are the narrator's own aunts and mother—became intertwined in the history of the island over the past century.

 Chilean Isabel Allende and Mexican Laura Esquivel published historical novels about female characters at the time of the Spanish conquest. Allende, in Inés del alma mía, chose as protagonist Inés Suárez (1507–80), a Spanish woman who, upon embarking on a trip to the New World to locate her husband, finds instead a new love and infinite adventure when she accompanies Pedro de Valdivia on his trips of conquest and establishment of a viceroyalty in Chile. The novel, narrated in the first person, threw into relief the valour and uniqueness of a character who, because she was a woman, was usually only a historical footnote rather than the equal of her famous beloved. In Malinche, Esquivel dealt with the controversial indigenous figure who served as interpreter to Hernán Cortés. The novel attempted to reconstruct the psychology of this woman, who, after having been an Aztec slave, turned into an active agent of the conquest and became a symbol of mestizaje.

      The Alfaguara Prize for a novel was awarded to Abril rojo by Peruvian Santiago Roncagliolo. The terrorism of the revolutionary Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) group, state terrorism, and corruption were the ingredients of this dark novel presented as a thriller. More interesting than the plot was the perspective of the narrator, an innocent administrator—somewhat confused psychologically—who unsuccessfully attempts to impose law and order in Ayacucho, the most terrorist-ridden area of Peru. Parody and sarcasm emerge from this confrontation of written law and represented reality. Travesuras de la niña mala by Mario Vargas Llosa was an inconsequential novel by the consecrated Peruvian-born writer in which the protagonist, instead of changing loves, changes scenarios and continuously finds the same woman transfigured, falling fatally under her spell.

      Nocturno paceño by Bolivian Manuel Vargas was a novel that consisted of 16 accounts that could be read independently and that oscillated between realism and surrealism. Set during the seven years of Hugo Bánzer's dictatorship after the coup of 1971, the work had the night as leitmotiv. The protagonists were university students in La Paz who risked their welfare in both love and politics, shared the night hours with various shady characters, and attempted to escape the repressive dictatorship.

      In the Río de la Plata, veteran Argentine writer David Viñas published Tartabul, a novel that was challenging and difficult to follow because it combined several story lines, a multitude of characters who were difficult to keep track of with certainty, and a variety of sociolinguistic codes and registers. This was a vanguardist political novel that attempted to reconstruct, through dialogue, key moments in Argentine history, especially the sinister decade of the 1970s, which affected the author directly. Two of Viñas's children disappeared during those years, and the book, subtitled Los últimos argentinos del siglo XX, was dedicated to them. The end of 2005 saw the publication of Uruguayan writer Mario Levrero's posthumous novel entitled La novela luminosa. Levrero was one of the writers whom Uruguayan critic Ángel Rama (1926–83) called “strange.” The novel was organized as a diary made up of fragments joined through mysterious correspondences, which enrolled the reader in the creative struggle. Well within the Río de la Plata style, Levrero became a cult writer for the initiated. His counterpart on the Argentine side of the river could well have been Marcelo Cohen, whose voluminous novel Donde yo no estaba fused a delirium of prose with an equally delirious plot, all well sustained by a formidable literary talent.

Leda Schiavo

Portuguese

Portugal.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

      The winner of the 2006 Fiction Prize of the Association of Portuguese Writers was Francisco José Viegas, eclectic cultural journalist, editor, poet, playwright, travel writer, TV presenter, and director of the Casa Fernando Pessoa in Lisbon, for his crime novel Longe de Manaus (2005). Detective Jaime Ramos, the protagonist of earlier crime novels by Viegas, investigates the death of a man in the suburbs of Oporto. His quest leads him to travel around Portugal as well as to Angola and Brazil. This exploration of lusophone human geography was mirrored by the metamorphoses of the narrative voice, which spoke sometimes in European Portuguese and at other times in Brazilian Portuguese throughout an intricate plot that subverted the conventional rules of crime fiction.

      Internationally acclaimed novelists José Saramago and António Lobo Antunes both published new works in 2006. Saramago presented a project that he had entertained since working on his 1982 masterpiece, Memorial do convento (Baltasar and Blimunda,1987). The new book was an autobiographical memoir, As pequenas memórias, narrating the first 15 years (1922–37) of the author's life growing up in a poor family that moved to Lisbon from a village in the province of Ribatejo. Antunes published a novel, Ontem não te vi em Babilónia, a dense, fragmented, and sometimes impenetrable work in line with his recent provocative fiction that began with Boa tarde às coisas aqui em baixo (2003).

      In May the Camões Prize was awarded to Angolan writer Luandino Vieira. He was born in 1935 to Portuguese immigrants to Angola and was a strong opponent of colonial rule. Vieira was considered a founder of Angolan literature with his seminal short-story collection Luuanda (1963). Another notable work of fiction was his Lourentinho, Dona Antónia de Sousa Neto & eu (1981). The literary representation of the fusion of the Portuguese and Kimbundu languages and cultures was one of Vieira's trademarks. He declined the Camões Prize, the most important trophy of the Luso-Afro-Brazilian literatures in Portuguese, however, for personal reasons.

      Mário Cesariny de Vasconcelos, the most influential of the Portuguese surrealist poets, died in Lisbon at age 83. Cesariny was also a painter, but his art had been expressed mostly through poetry since the 1950s. Among his memorable books were Discurso sobre a reabilitação do real quotidiano (1952), Louvor e simplificação de Álvaro de Campos (1953), Burlescas, téoricas e sentimentais (1972), and Primavera autónoma das estradas (1980).

Victor K. Mendes

Brazil.
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

 A prevalent theme of Brazilian literature being enjoyed in 2006 was the confrontation of life's difficulties. Nélida Piñon's Vozes do deserto (2004), which was awarded the 2005 Jabuti Prize in the novel category, invoked Arabic culture and reinvented the fables and dilemmas of Princess Scheherazade of The Thousand and One Nights. The protagonist of Daniel Galera's Mãos de cavalo was also preoccupied with an overwhelming unresolved childhood fantasy that pursued him into adulthood. Hilda Lucas's novel Memórias líquidas narrated how five characters emotionally paralyzed by the death of a child in the family gradually recover. Adélia Prado, the distinguished poet, published a semiautobiographical collection of children's stories, Quando eu era pequena.

      Miguel Sanches Neto's 2005 collection of poems, Venho de um país obscuro e outros poemas, was dedicated “to Miguel Sanches Neto, in memoriam,” which gave a broad hint of the tone and content of the volume's lyrics. Bem-Te-Vi Publishers issued the first collected volumes of poetry by several young poets, including Lígia Dabul, Marco Vasques, Mônica de Aquino, and Ricardo Domeneck, whose styles and content ran the gamut of modern poetry.

      Marta Góes's Um porto para Elizabeth Bishop (2001) opened Off-Broadway in New York in an English translation—A Safe Harbor for Elizabeth Bishop—as a one-woman show with Amy Irving reenacting the life of the American poet in Brazil in the 1950s and 1960s. Theatrical adaptations of short fiction from earlier decades by Dalton Trevisan, O vampiro contra Curitiba, and about Caio Fernando Abreu, B, Encontros com Caio Fernando Abreu, were produced in Brazil.

      Paulo Guedes and Elizabeth Hazin published Machado de Assis e a administração pública federal, an analysis of Machado de Assis's life and activities as a Brazilian civil servant. Film director Arnaldo Jabor published a collection of his “crônicas” about Brazilian life, Pornopolítica—Paixões e taras na vida brasileira.

      A major literary event in many cities throughout Brazil was the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the publication of João Guimarães Rosa's masterpiece Grande sertão: veredas. The bibliophile José Mindlin—who donated to the library of the University of São Paulo his 30,000-volume collection of rare works of Braziliana—was elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters, as were writer Celso Lafer and film director Nelson Pereira dos Santos. Among the notable deaths during the year were those of actor Raul Cortez, comedian and writer Cláudio Besserman Vianna, known as Bussunda, and literary critic José Maria Cançado.

Irwin Stern

Russian
      For Selected International Awards in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

      The most significant development in Russian literary life in 2006 was the surge of interest in, and publication of, literary biographies, led by the prestigious publishing houses Molodaya Gvardiya and Vita Nova. The two most successful of Molodaya Gvardiya's biographies were devoted to Russian poets; Dmitry Bykov published Boris Pasternak (2005) and Lev Losev Iosif Brodsky: opyt literaturnoy biografii, about Joseph Brodsky, a close friend of Losev's. Bykov received the National Bestseller Prize for his book, the first nonfiction work to be so honoured, and he also won the new Bolshaya Kniga Prize. Zhizn s poetom: Natalya Nikolayevna Pushkina (“A Life with the Poet: Natalya Nikolayevna Pushkina”), Vadim Stark's biography of Natalya Goncharova, the wife of Aleksandr Pushkin, was a big success for Vita Nova.

 A host of books, anti-utopias for the most part, depicting Russia in the not-too-distant future, were published. Among these were Vladimir Sorokin's novel Den oprichnika (“Day of the Oprichnik”), which described Russia in 2027 as a reborn Greater Muscovy separated from the West by a “Great Russian Wall” and ferociously governed by modern oprichniki (the name for the notorious personal guards of Ivan the Terrible). Bykov published Zh.D., a novel that described a war between clans who consider themselves the descendants of the 8th- and 9th-century Varangians and Khazars. Two other anti-utopias that deserved mention were Olga Slavnikova's 2017 and Zakhar Prilepin's Sanka. Somewhat different from these two, in both genre and ideology, was the two-volume novel Uchebnik risovaniya (“A Drawing Primer”) by the artist Maksim Kantor. Politically conservative, Kantor presented a panorama of the social and artistic life of Russia and the West over the past quarter century. Some had already dubbed this the first great book of the 21st century, and Kantor had been tipped to receive the first Bolshaya Kniga Award. Novels by author Aleksey Ivanov were also widely read, especially his latest, Zoloto bunta (2005; “The Gold of Rebellion”), which depicted the life of Russian sectarians in the Urals at the end of the 18th century.

      Books of a more explicitly literary bent were also evident. The pseudonymous Figl-Migl published two promising short stories as well as essays about Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Oscar Wilde. Alan Cherchesov, whose earlier books depicted life in the exotic North Caucasus mountains, brought out Villa bel-letra (“Villa Belles Lettres”), a multilayered, carefully constructed novel that takes place in an imaginary Central European land. This novel—along with Slavnikova's and Prilepin's works, Pyotr Aleshkovsky's Ryba (“The Fish”), Denis Sobolev's Ierusalim (2005; “Jerusalem”), and the Israeli Dina Rubina's novella Na solnechnoy storone ulitsy (“On the Sunny Side of the Street”)—was short-listed for the Russian Booker Prize. The winner was Slavnikova's 2017. Another notable work was Aleksandr Basmanov's Leteyskiye vody (“The Waters of Lethe”), a stylistically complex rethinking and rewriting of Boris Kudimov and Oleg Kudrin's 2005 folklore-based play Pro Vasiliya, vodu i zhid-rybu (“About Vasily, Water, and the Jew Fish”).

      It was a rich year in poetry. Several publications provoked substantial controversy, especially Aleksey Tsvetkov's Shekspir otdykhaet (“Shakespeare at Rest”), Dmitry Vodennikov's Chernovik (“Rough Draft”), and Yelena Fanaylova's Russkaya versiya (“The Russian Version”). Ivan Zhdanov and Igor Vishnevetsky issued their selected works, while Yelena Shvarts, Olga Martynova, and Sergey Stratanovsky had important magazine publications. Vozdukh, a new literary magazine started by Dmitry Kuzmin and devoted to experimental writing, also produced a series of books, among which Igor Bulatovsky's Karantin (“Quarantine”) deserved mention.

      Mariya Stepanova's collection Fiziologiya i malaya istoriya (“Physiology and a Little Story”) won the Hubert Burda and Andrey Bely poetry prizes. Other 2006 Bely Prize winners were Yury Lederman (prose) for his 2004 short-story collection Olor (“Alors”), the culturologist Boris Dubin (humanities), and critic Vyacheslav Kuritsyn (“special service to Russian literature”) for the 2005 volume Kuritsyn-Weekly.

      The Internet, and Internet journals such as TextOnly and Poluton, continued to play an important literary role, especially for the generation born in the 1980s. This generation, however, was lacking in critics; the only new names to add were Viktor Beilis, who lived in Germany, and the young Moscow poet Daniil Davydov, both of whom wrote primarily about poetry.

      The jailed industrialist Mikhail Khodorkovsky awarded generous grants in 2006 to Russia's leading poets, who included Mikhail Ayzenberg, Henri Volokhonsky, Sergey Gandlevsky, Mikhail Gendelev, Timur Kibirov, Dmitry Prigov, Eduard Limonov, Losev, Lev Rubinshteyn, Stratanovsky, Tsvetkov, and Shvarts. Gennady Aygi, the Chuvash-born poet and translator who switched to writing in Russian in his youth and became a poet of worldwide reputation, died in February.

Valery Shubinsky

Persian
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

      The 19th Tehran International Book Fair in May 2006 bore witness to Iran's tough new censorship regulations. Late in 2005 Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Hosein Safar-Harandi developed new publication guidelines in collaboration with the Tehran PEN Center, a conservative gathering of writers and poets. As a result, markedly fewer titles were published in 2006, while new visa restrictions prevented international publishers from exhibiting in Iran. The extension of the new censorship laws to the works of already well-published authors such as Ṣādiq Hidāyat and Ibrāhīm Gulistān caused a chill in the literary and publishing worlds.

      Two works of fiction stood out from among the books that did pass government scrutiny. Husayn Murtazaiyan Abkinar's Aqrab ru-yi pillaha-yi rah-ahan—Andimeshk (“A Scorpion on the Steps of the Andimeshk Railway Station”)—which told the story of the end of the Iran-Iraq War from the point of view of a disillusioned war veteran—was the first important rereading of those events. Farkhunda Aqaʾi's Az Shatan amukht va suzand (“He Took a Lesson from Satan and Scorched It All”) provided an uncanny counterpart to the war narrative told by an Iranian Christian woman. Let Me Tell You Where I've Been, edited by Persis M. Karim, became the most important anthology of contemporary Iranian women's literature in English.

      The literary scene was brighter in Afghanistan. After a publishing lull of at least a decade, several volumes—most notably ʿAbd al-Qayum Qavim's Murur-i bar adabiyat-i maʾasir-i Afghanistan (“A Retrospective of the Contemporary Literature of Afghanistan”)—took heed of the important works written in the Afghan diaspora. This volume, along with Mohammad Kazim Kahduyi's Adabiyat-i Afghanistan dar advar-e Qadima, a volume of classical Dari literature, sought to inform new generations of Afghan readers about their literary past. As if to signal the resumption of creative writing in the country, Shafiq Payam published Jashn-i Jinazah, a notable collection of short stories.

      The deaths of prominent novelist and literary translator M.A. Beh-Azin on May 31 and poet and satirist Omran Salahi on October 4 marked the most significant losses of the year.

Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak

Arabic
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

      In 2006 Rajāʾ ʿAbd Allāh al-Ṣāniʿ, a young Saudi writer, stirred up a storm among Arab readers with the publication of her first novel, Banāt al-Riyāḍ (2005; “Girls of Riyadh”), which dealt explicitly with the interaction of the sexes. Breaking social taboos, al-Ṣāniʾ risked crossing the fine line that separated religion from traditions in conservative societies such as Saudi Arabia. In Ḥubb fī minṭaqat al-Zill, author ʿAzmī Bishāra, a member of the Israeli Knesset, approached the dilemma of the Palestinians living in Israel from a philosophical angle. Omar, who lives in Israel, conducts an e-mail dialogue with Dunia, a beloved distant cousin in London. The novel was a sequel to Checkpoint (2004).

      Arab intellectuals were experiencing a feeling of anomie from their inability to stop the tragic events in their region and their failure to find a unified voice to convey their true feelings to the world. Ever since the issue of the clash of cultures was raised, they had been searching for an appropriate response. To this end the Union of Egyptian Writers established contacts with other writers in Europe and Africa with the aim of dialoguing with the people rather than keeping it between intellectuals. While less preoccupied with such concerns, Arab women writers used their pens to introduce their culture to the world—some, such as Assia Djebar, with notable international success. Djebar, a Maghribi author and member of the Academie Française, was honoured in Italy at a conference, “Unveiled Writing: Words and Women from the Maghrib to Iran.” Other participants included Liyānah Badr, Hoda Barakat, Radwa Achour, Alia Mamdouh, and Joumana Haddad, all of whom aggressively addressed the issues of culture shock and their societies' political struggles. Ḥanān al-Shaykh turned to more personal concerns in her novel Ḥikāyatī Sharḥun Yaṭūl (“My Story Requires a Long Explanation”), which revolved around her mother's struggle for survival while working in the fields of Lebanon.

      The general malaise that hovered over Arab societies at the end of the 20th century lingered on, owing to both internal and external factors. On the domestic front Arab writers were continuously questioning their relationship with political authority in their countries and rejected any attempts to muzzle freedom of expression. One example concerned the ending of state subsidies for literary journals in Egypt, a move that forced many publications either to reduce the number of issues or to close shop completely. The disappearance of those journals had an adverse effect on literary criticism and research. “The Writer and the Future,” a conference organized in Egypt in November 2005, turned into an examination of the strained relationship between intellectuals and those with political power. While outspoken works such as ʿAlāʾ al-Aswānī's ʿImarāt Yaʿqūbiyān (2002; The Yacoubian Building, 2004) survived the censor's scissors, both as a novel and as a successful film, other works such as Mohsen al-Gallad's play Bilad fil mazad (“A Country Sold at Auction”) were banned. This lack of freedom veiled the Egyptian press as well, and many journalists were imprisoned for denouncing corruption. Karem Yehya's Hurriyya ʿala al-hāmish fi naqd al-sahafa al Misriyyah (2005; “Superficial Freedom: A Critique of the Egyptian Press”) revealed various intimidation methods used on journalists.

 Voices of Arab writers living in exile and celebrating their countries of origin were increasingly being heard. Canadian Jean Mohsen Fahmy, who was concerned with multiculturalism, published L'Agonie des dieux (2005), a multiple-award-winning book. Nadia Tayar, an Egyptian residing in France, published Amour interdit, a novel that was exhibited at the Salon du Livre in Paris. The prolific francophone author Yasmina Khadra—>'s L'Attentat (2005; The Attack, 2005), set in Israel and revolving around suicide bombing, received France's Prix Tropiques in 2006. Algerian French writer Nina Bouraoui's 2005 novel Mes mauvaises pensées, a breathtaking and a breathless soliloquy of a single session of the protagonist with her psychotherapist, won the 2005 Prix Renaudot. Noureddine Saadi of Algeria was awarded the Prix Beur FM for La Nuit des origines (2005). From the United States came the voice of Palestinian American Suheir Hammad in her latest collection of poetry, ZaatarDiva (2005), in which she defended the cause of all downtrodden peoples.

      The year 2006 was marked by the loss of Egypt's Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz (Mahfouz, Naguib ) at age 94. (See Obituaries.) Eager to preserve valuable information obtained during various encounters with Mahfuz, Jamāl al-Ghīṭānī published his notes as Al-Majālis al-Maḥfūẓīyah (“The Mahfuzian Meetings”). Egyptian playwright Samīr Sarḥān, a strong promoter of culture for the masses, also died during the year, as did Syrian novelist ʿAbd al-Salām al-ʿUjaylī.

Aida A. Bamia

Chinese
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

      Yu Hua, a leading novelist, was perhaps the most talked-about Chinese literary figure in 2006, if only because of his two-volume novel Xiong di (“Brothers”). The first volume was published in August 2005 and sold more than 500,000 copies within a year. The second volume appeared in the spring of 2006 and sold more than 400,000 copies in the first two months alone. Without a doubt this novel was China's top best seller. Considered “pure literature,” the book nonetheless drew harsh comments from the critics.

      The town of Liu Zhen, in eastern China, provided the setting for the book, which chronicled the rather long and involved story of three persons: two young men, Li Guangtou and Song Gang, and Lin Hong, the beautiful girl loved by both. In the first volume the author described the bitter childhoods of the two boys in the 1960s and '70s with a special kind of narrative tone, spiced with strong exaggeration and humour. They are orphaned during China's Cultural Revolution of 1966–76, with Song's father dying as a victim of political persecution.

      The second volume of Xiong di was much longer than the first, and the story line proceeded in another direction. Li grows up without fear or shame and quickly becomes a successful businessman, while Song chooses the path of honesty, which means that he can expect only an ordinary, or even poor, life. The one bright spot is that he wins Lin's love, but at the end of the story Song is deprived even of that, and then he loses his own reason. As Lin throws herself into Li's arms, the novel reaches its tragic climax.

      Another literary work worthy of mention was Tai ping feng wu (“Tranquil Scenery”), written by Li Rui, a leading intellectual. The main part of the book comprised 14 short stories, each of which was titled with the name of a farm tool, such as “Hoe” or “Shoulder Pole.” The tools were integral elements in the stories and strongly underlined the relationship, as close as flesh and blood, between Chinese farmers and the land beneath their feet, the two linked together by the tools. To a degree the book could be perceived as a deep sigh for the rural life and society that were so quickly passing away.

      On November 10–14 the Chinese Writers Association (CWA), the country's official literary organization, held its seventh national meeting and elected Tie Ning, a female writer from Hebei province, president of the organization. Since 2000 the usefulness and relevance of the CWA had been widely questioned in light of its pro-government coloration. Some writers had even resigned their memberships publicly, as Li Rui did in October 2003.

Xiaoming Wang

Japanese
      For Selected International Literary Prizes in 2006, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2006).

      In March 2006 the Japan Foundation held a series of international conferences titled “A Wild Haruki Chase: How the World Is Reading and Translating Murakami” in Tokyo, Sapporo, and Kobe, where Haruki Murakami grew up. The opening address was delivered by American novelist Richard Powers, with many writers and translators from France, Russia, Brazil, China, and elsewhere. The conferences underlined the author's popularity worldwide and the importance of his literary works. During the year Murakami himself received the Franz Kafka Prize of the Czech Republic and the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.

 The Akutagawa Prize, awarded semiannually to the most promising new Japanese writers of fiction, went in the second half of 2005 to Akiko Itoyama's “Oki de matsu” (“Waiting Offshore”), first published in the September 2005 issue of Bungakukai. The story focused on a working woman who keeps her promise to a male colleague to destroy the memory on his PC hard drive after his death. The Akutagawa Prize for the first half of 2006 was given to Takami Itō—>'s “Hachigatsu no rojō ni suteru” (“Thrown Out onto the August Road”), the story of a young soon-to-be divorced soft-drink-delivery man and his middle-aged female co-driver, who is facing a job relocation. Both of these prizewinning stories dealt with people's loneliness due to their unsociability.

      Some two decades after her debut, Banana Yoshimoto published Iruka (“Dolphin”), a story of new spiritual encounters possibly based on her own experience of pregnancy and parturition, as well as Hitokage (“Silhouette”), an extended version of her acclaimed story “Tokage” (“Lizard”). Eimi Yamada's 2005 work Fūmi zekka (“Superb Flavours”) was filmed, which gained her even more readers. Itō's wife, Mitsuyo Kakuta, proved to be one of the most popular authors throughout the year, with prose pieces such as Watashi rashiku ano basho e (“To the Place I Used to Belong”) and Yoru o yuku hikōki (“A Plane over the Night”) and a cookbook, Kanojo no kondate-cho (“Her Recipes”). Kakuta also won the Yasunari Kawabata Prize for short stories with “Rokku haha” (“Rock Mother”), first published in the December 2005 issue of Gunzō, which beat out seven other candidates—including Murakami's “Hanarei bei” (“Hanalei Bay”).

      The Yomiuri Prize for novels went to Toshiyuki Horie's Kagan bōjitsushō (2005; “Forgotten Days by the Riverside”) and Katsusuke Miyauchi's Shōshin (2005; “Immolation”). The Jun'ichirō Tanizaki Prize, given to the most representative work of fiction or drama, was awarded to Yōko Ogawa's 2006 novel Mīna no kōshin (“Mina's Parade”). Among the best-selling books of the year were Gekidan Hitori's Kagehinata ni saku (“Blooming in Light and Shade”), Keiichirō Hirano's Kao no nai rataitachi (“Nudes Without Faces”), and Shoko Nanai's Watashi wo mite gyutto aishite (“Look at Me and Love Me Hard”), the original versions of which first appeared in her blog in 2003. In general, more and more literary works were being published on Web sites. Nobuo Kojima (Kojima, Nobuo ), who won both the Akutagawa Prize (1955) and the Tanizaki Prize (1965), died in October. (See Obituaries.) Genre writer Akira Yoshimura died in July; after his death his wife, the novelist Setsuko Tsumura, revealed that he himself had disconnected his life-support system.

Yoshihiko Kazamaru

▪ 2006

Introduction

English

United Kingdom.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      The Orange Prize for Fiction, an award dedicated to women writers, celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2005. Although some had predicted at its inception that the prize would not achieve meritoriousness, the prize showed itself to be firmly established as one of Britain's most prestigious literary awards (alongside the Whitbread Book Awards and the Man Booker Prize), attracting massive press attention and generating book sales in the tens of thousands. It nonetheless continued to provoke controversy. Defending the need for a women-only award, judge Joanne Harris said, “Year after year the short list for the Booker is mostly old men.” Kate Mosse, the cofounder and honorary director of the Orange Prize, noted that it helped promote writers who had previously been ignored: “This is about getting great books read more widely.” Its detractors, however, agreed with critic John Walsh, who said, “There is nothing more condescending than the idea that there is women's fiction. It's extreme bigotry.”

      A sure sign of the award's efficacy was the fate of the 2004 winner, Andrea Levy's Small Island (2004), which—besides being voted Best of the Best, the overall winner from the 10 novels that had won the Orange Prize to date—captured the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and Novel Award, beating the 2004 Man Booker winner, Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty (2004). Levy's social comedy about Caribbean immigration to Britain also took the 2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

 Those who argued that women writers were still more likely than men to concern themselves with domestic and so-called women's issues might have felt their views confirmed by the Orange Prize's 2005 short list. Of the six short-listed books, five had female protagonists and most of the plots revolved around family relations. Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian explored the dynamics that emerge when two sisters join forces to prevent their father from marrying a glamorous Ukrainian divorcée. Meanwhile, Sheri Holman's The Mammoth Cheese (2004 [published in the U.S. in 2003]) touched on fertility medication, postpartum depression, and what happens when one woman's obsession with politics blinds her to the plight of her teenage daughter. A favourite with bookmakers was Old Filth (2004) by Jane Gardam, a Yorkshire-born writer and two-time winner of the Whitbread. Gardam's subject was the devastating emotional cost of separating young children from their parents. Her protagonist, an 80-year-old retired international lawyer, was once a “raj orphan”; he now seeks to come to terms with memories of a loveless childhood in a Welsh foster home. The winner was American novelist Lionel Shriver for We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003), a novel about a career woman who gives birth to a son she is unable to love. Years later the boy commits a Columbine-style massacre, killing nine people in his high school. Jenni Murray, chair of the judging panel, said Kevin “is a book that acknowledges what many women worry about but never express—the fear of becoming a mother and the terror of what kind of child one might bring into the world.”

      On the whole, however, the literature of 2005 gave evidence of a country preoccupied as much with global concerns as with domestic ones, and books on terrorism and the war in Iraq were abundant. Ian McEwan's latest novel, Saturday, traced a day in the life of a London neurosurgeon. The day is Feb. 15, 2003, when more than a million people took to the streets to protest the incipient war in Iraq. Unlike much fiction provoked by post-Sept. 11, 2001, politics, however, Saturday did not take a clear position; the arguments for and against the war were distributed with ambiguity. The Guardian journalist James Meek's much-lauded novel The People's Act of Love delved into the twin ideologies of self-sacrifice and terror. Meek's tale, featuring castrates, cannibals, and torturers, was set in remote Siberia after the Russian Revolution of 1917, but it cast light on how destructive belief systems might operate in any context. One revolutionary, describing himself in the third person, says, “He's not a destroyer, he is destruction, leaving these good people who remain to build a better world on the ruins.… What looks like an act of evil to a single person is the people's act of love to its future self.”

      In the nonfiction realm, books attempting to understand terrorism continued to proliferate. An original approach was taken by leading critic Terry Eagleton. Billed as “a metaphysics of terror with a serious historical perspective,” Holy Terror traced the concept throughout the ages, citing writers from Euripides to D.H. Lawrence. John Gray, author of another study of terrorism, Al Qaeda and What It Means to Be Modern (2003), commended Eagleton's effort, saying, “Very few of the thousands of books on the subject have explored it in a larger context of ideas.”

      Current world affairs were also brought into focus by the Nobel Committee's decision to award the doyen of British theatre, Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize for Literature. (See Nobel Prizes .) In recent years Pinter had attracted attention for his vocal opposition to the bombing of Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. Early in 2005, having written more than 30 plays, he announced that he was giving up playwriting to concentrate on political writing, including poetry: “I'm using a lot of energy more specifically about political states of affairs, which I think are very worrying as things stand.” Despite grumbles in some camps over the award's alleged political dimension, most commentators agreed that Pinter had had a seminal influence on British theatre during his nearly 50-year career. His distinctive style, it was widely remarked, had given rise to the well-used term Pinteresque to describe “a work of drama full of atmospheric silences peppered with half-stated insights.” In describing Pinter's contribution, Nobel permanent secretary Horace Engdahl commented, “Pinter restored theatre to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretense crumbles.”

      In The Times (London) newspaper, Michael Gove drew meaningful comparisons between recent fiction and the literature of prewar Edwardian Britain. As he observed, three of the six Man Booker Prize finalists were inspired by authors or events of the first decades of the past century. Julian Barnes's Arthur & George, a semifictional life of Sherlock Holmes's creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was set in fin de siècle Britain. It also was written in the formal style of the period, a fact that publisher Jonathan Cape underscored by binding it in embossed dark mustard cloth. On Beauty, Zadie Smith's latest foray into the dynamics of race relations, also looked backward, with Smith unabashedly borrowing elements of plot and style from E.M. Forster's 1910 masterpiece Howards End. Finally, Sebastian Barry's A Long Long Way treated the end of Edwardian innocence: World War I. Gove attributed the parallels to similarities in the eras: “Iraq, like the Boer War, divides opinion and is proving a profound test of leadership. The rise of China, like the growth of Imperial Germany, has led to deep questioning of what difficult changes we need to make to prepare for a shift in the geopolitical balance. Just as new social forces within Edwardian England forced a recasting of politics, so questions of national cohesion and multiculturalism are creating new alliances and new strains in British public life.”

      The winner of the Man Booker Prize, however, was inspired neither by politics nor by Edwardian classics. Veteran Irish writer John Banville's novel The Sea told the story of a man who escapes the recent loss of his wife by revisiting an Irish coastal resort where he spent a holiday in his youth. There he unravels his memories of a life-shaping encounter with the Grace family. The Sunday Times called it a novel “concerned with rites of passage: coming-of-age and coming of old age; awakening and dying.” The Sea narrowly beat the front-runner—Kazuo Ishiguro's more topical dystopia about cloning, Never Let Me Go. Man Booker Prize chairman John Sutherland had cast the deciding vote for The Sea. This was a reversal of fortunes for Banville, whose novel The Book of Evidence had lost the Booker Prize in 1989 to Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day. It also represented the second consecutive win for the publishers Picador. Nevertheless, The Sea provoked ambivalent reviews. Many critics complained that Banville's “jewelled sentences” and “fancy epithets” interfered with the book's narrative flow. “Banville's text is one that constantly demands admiration and analysis,” wrote one reviewer, “There's lots of lovely language, but not much novel.”

      Banville's themes of loss, identity, and remembrance recurred in Sheila Hancock's memoir, The Two of Us: My Life with John Thaw (2004), chronicling her turbulent 28-year marriage to the British actor and her grief following his death from cancer. Hancock was named Reader's Digest Author of the Year at the British Book Awards. In Rules for Old Men Waiting, Peter Pouncey, a retired classics professor, made his debut as a novelist with themes that also dealt with bereavement and memory. An old man waiting to die retreats to his decrepit summer house on Cape Cod to finish writing a story about World War I. As the novel progresses, he realizes that he is making “some kind of tally of his memories, as though completing the inventory might tell him what his life amounted to.”

      Other notable newcomers on the literary scene included Diana Evans, whose novel 26a, about a pair of identical twins growing up in an eccentric mixed-race family in northwestern London, won the Orange Award for New Writers. Susan Fletcher's Eve Green (2004) won the 2004 Whitbread First Novel Award. It had sold fewer than 1,000 copies before its nomination.

      The 2004 Whitbread Biography Award went to John Guy for My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots (2004). Guy's study joined a crowded arena of books about the “unluckiest ruler in British history” but distinguished itself by portraying a less-romanticized queen, based on previously overlooked evidence. A shocked reviewer noted the disparity between Guy's modern Mary and earlier accounts: “Although she was only 42 years old, her legs were so swollen and her feet so inflamed by arthritis that she had to be helped into the execution chamber by two soldiers.” History received a far more devastating update, however, in Mao: The Unknown Story. Jung Chang, the author of Wild Swans, and her historian husband, Jon Halliday, revealed Mao as “one of the greatest monsters of the 20th century alongside Hitler and Stalin,” responsible for 70 million deaths. Based on a decade of interviews, the book promised to undermine the distortions of history perpetuated by the Communist Party of China. Nicholas Shakespeare in the Daily Telegraph predicted that “when China comes to terms with its past this book will have played a role.”

      On a lighter note, Geraldine McCaughrean's alternative version of the Noah story, Not the End of the World (2004), won the 2004 Whitbread Children's Book Award, which made her the first writer to have won the award three times. McCaughrean's version named the wives of Noah's sons, added a daughter to the biblical cast, and filled out the story with graphic details. A reviewer in The Guardian commented, “McCaughrean embraces the sheer physical reality of what surviving the flood means: the pleading of the drowning people as Noah refuses to take them aboard, in the name of fulfilling God's design, the muck, the parasites, the lack of food.”

      A battle over intellectual property was launched when 15 eminent literary figures banded together to stem the flow of writers' archives to universities in the U.S. The group, which included Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and biographer Michael Holroyd, called for tax breaks and government funding to assist British universities in competing more effectively with their wealthier American counterparts. Salman Rushdie, Smith, and Ishiguro were among the British writers said to have been recently approached by American institutions for their papers. Motion stated, “This is about our cultural heritage as well as the obvious research opportunities.”

      Lest anyone doubt the value of culture in the modern world, popular intellectual John Carey produced What Good Are the Arts? The second half of the book puts “The Case for Literature” as an art form superior to any other because it is capable of criticism, reasoning, and moralizing. “Literature does not make you a better person, though it may help you to criticize what you are. But it enlarges your mind and it gives you thoughts, words and rhythms that will last you for life.”

      Deaths during the year include those of biographer Humphrey William Bouverie Carpenter, (Carpenter, Humphrey William Bouverie ) novelist and editor Alice Thomas Ellis, (Ellis, Alice Thomas ) playwright Christopher Fry, (Fry, Christopher ) children's author Helen Cresswell, (Cresswell, Helen ) and Postmodern author John Fowles. (See Obituaries.)

Carol Peaker

United States.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      The death on April 5, 2005, of Saul Bellow (Bellow, Saul ) (see Obituaries), one of the giants of modern American literature, precipitated accolades by Herbert Gold and Philip Roth, among many others. For half a century Bellow had stood at the forefront of American letters and set the highest standard for 20th-century American prose and serious thought about life and culture in the U.S.

      Roth himself was singled out during the year as a major living American writer; he became one of three writers (Eudora Welty and Bellow were the others) whose work was published during his or her lifetime in the admirable Library of America series—the U.S. version of France's “Pléiade” editions. Two volumes of Roth's work—which included short stories, his first novel, Letting Go, his still-audacious novel Portnoy's Complaint, and other early work—appeared between the covers of the distinctive Library of America binding.

 Far and away the best new novel of the year came in the fall when E.L. Doctorow published The March, his fictionalized version of Civil War Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's 1864 march across the South. And, as they watched, the brown cloud took on a reddish cast. It moved forward, thin as a hatchet blade in front and then widening like the furrow from the plow. It was moving across the sky to the south of them. When the sound of this cloud reached them, it was like nothing they had ever heard in their lives. It was not fearsomely heaven-made, like thunder or lightning or howling wind, but something felt through their feet, a resonance, as if the earth was humming.…The symphonious clamor was everywhere, filling the sky like the cloud of red dust that arrowed past them to the south and left the sky dim, it was the great processional of the Union armies, but of no more substance than an army of ghosts.

      John Irving used his own childhood and adolescent experience of sexual transgressions as the basis for his weighty new novel Until I Find You, the story of a Hollywood actor in search of the father who abandoned him. California octogenarian Oakley Hall issued the entertaining Ambrose Bierce and the Ace of Shoots. Jim Harrison delivered to his faithful following of readers another trio of novellas, under the title The Summer He Didn't Die. Mary Gordon's novel Pearl featured a mother-daughter struggle, and Francine Prose drew a portrait of an American neo-Nazi in A Changed Man.

      Paul Theroux carried readers into the Amazon jungle in Blinding Light, and Michael Cunningham, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for The Hours, straddled New York City's past and future in Specimen Days; neither book met with complete acclaim, however. Rick Moody's The Diviners, his first novel in seven years, worked as an uproarious send-up of the world of television and film, though it did not win the credit it deserved. Although another decidedly experimental work, Europe Central by William T. Vollmann, an 811-page novel about the rise of Nazism and the Russian front, did not garner much initial praise, it won the National Book Award for Fiction.

      In his much-praised novel The Hummingbird's Daughter, Luis Alberto Urrea beautifully combined family and Mexican history.

Mexico was too big. It had too many colors. It was noisier than anyone could have imagined, and the voice of the Atlantic was different from the voice of the Pacific.… The east was a swoon of green, a thick-aired smell of ripe fruit and flowers and dead pigs and salt and sweat and mud, while the west was a riot of purple. Pyramids rose between llanos of dust and among turgid jungles. Snakes as long as country roads swam tame beside canoes. Volcanoes wore hats of snow. Cactus forests grew taller than trees. Shamans ate mushrooms and flew.

      David Anthony Durham went all the way back to the Punic Wars for his successful novel Pride of Carthage, the story of Hannibal and his civilization. The German Officer's Boy by Harlan Greene used the Third Reich as the background for a story of thwarted sexuality and corruption. New York City and the construction of the Empire State Building put its special stamp on Thomas Kelly's Empire Rising.

      A number of authors borrowed everyday themes for their works. In his second novel, Drives like a Dream, Porter Shreve, the author of The Obituary Writer, sprinkled auto-industry gossip in a story about a woman's quest to lure her grown children home. Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close took its cue from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack in New York City. In the background of Wounded, Percival Everett's new novel, there is a hate crime taken almost directly out of the newspaper headlines. Marc Estrin's quirky coming-of-age novel, The Education of Arnold Hitler, chronicled the life of the protagonist as he moves from a Texas high school fraught with racial tensions to antiwar demonstrations at Harvard University to encounters with Al Gore and Leonard Bernstein, among others, in a quest for meaning.

      Mother of Sorrows by Richard McCann drew on personal history. Nancy Rawles's My Jim played off traditional fiction and told the story of the escaped slave Jim, a character from Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Among numerous first novels there were a number of standouts: Music of the Mill by Luis J. Rodriguez, The Coast of Akron by Adrienne Miller, and The Lake, the River & the Other Lake by Steve Amick.

 It was a good year for short-story offerings. James Salter, one of the few reigning American masters of short fiction, published Last Night, a new collection of short stories, in which he melded sharp observation with lyric intensity in the service of deep characterization. Several other elder statesman published short-story collections, including San Francisco octogenarian Leo Litwak with Nobody's Baby and Other Stories and Chicago craftsman Richard Stern with his collection of short fiction under the title Almonds to Zhoof. Ann Beattie and Roxana Robinson, both in the middle of their careers, issued new collections, Follies and A Perfect Stranger and Other Stories, respectively. John Edgar Wideman signed in with God's Gym, Amy Hempel with The Dog of the Marriage, and Edith Pearlman with How to Fall. New collections also came from Florida writer John Dufresne (Johnny Too Bad) and New York writer Jay Neugeboren (News from the New American Diaspora and Other Tales of Exile), and there was some experimental new work from National Book Award nominee Christine Schutt (A Day, a Night, Another Day, Summer).

      A number of younger writers came out with first or second books, including Daniel Alarcón (War by Candlelight), Elizabeth McKenzie (Stop That Girl), William Henry Lewis (I Got Somebody in Staunton), Judy Budnitz (Nice Big American Baby), and Thomas McConnell (A Picture Book of Hell and Other Landscapes). Perhaps the most extraordinary debut of the year was that of Chinese émigré and California resident Yiyun Li, whose collection of stories titled A Thousand Years of Good Prayers was set in both modern China and the contemporary U.S. The book drew numerous laudatory reviews.

      The year in nonfiction prose had a number of highlights, beginning with Joan Didion's starkly told and remarkably moving The Year of Magical Thinking, her 2005 National Book Award-winning memoir of life in the wake of the death in 2003 of her husband, novelist John Gregory Dunne. Novelist Kurt Vonnegut published a group of brief contrarian essays under the title A Man Without a Country. Jonathan Harr's The Lost Painting garnered great attention with a beautifully turned narrative about a quest for a lost Caravaggio: “The Englishman moves in a slow but deliberate shuffle, knees slightly bent and feet splayed, as he crosses the piazza, heading in the direction of a restaurant named Da Fortunato.” Harr's book reads like a novel and wears rather lightly its scholarship about the world of art history and the restoration of masterpieces. Award winner Dava Sobel attracted attention for her delightful prose in the treatment of the bodies in the solar system in The Planets.

      Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley turned to casual literary criticism in 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel. Vietnam War veteran and novelist Larry Heinemann wrote in Black Virgin Mountain of his return to the sites in Vietnam that had haunted him. Novelist Howard Norman wrote a slender, delicate tribute to a long-lost friendship in In Fond Remembrance of Me, and in The Language of Baklava fiction writer Diana Abu-Jaber turned to childhood as her subject. Craig Lesley's Burning Fence: A Western Memoir of Fatherhood was his take on that subject. The Coldest Winter: A Stringer in Liberated Europe by Paula Fox focused on her adventures in Europe just after the end of World War II.

      Harry Mathews spoofed the genre of memoir and politics in My Life in CIA. In Uncensored: Views & (Re)views, prodigious and celebrated novelist Joyce Carol Oates showed off a fascinating miscellany of recent work. Meanwhile, Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic Michael Dirda showcased his work in Bound to Please.

      Efforts at formal literary biography were masterly in the case of Andrew Delbanco's Melville and Lewis M. Dabney's Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature. Midwestern critic and scholar Barbara Burkhardt won accolades for William Maxwell: A Literary Life. Former poet laureate Robert Pinsky wrestled with biblical scholarship and received much praise for The Life of David, his study of King David. Independent scholar Megan Marshall proved 20 years of work worthwhile in The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism.

      Other literary biographies that merited attention were Sherill Tippins's February House—a work that focused on the little community formed in Brooklyn in 1940 by W.H. Auden, Paul Bowles, Carson McCullers, and Gypsy Rose Lee—as well as novelist Jerome Charyn's Savage Shorthand: The Life and Death of Isaac Babel.

      Other biographies of note included Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius by Leo Damrosch, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, Stepin Fetchit: The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry by Mel Watkins, Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands, and The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey by Candice Millard.

      Also noteworthy in nonfiction were Peter L. Bernstein's Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation, James Reston, Jr.'s Dogs of God: Columbus, the Inquisition, and the Defeat of the Moors, Edward G. Lengel's General George Washington: A Military Life, Sean Wilentz's Andrew Jackson, historian John Hope Franklin's autobiographical Mirror to America, and A. Roger Ekirch's At Day's Close: Night in Times Past.

      The late author Jane Kenyon had her Collected Poems published during the year (“I got out of bed / on two strong legs. / It might have been / otherwise”); Robert Bly offered My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy (“It is not yet dawn, and the sitar is playing. / Where are the footsteps that were so clear yesterday?”); and W.S. Merwin signed in with Migration: New & Selected Poems. Other books of verse included Lorna Dee Cervantes' Drive: The First Quartet, Charles Simic's My Noiseless Entourage, and two collections by Lawrence Joseph (Into It and Codes, Precepts, Biases, and Taboos: Poems 1973–1993). Also appearing were MacArthur Fellowship winner Campbell McGrath's Pax Atomica (2004), Kevin Young's Black Maria (“He loves me slow / as gin, then's out / light-switch quick”), and A Wild Perfection: The Selected Letters of James Wright, edited by Anne Wright and Saundra Maley. “Maud went to college. / Sadie stayed at home. / Sadie scraped life / With a fine-tooth comb”: the voice of the late Gwendolyn Brooks took on new strength as the Library of America's American Poets Project issued The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks, edited by Elizabeth Alexander.

      Poet Laureate Ted Kooser wrote The Poetry Home Repair Manual, a textbook on the writing of poems. His book seemed part of a burgeoning new subgenre, the writing-instruction memoir. Other works in that vein included Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer's Life by Bret Lott and From Where You Dream: The Process of Writing Fiction by Robert Olen Butler.

      The 2005 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded for works that appeared in 2004. The Pulitzer for fiction was awarded to Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, and the history prize went to David Hackett Fischer for Washington's Crossing. The Pulitzer biography winners were Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan for De Kooning: An American Master. Kooser took the Pulitzer for poetry for Delights & Shadows. Merwin won the National Book Award for poetry. Ha Jin, winner in 2000 of the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction for his novel Waiting, collected the prize for a second time—for his novel War Trash.

      Besides the deaths of Bellow, historian Shelby Foote (Foote, Shelby ), poet Richard Eberhart (Eberhart, Richard Ghormley ), and authors Mary Lee Settle (Settle, Mary Lee ), Frank Conroy (Conroy, Frank ), Judith Rossner (Rossner, Judith Perelman ), Larry Collins (Collins, Larry ), and Andrea Rita Dworkin (Dworkin, Andrea Rita ) (see Obituaries), other losses in American arts and letters included those of poet Philip Lamantia, author Max Steele, and screenwriter and biographer Gavin Lambert, best known for his novel Inside Daisy Clover (1963) and its screenplay.

Alan Cheuse

Canada.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      The past was present, sometimes forcefully, sometimes stealthily, in many Canadian novels in 2005. Joseph Boyden's Three Day Road wielded the horrors of World War I like an oyster knife, opening up prevailing myths for examination. Similarly, Ethiopia's violence-torn history was evident at every turn in Camilla Gibb's Sweetness in the Belly. A father's mysterious return to Vietnam 30 years after the Vietnam War led his daughter and son to follow in search of him in David Bergen's The Time in Between. Edeet Ravel's A Wall of Light showed what happens when a family's most dangerous and treasured secrets are dragged into the open, and the repressed histories of three women affected by one man's death were relentlessly uncovered in Joan Barfoot's Luck.

 Undoing the past was the theme of Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad, which retold the Greek myth of Odysseus from the perspective of his wife, Penelope. Victorian London was the setting for Audrey Thomas's Tattycoram, in which Charles Dickens played a pivotal role, and 19th-century Ontario formed the backdrop of Jane Urquhart's A Map of Glass.

      The geography of Newfoundland loomed large in three novels: Lisa Moore's Alligator, a study of class and family lines fractured on the edges of hardened emotions; Donna Morrissey's Sylvanus Now, set in an outport village in the 1950s; and Michael Crummey's The Wreckage, in which long-divided lovers, meeting again by chance, strive to bridge their divergent lives.

      Caribbean islands were the setting for Shanti Mootoo's story of fate-denied lovers in He Drown She in the Sea, Neil Bissoondath's exploration of impossible choices in The Unyielding Clamour of the Night, and Rabindranath Maharaj's dissection of independence, personal and political, in A Perfect Pledge. Leon Rooke's The Beautiful Wife romped from the Philippines to Winnipeg.

      Novels situated in contemporary Canada included two set in Toronto—Dionne Brand's What We All Long For, about a Vietnamese refugee family, and David Gilmour's Governor General's Literary Award-winning book for fiction A Perfect Night to Go to China, in which a father searches for the child he lost through his own selfishness. Andrew Pyper's The Wildfire Season featured a pyromaniac and a wounded grizzly wreaking their particular forms of havoc in the Yukon. Sandra Birdsell's Children of the Day covered a single day in a small Manitoba town, where children are left to fend for themselves while their mother spends most of the day in bed; and Golda Fried's Nellcott Is My Darling depicted a young McGill University student's sweetly cruel dilemma—she is afraid to lose her virginity and afraid not to.

      An ironic humour ran through several collections of short stories, from the laid-back realism of Thomas King's A Short History of Indians in Canada to Aaron Bushkowsky's The Vanishing Man, in which encounters in the contemporary world come to ambivalent, inconclusive ends, to Matthew Kneale's sardonic versions of karma in Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance.

      A more somber note was struck in the sad lives exposed in Charlotte Gill's Ladykiller and in the horrific experiences of Hungarian exiles in Canada presented in Tamas Dobozy's Last Notes, and Other Stories. Vivette J. Kady's stories in Most Wanted were reminiscent of post-office bulletin boards that advertised the painful peccadilloes of domestic desperadoes. In The Far Away Home, Marci Denesiuk's characters displayed a gritty resilience despite the many disappointments in their lives.

      Poets ranged in mood and style from the dour visions expressed in Paul Vermeersch's Between the Walls and Evelyn Lau's grim, lyrical conflicts of sex and selfhood in Treble to the adept playfulness of bill bissett's northern wild roses: deth interrupts th dansing and Leon Rooke's Hot Poppies, which pushed the boundaries between illusion and stark reality, and to the silences explored in Jan Zwicky's Thirty-Seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences and in Anne Compton's Processional, which won the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry. Lorna Crozier sharpened her observations of nature, wild and human, in Whetstone; Barry Dempster provided sometimes irreverent musings on loss, illusion, and illness in The Burning Alphabet; and Olive Senior offered subtle graces in Over the Roofs of the World.

      Water and music formed the matrix for the musings in Ross Leckie's Gravity's Plumb Line and, in a different form, in Robert Hilles's Calling the Wild, which harkened back to the days of true wilderness. In Little Theatres Erin Mouré deftly directed language like actors on the page's small, revealing stage.

Elizabeth Rhett Woods

Other Literature in English.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      English-language writing from sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, and New Zealand was represented in 2005 by a wide range of authors—literary novices, experienced writers, and Nobelists.

  Africa provided its usual fare of outstanding works, including much-anticipated novels by two Nobel laureates in literature from South Africa. Nadine Gordimer, the 1991 Nobelist, weighed in with Get a Life, the story of a South African ecologist who, after receiving thyroid treatment, becomes radioactive to others; and J.M. Coetzee, the 2003 Nobel winner, explored ideas, the power of literature, and the theme of displacement in Slow Man. Nigerian Wole Soyinka, Africa's first recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1986) and the continent's most prominent dramatist, made the news when his first and perhaps most famous play, The Lion and the Jewel (1963), was performed at the Barbican Theatre in London. His countryman S.A. Afolabi won the sixth Caine Prize for African Writing for his short story “Monday Morning,” which first appeared in 2004 in the journal Wasafiri. Short-listed for the award were Doreen Baingana (Uganda), Jamal Mahjoub (The Sudan), Muthal Naidoo (South Africa), and Ike Okonta (Nigeria). A 20-year-old student at the University of Cambridge, Nigerian-born Helen Oyeyemi, who already had two plays to her credit, made her debut as a novelist to critical acclaim with The Icarus Girl. The story was of a mixed-race youth who confronts her double, ghosts, and confusion growing up between cultures and races. Nigerian Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received the grand 2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book for her novel Purple Hibiscus (2003). Ghanaian-born award-winning author William Boyd continued his string of important works with the publication of his first book of nonfiction, Bamboo. Poet Kwame Dawes, who was born in Ghana but grew up in Jamaica, teamed with noted illustrator Tom Feelings—who died in 2003—to produce I Saw Your Face (2004), a delight for readers young and old.

      Noted South African novelist and playwright Zakes Mda presented his fifth novel, The Whale Caller, which was set in the Western Cape coastal resort town of Hermanus, whose cliffs attract throngs of whale-watchers. Compatriot Lindsey Collen explored a young man's social and sexual coming-of-age in her novel Boy (2004), regional winner for Africa of the 2005 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book.

      Prolific and best-selling Australian author Colleen McCullough offered her novel Angel. Other fiction from Australians included Janette Turner Hospital's short-story collection North of Nowhere, South of Loss (2003; U.S. and U.K. publication 2004) and Tim Winton's The Turning (2004), which included 17 overlapping stories. Meanwhile, veteran poet and critic Chris Wallace-Crabbe offered Read It Again, an incisive collection of essays on poetry, art, and Australia. Also noteworthy were Fabienne Bayet-Charlton's novel Watershed and N.A. Bourke's new fiction, The True Green of Hope.

      The year was marked by sadness with the death of novelist and short-story writer Yvonne Vera of Zimbabwe as well as that of Australian poet Denis Kevans, whose close identification with Aborigines, Irish political prisoners, environmental causes, and the antiwar movement earned him a reputation as “the people's poet.”

David Draper Clark

Germanic

German.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

 In 2005 the Federation of German Booksellers awarded its German Book Prize, with a first prize of €25,000 (about $30,200), to the Austrian Arno Geiger for his novel Es geht uns gut, which, like several other well-received works of 2005, returned to the time-honoured tradition of the German family novel pioneered by Thomas Mann in Buddenbrooks (1901). Geiger's novel had as its main character Philipp Erlach, a man in his mid-30s who must come to terms with the difficult legacy of earlier eras, particularly the generation of his two grandfathers, one an opponent of the Nazis and the other a supporter. Meanwhile, Gila Lustiger, a German-language writer living in Paris, published So sind wir, an autobiographical novel that dealt with the experiences of Lustiger's father, the writer Arno Lustiger, a Holocaust survivor. In her novel Lustiger explored the effects of this past on the family in the present.

      The year also saw the publication of Kerstin Hensel's novel Falscher Hase, which focused on the life of an East German policeman, Heini Paffrath, who had moved from West Berlin to East Berlin shortly after the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Paffrath finds solace in East Berlin's lack of freedom, since it protects him from the frightening openness of the life he had experienced in the West. His life collapses not with the fall of the wall in 1989 but with his retirement from the police force more than a decade later. This event forces him to confront a reality he had previously repressed—the reunification of his country and his city. In the novel Hensel demonstrated the way in which geography, history, and psychology are mapped onto each other in Germany's new capital, and she provided a much-needed psychological explanation for some Berliners' willingness to put up with the long-term division of their city.

      Andreas Maier published Kirillow, a novel whose title was an allusion to a nihilist character from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel Demons (1873). Kirillow, set in contemporary Frankfurt, focused on the lives of a group of privileged but directionless young people seeking to understand the meaning of life and the structure of the contemporary world. In their search the young people encounter a group of Russian emigrants and a mysterious manuscript by a contemporary Russian thinker.

      The 60th anniversary of Germany's defeat in World War II was marked in 2005, and Jochen Missfeldt's novel Steilküste was an attempt at reconciliation with part of that unpleasant past. It recounted the story of two young sailors who, even though the war has ended, are executed for desertion from the Wehrmacht. Uwe Tellkamp, who had won the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2004 for an unpublished manuscript, published his first novel, Der Eisvogel, in 2005. Like Maier's Kirillow, it dealt with large political and existential dilemmas, particularly neo-Nazism, right-wing conspiracies, and the apparent emptiness of contemporary consumer life.

      Bernd Cailloux's novel Das Geschäftsjahr 1968/69, like Missfeldt's Steilküste, was an attempt to come to terms with German history—but in this case with the history of Cailloux's so-called 1968 generation, not with the legacy of World War II. This was the late 1960s, a time of cultural and political protest that produced the generation that dominated German politics during Social Democrat Gerhard Schröder's chancellorship. Cailloux focused not so much on the politics of this generation as on its cultural rebelliousness, particularly its experimentation with mind-bending drugs, free love, and rock music.

      The highly respected Austrian writer Friederike Mayröcker published her novel Und ich schüttelte einen Liebling, a poetic and philosophical reflection on her relationship with, and mourning for, the great Austrian poet Ernst Jandl (1925–2000). Like Jandl's writing, Mayröcker's is full of linguistic play. Ulrike Draesner's well-received novel Spiele, meanwhile, dealt with yet another aspect of 20th-century German history—the hostage taking at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Draesner's protagonist, Katja, is a photojournalist who must come to terms with terrorism.

       Wilhelm Genazino, who had won the Georg Büchner Prize in 2004, published his novel Die Liebesblödigkeit in 2005, an exploration of the consciousness of a middle-aged man who, while trying to satisfy two female lovers, must also face the reality of aging and his diminishing sexual energy. Karl-Heinz Ott's novel Endlich Stille addressed the problems of men living in a world supposedly dominated by sexually liberated and independent women, while Annette Mingels's Die Liebe der Matrosen—a novel in four parts, each narrated by a different character—examined the current state of relations between the sexes from a variety of perspectives. Finally, Martin Mosebach's novel Das Beben, which dealt with tensions between the Western world and an imagined Orient, featured a German protagonist who seeks to escape what he sees as the cultural dead end of contemporary German life by moving to a supposedly idyllic India.

Stephen Brockmann

Netherlandic.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      In 2005 Dutch readers marked the passing of several writers who held unusual positions in the literary landscape: Theun de Vries, an extremely prolific and talented writer; Nel Benschop, the most widely read poet in The Netherlands; and Marten Toonder, a writer known for his innovative graphic novels. Though they represented different literary areas, each was influential. Works by de Vries (b. 1907) and Nel Benschop (b. 1918) reflected their epistemic commitments more explicitly than was usual in 20th-century literature. Though some judged that the religious and political aspects of the texts diminished the artistry of the prose, these works reached broad audiences and were influential. De Vries—an exceptionally prolific novelist-historian and a Marxist who had been imprisoned for his resistance to the Nazi occupation during World War II—focused on the social context of his characters in his prose and poetry rather than on their psychological makeup. He was acclaimed as a master storyteller, but his late repudiation of his membership in the Dutch Communist Party tarnished his standing somewhat. Benschop was known for her religious poetry. While her work was not highly valued by the literary establishment, three million copies of her 15 volumes were sold, which made her the best-read Dutch-language poet of her time. Her poem In memoriam voor een vriend was often quoted at funerals. Toonder (b. 1912) had a respected place in the literary canon as well as in the world of comic books. He founded the first cartoon studio in The Netherlands, but he was especially influential because his works were serialized in newspapers for more than 50 years.

      Novels that treated religious themes still won major literary prizes. The 2005 Libris Literatuur Prijs went to Willem Jan Otten for Specht en zoon, an investigation of creation, incarnation, and knowledge narrated by the canvas rather than its painter. Jan Siebelink received the AKO Literatuur Prijs for Knielen op een bed violen, a study of a gentle man's midlife conversion to a severe Calvinism and its effects on his family and loved ones, and Frédéric Bastet won the P.C. Hooftprijs, the Dutch national prize for literature.

Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

Danish.
      Danish writers explored new horizons, melded fantasy and reality, and offered new insights in 2005. The master of the historical novel, Maria Helleberg, continued her abiding interest in history with Den hellige Knud (Slægten, Bind 1), the first in a series on the family founded by Valdemar Dane, Knud (Canute) the Holy's liege. In Drengen fra dengang (2004), Janina Katz depicted the tragedy of Ania and Joachim, Holocaust victims with no past and scant hope of ever belonging in Denmark. Janne Teller's Kattens tramp (2004) focused on two strangers searching for connection in a Europe torn by war and xenophobia.

      Contemporary Denmark also proved excellent subject matter for writers. In En kvinde med hat, Inge Eriksen portrayed the experiences of a woman determined to make her mark. Helle Helle's novel Rødby-Puttgarden chronicled the lives of two sisters who sold perfume on a ferry and shared mundane commutes that were enlivened only by exotic fragrances. In En have uden ende, Christina Hesselholdt reflected on modest lives, the promise of the past, and the problematic present. Merete Pryds Helle's Det glade vanvid followed life in an ordinary family and tested the boundaries of self and other. Jens-Martin Eriksen's novel Forfatteren forsvinder ind i sin roman described what happens when the roles of the writer-protagonist reverse and reality and fantasy intermingle. Eriksen's second work of 2005, Dunkle katastrofer, consisted of three crime stories. In Grill Ib Michael focused on a love story set amid the war in Iraq, and Christian Jungersen's novel Undtagelsen (2004) was a combination of psycho-thriller, story of workers' solidarity, and essay on evil.

      Following her success with København (2004), Katrine Marie Guldager told tales about Africa in Kilimanjaro. Hanne Marie Svendsen's new novellas in Skysamleren revealed the author's delight in her craft and natural surroundings. Bo Green Jensen's poetry collection Den store epoke (2004) joined the story of Everyman with social history. Maise Njor and Camilla Stockmann, young career-and-family women, published their correspondence on ordinary and extraordinary days in Michael Laudrups tænder. Jens Christian Grøndahl's essay Sihaya ti amo was a discourse on Danish Finnish painter Seppo Mattinen.

      The Booksellers' Golden Laurels Award was given to Jungersen for Undtagelsen; Guldager received the Danish Critics' Prize for København; and Suzanne Brøgger garnered the Rungstedlund Prize. The recipient of the BG Bank's Annual Literary Prize was Bjarne Reuter for his 2004 novel Løgnhalsen fra Umbrien; the other nominees were Helle Helle (Rødby-Puttgarden) and Katz (Drengen fra dengang).

Lanae Hjortsvang Isaacson

Norwegian.
      Several well-established authors published noteworthy novels in 2005. Jan Kjærstad's momentous Kongen av Europa probed significant philosophical and existential questions. Lars Saabye Christensen's Modellen confronted the sacrifices that a person makes in life in pursuit of his or her art. Roy Jacobsen's Hoggerne portrayed a Finnish village fool turned heroic leader during the Russo-Finnish Winter War. Edvard Hoem was nominated for the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize for Mors og fars historie, which recounted his mother's love for a German World War II soldier and her eventual marriage to Hoem's father.

      Øivind Hånes was also nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize for his melancholic novel Pirolene i Benidorm. Anne B. Ragde's best seller Eremittkrepsene, about three grown village brothers, was awarded the Booksellers' Prize. Frode Grytten's well-received Flytande bjørn criticized the tabloid press. In Volvo Lastvagnar cherished author Erlend Loe mocked the obsession with perfection.

      Marita Fossum was awarded the Brage Prize for Fiction for Forestill deg, which focused on a middle-aged woman in the aftermath of her mother's death. Other nominees in that category were Linn Ullmann for Et velsignet barn, a story about the fears and secrets that can haunt children, and Tore Renberg for Kompani Orheim, which also depicted childhood struggles. Merethe Lindstrøm's commended Barnejegeren portrayed adults' helplessness in dealing with children's vulnerability.

      Among notable debuts were Adelheid Seyfarth's Fars hus, about growing up as a mixed-race girl in the small country of Norway before going to Africa to find her father, and Edy Poppy's Anatomi.Monotoni, which won the publisher Gyldendal's competition for best new love story as well as attention for its erotic depictions. Olaug Nilssen's third novel, Få meg på, for faen, was applauded for its humour in portraying women's lust and sexual fantasies.

      Established author Arne Svingen was awarded the Brage Prize for Youth Literature for Svart elfenben, about two wandering friends who travel to war-torn Côte d'Ivoire.

      The mystery novel affirmed its popularity with best-selling publications by Jo Nesbø (Frelseren) and Unni Lindell (Orkestergraven). Graphic novels also became increasingly popular. John Arne Sæterøy (“Jason”) won the prize in the Open Category of the Brage Prize: Animation for La meg vise deg noe .... Internationally renowned dramatist Jon Fosse was awarded the Honorary Brage Prize and the Royal St. Olav's Order. Flokken og skuggen by much-admired poet Eldrid Lunden was widely acclaimed.

Anne G. Sabo

Swedish.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      The depicting of everyday events with detailed care but underpinning them with a feeling of threat was a recurring characteristic of many Swedish novels in 2005. Reasons to reflect on Swedish society from an estranged point of view were often presented in novels concerned with illness and crime. In John Ajvide Lindqvist's Hanteringen av odöda, estrangement is turned into horror—a well-balanced mix of realism and shock—when a strange weather phenomenon over Stockholm calls all the newly dead back to life. In Ulf Eriksson's Varelser av glas, the theme was less explicitly demonstrated through a mysterious tendency among certain people to break their legs. In Klas Östergren's Gangsters, the long-expected sequel to Gentlemen, the novel that made his name in 1980, threat is turned into pure narrative delight, and the author is free to elaborate upon an intrigue involving a never-explained dark centre of illusion and disillusion.

      Ethnic estrangement in sitcom-inspired depictions of social relations was a technique successfully used in first novels by the ethnic Pole Zbigniew Kuklartz in Hjälp jag heter Zbigniew and Iranian-born Marjaneh Bakhtiari in Kalla det vad fan du vill. In Bakhtiari's novel the Swedish way of showing thankfulness causes problems. (See Sidebar (Literary Voices for Islam in the West ), below.) One can see why when reading Leendet, Magnus Florin's skillfully revealing short-fiction exploration of the Swedes' unwillingness to owe a debt of gratitude to anyone.

      Gender estrangement from the female point of view was another common motif. Male authors including Stewe Claeson in De tiotusen tingen and Mats Kolmisoppi in Ryttlarna explored this theme, as did several women. Ann-Marie Ljungberg's Simone de Beauvoirs hjärta told the story of a group of well-educated but marginalized single mothers, while Eva Adolfsson's hero in Förvandling was a pregnant woman wandering the streets of her small town as a lone seeker of existential meaning. The August Prize went to Monika Fagerholm for Den amerikanska flickan, which dealt with friendship between girls. In her grand, well-researched Mästarens dröm Carola Hansson told a story of twin sisters and their total isolation from everything while working as missionaries in China in the 1920s and '30s—a fascinating investigation into the Western mind completely at a loss in the East and a novel for anyone interested in history or ethics.

Immi Lundin

French

France.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      France's fear of literary decline, already exacerbated in 2005 by Harry Potter's and The Da Vinci Code's domination of best-seller lists, took a blow from within with the publication of Harcèlement littéraire, in which the writer Richard Millet, interviewed by two doting critics, savaged contemporary French literature as a wasteland devoid of style, theme, and interest. Millet named names, specifying why his contemporaries were failures as writers; the “literature business,” as he put it, in its rush to sell the ever more numerous (633 in 2005) titles published at the rentrée littéraire, the mass marketing of books in September, had lowered standards, favouring rubbish that would sell over art. For Millet the dumbing down of culture had brought about the destruction of grammar, syntax, and style as “authors”—not to be confused with the more lofty “writers,” among whom Millet counted himself—produced more and more drivel.

      Even the one bona fide literary sensation of 2005 brought grist to Millet's mill. Michel Houellebecq, the most celebrated contemporary French author but one whom Millet had specifically named as short on style though long on showmanship, published La Possibilité d'une île in a media-frenzied shock release, without the usual prepublication fanfare. Despite its meteoric rise through the best-seller lists and its immediate purchase by American publishing houses—sure signs to Millet of literary worthlessness—even detractors could not deny the appeal of this long-awaited novel, in which Daniel1, a self-loathing comic who pops pills to avoid the dehumanization of modern life and his own miserable emptiness, falls in with a sect that promises to clone him. Two thousand years from the present, his clones Daniel24 and Daniel25—from whom all destructive emotions, including love, have been removed—read their “ancestor's” memoirs, discovering with mystification his sentimental torments.

      Millet's attack centred on style, but many felt that France's international literary decline was due rather to its relentless bleakness, known as déprimisme, and to the trend toward navel-gazing novelizations of authors' lives, known as autobiofictions, whose hold on French literature seemed only to tighten with time, despite the growing sense of tedium with which they were met. During the year three established novelists published autobiofictions instead of novels. One of the previous decade's most celebrated writers, Marie NDiaye, published Autoportrait en vert, her musings on women who have been important in her life and who are all mysteriously connected by the leitmotif of greenness. Patrick Chamoiseau, one of the leading writers of the Antilles' Créolité movement, wrote À bout d'enfance, the story of his own adolescent sexual awakening. The book received much criticism for its author's seeming fascination with his genitalia. Finally, Patrick Modiano, one of the most important writers of the 1970s and '80s, published an autobiofiction, by no means his first, titled Un pedigree, which detailed the author's miserable childhood as his parents abandoned him in a series of boarding schools.

      Yet amid the depression and self-fascination, there were also breaks in the gloom, novels showing that beneath the crust there was still life in French literature. The ever-original Eric Chevillard published an ironic take on the traditional dream of exoticism with Oreille rouge, in which an author travels to Mali, hoping to capture Africa in literature, only to find that in the end he has understood nothing at all. Eric Nonn, too, explored the world outside France in Museum, in which a man comes to grips with his sad childhood and cruel mother as he travels through Cambodia with an Italian woman, herself still reeling from a childhood spent with an abusive father. Together they learn to forgive in a land of genocide.

       Patrick Rambaud, best known for his novelizations of the Napoleonic wars, left epic behind for humour and irony with his new novel, L'Idiot du village, in which a man from 1995 suddenly and inexplicably finds himself transported to 1953 Paris, the time of his childhood, only to find that the good old days were not as good as nostalgia would have them.

      The strangest novel of note was Maurice G. Dantec's fascist-leaning Cosmos Incorporated, in which a mechanically enhanced contract killer in a postapocalyptic future begins to wonder if he himself is not the last hope for freedom and creation in a world where humans have willingly enslaved themselves to machines as machines have become more human.

 In 2005 two of the most prestigious literary prizes crowned autobiofictions. François Weyergans won the Prix Goncourt for his Trois jours chez ma mère, in which the author's alter ego, François Weyergraf, suffering from writer's block, tries in vain to write the very novel we are reading, an homage to his mother that would serve as a pendant to his 1997 homage to his father, Franz et François. The Prix Renaudot went to Algerian French Nina Bouraoui's Mes mauvaises pensées, in which the author, thinly veiled as the narrator, confesses her lesbianism to her psychoanalyst. The two other top prizes were awarded to nonautobiofictional novels. The Prix Femina went to Régis Jauffret for Asiles de fous, a sarcastically humorous novel in which a romantic breakup is told through the four contradictory and neurotic points of view of the couple and the man's parents. Jean-Philippe Toussaint won the Prix Médicis for Fuir, the story of a man, caught between lovers and countries, who abandons himself to jet lag and endless travel as he is called back from China to Elba by a series of coincidences that he never quite understands.

Vincent Aurora

Canada.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      Two major public events brought attention to French Canadian literature during 2005. The first was the opening in April of the Grande Bibliothèque, a new public library in Montreal. Unfortunately, in June the exterior decorative-glass panels fell onto the sidewalk, keeping some citizens away. Montreal was also named World Book Capital—a UNESCO designation awarded annually—and this set in motion a large number of public events based on books and reading.

      Former hockey coach Jacques Demers shocked the public with his as-told-to story Jacques Demers: en toutes lettres, in which he admitted (to author Mario Leclerc) his illiteracy and described the shame associated with this handicap.

      The province of Quebec continued to be intensely interested in René Lévesque, its late premier. Pierre Godin issued the fourth and final volume of his biography, René Lévesque: l'homme brisé, in which the politician was portrayed as a broken man at the end of his life as a result of his frustrated ambitions.

      Notable among literary works was Nicolas Dickner's novel Nikolski, which was published by Éditions Alto, a new imprint of Éditions Nota Bene. Popular writer Pan Bouyoucas offered the new work L'Homme qui voulait boire la mer and was also recognized for the evocative Anna pourquoi (2003), which won the 2005 Prix Littéraire des Collégiens. The Governor General's Literary Awards for French-language writers went to Aki Shimazaki, who won the fiction prize for Hotaru (2004), and Jean-Marc Desgent, who captured the poetry prize for Vingtièmes siècles. Yvon Rivard, a past recipient of the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal, in 2005 won a second time, for his novel Le Siècle de Jeanne.

      A number of writers solidified their reputations. Suzanne Jacob's lyrical novel Fugueuses was greeted with great acclaim; poet, essayist, and philosopher Pierre Nepveu published his collection of poems Le Sens du soleil; and Victor-Lévy Beaulieu, a writer who specialized in controversy, continued his ways with an attack on his younger peers, whom he accused of being self-centred. He also delivered the fictional Je m'ennuie de Michèle Viroly. Michel Vézina, who had previously worked as a musician and a clown, revisited the road-novel genre with Asphalte et vodka.

David Homel

Italian
      Some established trends in the Italian literary scene were maintained in 2005. Detective stories continued to enjoy wide success, as attested in particular by the publication of Crimini, an anthology of short stories penned by the most popular authors of the genre, including Carlo Lucarelli, Marcello Fois, and Giorgio Faletti. Andrea Camilleri also confirmed his extraordinary creativity by producing Privo di titolo, a historical novel inspired by the accidental killing in 1921 of a young fascist by fellow party members. Historical documents and narrative sections alternate to reconstruct the attempts of the fascists to exploit the murder to their advantage by attributing it to a communist and thereby provide Sicily with a fascist martyr while at the same time getting rid of a political enemy. A secondary story line, skillfully woven into the main plot, deals with Mussolinia, a model city planned by the fascist regime but never brought to completion. Later in the year Camilleri went back to writing detective stories and published La luna di carta, a new Inspector Montalbano adventure in which the aging hero is haunted by thoughts of his own mortality; this does not prevent him, of course, from shedding light on yet another mystery.

      The year also offered some surprises, such as Claudio Magris's Alla cieca. The story begins as 80-year-old Salvatore Cippico (a survivor of both a Nazi concentration camp and the Soviet Gulag) reflects on his life. Soon, however, his voice merges with those of others who, like him, have been disillusioned in their hope for the betterment of humanity. The identity of the narrator of this ambitious and thought-provoking novel shifts as he sails various seas, traveling from Friuli to New Zealand, and crosses several centuries. The voyage of Jason and the Argonauts provides the central metaphor and unifying theme in this epic tale characterized by disenchantment and despair.

      Maurizio Maggiani's Il viaggiatore notturno (winner of the 2005 Strega Prize) focused on the destruction brought by war. The protagonist is a zoological researcher intent on proving that swallows migrate to the middle of the Sahara. As he waits for the birds' passage, he listens to the stories around him and is haunted by memories of his previous travels. Animals (apart from the swallows, Maggiani tells of a wounded lion and of a very special she-bear) and humans share the same enigmatic qualities in this novel. In particular, mystery seems to surround Amapola, the bear, whose movements the zoologist had tracked years earlier, and Perfetta, a woman who, after having been victim of ruthless and gratuitous violence during the Bosnian war, leaves the hospital without a word, taking with her a plastic bag containing her few belongings.

      Sandro Veronesi's Caos calmo presented personal tragedy as a means of self-discovery and internal serenity. The protagonist is a successful manager who tries to help his 10-year-old daughter cope with her mother's death; he receives unexpected comfort and guidance from the girl and the world of childhood. Love and loss were also at the centre of Milo De Angelis's Tema dell'addio, a collection of powerful poems that earned its author a 2005 Viareggio Prize. A line from one of Osip Mandelshtam's poems provided the title for Elisabetta Rasy's novel La scienza degli addii, which centred on the relationship between the Russian poet and his wife, Nadezhda, who preserved his work and memory after his death in the Gulag.

 In Un giorno perfetto, Melania G. Mazzucco abandoned the historical reconstructions that had brought her success (Vita [2003], which dealt with early 20th-century Italian immigration to the U.S., won the Strega Prize) to recount an uneventful day in the very recent past. During the 24 hours of May 4, 2001 (and in the 24 chapters that constitute the novel), the stories of nine characters are woven together to present a picture of contemporary life. The city of Rome provides the background to the protagonists' struggle against solitude and their search for meaningful human interaction. In Il maestro magro, Gian Antonio Stella followed the protagonist's voyage from Sicily to northern Italy, his attempts to start a school, and his will to succeed against all prejudice in a country that is rediscovering its vitality after the trauma of World War II. The title alludes to his new status as a teacher as well as to his thinness, induced by the meagre compensation typical in his new profession.

      Two important cultural figures died in 2005: poet Mario Luzi (Luzi, Mario Egidio Vincenzo ), who in 2004 had been appointed a lifetime member of the Senate for his extraordinary contributions to Italian culture (see Obituaries), and Cesare Cases (born in 1920), a scholar who greatly facilitated Italians' knowledge and understanding of literary critics and philosophers such as Gyorgy Lukacs, Walter Benjamin, Max Horkheimer, and Theodor Adorno.

Laura Benedetti

Spanish

Spain.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      In 2005, the year of the 400th anniversary of the publication of Don Quixote, the literature coming from Spain confirmed once again that pretty much everything had already been said by Miguel de Cervantes in his masterpiece.

      Doctor Pasavento, the latest novel by Enrique Vila-Matas, starts as a dissertation about reality and fiction and becomes an inquiry into the writer's obsession, the paradox in the creative mind between vanity and oblivion. The Primavera Prize went to José R. Ovejero's Las vidas ajenas, a novel about worldwide commercial exploitation, bribery, the underground world, and the need to escape from a doomed social class.

      In Escribir es vivir José Luis Sampedro presented a vision of life as he described through personal anecdotes his childhood in Morocco, his years as a young adult in Madrid, and the hardships of the Spanish Civil War. Another book about the Civil War, Los girasoles ciegos by Alberto Méndez, who died in December 2004, was awarded the National Prize for Narrative. Rosa Montero published Historia del rey transparente, a novel set in troubled 12th-century France, where Leola, a young countrywoman, disguises herself as a man by dressing in the clothes of a dead soldier in order to protect herself. The Argentines Graciela Montes and Ema Wolf received the Alfaguara Prize for their work El turno del escriba, about Marco Polo's journeys. The National Prize for Poetry went to José Corredor Matheos for his book El don de la ignorancia, which demonstrated the author's deep immersion in Eastern culture and Buddhist philosophy. The Planeta Prize went to Maria de la Pau Janer for her novel Pasiones romanas, a love story, and the Peruvian writer and journalist Jaime Bayly was awarded second place for Y de repente, un ángel. The Rómulo Gallegos Prize, one of the most important Latin American awards, was given to the Spaniard Isaac Rosa for his novel El vano ayer, about the vicissitudes of a professor during the agitated 1960s in Spain. It described a student's disappearance, which Rosa re-created through the testimonies of the oppressors and the victims of repression. The top Spanish-language literary award, the Cervantes Prize, was awarded to Mexican author Sergio Pitol.

 In La sombra del viento, a complex narrative with overtones of Poe and Borges, Carlos Ruiz Zafón told a story full of mystery, dark family secrets, tragic loves, revenge, and murder, all set in Barcelona between 1932 and 1966. Almudena Grandes presented Estaciones de paso, a book of short stories united by one underlying idea: adolescence as the setting of circumstantial experiences, a transitory stage that nonetheless can determine the entire course of a life. Juan Marsé invited readers to enter the nightclub world in Canciones de amor en Lolita's Club, where a woman seated at a bar waiting for clients meets a man who has lost everything and whose life is a mystery.

Verónica Esteban

Latin America.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      History and travel—and historical travels—were recurring themes in the best works of Spanish-language literature in Latin America in 2005. El turno del escriba, masterfully written by Graciela Montes and Ema Wolf, both from Argentina, received the Alfaguara Prize. The novel dealt with Marco Polo's travels as narrated to the scribe Rustichello de Pisa while the two share a cell in a Genoese prison. The erudite and imaginative Rustichello works as a calligrapher for his captors and during the day writes down what the Venetian explorer has narrated the previous night. The novel revealed the glory and misery of writing and shows the inevitable distance between spoken and written word and between the memories of the narrator and the imagination of the scribe.

      The Argentine writer Juan José Saer died in Paris on June 11 before completing La grande. The novel was divided into seven journeys, but of the last one Saer was able to write only one sentence; the book, almost 500 pages in length, was published unfinished. It dealt with the obsessions of the narrator, the characters of the province where he was born, and its landscape. Yet another Argentine, Eduardo Belgrano Rawson, published Rosa de Miami, a carnivalesque version of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion to overthrow the Cuban government. Belgrano Rawson cultivated the grotesque, showing the characters' weakest side and how they acted according to a fixed destiny.

      In Mexico the insurrectionist Subcomandante Marcos collaborated with Paco Ignacio Taibo II on Muertos incómodos: falta lo que falta, which was first serialized in the Mexico City newspaper La Jornada. A great sense of humour and a keen vision of the corruption of power in Mexico dominated this detective story and political satire written with singular linguistic accomplishment.

      Margo Glantz published Historia de una mujer que caminó por la vida con zapatos de diseñador, a fragmented rewriting of the narrator's obsessions, which return in the person of Nora García, a fictitious double of the Mexican author. Mario Bellatin published Lecciones para una liebre muerta and reissued La escuela del dolor humano de Sechuán (2001). The former work was a narrative constructed with intertwining fragments, featuring some real and some fictitious characters and reading like a rewriting of the author's earlier works. Both Glanz and Bellatin cultivated a half-hearted humour, a light surrealism, and a measure of frivolity.

      In Mil y una muertes (2004), Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramírez told how he came to know the life of a unique person, his compatriot the photographer Castellón, who traveled through Europe at the end of the 19th century. The novel alternated between the narrator's present and the past of the Castellones, father and son, and the personages they met, including Frederick I, Napoleon III, Frédéric Chopin, George Sand, and Ruben Darío. The novel is not only a delirious family saga but a comprehensive chronicle of the small Central American country where Ramírez once served as vice president.

      From Gioconda Belli, also a Nicaraguan, came El pergamino de la seducción, a novel that explored the author's fascination with the personality of the Spanish queen known as Joan the Mad. The queen's life seems to play counterpoint to that of Lucía, a contemporary character who is seduced by her history professor, a descendent of King Philip the Handsome—Joan's consort. The professor locks up Lucía after having his way with her, which thus duplicates the destiny of Queen Joan. During the year the young and successful Colombian writer Santiago Gamboa published the linear and predictable El síndrome de Ulises, a novel whose title referred to the sufferings and psychological problems of exiled and displaced people fighting for survival in a hostile milieu.

      Carlos Franz, a Chilean born in Geneva, won the La Nación–Sudamericana Prize for his novel El desierto, which dealt with the return to Chile of a political exile and the trauma of the crimes committed by the Augusto Pinochet regime during her absence. Santiago Roncagliolo, a young Peruvian writer living in Spain, published Pudor, a novel that treated familiar themes, with all their grandeur and misery, mostly in a humorous vein.

      The Menéndez Pelayo International Prize was awarded in Spain to Uruguayan Mario Benedetti in recognition of his contribution to the Spanish language as a culturally unifying force. The year 2005 was good to Argentine poet Juan Gelman, who was doubly honoured for País que fue será. The collection of poems received the Buenos Aires Book Fair Prize as well as Chile's Pablo Neruda Iberoamerican Prize in Poetry. In October Gelman's life work was honoured in Spain with the Queen Sofía Award in Iberoamerican Poetry. The Prince of Asturias Prize for Letters was awarded to Brazilian Nélida Piñón, and the Juan Rulfo Prize went to Spanish-born Mexican poet Tomás Segovia. Chile's University of Talca recognized Argentine Ricardo Piglia with the José Donoso Iberoamerican Prize in Letters for his oeuvre and his stylistic innovations.

Leda Schiavo

Portuguese

Portugal.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      The prolific Vasco Graça Moura—a poet, translator, essayist, novelist, politician (currently serving in the European Parliament), and, in his own words, “man of action”—won the 2005 Fiction Prize of the Association of Portuguese Writers for the novel Por detrás da magnólia (2004). The story takes place in the Douro port wine region, through the author's reconstructed and subtly disguised recollection of his aristocratic family and childhood. Also in the realm of well-established fictionists, the most internationally renowned of Portuguese novelists—1998 Nobel Prize winner José Saramago and his literary rival António Lobo Antunes—both published new books in 2005. With his novel As intermitências da morte, Saramago once again wrote an allegory, presenting a “what if” fictional world in which death goes on strike. Antunes's D'este viver aqui neste papel descripto: cartas da guerra was a collection of the author's vivid letters to his wife, written while he was fighting (1971–73) in the colonial war in Angola.

      In May the Camões Prize, the most prominent literary award of the Portuguese-speaking world, went to Brazil's Lygia Fagundes Telles. Although most of her books were collections of short stories, Telles was also recognized for her novels, including Ciranda de pedra (1954), Verão no aquário (1963), As meninas (1973), and As horas nuas (1989). The adaptation in 1981 of Ciranda de pedra as a television series by the network Globo was highly popular in both Brazil and Portugal.

      In 2005 readers marked the death of Eugénio de Andrade (Andrade, Eugenio de ) (see Obituaries), the pastoral and musical poet of As mãos e os frutos (1948). His influence in contemporary Portuguese poetry and his critical fortune were evaluated in the collection Ensaios sobre Eugénio de Andrade (2003), edited by José de Cruz Santos. Alexis Levitin had translated into English some of Andrade's books, including Memory of Another River (1988), Solar Matter (1995), The Shadow's Weight (1996), and Another Name for Earth (1997), as well as Forbidden Words (2003), a volume of selected poetry. Among the many notable poetry collections in 2005 were surrealist Alexandre O'Neill's Anos 70—Poemas dispersos (published posthumously); monarchist (and one of the most important lyric voices since the 1970s) João Miguel Fernandes Jorge's Invisíveis correntes; and Manuel António Pina's Os livros, which was awarded the 2005 Poetry Prize by the Association of Portuguese Writers.

Victor J. Mendes

Brazil.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

 Brazil's most successful novel of 2005 was Jô Soares's Assassinatos na Academia Brasileira de Letras. In this tale of events in Rio de Janeiro in the 1920s, the author continued his almost obsessive preoccupation with historical detail as a key element of his fiction. Reginaldo Ferreira da Silva, known by his nom de plume Ferréz, published a children's novel called Amanhecer Esmeralda, which he described as a work of literatura marginal, or “literature for the nonprivileged.” The protagonist is a young São Paulo slum dweller whose life is changed when she experiences some small surprises. Paulo Henriques Britto, the poet and translator into Portuguese of American fiction, published a volume of short stories, Paraísos artificiais, with a clear poetic and philosophical bent. While the title of the volume invoked Baudelaire's poetry, the stories showed the linguistic and stylistic inventiveness of a writer who has read widely and integrated a variety of approaches into his own act of writing. Hilda Hilst's (1930–2004) death was noted through the reissue in 2005 of her poetry, including the collection Poemas malditos, gozosos e devotos, originally published in 1984, in which the author offered provocative insights into human frailties and views of her personal relationship with God.

      Outros escritos, edited by Teresa Montero and Lícia Manzo, brought together miscellanea and heretofore-uncollected works of Clarice Lispector (1925–77). The texts, stories, and interviews, organized according to the writer's life's events, highlighted the enigmatic relationship between her personal life and literary career as a critic of her contemporaries and as a writer and mother plagued by self-doubts. The first volume of Caio 3D, titled O essencial da década de 1970, gathered the early short fiction and other writings by Caio Fernando Abreu (1948–96), one of the most prolific and prized writers during the 1960s through the 1980s. The writer's strife with his art and his bisexuality, as well as Brazil's existence as a political and cultural entity, was revealed through numerous letters to his family and friends as well as other assorted writings.

      As part of an homage to playwright Nelson Rodrigues (1913–80), a major Rio de Janeiro cultural centre celebrated the 25th anniversary of his death with new productions of his plays, including Anjo negro, in an updated version directed by his son, Nelson Rodrigues Filho. The distinguished novelist Lygia Fagundes Telles was awarded the Camões Prize, the highest literary honour in the Portuguese-speaking world, for her contributions to literature in Portuguese. The city of Olinda in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, founded in 1537, was awarded the title of the first Brazilian Cultural Capital for the year 2006.

Irwin Stern

Russian
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      The year 2005 in Russian literature had both controversy and scandal but also saw the continuing emergence of a new literary generation and the deaths of several leading lights of the generation of the 1960s.

      Among already established authors Mikhail Shishkin, winner of the 2000 Russian Booker Prize for Vzyatiye Izmaila (“The Taking of Izmail”), garnered the most critical attention with the publication of his latest novel, Venerin volos (“Maidenhair”). More autobiographical than Vzyatiye Izmaila, Venerin volos made use of many of the literary devices employed in the preceding novel, and, overall, the work had less compositional wholeness than the last. Nevertheless, it received excellent notices and was awarded the National Bestseller Prize. The prolific journalist, fiction writer, and poet Dmitry Bykov published three books in rapid succession: a fantasy novel Evakuator (“The Evacuator”), a biography of Boris Pasternak, and a collection of his political columns. The poet Vladimir Aleynikov, whose career began in the 1960s avant-garde, published a fictionalized memoir entitled Pir (“The Feast”), in which several legendary figures of the late Soviet period appeared, including the writers Sergey Dovlatov and Venedikt Yerofeyev and the artist Anatoly Zveryev. Although Anatoly Nayman's Kablukov was a work of fiction, among its secondary figures were Dovlatov and an almost caricatural version of Joseph Brodsky. Inna Lisnyanskaya produced a more conventional memoir of the poet Arseny Tarkovsky titled Otdelny (“Separate”). The talented and skillful Oleg Yermakov, renowned for his early work about the Afghanistan war, depicted life among the Russian provincial artistic intelligentsia in his new novel Kholst (“The Canvas”).

      The literary journals Zvezda and Oktyabr published special issues devoted to young writers. One very promising debut was made by a young author publishing under the humourous pseudonym of Figl-Migl. Her novella, entitled Myusli (“Muesli”), stood out for its subtle irony and mastery of literary form, reminiscent of Konstantin Vaginov's works of the 1920s and 1930s. By contrast, the short stories gathered in Lev Usyskin's first book, Meditsinskaya sestra Anzhela (“Nurse Angela”), were remarkable for their precise reproduction of contemporary language, attention to detail, and finely crafted plots. Also making names for themselves were younger critics such as Sergey Gedroyts and Viktoriya Pustovaya.

      Russia's complex literary reality of 2005 was only marginally reflected in the distribution of literary prizes. Besides the already-mentioned books of Yermakov and Nayman, the short list for the Russian Booker Prize included Denis Gutsko's Bez puti-sleda (“Neither Hide nor Hair”), Boris Yevseyev's Romanchik (“A Little Novel”), two books by Roman Solntsev about economic struggle in the metal works of eastern Siberia, Zolotoe dno (“The Golden Bottom”) and Minus Lavrikov, and Yelena Chizhova's Prestupnitsa (“The Criminal”), which explored the “Jewish question” in one of Leningrad's research institutes in the 1980s. The choice of these books, in which the level of literary accomplishment in many cases barely exceeded that of journalistic prose, provoked both bewilderment and charges of bias on the jury, which was led by the previous year's Booker Prize laureate, Vasily Aksyonov. The eventual winner was Gutsko; Bykov won the Student Booker Prize. The popular Moscow novelist Aleksandr Kabakov was awarded the Apollon Grigoryev Prize. The Andrey Bely Prizes went to the veteran avant-gardists Yelizaveta Mnatsakanova (poetry), Viktor Sosnora (“special service” to Russian literature), Mikhail Yampolsky (humanities), and Sergey Spirikhin (prose).

      Several important figures of the generation of the 1960s died, perhaps marking the end of an era: the prose master Rid Grachyov, whose literary career was cut short by mental illness; the talented poet and prose writer Sergey Volf, who did some of his most important writing later in life; and the poet and singer-songwriter Aleksey Khvostenko, who lived the last decades of his life in Paris.

      Perhaps the most significant volume of poetry to be published during the year came from the still youthful but already accomplished Mariya Stepanova, Fiziologiya i malaya istoriya (“Physiology and a Little Story”). In St. Petersburg the publisher Platforma put out a flawed but representative anthology of local poetry titled Stikhi v Peterburge (“Poems in Petersburg”). The Moscow publisher OGI published an anthology dedicated to the Russian poetic diaspora. Nevertheless, the “imperial” heritage of Russian literature did, somewhat comically, still make itself felt. It was revealed that three Russian poets (including the renowned Yevgeny Reyn) had written a letter to Turkmenistan's Pres. Saparmurad Niyazov requesting that they be permitted to translate his poetic works into Russian. (Press reports suggested that the translators were to be handsomely compensated by a leading Russian energy company hoping to receive a gas concession). Threatened with expulsion from the Russian PEN Centre, however, the Russian poets were forced to renounce their compromising project.

Valery Shubinsky

Jewish

Hebrew.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

 With a new wave of women writers joining the ranks of Hebrew literature in the late 1980s and the 1990s, motherhood emerged as one of the most pivotal themes in contemporary Hebrew fiction in 2005. The most intriguing novel about motherhood was Avirama Golan's Ha-'Orvim (“The Ravens” [2004]), which described every mother as a possible Medea. Motherhood played a major role in the novels of Tseruya Shalev (Terah, “Late Family”), Mira Magen (Parparim ba-geshem, “Butterflies in the Rain”), Ronit Yedaya (Shosh), and Irith Dankner-Kaufmann (Australia). The Arab-Israeli conflict was the focus of two best-selling novels: Yasmin (“Jasmine”) by Eli Amir and Yonim bi-Trafalgar (“Pigeons at Trafalgar Square”) by Sami Michael. Novels by veteran writers included Nathan Shaham's Pa'amon be-Kyong'u (“The Bell in Ch'ongju”), Aharon Appelfeld's Polin erets yeruḳah (“Poland, a Green Country”), Israel Segal's Ve-khi naḥash memit? (“My Brother's Keeper”), and Alex Epstein's La-Kaḥol en darom (“Blue Has No South”). The title of Dalia Ravikovitch's new collection of short stories, Ba'ah ve-halkhah (“Come and Gone”) tragically turned out to be a fitting title for the popular poet, who died during the year.

      Maya Bejerano collected her poems in Tedarim (“Frequencies”), and Aharon Shabtai published his raging political poems in Semesh, semesh (“Sun, Oh Sun”). Other notable books of poetry included Ayin Tur-Malka's Shuvi nafshi li-tekheltekh (“Go Back My Soul to Your Azure”), Ronny Someck's Maḥteret he-ḥalav (“The Milk Underground”), Israel Bar-Cohav's Be-Ḳarov ahavah (“History of Thirst”), Nurit Zarchi's Ha-Nefesh hi Afrika (“The Soul Is Africa”), and Zali Gurevitch's Zeman Baba (“Time Baba”).

      The most important event in literary scholarship was the publication of Yig'al Schwartz's Mah she-ro'im mi-kan (“Vantage Point”), which dealt with a pivotal topic in the historiography of modern Hebrew fiction. Malkah Shaḳed studied the role of the Bible in modern Hebrew poetry (La-Netsaḥ anagnekh, “I'll Play You Forever”), and Avner Holtzman collected his articles on contemporary Hebrew fiction in Mapat derakhim: siporet ‘Ivrit ka-yom (“Road Map, Hebrew Narrative Fiction Today”).

Avraham Balaban

Yiddish.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      The notable Yiddish literary events of 2005 included an autobiography, a novel, a bilingual dictionary, and a unique recognition. Barukh Mordekhai Lifshits's Zikhroyneś fun gulag (2004; “Memoirs of the Gulag”) was a chronicle of Lubavitcher Jewish life during the Stalin era. Bukovina-born Aleksander Shpigelblat wrote Ḳrimev[subdot]e: an altfrenḳishe mayśe (“Krimeve: An Old Frankish Story”), a gripping tale about Transylvanian Jews told through the persona of Itche Meyer. Peter David and Lennart Kerbel collaborated on a pioneering 7,000-word Jiddisch-Svensk-Jiddisch Ordbok (“Yiddish-Swedish-Yiddish Dictionary”) with a historical essay and a minigrammar.

      Bronx poet and ballad singer Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman received a National Heritage fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts at a September 22 ceremony on Capitol Hill. Her work was described as a “blend of traditional folk idiom and original material” with “a certain quality of naïveté … but also an immense sophistication.” This was the first time a Yiddish writer had received the nation's highest honour in the folk and traditional arts. Her works included Sṭezshḳes tsv[subdot]ishn moyern (1972; “Footpaths amid Stone Walls”), Sharey (1980; “Dawn”), Zumerṭeg (1990; “Summer Days”), Lider (1995; “Poems”), Perpl shlengṭ zikh der v[subdot]eg (2002; “Winding Purple Road”), and Af di gasn fun der shtot (2003; “On the Streets of the City,” a two-disc CD-ROM). Schaechter-Gottesman was also recognized as a major contributor to the renaissance of klezmer music in the U.S.

      While Yiddish-language titles were few in 2005, the third millennium saw the publication of several important volumes of translation and titles about Yiddish literature. Among them were Ken Frieden's Classic Yiddish Stories of S.Y. Abramovitsh, Sholem Aleichem, and I.L. Peretz (2004), a collection of fiction by the three authors who laid the foundation for contemporary Yiddish literature with three biographical essays that related their work to the literary and cultural currents of their time, and Proletpen: America's Rebel Yiddish Poets, edited by Amelia Glaser and David Weintraub, with an introduction by Dovid Katz, an anthology of 30 American Yiddish poets of the 1920s through the 1950s who were members or fellow travelers in the Communist Party of the United States of America.

Thomas E. Bird

Turkish
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

 Growth and controversies enlivened Turkey's literary scene in 2005. Hopes were raised again for a Nobel Prize for Orhan Pamuk (Pamuk, Orhan ) (see Biographies), whose candidacy, according to the Manchester Guardian newspaper, had split the Nobel Committee. At home he was roundly criticized for trying to curry favour in Europe with a statement that “one million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in Turkey” early in the 20th century. Later, however, Pamuk won the German Book Trade Peace Prize at the Frankfurt Book Fair and the French international Prix Médicis.

      One phenomenal success—sales of an unprecedented million copies—was achieved by a 748-page docu-narrative related to the Turkish War of Liberation (1919–22), titled Șu ılgın Türkler (“Those Crazy Turks”), compiled by Turgut Özakman. The much-honoured nonagenarian poet Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca earned the $100,000 award of the Vehbi Ko Foundation. Former prime minister Bülent Ecevit published his complete poetry under the title Bir șeyler olacak yarın (“Things Will Happen Tomorrow”). Tevfik Fikret ve Haluk gereği (“Tevfik Fikret and the Truth About Haluk”) by Orhan Karaveli treated the poet and social critic Tevfik Fikret (1867–1915) and presented new findings about his son, who became a Presbyterian minister in the United States.

      Vüsʾat O. Bener, a virtuoso of fiction, passed away shortly before he was to be feted as “the author of the year” at the Istanbul Book Fair. A new work by the popular novelist Ahmet Altan, En uzun gece (“The Longest Night”), sold half a million copies (a record for a novel). Other best sellers included Metal fırtına (“Metallic Storm”) by Orkun Uar and Burak Turna, a farcical work of science fiction that pitted staunch allies—the U.S. and Turkey—against one another, and Bir gün (“One Day”) by the perennially popular novelist Ayșe Kulin. Significant fiction came from Hasan Ali Toptaș, Mario Levi, Ayșe Sarısayın (winner of the 2005 Sait Faik Short Story Prize), Aslı Erdoğan, İhsan Oktay Anar, Feridun Anda, Mehmet Eroğlu, Tahsin Yücel, Özen Yula, and Adnan Binyazar.

      In the essay genre, Elif Shafak's Med-cezir (“Ebb and Flow”), Leylâ Erbil's Ü bașlı ejderha (“The Three-headed Dragon”), and Hilmi Yavuz's critical pieces on culture and literature attracted attention. Nurdan Gürbilek's Kör ayna, kayıp șark (“Blind Mirror, Lost Orient”) was notable for her incisive assessments of Turkish literature caught in East-West cultural confrontations.

Talat Saıt Halman

Persian
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      Despite the collapse of the reform movement following the election of a hard-line president, 2005 marked advances in literary production in Iran. While Muḥammad Ḥusaynī's Ābītar az gunāh (“More Blue than Sin”) was perhaps the most impressive novel by a young writer, more established figures also made their mark, as exemplified by Amīr Ḥasan Chihilʾtan's Ṣipidih dam-i Irani (“Iranian Dawn”) and Āb va khāk (“Water and Earth”) by veteran novelist Jaʿfar Mudarris Ṣadīqī.

      The decades-long march of Iranian women to the forefront of literary production continued, culminating in several noteworthy works of fiction and poetry. Sūdabāh Ashrafī's Māhī'hā dar shab mī'khvāband (“The Fish Sleep Through the Night”), Bīhnāz Gaskarī's Biguẕarīm (“Let's Get off It”), and Shahla Maʾsumnijad's Imruz naubat-i man nist (“Not My Turn Today”) were the most notable among numerous works chronicling the social forays and private experiences of urban women. Kilid (“The Key”) by Sīmā Yārī was the most successful example of a poetry book by a woman. Like many other recent publications, this slim volume was accompanied by a compact disc with the author reading the text.

      The perils of such literary ambitions by women became apparent when in November a 25-year-old Afghan poet named Nadia Anjuman was beaten to death by her husband, only a few days after Gul-i dudi (“Dark-Colored Flower”), her first book of verse, rolled off the press. Two months earlier the BBC had reported that the government of Uzbekistan had placed Hayot Niʿmat, an ethnic Tajik poet, under house arrest and held him incommunicado. Niʿmat had founded a cultural centre for the Persian-speaking poets and writers of Samarkand and thus challenged the Uzbekistan government's official position that Persian poetry was no longer extant in that city.

      The appearance in the U.S. in April of Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature constituted the most important literary event of the Persian diaspora. Modernist Iranian poet Manūchihr Ātishī died in November at age 74.

Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak

Arabic
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      In 2005 writer and filmmaker Assia Djebar gave Algerians a very good reason to be proud of a native daughter as she was elected to the Académie Française, the first Maghribi writer to receive such an honour. The novel, which continued to occupy pride of place on the Arab world's literary scene, was used as a platform by the intellectuals to contest both national and international politics. The Osama bin Laden saga was at the centre of Driss Chraïbi's L'Homme qui venait du passé (2004). Through the book's protagonist, police inspector Ali, a parody of American TV's Inspector Colombo, Chraïbi ridiculed the West's obsession with al-Qaeda and its founder. In her novel Rabiʿun ḥār (2004; “A Hot Spring Season”), Saḥar Khalīfeh narrated the events of the second intifadah and the destruction of Yasir Arafat's compound, focusing on the role of the international observers and the risks they take to protect Palestinian rights. Khalīfah was critical of the Palestinian Authority, its demagoguery, and the parasites of the organization.

 In Egypt literary officials scrambled to rehabilitate the novel, following the embarrassing rejection in February of the Ministry of Culture Award by Ṣun ʿAllah Ibrāhīm, who called it “worthless.” The 2005 award finally went to the Sudanese author of the well-known Season of Migration to the North, al-Ṭayyib Ṣāliḥ. After a long silence, Ṣāliḥ published a nine-volume autobiography, each volume bearing a different title and covering topics that included friends, conferences, literary festivals, personalities encountered, work experience in Europe and the Arab world, and the author's peregrinations across Arab and Western countries. Jamāl al-Ghīṭānī published Nithār al-maḥw (“Fragments of Effacement”), the fifth volume of Dafātīr al-tadwīn, an autobiographical work. Although Ghīṭānī evoked numerous events from his youth, the book was mostly a reflection on the ominous approach of his retirement. The book escaped banality not only because of its reflection on universal themes but also because of the style of the five-volume work. In her usual polemical style, Nawāl al-Saʿdāwī authored Al-Riwāyah (“The Novel”), a story-within-a-story written by a young woman of illegitimate birth who is herself pregnant out of wedlock. Her pregnancy is described as “a divine seed in the womb of a virgin,” a description that angered both al-Azhar (the powerful Islamic cultural centre in Cairo) and the church. Meanwhile, a best-selling novel, ʿImārat Yaʿqūbiyyān (2002; The Yacoubian Building, 2004) by Egyptian dentist ʿAlāʾ al-Aswānī (Al-Aswani, 'Ala' ) (Alaa Al Aswany; see Biographies), received a broader readership during the year owing to its English translation.

      In Maghribi Francophone literature, Malika Mokeddem—known for shedding light on the Algerian desert in her semiautobiographical novels—released Mes hommes, a defiant rejection of all kinds of restrictions, be they social or religious, on her freedom of action and expression. In Anglophone literature the Sudanese author Leila Aboulela published her second novel, Minaret, with the clear aim of informing the English-reading public of the teachings of Islam. (See Sidebar (Literary Voices for Islam in the West ).)

      If the novel was still king, poetry nonetheless continued to register the interest of its adepts and serve as a vehicle for protest. Tamīm al-Barghoutī published his third collection of colloquial poems, ʿAlūlī bitḥib Maṣr, ʿult mish ʿāref (“They Asked Me Whether I Liked Egypt. I Said, I Do Not Know”). The poet, much like his father before him, is torn between his affiliation to his mother's country, Egypt, and the difficulties he endures as a Palestinian living there. He asks a poignant question regarding his mother, the writer Radwa ʿAshour: “Oh, people of Egypt, tell me how many times do you want to punish her for loving a Palestinian?” Another strong proponent of poetry was Aḥmad ʿAbd al-Muʿṭī Ḥijāzī, who believed in the responsibility of poets to fight despair and promote hope during periods of darkness, to “announce the arrival of spring.”

      Ashtar, a Palestinian association that performs onstage and trains young actors, shared Ḥijāzī's vision. Its play The Story of Mona, described as “legislative” theatre, involved the public in the search for an alternative to the unfair laws imposed on the people. The company's struggle was cultural and aimed at salvaging Palestinian cultural identity. In an effort to revive the theatrical tradition in Morocco, Al-Ṭayyeb al-Ṣiddīq fulfilled a long-held dream by establishing a private theatre complex in Casablanca. At the annual Cairo Festival for International Experimental Theatre, interesting performances of original Arabic dramas, such as Alfrid Farag's Al-Amīra waʾl suʿlūk, or adaptations from Western literature helped strengthen a lingering interest in the theatre.

      The 2005 Naguib Mahfouz Medal was awarded to Egyptian writer Yusuf Abu Rayyah for his 2002 novel Laylat ʿurs (“Wedding Night”). Algerian intellectual and poet Jamal Eddine Bencheikh (1930–2005) died on August 8. He greatly contributed to the field of classical Arabic literature and cooperated with André Miquel in a new translation of The Thousand and One Nights.

Aida A. Bamia

Chinese
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      By 2005 at long last, after years of hesitation and evasion, Chinese writers began to react directly and strongly to the harsh social realities in the country, especially the bitter life of the ruo shi qun ti (“socially vulnerable groups”). Since mid-2004 more than half the stories and novels published in the nine leading literary monthlies and quarterlies in Beijing (three), Shanghai (two), and Guangzhou, Haikou, Nanjing, and Guiyang (one each) had concentrated on the sufferings of the poor as the main theme.

      Among works published in 2005 were some by top writers. In the novelette Bao gao zheng fu (“Reporting, Sir”), author Han Shaogong adopted an ingenious structure for his story, which took place in a jail and in which “I,” the first-person narrator, a young imprisoned journalist, converses in turn with each of his cell mates: a thief, a murderer, a swindler, and so on. The position of “I” changes both as to his point of view and moral response when he speaks with a different cell mate. In this way the point emerges, which might be summarized in the words of one of the prisoners: “The reason you turned out a bad person rather than a good one is only that you have encountered poverty.”

      Fu nü xian liao lu (“A Woman's Chatting”), a novel by Lin Bai, a leading women writer, used meticulously designed—if on occasion somewhat disorganized—transcriptions of a recording made by the author of her chats with her housecleaner. The book painted a lifelike picture of a rural woman's harsh life.

      Generally considered one of the best literary works of the year was Ma si ling xue an (“Bloody Murder on Ma-si Hill”), a novelette by Chen Yingsong, a serious writer of fiction from rural central China. The story was cast as the recollections of a young farmer on death row. The young man joins his uncle, a poor widower living with five daughters, to work as a labourer for a professor leading a six-person scientific expedition team to the wild Ma-si Hill to prospect for gold. Misunderstandings between the two farmers and the professor and his team grow and fester, even though neither the farmers nor the academics wish it and strive to maintain amicable relations. The situation quickly deteriorates, the farmers kill the others, and the uncle goes mad. The author's description of the changing mental states of the murderers was carefully and truly crafted. In his bloody story Chen made the shocking inference that men of different social and cultural status could reach a state of total misunderstanding, even hatred, although they all were good men who bore no malice toward the others. Clearly the novelette was a harsh reaction to the current social reality in China.

       Ba Jin , one of China's best-known authors, died in October. (See Obituaries.)

Wang Xiaoming

Japanese
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2005, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2005).

      In 2005 premier author Kenzaburō Ōe's new work of fiction, Sayonara, watashi no hon yo! (“Goodbye, My Book!”), again featured the protagonist Cogito, who had appeared in two previous works, Torikaeko (“Changeling”) and Ureigao no dōji (“A Child with a Melancholy Face”). On this occasion Cogito, a storyteller and activist, meets an old friend, the architect and renovation specialist Shige, who is connected to a secret society called Geneva. Shige believes that it is his job to bomb high-rise buildings in Tokyo. These two strange old men represented, as Ōe said, the author now and a fictional visualization of the author as an old man. Through them Ōe again explored the individual's ability to face the veiled violence of the state.

      Ōe made news of another kind in 2005. In October he announced the founding of the Kenzaburō Ōe Prize, to be given out starting in 2007 for a work published in 2006. Ōe was to be the sole judge, and there would be no prize money, but the winning story would be translated into English and published worldwide. Ōe told the Asahi shimbun that he was seeking to promote the revival of literature as an alternative to the culture of the Internet and the mobile phone.

 “I, Murakami, am the narrator of these stories. Almost all the stories will be told in the third person, but the narrator himself happens to appear in the beginning.” So begins Haruki Murakami's new collection of stories, Tōkyō kitanshū (“Twilight Zone Stories of Tokyo”), as if the author and the narrator were the same person, suggesting that the stories may be nonfiction. Five years after Kami no kodomotachi wa mina odoru (After the Quake, 2002), which featured Murakami's stories inspired by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, he returned to his pattern of crafting mysterious tales to unveil the reality hidden behind life in modern Tokyo.

      For the first half of 2005, the Akutagawa Prize, awarded semiannually to the most promising new Japanese writers of fiction, went to Kazushige Abe's short story “Gurando fināre” (“Grand Finale”), first published in the December 2004 issue of Gunzo. A man whose wife and daughter abandoned him because of his liking for nymphets somehow puts his life back on course by helping out in girls' primary-school theatres in his hometown. The Akutagawa Prize for the second half of the year was given to Fuminori Nakamura's “Tsuchi no naka no kodomo” (“A Child Buried in the Earth”), the story of a young taxi driver who grapples with an old trauma caused by his stepparents' violence.

      The Yomiuri Prize for Literature went to Hisaki Matsuura's Hantō (2004; “The Peninsula”). The Jun'ichirō Tanizaki Prize, given to the year's most accomplished novel, was awarded to Kō Machida's Kokuhaku (“Confession”) and Eimi Yamada's Fūmi zekka (“Superb Flavours”). Noboru Tsujihara's “Kareha no naka no aoi honoo” (“Blue Flame in a Dead Leaf”) won the Yasunari Kawabata Prize, awarded annually to the best short story. Among the best-selling books of the year were Ryū Murakami's Hantō o deyo (“Get Out of the Peninsula”) and Banana Yoshimoto's book of talks with Toshiko Okamoto, the wife of the late internationally known artist Tarō Okamoto, “Renai ni tsuite hanashimashita” (“We Talked About Love”). The popular fiction writers Fumio Niwa (Niwa, Fumio ) (see Obituaries) and Yumiko Kurahashi died in 2005.

Yoshihiko Kazamaru

▪ 2005

Introduction

English

United Kingdom.
      If any single theme shaped British fiction in the year 2004, it was the impact of political forces on the everyday lives of individuals. With the war in Iraq dominating the year's news headlines, this was perhaps not surprising. The Orange Prize for Fiction short list was a case in point. Of the six books nominated for the women-only prize, four were set against a backdrop of war or political strife. While all of these were set in the past, they invited comparisons to contemporary events. American Shirley Hazzard's The Great Fire (winner of the National Book Award for Fiction in 2003) told the story of an English officer witnessing the cultural and social convulsions of China and Japan in the aftermath of World War II. Ice Road by South African-born London-based author Gillian Slovo was set in Russia during Joseph Stalin's purges and the siege of Leningrad. Another Orange Prize contender was Purple Hibiscus (2003), a debut novel by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which depicted a 15-year-old Nigerian girl responding to changes in the texture of her personal life after a military coup shook the foundations of her country. The prizewinner was Andrea Levy for her novel Small Island, which explored the problems of Jamaican migration into London in the aftermath of World War II. Themes of racism, war, and empire ran through Levy's story of Gilbert Joseph, a Caribbean man who had fought Adolf Hitler with the British Royal Air Force but was made to feel unwelcome in postwar London now that he was out of uniform.

      Even children's fiction revealed Britain's preoccupation with war. The winner of the Whitbread Children's Book Award, David Almond's The Fire-Eaters, was a novel about Bobby Burns, a young boy whose world was fraught with uncertainty during the Cuban missile crisis. War likewise figured in three of the eight books competing for the Guardian Children's Fiction award. In Meg Rosoff's debut novel, How I Live Now, which won the award, war rips through the 21st-century British countryside, exposing the characters to unspeakable horrors. Another contender for the prize, Berkshire-based writer Leslie Wilson's Last Train from Kummersdorf, was a complex and morally ambivalent tale about a boy and a girl trying to survive in the ruins of Nazi Germany at the end of World War II. The most widely reviewed novel on the list was well-known children's writer Michael Morpurgo's Private Peaceful, which introduced children to the waking nightmare of World War I. Morpurgo used the novel to draw attention to the need to pardon those teenagers who had eagerly signed up for that war without knowing the horrors that awaited them and who were subsequently executed for trying to desert. He stated, “The New Zealanders have pardoned their executed soldiers. So can we. A nation that refuses to deal with its shame cannot be called civilised.”

      A study of the Stasi in former communist East Germany won the £30,000 (about $55,000) Samuel Johnson Prize, the U.K.'s most important prize for nonfiction. Australian Anna Funder spent several years interviewing both the victims and the former operatives of East Germany's secret police to write Stasiland: True Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall (2003), described by one reviewer as “brilliant and necessary.” The chair of the Samuel Johnson Prize judges, Michael Wood, said that the book was “a highly original close-up of what happens to people in the corrosive atmosphere of a totalitarian state. An intimate portrait of survivors caught between their desire to forget and the need to remember.”

      The political and social climate of 1980s London created the backdrop for the 2004 Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The Line of Beauty. Alan Hollinghurst's fifth novel bitterly satirized what one commentator called “the excessive greed and furious social climbing of Thatcherite Britain.” Its protagonist Nick Guest is initially taken in by the artificial glamour of the Fedden family, with its private recitals and the Guardi painting above the mantelpiece. His love affair with the upwardly mobile Tory family ends in disgrace and disillusionment, however: “In the remorseless glare of the news,…the flat looked even more tawdry and pretentious. He was puzzled to think he had spent so much time in it so happily and conceitedly. The pelmets and mirrors, the spotlights and blinds, seemed rich in criticism. It was what you did if you had millions but no particular taste: you made your private space like a swanky hotel; just as such hotels flattered their customers by being vulgar simulacra of lavish private homes. A year ago it had at least the glamour of newness.” The Line of Beauty faced stiff competition for the Man Booker from David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, a best seller and favourite with the bookmakers that interwove the stories of six characters inhabiting disparate times and spaces, including a 19th-century adventurer in the Pacific and a cloned slave bred to work in an underground fast-food eatery in a dystopian 22nd-century Korea. Each narrative was conveyed in a different stylistic genre, from science fiction to picaresque. Mitchell's eccentric morphing of the English language made for some wildly original prose, but it was the overarching message of the novel that captured many critics' praise. A reviewer for The Daily Telegraph described it as “a grand fictional treatise about the will to power—whether corporate or tribal, personal or consumer.” Another worthy contender was Londoner Gerard Woodward's I'll Go to Bed at Noon, which charted the course of a dysfunctional family of alcoholics in the years preceding the Thatcherite revolution.

      By curious coincidence, several novelists created fictional homages to fin de siècle novelist Henry James. In The Line of Beauty, Hollinghurst's protagonist is writing a Ph.D. thesis on James, with whom he is fascinated. Another contender for the Man Booker, The Master by Irish author Colm Tóibín, provided a prodigiously researched fictional portrait of James, tracing his life from January 1895, the month that his historical drama Guy Domville flopped on the London stage, to a family reunion in 1899. The time frame allowed Tóibín to examine the paranoia that presided over the late 1890s, the era in which Oscar Wilde was tried for homosexuality, and to imagine the effect it had on James, whose own sexuality was ambiguous and thwarted. The opening scene of Tóibín's novel resurfaced later in another form with the publication of David Lodge's strikingly authentic yet fictional account of Henry James, Author, Author. Lodge depicted James's humiliating five-year campaign to win success writing for the British stage, contrasting it with the career of his successful friend George Du Maurier, the Punch magazine cartoonist and author of Trilby (1894). The result was a deft examination of the compulsions, jealousies, and failures that often accompany the life of a writer. Earlier, Emma Tennant had produced Felony (2002), a novel that unraveled the story behind James's creation of The Aspern Papers (1888). A fifth novel inspired by James was Toby Litt's Ghost Story, a contemporary reworking of James's eerie masterpiece The Turn of the Screw (1898).

      Virginia Woolf was another author who attracted press coverage in 2004, when the last of six essays originally published in Good Housekeeping magazine in 1931 was found by an enterprising publisher in the archives of the University of Sussex. The sketch of an eccentric London gossip called Mrs. Crowe was published along with the other five essays by Woolf in a volume titled The London Scene.

      Novels appealing to both children and adults continued to dominate the market. Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003), a mystery novel whose protagonist is a young boy with Asperger syndrome, sold almost one million copies. It also won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year Award and was voted both Children's Book of the Year and winner of the Literary Fiction Award at the British Book Awards. In a joint statement, the Whitbread judges said, “It has been claimed of many recent books that they could be read equally by adolescents or by adults. We felt that this was a rare and genuine example of a book which would sit equally well on the shelves of any bedroom.” J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books likewise continued to sell in the millions to both children and adults, bringing her estimated earnings of £1.37 billion (about $2.49 billion). In August Rowling announced unexpectedly that she planned to add an eighth book to the series; she had previously vowed to write only seven Potter adventures.

      Christian readers critical of the benign image of witchcraft in Rowling's books found a riveting alternative in the works of G.P. Taylor, a policeman turned vicar. His popular children's novel Shadowmancer (2002) was followed by its much-lauded sequel Wormwood. Taylor's Gothic tales of 18th-century Britain are interlaced with Christian imagery, inviting comparisons to writers J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Wormwood, set in London, is replete with evil sorcerers, angel warriors, and an ancient leather-bound book that contains the secrets of the universe. Taylor's books rivaled Rowling's series on the best-.

      In the nonfiction category, Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves (2003), appropriately subtitled The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, became a runaway best seller, with over 500,000 copies in print in the U.K. alone. Responding to an age of “ignorance and indifference,” and sloppy usage on the Internet, Truss made an entertaining case for the proper use of commas, semicolons, and apostrophes. “For any true stickler,…the sight of the plural word ‘Book's' with an apostrophe in it will trigger a ghastly private emotional process similar to the stages of bereavement, though greatly accelerated.”

      Well-known American travel writer Bill Bryson, a resident of Britain, won the 2004 Aventis Prize for his first astonishing foray into popular science writing. A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003) attempted to comprehend everything from the big bang to the rise of human civilization, tackling subjects as diverse as geology, chemistry, paleontology, climatology, astronomy, and particle physics along the way. Reviewers commended Bryson for breathing life into his topics by including chats with living experts and humorous vignettes about some of history's more eccentric scientists. Human interest also enlivened dry science in Andrew Brown's book In the Beginning Was the Worm (2003). Brown's study of the struggle to sequence the genome of a common microscopic worm was short-listed for the Aventis Prize.

      Top food writer Nigel Slater successfully switched genres when he turned his hand to autobiography in Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger (2003). Slater's method of retrieving episodes of his bleak childhood and motherless adolescence through memories of food led one critic to name him the “Proust of the Nesquik Era.” For a New York Times reviewer, Slater summoned up “Nick Hornby, Martin Amis, and Philip Larkin all at the same time.” Toast was voted Biography of the Year at the British Book Awards. Veteran author A.S. Byatt (see Biographies (Byatt, A.S. )) explored aging and death in Little Black Book of Stories, a collection of five Gothic tales.

      On the poetry front, playwright Harold Pinter received the prestigious Wilfred Owen award for poetry for his volume War (2003), a collection of eight poems and one speech critical of the war in Iraq. Pinter's poem “God Bless America” was widely quoted in the press but vilified by the American right. “Here they go again/ The Yanks in their armoured parade/ Chanting their ballads of joy/ As they gallop across the big world/ Praising America's God./ The gutters are clogged with the dead.” Less controversy was stirred when Scottish poet and musician Don Paterson won the 2003 Whitbread Poetry Award, worth £10,000 (about $18,000), as well as the 2003 T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry, worth £5,000 (about $9,000). (Both prizes were awarded in 2004.) The poems in Landing Light (2003) were described by a reviewer in The Guardian newspaper as “examinations of becoming, of the processes of life,” even when they deal with everyday themes such as ice-skating or waking up with one's child. Meanwhile, Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie won the £10,000 Forward Poetry Prize for The Tree House, a volume of poetry filled with “lichen-crusted bedrock,” alder trees, copulating frogs, and “brittle waves.” “What's most in need of re-negotiation and repair,” Jamie explained, “…is our relationship with the natural world. We're learning, or re-learning, that this is the only world, it's not an anteroom or preparation for something ‘better.' Neither is it an infinite ‘resource.' ” The book's epigraph was from Friedrich Hölderlin. The world may, or may not, be ending its lyric phase, but despite everything, “it is beautiful to unfold our souls and our short lives.”

Carol Peaker

United States.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

  A survey sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts appeared in the summer of 2004 and warned of a decline in literary reading among Americans. Nonetheless, some of the best American writers wrote on, making the year, and the fall season in particular, a good one for American letters, regardless of the size of the audience.

       Philip Roth, a writer who had from time to time worried out loud about the small number of serious American readers, thundered onto the best-seller list with The Plot Against America, a powerful work of alternative history. Though critic Frank Rich declared in the New York Times that the subgenre was “low-rent,” it served nevertheless as a marvelous vehicle for Roth's depiction of paranoia lost. In the novel isolationist and Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh defeats Franklin Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential race, striking fear in the hearts of the family of young Philip and most other American Jews.

      The prolific writer Joyce Carol Oates produced two books of fiction, a collection of short stories titled I Am No One You Know and the massive, multigenerational novel The Falls, which moved along with the power of the rough white-water rapids leading to the great cataract at Niagara. Reading the best of Oates was something like trying to navigate the rushing Niagara River of her novel at that point when “at first you think that your actions are propelling your little boat along at such speed; then you realize that the speed, the propulsion, has nothing to do with you. It is something happening to you.”

      Other works by veteran novelists met with more mixed responses. Russell Banks's The Darling, about a modern radical woman in Africa, and T.C. Boyle's The Inner Circle, his version of the story of controversial sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, were hobbled at the outset by murderous reviews by New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani. True North, Jim Harrison's new novel, a generational tale set in Michigan, did not make much headway either. The Dew Breaker, Edwidge Danticat's novel in stories about Haitian émigrés, seemed to find a devoted audience. Craig Nova's novel about crime and justice in Vermont—Cruisers—deserved a larger audience than it found, as did Project X, Jim Shepard's linguistically daring version of a Columbine High School-like massacre. Francisco Goldman's The Divine Husband, his attempt to write the great (Central) American novel, did not rise to that standard. Madison Smartt Bell completed his Haitian trilogy with the publication of The Stone That the Builder Refused.

      Powerful battle scenes and the measured steadiness of men approaching mortal combat made up the pages of Donald Pfarrer's magnificent The Fearless Man, his novel about the Vietnam War, as in the sequence in which a gunnery officer leads a small group of riflemen toward the hidden enemy: “First stop, Ambush Alley. Cross it. Don't even think about using it. Then a stream to worry about. Then around, not over, two hills…and back into the jungle at the bottom. Choose a place and set in. Set up the gun. Post a watch to cover the place where the river and the trail cross. Go to sleep. Listen to the maniacs in the brain as you slide into slumber.”

      Just as persuasive was the annealing prose in Marilynne Robinson's long-awaited second novel, Gilead, the story of several generations of itinerant Midwestern American preachers: “I don't write the way I speak. I'm afraid you would think I didn't know any better. I don't write the way I do for the pulpit, either, insofar as I can help it. That would be ridiculous, in the circumstances. I do try to write the way I think. But of course that all changes as soon as I put it into words. And the more it does seem to be my thinking, the more pulpitish it sounds, which I guess is inevitable. I will resist that inflection, nevertheless.” Robinson certainly resisted it, creating a marvelous skein of pure American plain-style prose.

      Also quite convincing and wonderfully entertaining was Percival Everett's American Desert, a satire on everything from born-again religious groups to academia and the military. A little more strident (and less effective) was another novel Everett published during the year, this one coauthored with James Kincaid, A History of the African-American People [Proposed] by Strom Thurmond. Christopher Buckley had readers look at the Middle East through a cracked lens in his successful satire Florence of Arabia.

      Nicholas Delbanco went to some major American cultural figures, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone among them, to populate the Michigan landscape in The Vagabonds. Maria Flook remained in her native New England in the romantic mystery Lux. Octogenarian Louis Auchincloss kept his eye on New York City's upper crust in East Side Story, his 60th book. Samantha Gillison brought out her second novel, The King of America, a book based on the life of the late Michael Rockefeller and set mostly along the coast of New Guinea, where Rockefeller was last seen. Andrew Sean Greer's second novel, The Confessions of Max Tivoli, won much critical praise.

      The once immensely popular novelist Herman Wouk, 89, brought out his first novel in 10 years, A Hole in Texas, an entertaining spoof about a particle physicist on the job in Texas and the workings of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Another best-selling writer, John Grisham, weighed in with The Last Juror, which was less effective than his other legal thrillers. The Tarnished Eye, Judith Guest's novel about a family massacred in northern Michigan, showed off her best talents. A best-seller-list phenomenon was the jointly authored The Rule of Four by first-time writers Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.

      A few impressive first novels made the bookstore shelves, if not the best-seller lists, including Loving Che by Ana Menéndez, Country of Origin by Don Lee, The Rope Eater by Ben Jones, Symptomatic by Danzy Senna, The Pink Institution by Selah Saterstrom, and Ask Me Anything by Francesca Delbanco (the daughter of novelist Nicholas Delbanco).

      A number of elder statesmen published short-story collections, notably Ray Bradbury (The Cat's Pajamas), John Barth (The Book of Ten Nights and a Night), E.L. Doctorow (Sweet Land Stories), and Gilbert Sorrentino (The Moon in Its Flight). Wendell Berry released That Distant Land, his collected stories. Joy Williams focused on themes of illness and decay in Honored Guest. Virginia writer John Rolfe Gardiner signed in with The Magellan House Stories. Los Angeles Times award winner David Means did not disappoint his growing audience with The Secret Goldfish, his third collection. Naturalist and essayist Barry Lopez stirred up some aesthetic controversy with his polemical collection Resistance. Brooklyn, N.Y., writer Jonathan Lethem showed off his gift for the short-story form with Men and Cartoons. Nominated for the National Book Award, Joan Silber's Ideas of Heaven drew new critical attention for this New England-based writer. Bret Anthony Johnston made an impressive debut with the stories in Corpus Christi. Among reprints to notice were Echo Tree: The Collected Short Fiction of Henry Dumas (2003). The Collected Stories of Truman Capote came out along with a volume of his letters (Too Brief a Treat, edited by Gerald Clarke).

      American poets continued to write powerfully in the lyric mode about perennial subjects. In Danger on Peaks Gary Snyder brought nature into the reader's inner vision: “Hammering a dent out of a bucket/ a woodpecker answers from the woods.” The Clerk's Tale, Spencer Reece's debut work, focused on the world in which he made his living—haberdashery:

I am thirty-three and working in an expensive clothier,
selling suits to men I call “Sir.”
These men are muscled, groomed and cropped—
with wives and families that grow exponentially.
Mostly I talk of rep ties and bow ties,
of full-Windsor knots and half-Windsor knots,
of tattersall, French cuff, and English spread collars.

      A number of poets issued volumes of collected verse. Santa Cruz, Calif., poet Robert Sward delivered The Collected Poems of Robert Sward, 1957–2004, which focused on the comedy of love and the spiritual: “They say there is a monk on the Santa Cruz Mountains,/ his white robes floating, three hundred feet beneath the sky.” Collected Poems came from Donald Justice (see Obituaries (Justice, Donald Rodney )), Jean Valentine issued Door in the Mountain, William Matthews released Search Party: Collected Poems of William Matthews, Rodney Jones offered Kingdom of the Instant, and Thomas Lux published The Cradle Place. Barry Spacks released Regarding Women and The Hope of the Air, and Richard Howard produced Inner Voices: Selected Poems, 1963–2003. Robert Pinsky, together with Maggie Dietz, edited An Invitation to Poetry, another volume (along with a DVD) in the Favorite Poem Project, which he began when he was U.S. poet laureate. Nebraskan Ted Kooser (see Biographies (Kooser, Ted )) was named poet laureate for 2004–05, and he published a new book of poetry during the year.

      Standing out among various works of nonfiction was Luis Alberto Urrea's The Devil's Highway, a burning account of illegal Mexican immigrants attempting to cross the desert into Arizona. Octogenarian novelist and essayist Mary Lee Settle presented a travel book about Spain, Spanish Recognitions: The Roads to the Present. Richard Rhodes delivered a well-received biography in John James Audubon: The Making of an American. Mary V. Dearborn contributed Mistress of Modernism: The Life of Peggy Guggenheim. Architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable entered a brief but pithy biographical volume, Frank Lloyd Wright, in the Penguin Lives series.

      Among literary biographies Barry Silesky's John Gardner: Literary Outlaw was a useful contribution, as were Philip McFarland's Hawthorne in Concord, Jeffrey Meyers's Somerset Maugham, Christopher Sawyer-Lauçanno's E.E. Cummings, Eileen Warburton's John Fowles, and Joan Reardon's Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher. Evelyn C. White signed in with Alice Walker: A Life.

      During the past decade a deluge of memoirs had been published. Those worth taking seriously during the year included Kathryn Harrison's The Mother Knot and In My Father's Footsteps by Sebastian Matthews, son of poet William Matthews. Another memoir with a father at the centre of the action was Nick Flynn's Another Bullshit Night in Suck City.

      A wonderfully invigorating polemical tone inhabited scholar-critic Mark Edmunson's latest book, Why Read?: “Literature and truth? The humanities and truth? Come now. What could be more ridiculous? What could be more superannuated than that?” Will in the World, Stephen Greenblatt's book on “How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare,” moved toward the discerning public's best-seller lists. Another volume with more than academic appeal was science-fiction writer Ursula K. LeGuin's The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination. Another eminently accessible book for the general public was essayist Phillip Lopate's Waterfront: A Journey Around Manhattan.

      Among interesting historical studies, the year saw the publication of Walter A. McDougall's Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History 1585–1828, Shirley Christian's Before Lewis and Clark, David Hackett Fischer's Washington's Crossing, and Thomas Parrish's The Submarine. The late Edward W. Said's political columns about the Middle East turmoil appeared under the title From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map. In The Open Space of Democracy, Terry Tempest Williams created a lyrical polemic about politics and the environment. Novelist Rick Bass, who had written often on environmental questions, produced Caribou Rising: Defending the Porcupine Herd, Gwich-'in Culture, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. One of the most interesting cultural studies of the year was Alan Trachtenberg's Shades of Hiawatha: Staging Indians, Making Americans, 1880–1930.

      The 2004 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded to works that appeared in 2003. The fiction prize went to Edward P. Jones for his novel The Known World, the poetry prize to Franz Wright for Walking to Martha's Vineyard, the biography prize to William Taubman for Khrushchev: The Man and His Era, and the Pulitzer for general nonfiction to Anne Applebaum for Gulag: A History. At the PEN/Faulkner Award ceremonies in May, John Updike won the top prize for The Early Stories, 1953–1975 (2003). Luís Alberto Urrea won the Lannan Foundation Literary Award for Nonfiction. Later in 2004 the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in short fiction went to Richard Bausch and Nell Freudenberger.

      The National Book Award for Fiction went to Lily Tuck's The News from Paraguay, a novel set in 19th-century Paraguay about the relationship between a young Irishwoman and the dictator Francisco Solano López. In the nonfiction category Kevin Boyle's Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Era, the story of a black family's fight to live in a predominately white Detroit neighbourhood during the 1920s, captured the award.

      Among the deaths during the year were those of fiction writers William Herrick and Ronald Sukenick. In addition to Justice, a number of poets died, including Thom Gunn (Gunn, Thom William ), Anthony Hecht, Carl Rakosi, (Rakosi, Carl ) and Mona Van Duyn (Van Duyn, Mona ). Cultural historian Daniel Boorstin (Boorstin, Daniel Joseph ), historian Iris Chang, mystery writer Joseph Hansen (Hansen, Joseph ), writer Hubert Selby, Jr. (Selby, Hubert, Jr. ), children's author Paula Danziger (Danziger, Paula ), and critic and novelist Susan Sontag (Sontag, Susan ) also left the literary scene. (See Obituaries.)

Alan Cheuse

Canada.
 The search for a home, refuge, person, or object was a common theme in Canadian literature in 2004. In Claire's Head, Catherine Bush depicted a woman who did not allow her migraine headaches to prevent her from looking for her sister; in Cat's Pilgrimage, Marilyn Bowering's young heroine and her father sought refuge in a utopian community; in Bill Gaston's Sointula, a mother kayaked along the British Columbia coastline on a quest for her son; and in Kate Pullinger's A Little Stranger, a daughter searched for the alcoholic, homeless mother she could not forget. A Muslim woman in Shauna Singh Baldwin's The Tiger Claw searched for her Jewish lover in Nazi Germany, while Harold Eustache, in Shuswap Journey, based his tale of a father looking for his abducted daughter on a traditional legend. More unusual was the severed arm sought in the bowels of Mumbai (Bombay) by Anosh Irani's protagonist in The Cripple and His Talismans. The pursuit of truth informed Des Kennedy's Flame of Separation, in which a teacher reexamined his life, and the quest for redemption in the eye of a hurricane preoccupied the narrator of Paul Quarrington's Galveston.

      The experiences of newcomers to Canada were explored in Esi Edugyan's The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, about a Ghanaian struggling to make sense of life in Alberta, and in Wayson Choy's All That Matters, the continuing saga of the Chen family in Vancouver, while someone desperate to be an immigrant was the subject of The Stowaway, Robert Hough's fact-based novel. In Merilyn Simonds's The Holding, a Scottish pioneer spoke across the years through her diary to the modern-day woman reading it.

      Other novels included Anne Cameron's Dahlia Cassidy, a satiric view of a small British Columbian town; Miriam Toews's gentler depiction of the denizens of a small Mennonite town in A Complicated Kindness; Trevor Cole's tour de force Norman Bray in the Performance of His Life; and Colin McAdam's Some Great Thing, in which the paths of two powerful men intersect with unexpected consequences.

      There were also Douglas Coupland's strange coupling of extremes in Eleanor Rigby; Monica Kidd's The Momentum of Red, in which a father and daughter struggle together to end his domination of her life; Richard B. Wright's amalgam of mistress, misery, and murder in Adultery; and poet Don Coles's first novel, Doctor Bloom's Story, about the ethical dilemma faced by a creative-writing teacher regarding a student.

      One way or another, many short-story collections, such as Ramona Dearing's So Beautiful, were about the people one gets stuck with—not only family but roommates, teachers, spouses, and fellow passengers. Alice Munro's Runaway scouted the depths of ordinary lives; George Bowering's Standing on Richards was a wealth of stories in all their various disguises; Bonnie Dunlop's The Beauty Box plucked tales of bittersweet midnights and regrets; and Mavis Gallant's Montreal Stories addressed the consequences of returning home.

      David Bezmozgis's Natasha and Other Stories was a rich mixture of the minutiae of Jewish domestic life; Kelly Cooper's Eyehill was a sequence of linked stories centred on a prairie town; and Yashin Blake's tales in Nowhere Fast reflected the structure and improvisation of contemporary jazz.

      Surrealism was the mode of Carrie Snyder's Hair Hat, in which 11 lives are affected by this weird headgear, and it also flavoured Annabel Lyon's three novellas in The Best Thing for You, painfully accurate portraits of parents bedeviled by their offspring.

      Poets saw the glass both half-full and half-empty. Some of life's bleaker aspects were explored by Patrick Lane in Go Leaving Strange; Eve Joseph in her volume of ghazals on physical and spiritual loss and death, The Startled Heart; George Fetherling in his memorial to his father, Singer: An Elegy; and Sue Goyette in Undone, meditations edged with dark longings. In counterbalance were Mari-Lou Rowley's Viral Suite, exuberant excursions into bodily sensations and intimate acts; Roo Borson's meticulously rendered interior landscapes, in Short Journey Upriver Toward Ōishida; and bill bisset's innocent insights and irrepressible humour in narrativ engima/rumours uv hurricane. Tom Walmsley's sex-sodden Honeymoon in Berlin was an eclectic collection of verbal riffs; Jan Zwicky's Robinson's Crossing engaged the nature of history; Tim Bowling's The Memory Orchard plucked images from the past like apples, or guitars; while Wayde Compton's Performance Bond fused verbal excursions of hip-hop and jazz into urban renewal.

Elizabeth Rhett Woods

Other Literature in English.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

      Important works in English representing a variety of genres by authors young and old, emerging and established, highlighted the literary offerings for 2004 from sub-Saharan Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. Outstanding new releases from Africa included Purple Hibiscus, the debut novel by Nigerian-born writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in which the protagonist, Kambili, struggles with the abuse, hypocrisy, and deep pathology of her father and the Roman Catholic Church in a narrative informed by political and ideological issues. The acclaimed South African playwright, poet, journalist, painter, and author Zakes Mda brought out his latest novel, The Whale Caller, which was lauded for its deft characterizations and vivid atmosphere—“a poignant love story of outsiders, whales and dreams.” Mda's 39-year-old countryman Troy Blacklaws, who resided in Frankfurt, Ger., drew praise for Karoo Boy, his breakthrough novel, which takes place in the Karoo outback and centres on the relationship between the protagonist, Douglas, and Moses, an old Xhosa man, as the two plan to travel together to Cape Town. Distinguished Somali author Naruddin Farah brought out his latest novel Links, which, in Dantean fashion, exposes life in his native country's capital, Mogadishu, “the city of death.” Veteran writers and Nobel laureates J.M. Coetzee and Nadine Gordimer had end-of-the-year releases in 2003 that spawned great interest and were predictably short-listed for numerous national and international literary awards in 2004. Coetzee's Elizabeth Costello marked somewhat of a departure for the author in that it combined essayistic narrative with a fictional framework. Gordimer brought out Loot, and Other Stories, her 12th collection. André Brink pleased his longtime readers with the publication of Before I Forget, in which the protagonist, a 78-year-old writer who fears he has lost his talent as an author, reflects on his life by recalling his numerous love affairs.

      In New Zealand, Booker Prize winner Keri Hulme broke her silence of over a decade with the publication of Stonefish, a collection of short stories and verse. The winners of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004 included Annamarie Jagose's novel Slow Water (winner of the Deutz Medal for Fiction) and Anne Kennedy's verse collection Sing-song (winner in the poetry category). Named one of the runners-up for the award in fiction was The Scornful Moon, which marked the return of renowned author Maurice Gee. Also of note was the latest release by C.K. Stead entitled Mansfield, a fictional portrait of New Zealand-born literary great Katherine Mansfield. Australia welcomed the latest verse collection by John Kinsella, Peripheral Light: Selected and New Poems, which was hailed by American critic Harold Bloom, who wrote in his introduction, “We are poised before the onset of what I prophesy will be a major art.”

      Sadly, 2004 marked the passing of Thea Astley (Astley, Thea Beatrice May ), one of Australia's most celebrated novelists, and of New Zealand authors Janet Frame (Frame, Janet Paterson ) and Maurice Shadbolt (Shadbolt, Maurice) and historian Michael King (King, Michael ). (See Obituaries.)

David Draper Clark

Germanic

German.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

 The German-speaking literary world was caught completely off guard by the October 2004 announcement that the Nobel Prize for Literature would be awarded to Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek (see Nobel Prizes ), a prominent critic of contemporary Austria. In poems, plays, novels, screenplays, and radio plays, Jelinek addressed sexual inequality, relationships in which power was a factor, and political oppression. She was as surprised as anyone by the award, which the great Austrian novelist and playwright Thomas Bernhard (1931–89) had not received. The Georg Büchner Prize, the most important German prize for lifetime literary achievement, went to writer Wilhelm Genazino, whose work addressed the understated comedy of the everyday life of ordinary figures in a West German milieu. The Ingeborg Bachmann Prize for the best emerging author in the German language went to 35-year-old East German writer Uwe Tellkamp for a linguistically and thematically ambitious novel in progress that was framed around a streetcar ride through Dresden.

      East German author Irina Liebmann published her best novel to date, the semiautobiographical Die freien Frauen, which told the story of Elisabeth Schlosser, a melancholy middle-aged woman living alone in the centre of Berlin and dealing with the various problems of aging—sadness, regret, physical ailments, concern for her depressed son, the complete transformation of the urban environment around her, and the end of all dreams for a socialist utopia. In the end Schlosser, who, like Liebmann, was born in Moscow in 1943, makes a journey of discovery to Poland.

      Syrian-born writer Rafik Schami, who moved to Germany in 1971, published a major German-language novel, Die dunkle Seite der Liebe, a massive exploration of the Arab world in general and the city of Damascus in particular; the work was full of various crisscrossing stories and figures. Schami's novel clearly demonstrated what had been increasingly evident for many years—that the German-speaking literary world was no longer just the preserve of ethnic Germans, Austrians, and Swiss and that the German language was also being used by a host of multiethnic and multicultural citizens of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, some of whom wrote at a very high level.

      Novelist Martin Walser published Der Augenblick der Liebe, which dealt on one level with the fictional German hobbyist historian Gottlieb Zürn—who had appeared in Walser's novels Das Schwanenhaus (1980) and Jagd (1988)—and on another level with the life of the real historical figure Julien Offray de La Mettrie, a French Enlightenment philosopher whose life Zürn chronicles in a lecture. The first level relates a love affair between the elderly Zürn and a young graduate student in the United States; the second level explores La Mettrie's materialist philosophy and attempt to free humans from feelings of guilt, an attempt that Walser might see as a parallel to his own highly publicized criticisms of German feelings of historical guilt. Just as Walser had been the subject of heated debate in the German literary world in the last decade, so too was Zürn the subject of heated debate in the novel.

      Peter Handke's novel Don Juan (erzählt von ihm selbst) was a retelling of the story of the legendary lover, as told by Don Juan to the cook at a monastery where he has sought refuge. The story, which relates Don Juan's erotic travels through Europe and Asia, also deals with the protagonist's sorrow over the loss of his wife and only son. It is this loss that becomes the inspiration for Don Juan's erotic quest.

      Burkhard Spinnen's short-story collection Der Reservetorwart contained stories about ordinary German people trying to preserve their self-constructed normality. The protagonist of the short story for which the collection was named is a second-string goalie who manages to injure himself when he actually gets the chance to play a game and thereby maintains the unobtrusiveness of his own existence. Most of the other protagonists of Spinnen's stories are German losers trying to preserve their fragile illusions. Patrick Roth's short-story collection Starlite Terrace told the stories of four residents of an apartment complex in Los Angeles; the narrator, like Roth himself, is a German living in Los Angeles. Roth's stories, full of high drama, made ample references to Hollywood and film history. Ulrike Draesner's short-story collection Hot Dogs dealt with contemporary sexuality and relationships from a female perspective; the protagonist of the main story is a German woman who, unbeknownst to her male German lovers, illegally sells their sperm for a high price in the United States.

      Sven Regener's novel Neue Vahr Süd, named after a neighbourhood in Bremen, was a prequel to his highly successful 2001 novel Herr Lehmann; Neue Vahr Süd told the story of the protagonist's early years in Bremen before moving to Berlin in the 1980s. Austrian writer Thomas Stangl released his first novel, Der einzige Ort, which told the story of a journey to the legendary Malian city of Timbuktu.

Stephen Brockmann

Netherlandic.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

 Hella S. Haasse received the Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren for 2004. The most important literary prize of the Dutch-language area was awarded every three years, alternately by the Dutch and Belgian heads of state. In this case the prize was given to recognize the artistic and human qualities of Haasse's more than 70 titles, which had “so worthily and emphatically placed Dutch literature upon the international stage.”

      The Libris Literatuur Prijs was awarded to Arthur Japin for his novel Een schitterend gebrek, which told the story of Lucia, Giacomo Casanova's first lover, whom Casanova mentioned in his memoirs as one of the few people whom he had wronged. Published in 2003, Japin's novel was reprinted three times in quick succession. Arnon Grunberg's novel De asielzoeker (2003), a study in the difficulties of contemporary human existence, netted him the AKO Literatuur Prijs for 2004—his second—as well as the F. Bordewijk-prijs.

      The year 2004 saw the publication of De nieuwe Bijbelvertaling, commissioned by an ecumenical collective of religious denominations and Dutch and Flemish Bible societies. The work of hundreds of translators, readers, and supervisors, the process of translation had spanned more than a decade. The simultaneous publication in various editions (some 200,000 copies) was a literary as well as religious event, as this new translation of the Bible unleashed a public discussion of proper methods and goals of translation. Many of the readers invited to comment as the translation progressed were (nonconfessional) members of the intelligentsia; comparisons to the 17th-century States translation were inevitable in light of commonly held notions of the influence of the older translation on Dutch literary language. The translation was made available on the Internet, both in written form and in sound files.

      The importance of translation in Dutch literary life was underscored by the P.C. Hooftprijs awarded to Cees Nooteboom. The jury praised Nooteboom's prose for its “literary eloquence, scope, and originality,” among the best produced in The Netherlands in the last 50 years. Nooteboom's reputation abroad—his work had been translated into 20 languages—contributed to his recognition in the Low Countries.

Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

Danish.
      In 2004 Danish writers found an eager audience for their works of fantasy and imagination. Prolific veteran Klaus Rifbjerg combined autobiography, invention, sense, and nonsense in Alea: En tilfældighedsroman (2003). In Mojácar, Rifbjerg and Swedish photographer Georg Oddner portrayed Rifbjerg's Spanish summer home. Maria Grønlykke, a newcomer to the literary scene, described everyday life and the extraordinary characters that inhabited the island Fyn, where she made her home, in her short-story collections Fisketyven (2003) and En lille sang om Stella. In København, Katrine Marie Guldager sketched a cosmopolitan metropolis, questioned the loss of shared values, and explored the implications of individual responsibility. Jens Christian Grøndahl depicted Denmark and the Danes through the eyes of a young Romanian, Elena, in Piazza Bucarest. In Thorsten Madsens ego, Mathilde Walter Clark described a competitive businessman in a world gone awry. With her novel Hengivelsen, poet Pia Tafdrup explored a new genre and traced the course of one-sided love. Julia Butschkow, an alumna of Denmark's Forfatterskolen, also explored the limits of genre in her single-sentence novel Lunatia, a horrific tale of childhood incest. In Musikken og kødet, Vibeke Marx used a single event, a concert, as the setting for stories of love and musical artistry.

      Danish novelists also explored different settings and time frames in their works. Kim Michael Alberg delved into Thailand's drug trade and crime and punishment in his suspense story Smilenes land. Bjarne Reuter's Løgnhalsen fra Umbrien traced the steps of a 14th-century Florentine charmer, Giuseppe Emanuele Pagamino, and his search for an elixir. Hvalens øje, Arthur Krasilnikoff's latest novel, described Faroese Astur's coming-of-age in the midst of dangers and dilemmas. In Når himlen falder ned, historian Birgitte Jørkov created a female protagonist, Elne, who thrives as a merchant in the masculine milieu of 15th-century Elsinore. Birgitte Berntsen's novel about Hans Christian Andersen (Fremmed af verden), Jette Kaarsbøl's depiction of literary critic Georg Brandes and his friends (Den lukkede bog), and Bodil Wamberg's account of Louise Rasmussen's rise from the working class to the elite (Grevinden—et portræt af Grevinde Danner) demonstrated the abiding appeal of biographical and historical novels. In Atlas over huller i verden, Ursula Andkjær Olsen offered a potpourri of verses and enigmatic poems. F.P. Jac's En græssende glæde til dit ydre was a heartfelt tribute to the seasons. In Timebog, Suzanne Brøgger and artist Barbara Wilson created an 18-page treasure trove of lyrical and visual art.

      During September and October, the city of Århus hosted the International Book Festival 2004. Three authors—Dorrit Willumsen, Kirsten Thorup, and Guldager—shared nomination for festival sponsor BG Bank's Annual Literature Prize; Thorup was selected as the winner. Book Forum's Debutant Prize (2003) went to Grønlykke for Fisketyven. Jette Kaarsbøl won both the Danish Library Association Readers' Prize and the Golden Laurels Booksellers' Award. Celebrated poet-novelist Per Højholt died in October.

Lanae Hjortsvang Isaacson

Norwegian.
      Existential questioning characterized Norwegian literature in 2004. Hanne Ørstavik was awarded the Brage Prize for Presten, which followed a chaplain pondering how to comprehend the truth and communicate it to others. Fulfilling the expectations raised by his debut novel, Karl Ove Knausgård's epic En tid for alt—a reflection on good and evil among angels and humanity in biblical and modern times—was nominated for the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize. Ingvar Ambjørnsen, who received the 2004 Anders Jahre Prize for cultural contribution, won acclaim for Innocentia Park, a novel about the midlife crisis of a wealthy proprietor who, finding no meaning in life, retreats to a neighbourhood park. The protagonists of Jonny Halberg's Gå til fjellet, nominated for the Brage Prize, and Doppler, by the popular Erlend Loe, similarly retreat to nature.

      The psychological mystery novels Turneren, by the established Knut Faldbakken, and Det er natt, Ole Asbjørn Ness's debut, addressed repressed yearnings and resentments. Nikolaj Frobenius's Teori og praksis and Espen Haavardsholm's Gutten på passbildet, which both incorporated autobiography into narratives about traumatic adolescence, were well received.

      The time-honoured poet Stein Mehren was nominated for the 2005 Nordic Council Literature Prize for Imperiet lukker seg, which was acclaimed for the author's strong sense of aesthetics and philosophical concerns. Dramatist Arne Lygre was awarded the Brage Short Story Prize for Tid inne, about individuals' struggles to bond. Oscar Wildes heis, a collection of stories portraying adolescent vulnerability, was related in the distinctive voice of novelist Lars Saabye Christensen.

      Acclaimed youth literature author Harald Rosenløw Eeg was awarded the Brage Prize for Youth Literature for Yatzy, a novel portraying a foster child's struggles. Princess Märtha Louise's Hvorfor de kongelige ikke har krone på hodet, illustrated by Svein Nyhus, was a fairy tale about a royal Norwegian family of immigrants. Tor Bomann-Larsen's portrayal of the royal family in Folket: Haakon & Maud II, which questioned the paternity of deceased King Olav, was awarded the Brage Prize for Nonfiction. Ingar Sletten Kolloen's Hamsun: erobreren completed his two-volume work on Nobel Prize-winning novelist Knut Hamsun's life. Jørgen Haugan's biography of Hamsun, Solgudens fall: Knut Hamsun—en litterær biografi, and Atle Næss's biography of painter Edvard Munch, Munch: en biografi, were also highly praised.

Anne G. Sabo

Swedish.
      Experiments in prose and poetry form and travels in space and time were the highlights of Swedish literature in 2004. Attempts to open readers' minds to crossover sensations of technique and nature, history and the future, were frequent.

      Lotta Lotass ventured into the space age in Tredje flykthastigheten, where her sharp and clear fragmentary style and sharp contrasts of rural poverty and high technology were employed to paint the fate of Soviet cosmonaut Yury Gagarin. Mikael Niemi returned to the bookshops after his 2000 best seller Populärmusik från Vittula (Popular Music from Vittula, 2003) with Svålhålet, a science-fiction-inspired short-story collection. Lars Jacobson used the same inspiration and genre in his horror-provoking Berättelser om djur och andra. In his poetry collection Apolloprojektet, Malte Persson made fragments of the optimism of the space project mix with everyday life in the form of a lyrical collage. In Någon gång regn i Ngorongoro, Tuija Nieminen Kristofersson juxtaposed the human life span and the vastness of geologic eons in a dizzy, lyrical time odyssey. Debut author Susanne Holmgren used contrasts between the perspectives of the human visitor and the grand Arctic wildlife in her prose poem Arktica.

      Several authors used history to explore the fates of well-known people. Kjell Espmark highlighted a dramatic moment in Bela Bartok's flight from Nazism in Béla Bartók mot Tredje Riket. Per Odensten wrote from the viewpoint of Emily Dickinson in Vänterskans flykt. Per Olov Enquist's Boken om Blanche och Marie speculated about a friendship between two-time Nobel Prize winner Marie Sklodowska Curie and Blanche Wittman, the so-called queen of the hysterics and neuropathologist Jean-Martin Charcot's star patient at Paris's Salpêtière asylum. Christina Bergil retold Sigmund Freud's famous case of the Wolf Man in Sju vita vargar i ett träd, while Sara Stridsberg's first novel, Happy Sally, drew a parallel between Sally Bauer, the late Swedish swimmer of the English Channel, and a modern challenger. Journalist Bengt Ohlsson's first novel, Gregorius, the winner of the 2004 August Prize for fiction, took up a secondary character in Hjalmar Söderberg's 1905 classic Doktor Glas, changed the viewpoint, and gave a full-size portrait of the Reverend Gregorius.

      Top-quality poetical works in 2004 included Tomas Tranströmer's new collection, Den stora gåtan, which was short-listed for the August Prize for poetry.

Immi Lundin

French

France.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

      Despite the record number of first-time authors published in 2004 in France (of the fall season's nearly 700 titles, 121 were first novels), most attention was focused on established writers. Among these was J.-M.-G. Le Clézio, whose L'Africain told of the author's first meeting with his father at the age of eight in 1948 Nigeria. Interspersed with his father's photos of Africa, Le Clézio's text probed the role that paternal absence had played in the author's numerous novels. A similar revelation arose in prizewinning author Jean Rouaud's L'Invention de l'auteur, an inquiry into what in Rouaud's life had inspired him to become a writer. Among the many factors, Rouaud singled out the absence of his father, who had died suddenly one Christmas when the author was 11 years old. Rouaud explains his autobiographical novels as attempts to regain the father he desperately misses.

      The most troubling account of a father-son relationship, however, was that described in well-known journalist Franz-Olivier Giesbert's autobiographical L'Américain. Giesbert's father, an American suffering from survivor's guilt after his participation in the bloody Normandy invasion of 1945, had taken his self-loathing out on his wife and children throughout the author's childhood and adolescence. Strangely, however gruesome the scenes of their violent, abusive relationship become, Giesbert never condemns the father he once hated, as the passage of time has given way to understanding and regret.

      Three best-selling novels fictionalized the sufferings of historical women. In Les Jours fragiles, Philippe Besson novelized the life of Isabelle, sister of the 19th-century poet Arthur Rimbaud, her intense shame at her brother's scandalous life of poetry, homosexuality, and debauchery, and her attempt to bring him back on his deathbed to a relationship with God. Michèle Desbordes told in La Robe bleue the well-known story of Camille Claudel, the 19th–20th-century sculptor driven to insanity by her tumultuous love affair with the sculptor Auguste Rodin. Though many French works have been devoted to Claudel, Desbordes broke new ground by portraying Claudel's inner monologue during her long institutionalization, with all her pain, fantasies, and longings. In a similar vein, Claude Pujade-Renaud's Chers disparus novelized the feelings of five historical women—not famous for themselves but rather married to famous writers—who had devoted their lives to their husbands and their husbands' art only to find themselves purposeless once widowed.

      The theme of emotional wounds also ran through Patrick Lapeyre's L'Homme-sœur, the story of Cooper, a man unable to live or love because of his perverse, debilitating, and reciprocated passion for his sister Louise. In this novel, in which Cooper waits for his sister to return after having long avoided her brother, the reader is put in the uncomfortable position of hoping against better judgment that Louise will return to her brother's side, if only to end his suffering. Similarly, Laurent Mauvignier's Seuls recounted the story of Tony, a man in love with a female friend but unable to admit his feelings. When this woman enters a relationship with another man, Tony quickly slides into a frenetic jealousy that destroys his life as his family and friends stand helplessly by.

      Three of the best-received of the year's novels were sequels. First, Ahmadou Kourouma's posthumously published, unfinished Quand on refuse on dit non resumed the story of Birahima, who in Kourouma's 2000 work Allah n'est pas obligé had been a child soldier in the vicious wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone and who, now older and a little wiser, is involved in the bloodbaths of Pres. Laurent Gbagbo's Côte d'Ivoire. Daniel Picouly published La Treizième Mort du chevalier, a sequel to his 1999 romp through Revolutionary France, L'Enfant léopard, in which an attempt to save Marie Antoinette's life had involved a black-and-white-spotted child, the son of a French noblewoman and an African. In his sequel Picouly told the tale of a black nobleman, Saint-Georges, who may possibly have been the father of the “leopard child,” whose mother now may have been Marie Antoinette herself. Finally, Philippe Delerm's Enregistrements pirates was a follow-up to his internationally acclaimed 1997 work La Première Gorgée de bière et autres plaisirs minuscules, a description of the small joys of everyday existence to which few people pay attention. In his new work Delerm turned his gaze outward, capturing and slowing down small scenes from life—a woman walking her dog, people on the subway—extracting the moments' juice and distilling their uniqueness.

      Jean-Paul Dubois won the Prix Femina for Une vie française, a saga that, through one man's family, tells the story of the French baby-boom generation, from its 1960s idealism to its 1990s embrace of capitalism. Marie Nimier won the Prix Médicis for La Reine du silence, an autobiofiction recounting the author's relationship with her absent father, a famous right-wing writer who died when she was five years old. The Prix Renaudot went to Suite française, a work about occupied France's miseries written 63 years earlier by Irène Némirovsky, when she was in hiding before she was sent to her death in Auschwitz, and published only now. The Prix Goncourt went to Laurent Gaudé's Le Soleil des Scorta, a family saga taking place between 1870 and 1980 in a poor village in southern Italy. The Scorta family, founded in a rape, lives under the village's disapproval but passes down from generation to generation a lust for life under the Italian sun.

Vincent Aurora

Canada.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

      The year 2004 in French Canadian literature was a varied one. Politics impinged on the book world, as usual, with the popularity of retired Lieut. Gen. Roméo Dallaire's 2003 memoir about his role in the events in Rwanda during the genocide. With renewed interest in that sombre era, his book, entitled J'ai serré la main du diable (Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, 2003) also sparked debate about Canada's role as a peacekeeping nation. Dallaire won the Governor General's Award for English-language nonfiction for his memoir. Less glorious but equally popular was Janette Bertrand's Ma vie en trois actes, an autobiography. The doyenne of women's liberation in French Canada, Bertrand served as something of a barometer when it came to popular perceptions of women's issues.

      A new publisher began making waves in 2004: Mémoire d'Encrier, piloted by Rodney Saint-Éloi. This publisher issued books mostly about Haiti, such as Nul n'est une île, a collection of stories designed to raise money for that island nation, which had so often suffered from natural and man-made disasters. Two years after the death of Émile Ollivier, another pillar of the Haitian literary community in French Canada, his novel La Brûlerie was published.

      Nelly Arcan continued to enjoy the fruits of scandal with her confessional novel Folle, which followed on the heels of her earlier phenomenon, Putain (2001). Both books played on the narrow difference between real life and fiction and kept fascinated readers wondering if the scandalous events Ms. Arcan related could actually be true.

      On a more literary note, several novels stood out. A new young voice arrived with Nadine Bismuth, whose Scrapbook was set in a university environment. Readers in their 20s and 30s, a group often neglected in publishing, found their lives reflected in this novel. Jean Barbe weighed in with Comment devenir un monstre, a novel set in an anonymous country during a time of war. Barbe had already distinguished himself as a journalist and television personality before turning to novel writing.

      Two stalwarts of the French Canadian novel returned. Readers could renew their love affair with Yves Beauchemin, with his book Charles le Téméraire, and with Michel Tremblay, with his work of fiction Le Cahier rouge.

David Homel

Italian
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

      One of the main events in the 2004 Italian literary scene was the publication of Umberto Eco's novel La misteriosa fiamma della regina Loana, which appeared in bookstores, perhaps not coincidentally, on Bloomsday (June 16, which in 2004 was the 100th anniversary of the day in the life of Leopold Bloom described in James Joyce's Ulysses). Yambo, the protagonist, tries to recover his lost memory through the exploration of his childhood home. Old stamps, toys, vinyl records, and, in particular, comic strips are the scattered pieces with which he tries to reconstruct his life. Eco used these documents (some of which are reproduced in the novel) to give voice to the story of an entire generation caught between Fascist propaganda and World War II. The result was an encyclopaedic novel that combined different styles and registers and explored the links between visual expression and the written word.

      Ugo Riccarelli received the Strega Prize for Il dolore perfetto, a novel that revisited a century and a half of Italian history through the stories of two families who embody, respectively, idealism and practicality. These two seemingly irreconcilable tendencies are brought together by the marriage of two of their offspring, Cafiero and Annina. The novel is framed by Annina's last moments as she admires the “wondrous spectacle” of her life as it separates from her. The Campiello Prize was awarded to Paola Mastrocola, who in Una barca nel bosco described the struggle of a sensitive and genial boy, with a passion for Latin and poetry, in the depressing environment of a northern Italian high school.

      Carmine Abate continued his exploration of the consequences and meanings of emigration in La festa del ritorno. The life of the young protagonist is punctuated by the return visits of his father from France, to which the family's financial situation and the Calabria region's scarcity of employment forced him to move. Presented as an effort to promote dialogue and reconciliation between “those who stay and those who go,” the book offered an intriguing linguistic mélange resulting from the insertion of italicized foreign words and of entire sentences in Arbëreshë (the language spoken by the Albanian Italian community to which both Abate and his protagonists belong).

       Detective stories dominated the scene once again. Following the example of Andrea Camilleri with his creation of Inspector Montalbano, several authors recently had organized their novels around a central character who each time is called to solve a different mystery. This was the case with Marco Vichi, author of Il nuovo venuto: un'indagine del commissario Bordelli, and Giuseppe Pederiali, who in Camilla e i vizi apparenti narrated another investigation impeccably conducted by female inspector Camilla Cagliostri. Camilleri himself offered another glimpse of the personality of his hero in La prima indagine di Montalbano, a portrait of Montalbano as a young detective, able to solve his first mystery thanks to his passion for Jorge Luis Borges. More ambitious—and rich with references to the recent past—was Giuseppe Genna's Grande madre rossa, which opens with the explosion of the Palazzo di Giustizia in Milan. The novel follows Inspector Guido Lopez, the protagonist of three of Genna's earlier novels, as he works to rescue the Palazzo's mysterious and precious archives.

      At age 90 Mario Luzi confirmed his pivotal role in Italian poetry with the publication of a new collection, Dottrina dell'estremo principiante, the title of which epitomized the author's notion of poetry as endless searching, continuous renewal, and bearer of civic values. In consideration of Luzi's achievements, Italian Pres. Carlo Azeglio Ciampi appointed him a member of the Senate for life.

      Academic life was dominated by the 700th anniversary of Petrarch's (Francesco Petrarca's) birth, which inspired conferences in many Italian and foreign cities, from Barcelona, Spain, to Kolkata (Calcutta). Marco Santagata's edition of the Canzoniere was republished for this occasion. The publishing house Adelphi continued in its effort to promote the works of Anna Maria Ortese, one of the greatest Italian writers of the 20th century. In La lente scura, a reprinted collection of her articles on various Italian and foreign cities (including Moscow and Paris), the author's view is filtered through a particular attitude, the melancholic “dark lens” to which the title alludes, that provides unconventional insights into the cities she visited.

      Several important intellectual figures died during the year, including literary critic Cesare Garboli (1928–2004), who was famous for his translations of Shakespeare and Molière, and Giovanni Raboni (1932–2004), an accomplished poet and translator of Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu. A renowned international correspondent and expert on Asia, Tiziano Terzani (1938–2004) meditated on the cancer that caused his death in Un altro giro di giostra: viaggio nel bene e nel male del nostro tempo. Begun as a search for the best therapy, the book became an intense meditation on “the disease that affects us all: mortality.”

Laura Benedetti

Spanish

Spain.
 The fourth year of the 21st century brought a greater visibility of women to the literary field in Spain. Olga Merino described the immigration of Andalusian workers to Barcelona after the Spanish Civil War in her novel Espuelas de papel. In Viajes con mi padre (2003), Luisa Castro told a universal story, beautiful and moving, funny, magical and real, about a woman living between her mother's pragmatic world and her father's kind and amusing world. Her mother attempts to escape secular poverty, and her father is a sailor with little ambition.

      Lucía Etxebarría was awarded the Planeta Prize for her novel Un milagro en equilibrio, written in the form of a letter from a young mother addressing her newborn daughter so that the child can get to know her better when she grows up. The Alfaguara Prize went to the Colombian Laura Restrepo's Delirio, a novel about madness and love.

      Arturo Pérez-Reverte's latest novel, Cabo Trafalgar, described the defeat of the Spanish-French navy in 1805. The book portrayed the politicians as being responsible for the disaster, sending thousands of men to a sure death. The novel had abundant onomatopoeia and deliberate anachronisms. José María Merino published Cuentos de los días raros, a collection of 15 short stories about those weird days that evince the fascination or the uneasiness of the unexpected and show what can lie behind everyday images. Through the remembrance of smells and colours, José Manuel Caballero Bonald invited readers to go through the childhood and apprenticeship of a poet in Tiempo de guerras perdidas. Baile y sueño, the second book of the trilogy Tu rostro mañana by Javier Marías, continues the story of Jaime or Jacobo or Jacques Deza that was started in Fiebre y lanza. Deza's “gift” is to know what people will do in the future.

      Lorenzo Silva was awarded the Primavera Prize for his novel Carta blanca, a book that told the story of a man whose life elapses parallel to the convoluted events in Spain during the 1920s and '30s. The National Prize for Narrative went to Juan Manuel de Prada for his novel La vida invisible, which had won the Primavera Prize in 2003. The book described the life of a writer who travels to Chicago in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. His life changes drastically when he learns about Fanny, a pin-up girl from the 1950s who had suddenly disappeared, and after he meets Elena, a woman who has gone mad following a heartbreak.

      Chantal Maillard, a Belgian poet who lived in Málaga, received the National Prize for Poetry for her book Matar a Platón. The Cervantes Prize, considered the top Spanish-language literary prize, was awarded to Rafael Sánchez Ferlosio for an outstanding career as a novelist and essayist who always showed a critical attitude toward social issues.

Verónica Esteban

Latin America.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

 The year 2004 saw the arrival of the ninth volume of Historia crítica de la literatura argentina, an important critical work directed by Noé Jitrik. The history was to consist of a total of 12 volumes. Volume 9, titled El oficio se afirma, was edited by Sylvia Saítta and collected essays dedicated to the 1930s and to prominent authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Julio Cortázar, Leopoldo Marechal, and Ernesto Sábato. Five other volumes had appeared earlier. Also in Argentina, Gloria da Cunha edited La narrativa histórica de escritoras latinoamericanas, a book of essays about 19th-century women authors.

       Chilean writer Antonio Skármeta published a lyrical book of memories titled Neruda por Skármeta, about his friend and countryman Pablo Neruda, to celebrate the centennial of the poet's birth. Argentine David Viñas delivered a book of essays titled Crisis de la ciudad señorial, in which he developed a sociological study of Gregorio de Laferrère's dramatic work in relation to the zenith and the decadence of Buenos Aires's oligarchy.

      The Alfaguara Prize was awarded unanimously to Colombian Laura Restrepo for her novel Delirio, which was enthusiastically praised by jury member José Saramago. It was a familiar saga, seen through the eyes of three generations of wealthy landowners. Restrepo analyzed the past to try to explain the present—that is, the insanity of Agustina, the protagonist, who is a victim of drug trafficking and of the violence that penetrates her own family. The novel transformed this into a metaphor of Colombia's national problems. The Planeta Prize went to Argentine Martin Caparrós for his novel Valfierno. Valfierno was the name of the man who masterminded the theft of the Mona Lisa in 1911 from the Louvre and was able to hang on to it for two years. Casa de las Américas awarded its Extraordinary Prize for essays on women's studies to Colombian Carmiña Navia Velasco for her work Guerras y paz en Colombia: las mujeres escriben.

      An Argentine who resided in France, Juan José Saer, shared the Unión Latina de Literaturas Romances Prize with Romanian Virgil Tanase.

      Prolific Colombian writer Fernando Vallejo, winner of the 2003 Rómulo Gallegos Prize, published Mi hermano el alcalde, in which he retold the vicissitudes of his brother, the mayor of Támesis, a lost town in the mountains of Colombia. Political and personal memoirs were, as always, intertwined in Vallejo's writing; he also combined humour with horror and tenderness with satire. Ending a 10-year silence, Gabriel García Márquez returned in 2004 with the short novel Memoria de mis putas tristes, the story of an old man who wants to have his last sexual experiences with an adolescent, who falls incurably in love with him.

      Anagrama published Chilean author Roberto Bolaño's vast posthumous novel that bore the enigmatic title 2666. In the novel four European professors dedicate their lives to finding facts about an almost unknown German author. Their search takes them to the fictional Mexican city of Santa Teresa (a faithful representation of Ciudad Juárez) and thereby gives the narrator the opportunity to treat violence and Latin American corruption. Another work by Bolaño, Entre paréntesis, was a compilation of articles and lectures published between 1998 and 2003. The title, “Between Brackets,” referred to the spare time the author had between writing his novels.

       Uruguayan Eduardo Galeano published a book of short stories with the title Bocas del tiempo, written, he said, to rescue the greatness of small things. Carlos María Domínguez, an Argentine living in Uruguay, had tremendous success with La casa de papel, a short novel of intrigue that was, at the same time, a tribute to bibliophiles and to storytellers such as Joseph Conrad, Borges, Juan Carlos Onetti, and García Márquez. Domínguez displayed his obsession with the eastern shore of the Río de la Plata as well as with books—those other rivers without borders.

      Andrés Neuman, an Argentine living in Spain, published his third novel, Una vez Argentina, which was a finalist for the Herralde Prize. The novel was an effort to retrieve the time and space lost by Neuman's family who emigrated to Argentina and by his own peregrinations. Neuman used a poetic language that emphasized the contrast between the Castilian of Spain and the Río de la Plata dialect. Jardines de Kensington by Rodrigo Fresán, another Argentine who resided in Spain, was a delirious novel about childhood and the human condition.

      Two authors, Chilean Luis Sepúlveda and Uruguayan Mario Delgado Aparaín, worked together on a singular book with the parodic title Los peores cuentos de los hermanos Grim. These Grim(m) brothers are Abel and Caín, two gaucho minstrels who travel through Patagonia and Uruguay playing the guitar, singing, drinking, and running afoul of the police. The novel took the form of an epistolary between two odd characters who research the life of the payadores (gaucho minstrels), coming to conflicting conclusions that deconstruct the myths of rioplatense literature. Their correspondence is introduced by a fictional professor named José Sarajevo, who also writes the conclusion.

Leda Schiavo

Portuguese

Portugal.
      Portuguese literature suffered a grievous loss in 2004 with the death in Lisbon on July 2 of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, one of the greatest poets in the language. She was a prolific author and left a large body of work in print. By combining sharp observation with imagery inspired by the philosophy and culture of ancient Greece, she created a world of her own that lived on through the magic of words.

      It was often said that Portugal is a country of poets. That could well be true, considering the growing success of Gastão Cruz. Cruz was awarded the 2004 Great Prize for Poetry by the Association of Portuguese Writers for his 2002 collection Rua de Portugal, and in 2004 he added another work, Repercussão. The qualities of verbal discipline that distinguished de Mello Breyner's work were found in Cruz's as well. His poems recalled the dead and the living in memories of place and time.

      Among good works of fiction, the biggest success was the novel Equador by Miguel Sousa Tavares, a journalist and media star. This was his first novel, and it was an eminently readable piece of work. It dealt with the problems of a governor sent to an equatorial island country (part of the Portuguese empire) to persuade the planters to abolish slavery. Their unwillingness to comply generates a conflict between the governor and the settlers and leads to a personal drama and a tragic ending. José Saramago, the 1998 Nobel Prize winner, produced another fascinating novel and fine political allegory, Ensaio sobre a lucidez, which showed the attitudes of the electorate in a democratic society. The voters, fed up with politicians and their promises, have given them a blank vote en masse. Shaken to its foundations, the government tries to save the system by resorting to violence and thus snuffs out the spirit of free society. The story was impressively terrifying and contained dire warnings for the present.

      The 2004 Great Prize for Fiction by the Association of Portuguese Writers was won by Mafalda Ivo Cruz for her novel Vermelho. It was a lively narrative, full of youthful zest for life. The Camões Prize, the highest to be awarded in the Portuguese language for an author with a full body of published work, went to Agustina Bessa Luís, a prolific novelist and a subtle chronicler of family life.

L.S. Rebelo

Brazil.
      Chico Buarque's novel Budapeste (2003) emerged as a best seller in Brazil in 2004. The tale traced the romantic affairs of José Costa, a ghostwriter, who found himself “lost in love” in Hungary while en route to Istanbul. Fragmentos da grande guerra, Leandro Fortes's first novel, mixed fact and fiction in a narration of the bloody Paraguayan War (1864/65–70) presented through an army general's address to the Brazilian emperor's Senate in 1869. Fortes's work seemed inspired by both Euclides da Cunha's epic Os sertões, an early 20th-century narration of another Brazilian rebellion, and the contemporary international scene of tragic conflict and genocide.

      The complete collection of the poems of Francisco Alvim, Poemas (1968–2000), brought together all of his previously published works. Alvim might be considered a latter-day Brazilian Modernist poet, in the tradition of Oswald de Andrade or Carlos Drummond de Andrade, owing to his focus on the colloquial language of Brazil in his poems.

      Poet and literary critic Antônio Carlos Secchin was admitted to the Brazilian Academy of Letters, which awarded its 2003 Essay Prize to Élio Gaspari for the first three volumes of his multivolume study of the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964–85). A ditadura encurralada (2004), the fourth volume, dealt with the years 1974–77. The Pan American Health Organization awarded its 2003 Champion of Health in the Americas prize to Maurício de Sousa, known as the Brazilian Walt Disney. Sousa's comic-book character Mônica, a seven-year-old girl, and her “gang” were the featured characters in the organization's Vaccination Week in the Americas campaign.

      Rachel de Queiroz, the first lady of Brazilian letters and the first woman to be elected to the Brazilian Academy of Letters, died in late 2003. O quinze (1930), her first novel, established the modern tradition of the Northeastern novel of the drought as well as defined the role of the strong woman character in modern Brazilian fiction. During her lifetime she published many other novels and folklore of her native Ceará. Dramatist Pedro Bloch, whose Mãos de Eurídice and Dona Xepa became two of the most widely performed Brazilian theatre pieces, died in February 2004.

Irwin Stern

Russian
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

      Although not an epochal year, 2004 in Russian literature saw several new trends, the most important of which was a return to plot-based narrative fiction. After several years dominated by nonfiction or fiction in which the narrative element was either parodied or concealed, virtually all of the year's most noted books were novels in the traditional sense. The most important of these was probably Lyudmila Petrushevskaya's Nomer odin, ili v sadakh inykh vozmozhnostey (“Number One, or in the Gardens of Other Possibilities”), which was nominated for both the Russian Booker and Andrey Bely prizes. Petrushevskaya, one of Russia's most highly regarded playwrights and prose writers of the second half of the 20th century, first came to public attention in the 1970s and '80s with her dark, dense naturalism that at times bordered on the surreal; she then turned to folklore and the fantastic for her plots. In her new novel the two lines converge, although with the addition of elements from the thriller genre and from the realm of computer games. Nomer odin described the mysterious, archaic encounter of a Russian ethnographer with a remote Siberian tribe, including his own death and rebirth in another body. Petrushevskaya depicted the contemporary world as one in which primitive instincts and Stone Age passions have been reawakened, in which cultural strata that have taken centuries of civilization to construct are being destroyed.

      With his most recent two novels, Vladimir Sorokin, whose stylistic games and scandalous storytelling gained him a wide audience in the 1990s, struck out in a new direction. His latest, Put Bro (“Bro's Path”), was filled with gnostic themes and read like a saga of the “chosen few” who, possessing cosmic knowledge, must resist the rest of humanity.

      Among other prose works, special mention was due Aleksandr Kabakov's new novel, Vsyo popravimo (“All Fixed”), which described an intellectual's attempts to adapt to changing conditions in the period stretching from the 1950s to the '90s; Nikolay Kononov's Nezhny teatr (“Tender Theatre”), which explored themes already established in his earlier works: agonizing love for the father, an estranged relationship to the world of things, and sexual initiation and its consequences; Vasily Aksyonov's new historical novel Volteryantsy i Volteryanki (“Voltaireans Male and Female”), which captured the 2004 Booker–Open Russian literary prize and displayed greater artistry than others of his more recent novels (one of which, the three-volume Moskovskaya saga [“Moscow Saga”], was made into a television miniseries in 2004); the late Georgy Vladimov's major autobiographical work Dolog put' do Tippereri (“A Long Way to Tipperary”), the first part of which was published in the journal Znameni; Yevgeny Grishkovets's Rubashka (“The Shirt”), a brief, lively novel about one day in the life of a provincial architect on a visit to Moscow; and Igor Gelbakh's Uteryanny Blyum “Bloom Lost”), a finely crafted, elegant work that takes place in an imagined Russia at the beginning of the 20th century.

      Perhaps the most important publication of the year in poetry was Oleg Yuryev's Izbrannye stikhi i khori (“Selected Poems and Choruses”). Yuryev, a major poet who first became prominent in the 1980s, was the founder and leader of the poetic group the Cloakroom (“Kamera Khraneniya”), whose members included Olga Martynova, Sergey Volf, Igor Bulatovsky, and others. Two years earlier, with the establishment of a Web site , the group had renewed its public activity, publishing the work both of its members and of other contemporary poets. The Cloakroom also published its first Vremennik (“Chronicle”), an anthology of works selected from the Web site, during the year.

      There were also significant new books of poetry during the year from Mikhail Gendelev, Yelizaveta Mnatsakanova, Yelena Shvarts, Lev Losev, Yelena Fanaylova, Mariya Stepanova, Nikolay Baytov, and Yevgeny Myakyshev.

      As always, literary prizes served to reflect, at least in part, Russia's literary life. A happy, although unexpected, event was the awarding of Triumph—the Russian prize for excellence in arts and literature—rarely given to poets, to Shvarts, which confirmed her unique place in contemporary Russian poetry. The Andrey Bely Prizes went to Moscow poet-critic Mikhail Aizenberg, prose writer Margarita Meklina, and eminent philologist, linguist, and giant of Russian academic life Vladimir N. Toporov. Viktor Pelevin was awarded the National Best-Seller Prize for his rather mediocre novel DPP. Boris Strugatsky, the venerable science fiction writer, had to be content with being one of the three finalists for the Apollon Grigoryev Prize, which ultimately went to Yury Arabov. Besides the already-mentioned works by Petrushevskaya, Aksyonov, and Grishkovets, the short list for the Russian Booker Prize included Oleg Zayonchkovsky's Sergeyev i gorodok (“Sergeyev and the Town”), Anatoly Kurchatkin's Solntse siyalo (“The Sun Shone”), Marta Petrova's Valtorna Shilklopera (“Shilkloper's Horn”), and Aleksey Slapovsky's Kachestvo zhizni (“Quality of Life”).

      Finally, the year saw the appearance in Moscow of a new upscale literary magazine, Novy ochevidets (“The New Observer”), and the transfer of many of the operations of the Moscow poetry publisher OGI to St. Petersburg. This included the opening of a café-club, Platforma, and an ambitious publishing program that promised a lively encounter between the traditionally counterposed poetic cultures of Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Valery Shubinsky

Jewish

Hebrew.
 A.B. Yehoshua, the prolific, ever-changing author, published in 2004 a new novel, Sheliḥuto shel ha-memume al maʾshabe enosh (“The Mission of the Human Resource Man”), but the moralist tale failed to repeat his previous literary achievements. New books by other veteran writers did not reflect any major changes in their style. Such were Aharon Appelfeld's Periḥa pirʾit (“Wild Blossoming”), Yoram Kaniuk's Haberlinaʾee haʾaharon (“Der letzte Berliner”), and Dan Tsalḳah's Sefer ha-alef-bet (“Tsalka's ABC”), which won the 2004 Sapir Prize. The nature of the Israeli home, real and metaphoric, was illuminated in the novels of Eshkol Nevo (Arbaʿah batim ve-gaʾagua; “Osmosis”) and Meron Ḥ. Izaḳson (ha-Dirah bi-Shelomoh ha-melekh; “The Flat on King Solomon Street”). Among the many writers who published their first novels or first collection of stories, a handful stood out: Alon Hilu with Mot ha-nazir (“Death of a Monk”), Efrat Danon and her Dag ba-beten (“Bellyfish”), Tamar Gelbetz's At bi-tekufah tovah (“You're Doing Fine”), and Shlomo Shilton's Ratsim kemo meshuga ʿim (“Running Like Mad”).

      In poetry 2004 was the year of the veterans. Natan Zach penned a witty, moving collection, ha-Zamir kevar lo gar po yoter (“The Nightingale No Longer Lives Here”); Ori Bernstein collected his poems in Shirim 1962–2002 (“Poems 1962–2002”); and Mosheh Ben-Shaʾul published a selection from his previous books as Kol levadai mivḥar shirim, 1954–2003 (“Selected Poems 1954–2003”). Other collections by veteran poets were Aharon Almog's Im tirʾu sukka aʾfa (“When You See a Sukka Flying”) and Aryeh Sivan's Hozer halila (“Recurrence”). The younger generation was represented by Admiel Kosman's Arba ʿim shire ahavah (2003; “Forty Love Poems”) and Orit Gidali's ʿEśrim neʿarot le-ḳane (“Twenty Girls to Envy Me”).

      The novel of Sayed Kashua (Va-yehi boḳer; “Let It Be Morning”) and the poems of Salman Matsalḥah (Eḥad mi-kan; “In Place”), both Arab Israelis writing in Hebrew, posed intriguing questions regarding the scope and nature of Hebrew literature.

      Most scholarly works were dedicated to modern Hebrew poetry. Hannan Hever studied aesthetics and politics in Uri Zvi Greenberg's poetry (Moledet hamavet yafa; “Beautiful Motherland of Death”); Hillel Barzel examined prophetic expressionism in the poems of Greenberg, Isaak Lamdan, and Matityahu Shoham (Shirat Erets-Yiśrael; “A History of Hebrew Poetry, vol. VI”); and Itzhak Bakon contributed another study of Haim Nahman Bialik's poems (Tsofeh hayiti be-enav shel olam; “I Watch Through the Eye of the World”).

Avraham Balaban

Yiddish.
      Among the most interesting books in Yiddish in 2004 was Lomir hern gute psures: brokhes un kloles (“Let's Hear Only Good News: Yiddish Blessings and Curses”) by Hebrew University of Jerusalem lexicographer Yosef Guri. This was an illustrated dictionary of 200 blessings and 450 curses, the first attempt to assemble and describe this genre of folklore in which each original Yiddish expression was accompanied by its equivalent in English, Hebrew, and Russian.

      Three authors penned noteworthy novels. New York City editor Boris Sandler published a grim historical novel, Ven der golem hot farmakht di oygn (“When the Golem Shut His Eyes”), based on archival sources and historical documentation. The author wove an arresting narrative set against a background of the turbulent events of the 1903 pogrom in Kishinev, Russia (now Chisinau, Moldova), that claimed several thousand victims. One of the leading post-World War II poets and dramatists, Mikhal Felzenboym, penned the compelling Shabesdike shvebelekh (“Sabbath Matches”), drawing his readers into a many-layered mystical world of wonders. Ikhil Shraybman's illustrated novel Zibn yor un zibn khadoshim (“Seven Years and Seven Months”) was an affectionate reminiscence about Lithuanian cities and shtetls composed in an opulent Yiddish that was both artistic and populist, with an irony that called to mind the phrase “laughter through tears.”

      The posthumous bilingual Hebrew and Yiddish anthology Ksavi Avrom Lebensart (“The Writings of Avrom Lebensart”) reflected the author's personal concerns about social injustice and the abyss between the haves and the have-nots. His story “The Ruminator” was an amusing description of an observer of the social scene. With an acute ear for colloquial turns of phrase, Lebensart described spouses' attitudes toward their deceased husbands in the drama “Widows.” Tsvi-Hirsh Smoliakov accomplished a tour de force in exemplifying and rescuing Lithuanian-Yiddish vocabulary and idiomatic expressions in his tripartite collection of stories A yunger tsiter (“A Young Shiver”). Simkhe Simkhovitsh offered his readers a collection of probing essays focusing on his postwar writer, poet, and artist colleagues—especially Canadians—in Nokh dem blut-mabul (“After the Torrent of Blood”). A special issue of the journal Yerusholaymer almanakh was dedicated to one of the most respected contemporary Yiddish poets, the survivor of Stalinist persecution Josef Kerler (1918–2000).

Thomas E. Bird

Turkish
      Turkey's publishing world experienced an annus mirabilis in 2004; a book of essays, İçimizde bir yer (“A Place Inside Us”), by major figure Ahmet Altan, had three unprecedented printings—250,000, 300,000, and 450,000—totaling an unheard-of one million copies in a country where 200,000 copies were considered impressive even for a half-century stalwart such as Yashar Kemal or a runaway international sensation such as Orhan Pamuk. Many authors and publishers, long dismayed over huge sales of cheap pirated editions, rejoiced that a new era might be dawning, thanks to the low price of the Altan book, which enabled it to become an all-time best seller and to preempt piracy.

      Pamuk's stature grew outside Turkey owing to Snow, the English-language version (translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely) of his novel Kar (a best seller in 2003 that had generated a lukewarm critical reception in Turkey). Snow won kudos, including favourable reviews by Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood and critic Richard Eder in the New York Times. Young novelist Elif Shafak attracted wide attention in Turkey with her Araf (“Between Paradise and Hell”) and abroad with its English original entitled The Saint of Incipient Insanities, a novel about Turks and other foreigners striving to come to terms with life in the U.S.

      Fiction writers held sway—Oya Baydar with her Erguvan kapısı (“Judas-tree Gate”), a succès d'estime about love and ideology in Istanbul from Byzantine times to the present day; Ayșe Kulin, whose Gece sesleri (“Night Voices”) topped the best-seller lists for months; Vedat Türkali with his Kayıp romanlar (“Lost Novels”), about the aftermath of political exile; the late Orhan Kemal with his Cemile (reissued 52 years after its initial publication); Șebnem İyigüzel with her öplük (“Dumping Ground”), a metaphor for the modern world; the versatile former cabinet minister Yılmaz Karakoyunlu with his Yorgun mayıs kısrakları (“Tired Mares of May”); and the unique stylist Latife Tekin with her Unutma bahesi (“Garden of Oblivion”).

      Prominent poet Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca turned 90 and was feted. Criticism and poetry had an unusually dim year.

      Notable collections of essays included Yazmasam olmazdı (“I Could Not Help but Write”) by Özdemir İnce, İnferno by İlhan Berk, and Zamansız yazılar (“Timeless-Untimely—Pieces”) by Füsun Akatlı, the last two reprints from 1994.

Talat Sait Halman

Persian
      What the output of the year 2004 may have lacked in memorable accomplishments, it more than made up for it by renewed efforts to publish the recent work of authors in all the Persian-speaking countries. Bagh-i bisyar dirakht (“Orchard of Countless Trees”) was the first post-Soviet-era anthology of Persian poetry and featured works by 189 poets from Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. In Tajikistan a few literary works rolled off newly installed presses, both in Cyrillic and Perso-Arabic scripts, and at least one new self-instructional textbook was published to teach Persian-speaking Central Asians to read and write their language in the ancestral script.

      In Iran old and established writers reentered the field of literary production. Veteran fiction writer Ismāʿīl Faṣīḥ published ʿIshq va marg (“Love and War”), notable for its autobiographical details. Poet Aḥmad-Riẓā Aḥmadī released Hamah-yi ān sālhā (1992; “All Those Years”), his most avant-garde collection of poetry in a few decades. Īraj Pizishkzād's Khānavādah-ʾi Nīk'akhtar (2001; “The Nikakhtar Family”) was yet another hilarious satire on cross-border misunderstandings between Iranians at home and as expatriates. It was rivaled by Majnūn-i Laylī (2003), a new satiric work in the form of an epistolary novel, by Ibrāhīm Nabavī, a religiously inclined journalist.

      Works by women writers continued to gain momentum both in Iran and among expatriate Iranians. Parīnūsh Ṣanīʿī's Sahm-i man (2002; “My Lot”) and Shuhrah Vakīlī's Shab-i arusi-yi man (“My Wedding Night”) won popular acclaim and ranked among the best-selling works of fiction. While the first was a vaguely philosophical work, the story in the second was impressive in its concrete handling of a perennial theme that continued to rattle modern Iranian society: patriarchy's obsession with female virginity.

      A stylistically sophisticated work, Zūyā Pīrzād's new novel ʿAdat mī'kunīm (“We'll Grow Accustomed”) showcased her usual attention to detail. The U.S.-based expatriate playwright and fiction writer ʿIzzat Gūshahgīr published in Sweden An zan, an utaq-i kuchak, va ʿishq (“The Woman, The Room, and Love”), which treated women's quest for unencumbered love.

Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak

Arabic
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

 The principal concern in Arabic literature in 2004 was the problematic relationship between writers and the state. Egyptian writers in particular were worried about the power granted to al-Azhar, the Cairo-based international Islamic cultural academy, which monitored creative writing in Muslim countries for any slight to Islam. Though the only legal restrictions pertained to unlicensed Islamic religious books, the true extent of al-Azhar's power was uncertain. At the top of al-Azhar's list of objectionable books was Nawāl Saʿdāwī's Suqūṭ al-imām (1987; The Fall of the Imam, 2002). The action came on the heels of a controversy after the writer Ṣun ʿAllāh Ibrāhīm had rejected the Egyptian Ministry of Culture's Arab novel award at presentation ceremonies on Oct. 22, 2003. As reasons for refusing the award, Ibrahim cited the failed foreign policy of the Arab regimes and his government's lack of credibility. Ahmed Bouzfour of Morocco made a similar statement in January 2004, when he turned down his country's book prize for 2002. His gesture was in reaction to the poor literacy rate in Morocco, as reflected in the small number of copies in print of his prizewinning book and the even smaller number distributed and sold.

      Possibly in order to avoid confrontation with their respective governments, some Arab writers were shifting their attention to safe topics such as memories of childhood and youth—stories with or without symbolic significance. In his collection of short stories Nīrān ṣadīqah (“Friendly Fires”), ʿAlāʾ al-Aswānī decried the loose conduct of men and women he had met. Muḥammad Yūsuf Quʿayd retraced a trip to Upper Egypt in his novel Qiṭār al-ṣaʿīd (“Upper Egypt Train”), in which he portrayed the tribulations of a journalist with limited resources confronting the tight-knit society of the region.

      Much was being done through experimentation with the Arabic language itself, particularly by Jamāl al-Ghīṭānī, who crowned his semiautobiographical series Dafātir al-tadwīn (2003; “Notebooks”) with a fourth volume, Nawāfidh al-nawāfidh (“Windows on Windows”). As he looked at the world through various windows that restricted his scope, he provided the reader with innovative images expressed in curt, quick phrases.

      In this turbulent year, two groups of writers remained bound by their people's suffering and tribulations. The Iraqi writers living in exile reflected on the difficulties that resulted from the invasion of their country and on their state of loss far from their homeland. The literary magazine Mashāref had dedicated a 2003 issue to their reactions to the war and life in exile. Palestinian writers continued to be bound up with the political and humanitarian issues befalling their people. In interviews with Egyptian author Ahdaf Soueif, writers living in the West Bank and Israel explained their inability to detach themselves from the conflict and the daily aggravations of life under occupation. As writers, they were torn between delving into personal topics and addressing the concerns of their people and their cause, wondering whether there was “room to write outside the situation.” Their inability to distance themselves from the events of the Palestinian tragedy as a whole was explained by Mourid Barghouti: “The moment of contact between the event and your soul, that's where literature is born.” Their unique situation turned some Palestinian writers to the genre of the essay—or “fragments” as they called it—a form that satisfied their need for an immediate response to events.

      A new generation of Dutch Maghribi writers was gradually carving a niche for itself, replicating to a certain extent the trajectory of the pioneer North African writers of the second half of the 20th century in France. Like their predecessors, these writers were infusing European literature with Arabic culture and achieving a harmonious blend of the two. Many were inspired by the magic of the well-known Arabian Nights. In 2004 the young Moroccan Dutch writer Hafid Bouazza received a Belgian prize for his book Paravion (“Paravion” [a proper name]). This largely autobiographical novel related the story of his family's immigration to The Netherlands.

      Though the bulk of Francophone literature continued to emanate from Maghribi writers living in the Maghrib or in Europe, some works written in French trickled in occasionally from the Mashriq (the countries between and including Egypt and Iraq). The Syrian writer Marām al-Miṣrī related the sorrows and joys of a housewife in her collection of poetry Doux leurre (“Sweet Delusion”).

      On a sad note, the Arab world lost poet Fadwá Ṭūqān, who died in December 2003. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Munīf, a prolific writer and the author of the famous quintet Mudun al-milḥ (1984–89; Cities of Salt, 1987–93), passed away in January 2004. (See Obituaries (Munif, 'Abd al-Rahman ).) Egyptian poet and literary critic ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Sharaf died in the summer.

Aida A. Bamia

Chinese
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

      In Chinese literature 2004 would be remembered as a harvest year because of two exceptional novels, both published by Spring Breeze, a small publishing house in Shenyang, a northern provincial capital. The first, Shou huo (“Enjoyment”), was written by Yan Lianke, one of China's premier novelists. Yan's visibility as an author had grown steadily since the early 1990s, owing to his robust portrayal of the desperation of rural life and his sharp criticism of social reality.

      In Shou huo Yan communicated his deep skepticism of what was promoted in China as modernization. The novel vividly portrayed a mountain hamlet called Shou Huo Zhuang (“Village of Enjoyment”), where most residents are disabled and live a life so isolated from the outside world that the village does not even appear on official maps. In the mid-1950s, however, Shou Huo Zhuang is overrun by the socialist revolutionary wave from outside and is placed under the jurisdiction of the county government. Meanwhile, the disabled join the gongshe, a kind of paragovernmental agricultural-production organization. After suffering greatly from the socialist revolution, in the 1990s the villagers eagerly embrace market-economy reforms and support a harebrained county government project: to buy the mummified corpse of Lenin and put it on display to attract tourists from far and wide. Predictably, this leads to more suffering for the villagers. In the final part of the novel, the disabled decide to bid farewell to the world of those who are not handicapped. They cut off their official relationships with the government and return to their separate, nonnormal, and poor—but safer—former life. The top county official, despairing over the failure of his pet project, moves to the village after having purposefully disabled himself by using his official car to crush his foot. Yan Lianke's fertile imagination and strong writing style had rarely been equaled in Chinese fiction published in the previous 20 years.

      The other novel of note during the year was Ge Fei's Ren mian tao hua (a quotation from a Tang dynasty poem, the original meaning of which is “girl's face and peach blossom”). Ge was one of the leading experimental writers in the late 1980s and was later a professor of literature in Beijing. Ren mian tao hua, which took more than 10 years to complete, showcased an exquisite narrative style that kept readers in suspense until the very end of the story. The book carefully illuminates the spiritual path, as well as the imagined experiences, of the heroine, Xiumi, a dreamy country girl, and concentrates on the grand dream of establishing a completely fair and moral society in modern China. This ideal inspires all the leading characters in the novel—a crazy retired official, an old bandit leader, a returned student from Japan, and, of course, Xiumi—to give all they have for it, even their lives. With evident sympathy the author vividly displayed the indomitable spirit of those pursuing their dream, although he described in detail what serious disasters such dream seeking could bring to the people and their land.

Wang Xiaoming

Japanese
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2004, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2004).

      The most significant event in Japanese literature of 2004 came at the beginning of the year. In January the Akutagawa Prize, awarded semiannually to the most promising new Japanese writers of fiction, went to two young women, Hitomi Kanehara, 20, and Risa Wataya, 19 (see Biographies (Kanehara, Hitomi, and Wataya, Risa )), who broke the record for the youngest winners. The previous record was shared by Shintaro Ishihara, Kenzaburo Ōe, Kenji Maruyama, and Keiichirō Hirano, all of whom won the prize at 23. Rui, the heroine of Kanehara's story “Hebi ni piasu” (“Snakes and Earrings”), first published in the November 2003 issue of Subaru, tries hard to define her pseudo-eternal living space by reconstructing her body. She enlarges a pierced hole in her tongue so that it splits like that of a snake's and has a kirin (a unicorn-like creature) and a dragon tattooed on her back so that they face the society from which she is estranged as well as link her to the society of the underground. In contrast to Kanehara's story, Wataya's “Keritai senaka” (“The Back I Want to Kick”), which first appeared in the autumn 2003 issue of Bungei, pictured the rather ordinary life of high-school students. Hatsu, the heroine, at first dislikes her classmate Ninagawa, a boy who is keen on a famous female model whom he can meet only through TV or magazines, but she soon starts feeling sympathy for this harmless young boy. Wataya's story sold more than a million copies, including some 10,000 copies electronically via cell phones. Both stories were also published on their own as novels. The support young readers gave Kanehara and Wataya was a boon to Japanese publishers, whose sales had been falling for seven consecutive years.

      In the second half of the year, the Akutagawa Prize was given to Norio Mobu's “Kaigo nyūmon” (“Introduction to Caregiving”) from the June 2004 issue of Bungakukai. The story involved an angry young rocker who shows love for his grandmother who is ill with dementia amid Japan's crumbling welfare system.

       Haruki Murakami's new novel Afutādāku (“Afterdark”) appeared in September and commemorated the 25 years since his debut. Murakami portrayed the darkness and dreams of Japan's night scene, and the story bore a close resemblance to his 1993 story “Nemuri” (“Sleep”). Banana Yoshimoto published a new fantasy in July, Hatsukoi (“High and Dry”), in which a 14-year-old girl first falls in love.

      Japan's major literary critics Takaaki Yoshimoto (Banana's father) and Kōjin Karatani left important works in 2004. In “Sensō to heiwa” (“War and Peace”), Yoshimoto wrote about the dispatch of Japan's Self Defense Force to Iraq, which, he made clear, never reflected the wishes of the nation. Karatani completed his collection of works, which were especially valued for his clear and keen eye to the modernization of Japan from the standpoint of literature.

      The Yomiuri Prize for Literature went to Yōko Ogawa's Hakase no aishita sūshiki (“The Numerical Formula That the Doctor Loved”), which also won several new Japanese booksellers' awards. The Junichirō Tanizaki Prize for fiction was awarded to Toshiyuki Horie's Yukinuma to sono shūhen (“Snow Swamp and Its Surroundings”). Among the best-selling books of the year were Ryū Murakami's Jūsansai no harō wāku (“Job Guidance for 13-year-olds”), in which the author suggested that jobs be based not on one's education but rather on one's interests. Popular fiction writers Tsutomu Mizukami and Megumu Sagisawa died in 2004.

Yoshihiko Kazamaru

▪ 2004

Introduction

English

United Kingdom.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      Although the Man Booker Prize remained closed to U.S. writers, the winner chosen in 2003 revealed, in the words of one of the judges, “[Britain's] alarm, but also our fascination with modern America.” DBC Pierre (pseudonym of Peter Finlay) was widely hailed as the new J.D. Salinger for his debut novel, Vernon God Little. Set in a small town known as “the barbecue sauce capital of Texas,” the novel is a comic tragedy about the miscarriages of justice and media frenzy that occur when its teenage protagonist is accused of being an accessory to the slaying of 16 classmates. Reviewers relished the novel's colourful Texan dialogue, local detail, and “fiendish sense of humour.” John Carey, the chairman of the Booker judges, said, “Everybody thought that it was the most imaginative, unusual, exciting, and extraordinary book for a British person to have written.” Much media attention was afforded the novel's force as a powerful satire. Liz Fraser echoed the sentiments of many commentators when she described the novel as “a big absurd mix of all that's wrong in American (and Western) society—guns and violence, high-school slayings, teenage alienation, truth and lies, dysfunctional family bonds, the justice system and the frightening power of the media.” The Daily Telegraph called it “a masterpiece, a scintillating black comedy striking at the very heart of George W. Bush's America.”

      At the awards ceremony in March, Australian-born Pierre, who was raised in Mexico but currently lived in Ireland, proved to be as colourful a figure as some of his fictional creations. Taking the podium, he confessed to a past tainted by cocaine use, fraud, and gambling debts. (The initials DBC—for “dirty but clean”—referred to his efforts to reform himself after a nine-year drug habit.) He vowed to the audience that he was “not touching a penny” of his £50,000 (£1 = about $1.66) prize, stating, “I am going to pay some debts to see if I can sleep slightly better tonight.”

      A surprising feature of the 2003 Booker short list, comprising six novels, was the absence of well-known names. Books by Martin Amis, J.M. Coetzee (see Nobel Prizes ), Peter Carey, Graham Swift, and Melvyn Bragg all remained in the discard pile. Margaret Atwood's grim dystopian science fiction Oryx and Crake (2002), about the last man alive, was the only novel by a well-established author to make the short list. The bookmakers' favourite was Brick Lane by first-time novelist Monica Ali, about a young Bangladeshi woman who moves to London's East End for an arranged marriage. Ali's exploration of the hardships of immigrant life in England won her a place on the Granta list of best young novelists. Another newcomer was Clare Morrall, a music teacher in her 50s who had been writing for years before the tiny Birmingham publisher Tindal Street Press showed an interest in her Astonishing Splashes of Colour. Taking its name from J.M. Barrie's description of Peter Pan's Never-Never Land, the novel is about a female synesthete who perceives emotions as colours. Also on the list was English novelist Zoë Heller's second work, Notes on a Scandal, about an inner-city London pottery teacher and her affair with a precocious male pupil. The one South African writer on the list was Damon Galgut, whose novel The Good Doctor described the unraveling of a physician raised in apartheid South Africa when he attempts to carve out a life for himself at a rural hospital. For Julie Wheelwright at The Independent, the novel contained “echoes of Doris Lessing, Nadine Gordimer and Joseph Conrad, all of whom have written with an exacting emotional precision about the European's place in Africa.”

      Mirroring the trend established by the Booker Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction, worth £30,000 and open only to women, was won by a relatively unknown novelist writing on American themes. American Valerie Martin upset three million-selling authors—Donna Tartt, Zadie Smith (see Biographies (Smith, Zadie )), and Carol Shields (see Obituaries (Shields, Carol Ann Warner ))—with her novel Property, about slavery in 19th-century Louisiana. Unlike Tartt and Smith, whose works were popular for their wizardry with language, Martin wrote spare prose noted for its universality. The Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif, who headed the judges, said, “Exuberance in a novel is a wonderful quality. Property is the opposite of exuberant—but the great quality of this book is its fairness.” Discussing Tartt's failure to scoop the prize with her long-awaited second novel, The Little Friend (2002), Anita Brookner noted that tastes had changed since Tartt's debut in 1992: “The aftermath of recent and indeed ongoing terrorist attacks has had a strange but observable effect, namely to divert attention from fiction to reality, so that hitherto addictive readers feel a certain impatience with fictional diversions.” Brookner credited this trend with creating “a readership less indulgent of extravagant effects” of the sort produced by writers like Tartt. Canadian writer Shields was short-listed for her acclaimed novel Unless (2002). Two contenders with distinctly British themes were Anne Donovan and Shena Mackay. Donovan's Buddha Da (2002) described the experiences of a Glaswegian housepainter turned Buddhist. Mackay's Heligoland, a compassionate take on aging bohemians in the London suburbs, was lauded for its “intense and exotic Englishness, and its delicate, pre-modern feel.”

      While many were surprised that Smith's The Autograph Man (2002) failed to win the Orange Prize, some were critical of its winning the £4,000 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction. Smith's novel portrays an obsessive autograph collector whose Jewish and Chinese roots intermingle with London's multicultural tapestry. Sir Jeremy Isaacs, the chairman of the judging panel, praised Smith for creating an “entertainingly contemporary tale” of a hero who “swims in the swirl of London's multi-racial mix and match, and somehow stays Jewish.” Other panel members, however, showed less enthusiasm, claiming that Smith lacked “real interest or engagement” with Jewish themes. Matthew Reisz, editor of the Jewish Quarterly, said, “A lot of people found the Jewish element rather offensive, and felt that she had used the Kabbalah in a rather Madonna-ish, modish way.” Boyd Tonkin, literary editory of The Independent, noted that despite the criticism, The Autograph Man assured Smith's position “as the literary empress of multicultural Britain.” Less controversial was the winner of the Jewish Quarterly Wingate nonfiction prize, also worth £4,000. This went to Defying Hitler (published in English translation in 2002), a memoir of growing up in interwar Germany by the journalist and historian Sebastian Haffner, who died in 1999. Haffner's manuscript was discovered and published by his son.

      For the first time in the 14-year history of the British Book Awards, the general public was invited to join members of the publishing industry in choosing the year's winners. The result of a strong telephone vote from across Britain for the award's Book of the Year category suggested the importance of politics in the public's literary taste. A book by Michael Moore (see Biographies (Moore, Michael )), Stupid White Men (U.K., 2002), a scathing indictment of the Bush administration, beat favourites such as the 2002 Booker Prize winner, Yann Martel's Life of Pi (2001), Ian McEwan's Atonement (2001), and footballer Roy Keane's autobiography, Keane (2002), the top-selling sports book of the year. The award's organizer, Merric Davidson, called Moore's triumph “a very strong anti-war vote.” In his acceptance speech Moore claimed that his U.S. publisher, HarperCollins, had shelved the book in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when he refused to rewrite large sections that were considered unpatriotic and to tone down his attack on the president. (A lobbying campaign by American librarians eventually persuaded HarperCollins to relent and publish the book.) Penguin, which purchased the book's U.K. rights, published it in paperback in October 2002 and subsequently reported sales of more than one million copies.

      The race leading up to the presentation of the Whitbread Book Awards was watched with particular interest, as two of the five finalists for the top prize, Book of the Year, were husband and wife: playwright and novelist Michael Frayn and biographer Claire Tomalin. In the end, judges favoured Tomalin's book, Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self (2002), about the naval administrator, seducer, and political turncoat whose famous diaries illuminate 1660s London. Tonkin of The Independent felt that Tomalin's intimate study of Pepys's personal and professional life had contemporary relevance: “In an age when public life is as confused as ever about the boundaries of personal and political behaviour, Tomalin's account of a full life allows us to understand these contradictions.”

      In nonfiction, history and biography continued to dominate review pages, if not the best-seller lists. The year 2003 saw the usual proliferation of volumes on British monarchs, politicians, scientists, adventurers, earls, and rogues. David Starkey's Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII was popular with readers for its high drama and entertainment value, but Kathryn Hughes in the Literary Review complained that Starkey was one of many historians suffering from a “tendency to see history as a frock-coated version of the present.” Edgar Vincent's Nelson: Love & Fame was hailed by the Daily Telegraph as “the best modern biography of Britain's greatest admiral.” The 20th century, and in particular World War II, also endured as a popular topic. Roy Jenkins's acclaimed volume Churchill (2001) was honoured as the Biography of the Year at the 2003 British Book Awards. Russia, whether tsarist or Soviet, similarly remained one of Britain's most fashionable obsessions. Perhaps the weightiest biography to be commended was T.J. Binyon's Pushkin (2002), which beat Tomalin's study of Pepys to win the £30,000 Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction. The first English-language study of the Russian poet's life in more than 60 years, Pushkin was regarded in academic circles as a monumental event. Binyon, a 63-year-old Oxford don, was praised by fellow Russianists for having avoided the pitfalls of sensationalism and redressed some of the myths surrounding the life of the great poet. MP Michael Portillo, one of the judges on the Johnson Prize panel, described Binyon's work as “the product of the author's years of dedication to his subject.”

      In the genre of children's fiction, Madonna stole the media limelight with the simultaneous release of her book The English Roses in 30 languages. This was the first of Madonna's projected five children's books, all of which were intended to illustrate some of the moral lessons she claimed to have discovered in the mystical teachings of the Kabbala. Meanwhile, the success of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series continued to break publishing-industry records. Rowling's latest installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, was published with two different covers, one for children and one for adults not wanting to be seen reading a children's book. At the time of its release, 8.5 million copies had been printed, and international sales of the whole series were estimated at more than 200 million. A quieter but no-less-worthy addition to children's fiction was the winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, about a 15-year-old boy with Asperger syndrome (a neurobiological disorder related to autism) who investigates the death of a neighbour's dog. Julia Eccleshare, chair of the prize's judging panel, reported some welcome trends in the genre: “Authors are addressing contemporary family issues realistically but reassuringly, with boys emerging as sensitive characters in their own right rather than as stereotypes in the shadow of more assertive girls.” Other books addressing social issues included Michael Morpurgo's latest book, Cool! (2002), about a boy in a coma. Morpurgo, the author of more than 90 books, was named Britain's third children's laureate. He said he would spend his time touring teacher-training colleges, schools, and libraries, “simply telling stories.”

      Chris McManus's Right Hand, Left Hand (2002), an exploration into asymmetry as it appears in molecular biology, physics, chemistry, culture, and the cosmos, was suggestive of a trend in which serious scientists tried to reach out to a broader public. McManus, a professor of psychology and medical education at University College London, drew from such diverse sources as anthropology, the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, and particle physics, to consider questions such as Are left-handed people cognitively different? and Why do tornadoes spin counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere? The book won the 2003 Aventis Prize (£10,000) for the best popular-science book.

Carol Peaker

United States.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      A look at the fiction that appeared in hardcover in 2003 revealed a highly unusual situation. Although a number of fine novels were published, short fiction really took centre stage.

      To make things even odder, foremost among short-story collections were a number of reprints that included more than a century of stories. First, there was John Updike's substantial volume titled The Early Stories, 1953–1975, with 103 stories. Alongside this stood science-fiction and fantasy master Ray Bradbury's Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales. A third collection was The Stories of Richard Bausch, an impressive 600-page retrospective by the Virginia story writer—a decade and more younger than either Bradbury or Updike—who (in the eyes of a number of critics) filled the gap left among American realists by the death in 1992 of Richard Yates.

      A master of the genre story, Californian Ursula K. Le Guin brought out Changing Planes, a collection of whimsical tales that was a charming, but not major, work. Montana writer William Kittredge signed in with a selection of his short fiction, The Best Short Stories of William Kittredge, which contained some powerful stories but not enough of them to raise his reputation to more than that of still a contender. The idiosyncratic Ladies and Gentlemen, the Original Music of the Hebrew Alphabet and Weekend in Mustara (2002) by New Jersey writer Curt Leviant contained two novellas. With intense, lyrical prose, Stuart Dybek tied together a novel in stories under the title I Sailed with Magellan.“Nothing's more natural than sky. … From here railroad tracks look like stitching that binds the city together. If shadows can be trusted, the buildings are growing taller. From up here, gliding, it's clear there's a design: the gaps of streets and alleys are for the expansion of shadow the way lines in a sidewalk allow for the expansion of pavement in heat.”

      From a younger generation came a generous volume, Collected Stories by David Leavitt. A still younger group of writers included Montana writer Maile Meloy, with her award-winning story collection Half in Love (2002; “If you're white, and you're not rich or poor but somewhere in the middle, it's hard to have worse luck than to be born a girl on a ranch.”), and Nell Freudenberger, with her impressive first collection Lucky Girls. Midwestern physician John Murray won a number of good notices for his first collection, A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies.

      “I am an American,” Saul Bellow's narrator Augie March announced in 1953, “Chicago-born—Chicago, that somber city—and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted.” In the kingdom of the novel, reprints also stood out, with a 50th anniversary edition of Saul Bellow's The Adventures of Augie March and a new Library of America volume of Bellow's work, Novels, 1944–1953. The latter contained Bellow's first two works of fiction, Dangling Man (1944) and The Victim (1947). Another half-century celebration was held for Ray Bradbury's genre classic Fahrenheit 451, also first published in 1953.

      Many of the new novels produced by usually heavy hitters did not fare well with the press. Norman Rush's more than 700-page novel Mortals, set in Africa and peopled with CIA agents, revolutionaries, and wayward wives, was generally regarded as bloated and not worth the reader's commitment. Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo fared even worse, as did Joyce Carol Oates's The Tattooed Girl. Nobel laureate Toni Morrison's latest effort, Love, drew profoundly mixed responses. Bay of Souls by master novelist Robert Stone took a drubbing from reviewers that it probably did not deserve, but it did not go far in extending its author's reputation. Gail Godwin's Evenings at Five treated grief with dignity and stateliness—and went without much notice. Louise Erdrich's The Master Butchers Singing Club garnered some respectful reviews and some not so respectful.

      Novels by writers without enormous reputations received somewhat better notice from reviewers. Kent Nelson's Land That Moves, Land That Stands Still was a much-appreciated work. It was set on a farm in South Dakota where a recently widowed woman tries to make a go of the difficult enterprise. In Drop City T. Coraghessan Boyle took his cast of characters to Alaska to work on a commune. Nicholson Baker set the reader down in rural New England for an ingenious series of morning meditations in A Box of Matches. Moving from the difficult streets of New York City to upstate New York in a major snowstorm, Scott Spencer's wonderfully obsessive A Ship Made of Paper entertained a number of reviewers. Orchard by Larry Watson won some respect from reviewers, but King Bongo: A Novel of Havana, the latest effort from West Coast writer Thomas Sanchez, did not.

      Michael Mewshaw's intelligent thriller Shelter from the Storm, an engrossing story set in Central Asia, was admired by many. After a long hiatus Stephen Goodwin published Breaking Her Fall, an admirable engagement with the problems of contemporary fatherhood, single parenthood, and everyday urban life. Cristina García, author of the well-received novel The Agüero Sisters (1997), did not find as much of an audience for her novel Monkey Hunting. The Namesake, the first novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri, was published to faintly positive reviews. Valerie Martin won the British-sponsored Orange Prize for her antebellum Property. David Guterson drew some attention for Our Lady of the Forest, which concerned a Lourdes-like apparition in a rainforest in the U.S. Northwest.

      Among books by serious writers at work on genre fiction, Walter Mosley's Fear Itself, a mystery set in Los Angeles black districts, was a crowd pleaser, as was Dragon Bones, the third of Lisa See's thrillers to be set in China, and Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Two reprints of novels originally published in 1966 caught readers' attention: Joseph McElroy's experimental A Smuggler's Bible and Charles Wright's The Wig, set in the Harlem district of New York City.

      Curiously enough, the nonfiction published in 2003 was equal to, if not more compelling than, most of the fiction. In Reporting the Universe, the book version of four Harvard lectures by novelist E.L. Doctorow, he stated that “the writer will never know if his work will flash a light from his own time and place across borders and through the ages. His own time and place clutching and pulling at his feet of clay every day of his working life, he will know how faint a light it is, and how easily doused.” Norman Mailer offered a similar portrait of the prose artist in The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing, a compilation of lectures, essays, interviews, and notebook entries from the past few decades. Mailer's Why Are We at War? on the subject of the U.S. intervention in the Middle East seemed less effective than such narratives as The Armies of the Night (1968).

      Vietnam veterans played a role in Maxine Hong Kingston's hybrid The Fifth Book of Peace, a mixture of fiction (portions of a novel she lost in the Oakland, Calif., fire at the beginning of the 1990s), history, sociology, and memoir, which read more cohesively than one might expect from its description. In Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town (U.K., 2002), Paul Theroux took the reader on an engrossing road, boat, and airplane trip down the length of Africa. Colson Whitehead, in The Colossus of New York: A City in Thirteen Parts, stayed home. In Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (2002), poet Ted Kooser reflected on nature: “Thaw. It starts with the sun's thin breath on the face of a stone that's been trussed in a harness of wire and hung in the tines of a hay rake, the white chalk from the rock's cold face a powder that clouds the glistening film welling up out of the pores.”

      In The Case of the Persevering Maltese, Harry Mathews served up a collection of essays on literary subjects. Writers Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and Walker Percy made up the cast of Paul Elie's The Life You Save May Be Your Own, a study of four post-World War II Catholic writers. Psychiatrist and writer Robert Coles took a popular singer as his subject in Bruce Springsteen's America. Susan Sontag again addressed the subject of photography in Regarding the Pain of Others. Among works of literary criticism, Reading New York, John Tytell's mélange of personal history, literary history, and critique, stood out.

      Literary figures served as subjects for a number of new biographies, among them Geoffrey Wolff's refreshingly composed The Art of Burning Bridges: A Life of John O'Hara and Blake Bailey's A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates. Brian Herbert wrote about his father, the well-known science-fiction writer, in Dreamer of Dune: The Biography of Frank Herbert. Deirdre Bair presented the life of one of the major visionaries of the 20th century in Jung. Her Dream of Dreams: The Rise and Triumph of Madam C.J. Walker was novelist Beverly Lowry's portrait of the first black female millionaire businesswoman in the U.S. Scholar Carol Loeb Shloss produced Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake, a biography of James Joyce's only daughter.

      A number of fiction writers and poets examined their own past. Foremost among these efforts was Joan Didion's treatment of herself and her native California in Where I Was From. Poet Gerald Stern treated his life in New Jersey and the Northeast in What I Can't Bear Losing: Notes from a Life. Ted Solotaroff wrote about loss and literature in First Loves. Merrill Joan Gerber produced Gut Feelings: A Writer's Truths and Minute Inventions. Sue Miller told about an ailing parent in The Story of My Father. In Do I Owe You Something? Mewshaw wrote about his encounters as a young writer with the talented and the famous, among them Graham Greene, Robert Penn Warren, James Jones, and Anthony Burgess.

      “They buried their children and moved on. Gravestones at the foot of Register Cliff in eastern Wyoming give poignant reminder of a scene reenacted many times on the Oregon Trail. … It was a common tragedy as pioneers struggled to make new lives for themselves, but it was an old scene in the West. … Twelve or thirteen thousand years before the Oregon Trail, parents buried two children on a tributary of the Yellowstone River.” Historian Colin G. Calloway in his huge volume One Vast Winter Count: The Native American West Before Lewis and Clark illuminated a little-known history of the American West. Novelist Gore Vidal turned in an interesting study of the ideas of the Founding Fathers in Inventing a Nation. Former head of the American History Museum at the Smithsonian Roger G. Kennedy focused on Mr. Jefferson's Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase. Stephen W. Sears looked at Gettysburg.

      American poets in 2003 worked as productively as ever. In Lay Back the Darkness, Edward Hirsch used classical motifs to dramatize contemporary emotions: “I listened so the goddess could charm my mind/ against the ravishing sunlight, the lord of noon/ and I could stroll through country unharmed/ toward the prowling straits of Scylla and Charybdis,/ but I was unprepared for the Siren lolling/ on a bed in a dirty room above a tavern.” Carol Muske-Dukes, in Sparrow, wrote elegiacally about her husband's absence: “After his death I kept an illusion before me: that I would find the key to him, the answer, in the words of a play that he'd put to heart years earlier.” Alabanza: New and Selected Poems, 1982–2002 made the work of Martín Espada available to new audiences.

      Carolyn Forché signed in with a new volume of work titled Blue Hour. Gerald Stern contributed American Sonnets (2002). Far Side of the Earth was Tom Sleigh's offering. Maxine Kumin published Bringing Together: Uncollected Early Poems, 1958–1988.

      The 2003 PEN/Faulkner Award went to Sabina Murray, for her story collection The Caprices (2002). The PEN/Malamud Award to honour “excellence in the art of the short story” was divided between veteran short-story writer Barry Hannah and neophyte Maile Meloy. The Pulitzer Prize for fiction went to Jeffrey Eugenides for his novel Middlesex (2002); the Pulitzer for poetry was awarded to Paul Muldoon (see Biographies (Muldoon, Paul )) for Moy Sand and Gravel (2002); and Robert A. Caro's continuing portrait of Lyndon B. Johnson, Master of the Senate (2002), won the award in biography. Shirley Hazzard took the National Book Award for fiction for her novel The Great Fire, and C.K. Williams won in poetry for his volume The Singing.

      The year 2003 also witnessed the passing of three writers, short-story writer Leonard Michaels (see Obituaries (Michaels, Leonard )), novelist and essayist Victor Perera, and science-fiction writer Hal Clement (see Obituaries (Clement, Hal )).

Alan Cheuse

Canada.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      Growing up in the middle decades of the 20th century, or failing to do so, was a common theme in many English-language Canadian novels in 2003. Ann-Marie MacDonald's The Way the Crow Flies presented Madeleine, the youngest daughter of an Ontario military family, coming of age in a milieu tainted by a notorious murder trial; Frances Itani's Deafening followed a deaf girl's entrance into maturity, through school, marriage, separation, and war; and the narrator of Barbara Gowdy's The Romantic was a girl entering her adult years mesmerized by her infatuation with a childhood sweetheart who no longer loves her. The teenagers depicted in Lynn Coady's Saints of Big Harbour (2002) struggled to maintain their dignity in a small-minded rural community, and in a similar vein, Douglas Coupland's Hey Nostradamus! burrowed into the many-layered consequences, for students and adults alike, of a high-school shooting. Jack Hodgins transversed the spaces, geographic and psychological, between children and parents in Distance.

      John Bemrose's The Island Walkers tracked the painful descent of the Walkers, an Ontario family that had fallen from grace in the bumptious 1960s. Not falling was the primary concern in Steven Galloway's Ascension, which examined the stretch of a high-wire artist's life, culminating with a balancing act above the abyss between the World Trade Center's twin towers; in Lesley Choyce's Sea of Tranquility, an island community struggled to preserve its lifeline, the ferry to the mainland. In Friday Water Linda Rogers confronted the subtle ambiguities beneath the seemingly perfect surface of one woman's life, and from a different angle Elizabeth Hay, in Garbo Laughs, used the black-and-white simplicities of classic movies as foils for the complex actuality of one woman's despair. Douglas Glover's daring Elle adventured between the glories of old France and the excitement of the new; M.G. Vassanji's protagonist in The In-Between World of Vikram Lall was caught between the jubilation of independence in Kenya and the shame of political corruption; and the young woman in Edeet Ravel's Ten Thousand Lovers, a linguistics student in Israel, found herself torn between principles and desire. Oryx and Crake, published in the U.S. in 2002, was Margaret Atwood's alternately brooding and humorous, but always inventive, cautionary dystopia.

      Many short-story collections explored the nuances of unreality, whether expressed in the conjunction of the minimal and the absurd, as in M.A.C. Farrant's Darwin Alone in the Universe, or in the brief, intense tales, innocent and dangerous as kittens at play, in Kilter: 55 Fictions by John Gould. Judith McCormack, in The Rule of Last Clear Chance, juxtaposed law, luck, and lust and their deceiving talismans; Michael Redhill investigated obscure corners of character, opportunity, and temptation in Fidelity: Short Fiction, and, in her first collection, Jacqueline Baker searched for meaning in A Hard Witching and Other Stories, set amid the pale, mysterious Sand Hills of Saskatchewan. Delusions of change led exiles from a mining town in Newfoundland back to Black Rock and the deep pits of their dreams in Michael Crummey's new and expanded edition of Flesh and Blood, originally published in 1998.

      Poets and their poetry were as eccentric as ever, ranging from George McWhirter's aptly titled The Book of Contradictions (2002) to the long-striding lines of Tim Lilburn's Kill-Site, to Di Brandt's impassioned protests against environmental degradation in Now You Care, and to Lynn Crosbie's linked poems Missing Children, about forbidden relationships and their consequences. In his debut collection, Nothing Fell Today but Rain, Evan Jones approached life's vagaries with detached optimism; in Loop Anne Simpson carried on creatively around life's many bends; and in Crowd of Sounds Adam Sol revealed the infinite beauties of the aural experience. Dennis Lee in Un conducted a series of seriously playful excursions into the ambivalences of the universe. Tim Bowling explored a young man's anguished love for his father in The Witness Ghost, in counterpoint to Judith Fitzgerald's poignant Adagios Quartet: Iphigenia's Song, which traced a daughter's struggle against her own fate and that of her father.

Elizabeth Rhett Woods

Other Literature in English.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      In 2003 national, regional, and international award-winning achievement was the norm for writers and writing in English from sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Chief among such developments was the announcement in October that South African novelist, essayist, critic, and translator J.M. Coetzee had won the Nobel Prize for Literature. (See Nobel Prizes .) The Swedish Academy recognized the author, who late in 2003 released a collection of genre pieces entitled Elizabeth Costello, for his role as a “scrupulous doubter, ruthless in his criticism of the cruel rationalism and cosmetic morality of Western civilization.” Following close behind Coetzee was Australian-born DBC Pierre, who garnered the Man Booker Prize for his first novel, Vernon God Little. Prominent veteran author and South African André Brink was a double winner with his latest fiction, The Other Side of Silence (2002), receiving both the Alan Paton Award for Fiction and the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the best book (Africa region). Helon Habila won the Commonwealth Writers award in the Africa region for the best first book with Waiting for an Angel (2002), the story of a young journalist during the turbulent era of military rule in Nigeria. Similar themes of violence and terror were the subject of South African-born Lewis DeSoto's first novel, A Blade of Grass. Nigerian-born Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made an equally impressive fiction debut with Purple Hibiscus, the story of a young woman's awakening at a time when her family and her country are also on the verge of significant change. Eminent South African critic, novelist, and essayist Lewis Nkosi exposed the underside of a fictional revolutionary movement during the last years of apartheid in Underground People (2002). Important nonfiction works included Martin Dugard's Into Africa: The Epic Adventures of Stanley & Livingston; Aidan Hartley's release The Zanzibar Chest; and Es'kia Mphahlele's collected essays and public addresses, Es'kia (2002).

       Australia made its mark internationally with new fiction from established authors Janette Turner Hospital (Due Preparations for the Plague, a timely political thriller and winner of the Queensland Premier's Literary Award) and Peter Carey (My Life as a Fake). Other works of note included Patricia Mackintosh's novel The Devil's Madness, set in Australia in the 1960s, and Sonya Hartnett's second novel for adults, Of a Boy (2002; also published as What the Birds See), winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the best book (Southeast Asia and South Pacific region).

      In neighbouring New Zealand, the annual Montana New Zealand Book Awards, the country's most prestigious honours for contemporary literature, recognized authors in several categories representing three genres. The Montana Medal for nonfiction went to Michael Cooper for his Wine Atlas of New Zealand, and Auckland writer Stephanie Johnson captured the Deutz Medal for Fiction with her novel The Shag Incident. Selected from 10 finalists, poet Glenn Colquhoun received the Montana Readers' Choice Award for Playing God (2002); it was the first time a volume of poetry had won the prize. Paula Morris's Queen of Beauty (2002) was awarded the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for fiction.

David Draper Clark

Germanic

German.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      The year 2003 saw the publication of Jacobs Leiter, the most ambitious work to date by Steffen Mensching, a resident of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). An autobiographical novel, it ingeniously wove together German, Jewish, and American history and fact and fiction. In the plot sequence around which the novel is structured, the protagonist, a German author visiting New York City, purchases a library of 4,000 German books, most of which once belonged to German Jewish émigrés. The protagonist's curiosity about the books' former owners leads him to a wide-ranging exploration of personal histories. In following this resulting process, the author connected the past and the present and Germany and the U.S. in a complex and surprising textual web.

      Siegfried Lenz's Das Fundbüro concerned an amiable young man working in the lost-and-found office of a major urban train station. The novel's protagonist befriends a visiting foreign scholar and must decide how to respond when his new friend is attacked by hooligans. The book was a reflection on friendship, human decency, and the simple pleasures of life.

      After her remarkably successful debut in Sommerhaus, später (1998), Judith Hermann offered Nichts als Gespenster, her eagerly awaited second collection of short stories. Like its predecessor, this collection featured stories written in laconic, elegant prose about young Berliners, mostly women, in their 30s and 40s. Hermann examined the problems of contemporary life, which she saw as characterized not so much by heartbreak and sorrow as by the human inability to engage in genuine emotion, particularly love. Georg M. Oswald's satiric novel Im Himmel dealt with an even younger group of people coming of age in the rich suburbs of Munich, where financial splendour was accompanied by spiritual squalour.

      Two respected older writers published important collections in 2003. Martin Walser's Messmers Reisen, a sequel to Messmers Gedanken (1985), contained reflections on and aphorisms about contemporary life written with a keen eye for paradox and a sharp ear for language. Christa Wolf's Ein Tag im Jahr was a large-scale literary-historical project, featuring a diary that Wolf kept yearly from 1960 to 2000 on September 27. As such, the diary covered most of the history of the former GDR, as well as that state's collapse and the reunification of Germany.

      Ulla Hahn's novel Unscharfe Bilder and Uwe Timm's Am Beispiel meines Bruders were attempts by both writers to come to terms with fictional or real German family histories during the past century. In Hahn's novel the protagonist discovers what she believes to be a picture of her father in an exhibition on the crimes of the German army during World War II. She confronts her father only to discover, after he has told his complicated story, that what had appeared clear and obvious in the black-and-white museum photograph is in fact ambiguous and hard to make out. Timm's memoir dealt with the story of his real-life brother, who at age 16 had volunteered for the SS (the elite corps of the Nazi Party) in World War II and had never returned home. Like Hahn's novel, this memoir dealt with the conflict between family loyalty and love on the one hand and justice and ethics on the other.

      Walter Kempowski's novel Letzte Grüsse was a sequel to his Hundstage (1988), and it brought back that book's protagonist, writer Alexander Sowtschick, to comment ironically and critically on the German literary world of 1989. The novel presented the German writer's dilemma between pleasing the reading public and pleasing the critical intelligentsia. Sowtschick dies on Nov. 9, 1989, while watching, on American television, pictures of the opening of the Berlin Wall. Hans Joachim Schädlich's novel Anders was a sophisticated and laconic reflection on historical truth and literary fiction. Its protagonist is a researcher examining the lives of people whose real stories do not match the picture they like to present of themselves, including a left-liberal professor and Goethe specialist who as a young man was a member of the SS. The Austrian writer Raoul Schrott's novel Tristan da Cunha, oder, Die Hälfte der Erde centred on the tiny remote island of Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic and its effect on the lives of four people who land there; the novel addressed eternal issues such as the significance of geography and the concept of utopia.

      Durs Grünbein's epic poem Vom Schnee: oder, Descartes in Deutschland dealt with the history of the great Enlightenment philosopher and his encounters with Germany. Like many of Grünbein's other poems, this one treated the Enlightenment and its antinomies; it revolved around a dialogue between Descartes, who distinguishes between mind and body, and his unschooled manservant, who resists that distinction.

Stephen Brockmann

Netherlandic.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      In 2003 the Libris Literatuur Prijs went to Abdelkader Benali for his work De langverwachte (2002). Benali, who lived in The Netherlands from 1979, was born in 1975 in Ighazzazen, Mor. His humorous and incisive novel, about a family and its generational and cross-cultural differences, was light on its feet and beautifully written. It featured lovingly drawn characters who showed their ties to the past, their struggles with religious tradition, their appreciation for both their North African heritage and their present life in The Netherlands, and their dreams for the future.

      The P.C. Hooftprijs for an entire oeuvre was presented to poet H.H. ter Balkt (who previously wrote under the pseudonym Habakuk II de Balker). Ter Balkt's early work had focused on the rewards and exigencies of farm life. He eschewed “poetic” language and academic poetry. His collection Laaglandse hymnen (published in three stages, starting in 1991) presented moments in Low Countries history, from the Stone Age to the present. It featured poems about wars and battles, sea voyages, artists, writers, politicians, industrialization, and—continuing a theme from his early work—nature. His tone ranged from deadly serious to light hearted and featured deceptively simple, direct language.

      Tomas Ross received a third Golden Noose award for excellence in crime fiction, for his novel De zesde mei, which fictionalized the 2002 assassination of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn. Both its controversial and daring subject matter—the assassination had traumatized the Dutch—and its compelling plot impressed the award's jury.

      The Anna Bijns Prize, awarded to a writer with a “uniquely female voice,” went to Helga Ruebsamen for her honest and loving portrayals of all sides of life. Het lied en de waarheid (1997; The Song and the Truth, 2000), told from the often-bewildered perspective of a young girl, described a Jewish family's move from the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia) to The Netherlands at the advent of World War II. The narrative offered insights into the role of perception and memory in family relationships.

Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

Danish.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      In 2003 Danish writers focused on extraordinary individuals, lost worlds, and forgotten times as well as everyday events. Novelist Charlotte Kornerup's I spejlet depicted a young Johanne Luise Heiberg, the 19th-century grande dame of the Royal Theatre. In Ambrosiuseventyret Vibeke Arndal re-created the life of the brilliant 18th-century poet and composer Ambrosius Stub. Dorrit Willumsen's Bruden fra Gent drew a memorable portrait of Elizabeth of Habsburg, who in 1515, at age 13, made a political marriage to Christian II and eventually won him over. Ib Michael based his Paven af Indien, a poignant tale of the suffering of the Inca under colonialism, on an actual 17th-century manuscript in the Royal Library—a lengthy letter from the native Andean chronicler and artist Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala to Philip III of Spain.

      Memorable fictional characters and vivid settings also were evident in Naja Marie Aidt's Balladen om Bianca (2002) and in Unn fra Stjernestene, Hanne Marie Svendsen's story of two very different women living in hauntingly beautiful medieval Greenland. Iselin C. Hermann's Der hvor månen ligger ned (2002) and Jens Christian Grøndahl's Et andet lys (2002) dealt with women ending relationships.

      In Den ugudelige farce (2002), Svend Åge Madsen challenged the reader by offering constant modification of each episode in his brain-damaged protagonist's life. Madsen explored the transcendent power of words in his “double novel,” De gode mennesker i Århus / Læselysten. The stories in Merete Pryds Helle's Ti fingre fra eller til (2002) ranged in style from straightforward narrative to fantasy. Contemporary life was the subject of both Camilla Christensen's Jorden under Høje Gladsaxe (2002) and Jan Sonnergaard's Jeg er stadig bange for Caspar Michael Petersen, the final volume of a trilogy that began with Radiator (1997). In Boks (2002), John Bang Jensen left readers wondering whether he presented 19 different tales—ranging from brilliant psychoportraits to brief flights of fancy—or 19 scenes from a single work. The veteran writer Jytte Borberg focused on neighbours and strangers in Alle steder og ingen steder. Janina Katz offered a collection of poems on love and death, Det syvende barn (2002), and established playwright Astrid Saalbach scored a critical success with her rags-to-riches drama Det kolde hjerte (2002).

      The Danish Booksellers Association awarded the Golden Laurels to Jakob Ejersbo, Hanne-Vibeke Holst claimed the Søren Gyldendal Prize, and Camilla Christensen took the Critics' Prize. Queen Margrethe II received the Hans Christian Andersen Medal for her illustrations of Andersen's Snedronningen (2000).

Lanae Hjortsvang Isaacson

Norwegian.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      In 2003 the younger generation of up-and-coming authors affirmed its position in the ranks of Norwegian writers. Among those heralded as the Blindern (Oslo University) circle were Henrik Langeland, Mattis Øybø, and John Erik Riley. Langeland's best-selling novel Wonderboy depicted the hidden power structures of the publishing world. Øybø's thriller Alle ting skinner, which delved into deep philosophical questions, was acclaimed as an outstanding debut. Riley's travelogue San Francisco captured the ambivalence of many Norwegians toward the United States.

      Sexual wounds and hang-ups dominated publications by other younger authors. Lars Ramslie's Fatso, about a lonely man in his 30s who obsesses about sex, was commended. Selma Lønning Aarø's Vill ni åka mera?, about the often-traumatic roots of sexual behaviour patterns, was nominated for the Brage Prize. Ari Behn's Bakgård, which concerned a young man's adventures in decadent gay artists' communities in Africa, became a best-seller.

      Among several established authors who published well-received novels were Roy Jacobsen, whose Frost, a historical novel in the style of an Icelandic saga, was nominated for the Brage Prize and the 2004 Nordic Council Literature Prize; Per Petterson, whose Ut og stjæle hester, about a son's struggle to come to terms with his father and himself, was also nominated for the Brage Prize and awarded the Bokhandlerpris; Lars Saaby Christensen, whose Maskeblomstfamilien treated the dark dimensions of childhood; and Jostein Gaarder, whose Appelsinpiken was a youth novel that raised important existential questions. Critics praised Ingvar Ambjørnsen's bleak short-story collection Delvis til stede.

      Karsten Alnæs was awarded the Brage Honorary Prize for his enormous contribution to Norwegian letters. His latest book, Historien om Europa: Oppvåkning, 1300–1600, the first of four projected volumes on Europe's history, was praised for its broad and well-written coverage. Inger Elisabeth Hansen was awarded the Brage Prize and nominated for the 2004 Nordic Council Literature Prize for Trask: Forflytninger i tidas skitne fylde, a politically engaged poetry collection that delved into war-torn areas. Åsne Seierstad published a second best-seller, Hundre og én dag: en reportasjereise, this time reporting from the war zone in Baghdad, Iraq, while controversy surrounded her first best-seller, Bokhandleren i Kabul: et familiedrama (2002), which was denounced by the bookseller featured in her book. Ingar Sletten Kolloen's momentous biography of Knut Hamsun, Hamsun: Svermeren, also instigated debate but was nominated for the Brage Prize.

Anne G. Sabo

Swedish.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      The 700th anniversary of the birth of St. Birgitta, Sweden's only saint and perhaps the best-known Swede of all time, was celebrated in 2003 with the publication of several books that asked her true nature: Was she an early feminist or a tough, pragmatic politician? The powerful language in her Revelations, which dramatically blended the heavenly and the worldly, made it possible for modern readers to judge for themselves.

      The tension between past and present—as well as between abstract ideas and everyday experiences—also was at the heart of many other Swedish books of various genres. In Stenmästaren senior poet Folke Isaksson showed penetrating yet lyrical insight when he compared the contemporary poet's struggles to those of the medieval master stonemason.

      In Imago Eva-Marie Liffner continued to counterpoise crime story and historical novel, a method she had initiated in her first novel, Camera (2001). Imago was set on the border between Denmark and Germany. One of its narratives followed a story of mid-20th-century wartime tensions between the two countries, while the other followed a contemporary connection to events revealed in the first story line.

      The relationship between the individual and broader human history was a frequently recurring theme. In Ravensbrück, a skillful blend of documentary and fiction, Steve Sem-Sandberg depicted the life of Kafka's friend Czech journalist Milena Jesenská, which ended in Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1944. An international perspective reflected in the individual fate was central in works by established writers of Swedish descent, such as Romanian-born Gabriela Melinescu's Hemma utomlands and Greek-born Theodor Kallifatides' En kvinna att älska.

      One of many impressive young authors to debut in 2003, Jonas Hassen Khemiri in Ett öga rött detailed a generational conflict in which an immigrant father's ideals of assimilation are not shared by his son, who can speak Swedish but prefers a sort of street slang that marks him as an outcast.

      Sweden's relationship to the world at large was also a literary theme in 2003, when Swedes voted against monetary union with the rest of Europe. The questions writers raised concerned the nature of borders and what, in a deeper sense, divided people.

Immi Lundin

French

France.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      In France the literary sensation of 2003 was the proliferation of nonfictional laments for France's decline, testimony to a general malaise after U.S. actions in Iraq underlined France's weakening international clout. Two of these books rocketed to the best-seller list: Adieu à la France qui s'en va and La France qui tombe. In the former, Jean-Marie Rouart lyrically decried France's loss of faith, honour, and self-sacrifice, the noble qualities that he felt once underpinned France's glory. In the latter, which was more of an economic analysis, Nicolas Baverez bemoaned France's bloated bureaucracy, failing finances, and loss of international relevance, all of which he saw as eroding France from within. This book's popularity, particularly among politicians, was considered a sign that the ruling class was finally beginning to understand French society's concerns for the future.

      The sense of loss that these books stressed on the national level also marked more personal nonfiction. This was expressed notably as loss of love in L'Éclipse, in which Serge Rezvani movingly described how his wife, afflicted with Alzheimer disease, had been slowly taken from him until he was left with but the shell of the lively, intelligent woman he now had to love from memory. Jérôme Garcin, in Théâtre intime, also discussed the loss of his wife but sought to palliate the pain of her death by remembering their first years together, as he followed her through the chaotic world of theatre. A similar attempt to recover a love lost to death was Clémence Boulouque's Mort d'un silence, in which the author strove to recapture her father, a famous judge who had committed suicide when accused of corruption. Boulouque tried not so much to prove her father's innocence as to depict the loving man nearly erased during the media's feeding frenzy over his alleged crimes, disgrace, and death.

      The theme of loss, so prevalent in nonfiction, also permeated fiction. In Marc J. Bloch's La Vie fractale, the absent main character's loss of identity poses the question of what we can ever truly know about another. As the novel attempts to piece together the missing protagonist's personality through fictional interviews with those who knew him, the reader is confronted with contradictory information blurring the picture ever more as those interviewed ultimately reveal nothing but themselves. Régis Jauffret's Univers, univers also was experimental in its approach to the loss of identity. Its narrative frame was simple: a woman cooks as she awaits the visit of hated guests. Within this endlessly repeated framework, the woman, overwhelmed by her own meaninglessness, loses herself to assume a series of hypothetical lives as lovers, murderers, objects, animals, only to return unfailingly to the same scene of cooking and waiting.

      Yasmina Reza's Adam Haberberg dealt with the loss of hope; the protagonist, a failed husband, father, and writer, is contemplating his own futility when he meets a woman whom he has not seen since high school, and she promptly invites him to her home. With Reza's characteristic lightness, this tale of hope for rejuvenation and happiness, flickering one last time before being snuffed, became a touching, even funny, demonstration of human inability to reverse damage wrought by time.

      Though built on the same bleak theme of loss, several novels did nonetheless let hope triumph. In Tiphaine Samoyault's Les Indulgences, when a woman battered by death, most recently that of her best friend, runs away in an attempt to rediscover life, she learns to treat the living with the same indulgence she had been reserving for the dead.

      Love also saved the protagonist of Christine Jordis's La Chambre blanche; the successful Camille is barely aware of her life's emptiness until she meets a man with whom she discovers true passion. Through sensuality Camille reaches an unsuspected spirituality within her that remains with her long after love has disappeared.

      Unlike the main character in Reza's novel, the protagonist of Andreï Makine's La Terre et le ciel de Jacques Dorme does manage to turn back the hands of time when he returns to Siberia in search of traces of a story from his childhood spent in a Russian orphanage, where a woman told him of her love affair with a doomed World War II aviator. As the narrator looks for wreckage from the aviator's plane, the past and present mix with all the beauty of a love story heard long ago.

      The Prix Goncourt was awarded to Jacques-Pierre Amette's La Maîtresse de Brecht, which was set in communist East Germany in 1948, when the Marxist playwright Bertolt Brecht returned from exile under the suspicious eyes of the secret police. The police provide him with a mistress who reports his every move, pretending to share his love despite her passion for the agent who recruited her. The Prix Femina went to Dai Sijie's Le Complexe de Di, the tale of the misadventures of China's first psychoanalyst, who attempts to win his fiancée's freedom by analyzing her neurotic judge. Hubert Mingarelli won the Prix Médicis for Quatre soldats, in which four lost soldiers from the Red Army flee Polish forces and learn the value of friendship in the process. Philippe Claudel won the Prix Renaudot for Les Âmes grises, which takes place during World War I, when the butchery on the Front is mirrored by the murder of a girl in a small village. Years later the policeman in charge of the investigation searches for the murderer, dredging up the horrors of the past.

Vincent Aurora

Canada.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      In French Canadian literature, 2003 was a fairly lacklustre year, but one phenomenon, Yann Martel, stood out. The globe-trotting Martel, whose parents were Montreal-based Canadian diplomats, won the Man Booker Prize in 2002 for his novel Life of Pi (2001). Bilingual French Canadians responded enthusiastically, helping to send the original English version to the top of the best-seller lists. When the French translation (by Martel's parents) appeared in 2003 as L'Histoire de Pi, it too was also warmly received.

      Nonfiction outsold fiction once again. The publishing firm Éditions Écosociété offered a popular series of books that presented leftist political issues from a populist, ecological point of view. Also popular were two books featuring the French Canadian explorers who were part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition across the western United States: journalist Richard Hétu's historical novel La Route de l'Ouest (2002) and historian Denis Vaugeois's America (2002), a handsomely illustrated, less-romantic chronicle.

      The reputations of some often-overshadowed literary writers were solidified in recent years. Lise Tremblay continued to build a readership with her novel La Héronnière, and Rober Racine emerged from his often-experimental style with the surprisingly readable novel L'Ombre de la terre (2002). François Gravel, who had known success as a writer for young adults, presented adult readers with a memoir entitled Adieu, Betty Crocker, which charmed them with its light touch on serious subjects. Ook Chung, a writer of Korean descent, offered Contes Butô, a collection of interrelated short stories.

      Poet Gaston Miron, who died in 1996, remained something of a hero in Quebec, and his posthumous book Poèmes épars stirred new admiration for his work. Jean-François Chassay, a professor and fiction writer, turned in Anthologie de l'essai au Québec depuis la révolution tranquille, a survey of political and cultural writing over the past 40 years. Also noteworthy was the emergence of Marchand de Feuilles, a new publisher that introduced Suzanne Myre's first novel, Nouvelles d'autres mères.

David Homel

Italian
      Two of the most remarkable novels of 2003, Andrea Camilleri's Il giro di boa and Giuseppe Montesano's Di questa vita menzognera, offered a critique of contemporary Italian politics. Inspector Salvo Montalbano, the hero of many of Camilleri's works, is so disheartened by recent events (such as the 2001 clashes in Genoa between police and protesters and the 2002 changes in the immigration law) that he contemplates a career change. While swimming, the activity he often relies on to alleviate his discomfort, he discovers a homicide that awakens his inquisitive nature and marks the beginning of a new investigation. Employing a different genre, Montesano's novel described a bold scheme devised by the Negromontes, a wealthy family, to replace the city of Naples with a virtual “Eternapoli.” This is only the first step in an even more ambitious plan; with the complicity of political institutions, the Negromontes intend in the long run to privatize all of southern Italy. The novel's many grotesque and visionary scenes culminate in the description of a Gargantuan carnival that envelops all of Naples; the scene juxtaposes the new Naples of the Negromontes with the Naples of the Borbones (House of Bourbon), its victims (such as Eleonora Fonseca Pimentel), and its decadence. The similarities between Il giro di boa and Di questa vita menzognera extended to the stylistic level, as both authors used dialect (Sicilian and Neapolitan, respectively) in expressive and effective ways.

      Erri De Luca's Il contrario di uno was a collection of short stories centred on the theme of human solidarity. Most of the stories examined moments in which a gratuitous act of generosity breaks an individual's isolation or even saves a life. The author's experiences as a volunteer in Africa, a political activist, and a rock climber provided the background for his narratives. The volume also contained a section on the five senses (I colpi dei sensi, 1993) and a poem (“Mamm'Emilia”) for the author's mother. The success of a completely different type of collection, Il lato sinistro del cuore, confirmed Carlo Lucarelli's ongoing popularity as well as Italian readers' passion for mystery stories. The book's 53 pieces constituted, among other things, a perturbing voyage through the deceptively tranquil Italian provincial life of the 1990s. Giorgio Faletti chose a more glamorous setting—the resort of Monte-Carlo—for his novel Io uccido (2002), the most successful detective story of 2003. Already known to the Italian public as an actor and singer, the author intermingled musical and cinematic references with his protagonist's investigations.

      Between literary divertissement and social commentary, Stefano Benni's Achille piè veloce placed characters named after Homeric heroes (Achilles, Ulysses, Circe, Penelope, and so on) in a contemporary urban setting. Paradoxically, Achilles has lost the physical agility to which the title alludes, is confined to a wheelchair, and communicates with the outside world by means of a computer. His heroism lies in the strength with which he confronts not only his disease but also the greed and cynicism of the society around him, as exemplified by his brother Febus. The other central character in the novel, Ulysses, struggles to maintain his love for literature in spite of his work as a reader in a publishing house, which obliges him to review hundreds of manuscripts and deal with their ambitious and, at times, aggressive authors. The friendship that develops between the two outcasts, united in their heroic resistance to the principles that dominate their times, was at the core of Benni's narration.

      Melania G. Mazzucco won the Strega Prize with Vita, a story about immigration that traced the cultural displacement, anxiety, and loss such an experience inevitably entailed. The Campiello Literary Award was awarded to Marco Santagata's Il maestro dei santi pallidi, a novel set in 15th-century Italy that skillfully blended historical reconstruction with fiction. In the face of death, Cinin, the protagonist, reviews his life and the events that have transformed him from poor servant to famous painter, highlighting the decisive yet uncontrollable power that chance exercises over human destiny. Among the winners of the Grinzane Cavour Prize was Clara Sereni, whose Passami il sale (2002) returned to a theme she explored in Casalinghitudine (1987). In her latest work the preparation of a meal was presented not as a mere practical necessity but rather as a symbol of a possible reconciliation of mind and body, of public roles and private needs.

      Several important literary figures died in 2003, including Giuseppe Pontiggia (author of Nati due volte [2000]), literary critic Giacinto Spagnoletti, and Luigi Pintor, cofounder of the daily Il Manifesto and its director for more than 20 years. In Pintor's posthumous slim volume, I luoghi del delitto, a man diagnosed with a terminal disease muses over the central events of his life and his relationship with death, looking for an answer that remains elusive.

Laura Benedetti

Spanish

Spain.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      Many of Spain's best-known writers in 2003 invited their readers to look back in order to clarify the present and foresee the future. Rosa Montero, for example, blended fantasy and dreams, madness and passion, and her most secret recollections in La loca de la casa. It mixed her own biography with those of other people, but the reader should be cautioned that not all that the writer said about herself was trustworthy; memories do not always reflect reality. Javier Marías's Tu rostro mañana (2002) was the first of a projected trilogy. Its protagonist meets an old professor with “too many memories” and also discovers that he has the gift, or curse, of foresight, that he knows in advance who will be a traitor and who will remain loyal.

      The Galician Suso de Toro won the National Prize for Narrative for his mystery novel Trece campanadas (2002), in which he investigated the past of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, a city for pilgrims that had lost its “secrecy and soul” over the years. Juan Manuel de Prada was awarded the Primavera Prize for the novel for La vida invisible, the story of a successful young writer who travels to Chicago after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City's World Trade Center. What begins for him as an ordinary journey ends up changing his life forever. The novel explored yearnings, secrets, and the dogged search for happiness. El caballero del jubón amarillo, the fifth volume of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's series of adventure novels about Capitán Alatriste, described the clandestine relationship between Alatriste and the funny María de Castro, who is also desired by King Philip IV. The situation is further complicated when conspirators against the king generate evidence that implicates Alatriste.

      Antonio Gala's highly popular El dueño de la herida contained 38 stories about different facets of love. According to the author, “[Love is] infinite, it is the holder of life, and he who has not been wounded by it has never lived.” Lucía Etxebarría's Una historia de amor como otra cualquiera comprised 15 short stories about women who fought successfully for love. Benjamín Prado published Jamás saldré vivo de este mundo, a book of short stories to which he and four renowned authors—Marías, Juan Marsé, Enrique Vila-Matas, and Almudena Grandes—contributed.

      In 2003 the two most noted literary prizes offered by Spanish publishers were given to Latin American writers: the Alfaguara Prize to the Mexican Xavier Velasco for his novel Diablo guardián and the Planeta Prize to Chilean Antonio Skármeta for his work El baile de la Victoria. Julia Uceda, a little-known poet, received the National Prize for Poetry for En el viento, hacia el mar, 1959–2002, a selection of her best poems to date. The highest distinction in Spanish letters, the Cervantes Prize, went to Chilean poet Gonzalo Rojas. Readers mourned the death in October of the prolific Manuel Vázquez Montalbán. (See Obituaries (Vazquez Montalban, Manuel ).)

Verónica Esteban

Latin America.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      In 2003 literary news from Latin America centred on the prizes presented by the major publishing houses. Alfaguara granted its sixth prize for the novel to Mexican writer Xavier Velasco for Diablo guardián. Seen from the perspective of its female protagonist, the novel examined the clash between Hispanic and U.S. cultures by means of language (as exemplified by the mixture of Mexican Spanish and English known as Spanglish) as well as plot. Colombian writers reaped a notable number of prizes. Casa de las Américas, Cuba's foremost cultural and publishing organization, granted its prize for testimonial literature to José Alejandro Castaño Hoyos for La isla de Morgan, the true account of the author's courageous descent into Medellín's underworld and an extraordinary piece of research. William Ospina, one of Colombia's foremost intellectuals, also received a prize for his book of essays Los nuevos centros de la esfera. Fernando Vallejo of Medellín won the Rómulo Gallegos Prize for El desbarrancadero, originally published in 2001. Told in first person, the autobiographical novel recounted the main character's voyage to Medellín to witness the shutting down of his childhood home and the death by AIDS of his dissolute but brilliant younger brother.

      The Planeta Prize was awarded to Chilean Antonio Skármeta, who also wrote Ardiente paciencia (1985), the novel on which the hugely successful film Il postino was based. El baile de la Victoria, the book for which Skármeta received the Planeta, centred on two ex-convicts who cannot readjust to society outside prison. While both are falling in love with the same woman (the eponymous dancer, Victoria), they plan one last, big heist. Argentine Mariano Dupont won the Emecé 2003 Prize for his novel Aún, set in Argentina during the 1970s. Confined to a hospital bed, the novel's narrator recounts the last months of his life—both the good memories, such as those of summer nights and games of dominoes, and the bad ones, such as those of violence and the attenuated atmosphere of fear and tension. During the Guadalajara International Book Fair, Brazilian writer Rubem Fonseca was unanimously awarded the Juan Rulfo Prize. (See Portuguese Literature: Brazil (Literature ).) The prize was for Fonseca's entire body of work, which spanned more than 60 years.

      The year 2003 was good for the younger generation of writers who had gained recognition in their own right, far removed from the influence of the so-called literary Boom (represented by the work of writers such as Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Carlos Fuentes) and “good” Latin American literature that lasted through the late 1980s. Edmundo Paz Soldán of Bolivia published El delirio de Turing, which won him his country's Premio Nacional de Novela. Set in Río Fugitivo, Soldán's fictionalized version of his native Cochabamba, the novel featured a computer hacker named Kandinsky, who leads a group of cyberguerrillas intent on avenging the abuses committed by large transnational companies. Although set in the present, the novel evoked an ominous and futuristic atmosphere that seemed closer to that of classic science fiction than to a realistic present-day portrait of a typical Andean town such as Cochabamba. Chilean Alberto Fuguet published Las películas de mi vida, which told the story of Beltrán Soler, a Chilean seismologist who obsessively writes a list of the 50 films most important to him and the memories they elicit. Slowly, as the list of movie titles evolves, the novel reveals a life lived in two apparently contradictory worlds: California and Chile. The juxtaposition of the two was potentially unsettling for those who expected just another book of magic realism.

      Internationally famous writer Isabel Allende published Mi país inventado, a book of memoirs in which she portrayed her native Chile's idiosyncrasies as well as its violent history and indomitable spirit. The book's narrative was framed by two events that occurred on September 11: the death in 1973 of Salvador Allende Gossens, Chile's president and the author's uncle, and the terrorist attack on New York City's World Trade Center in 2001. In the book Allende's readers would encounter characters they had seen throughout her other books: mythical grandparents, uncles, relatives, and friends. The volume was a reflection of the author's struggle to maintain a coherent interior life in a world full of contradictions, and it seemed of particular interest to any immigrant to the United States.

      In 2003 Nicaraguan modernist poet Rubén Darío (1867–1916) reappeared in Rubén Darío y la sacerdotisa de Amón by Colombian novelist Germán Espinosa. The narrative, which was not biography but fiction, presented Darío as a hard-drinking, erudite, and amorous detective who, while visiting a friend's summer home in Brittany, solves the mysterious murder of another of the guests. The novel successfully re-created the real Darío's character in all its contradictions and complexities.

Ricardo Armijo

Portuguese

Portugal.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      In 2003 Portuguese literature suffered a grievous loss with the death of Augusto Abelaira in Lisbon on July 4. Abelaira was born on March 18, 1926, in Ançã, near Cantanhede, Port. A distinguished writer and winner of four literary prizes, he started his career during António Salazar's dictatorship. By substituting Florence for Lisbon as the setting of his first novel, A cidade das flores (1959), he eluded the censor's watchful eye and voiced the political aspirations of his generation.

      Allusion and allegory were effective literary devices in Portuguese fiction and helped the novel to become a sophisticated tool for playing with new ideas. The latest novel by Nobel Prize winner José Saramago moved daringly into the field of science to tackle the question of human cloning. In O homem duplicado (2002), Saramago presented a futuristic tale with a precision of detail and an intensity of feeling that made it dramatically convincing. Loving and the sorting out of passions became complex issues when complicated by questions of personal identity.

      The fiction prize of the Association of Portuguese Writers was awarded to Lídia Jorge for O vento assobiando nas gruas (2002), an ambitious novel that tried to encompass time present and time past. The narrative voice is that of a young woman who tells the story of a large family returning from Africa. On the way she recalls a crime and a love affair—ingredients that make up the stuff of fiction. Torn between two worlds—the contemporary one and that of the immediate past—the main character grows in experience and awakens in others a painful self-awareness. Rich in descriptive detail, the story relied on concrete imagery to evoke inner states of mind, fleeting emotions, and deep-seated convictions. All of these were woven into a discourse that conveyed a sense of change and touched on the degradation of our planet.

      The prize for short-story writing, also awarded by the Association of Portuguese Writers, went to Teolinda Gersão for Histórias de ver e andar: contos (2002). These tales, which examined the contemporary obsession with celebrity, wealth, and the acquisition of material goods, were fine pieces of observation with an ironic twist. The highest distinction in Portuguese letters, the Camões Prize, is awarded to a writer to honour the work of a lifetime; in 2003 it went to Brazilian novelist Rubem Fonseca, whose brutally direct narratives dealt with the world of criminals and outlaws.

L.S. Rebelo

Brazil.
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      The highlight of 2003 for Brazilian letters was the awarding of both the Camões Prize—the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Literature in Portuguese—and Mexico's Juan Rulfo Prize for Latin American and Caribbean literature to 78-year-old Rubem Fonseca. In 40 years of fiction writing, his main thematic concern was the gritty urban life of Rio de Janeiro: the violence, duplicity, corruption, and social conflicts faced by its beleaguered population. This he presented in an often poetic prose that was tinged with streetwise slang. His notable novels and works of short fiction ranged from Feliz ano novo (1975), O cobrador (1979), and Bufo & Spallanzani (1985) to the 2003 publication Diário de um fescenino, a diary presented by a character named Rufus, who was Fonseca's alter ego. Writer Nélida Piñon, currently at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Fla., was awarded the Spanish Premio Internacional Menéndez Pelayo for her contributions to literature and to teaching.

      The American poetry magazine Rattapallax dedicated part of an issue to new Brazilian poets, including—among others—Moacir Amâncio, Fabiano Calixto, Ricardo Corona, Chantal Castelli, and Dirceu Villa.

      Several important works of criticism appeared during the year. Flora Süssekind was the main author and editor of Vozes femininas: Gêneros, mediações, e práticas de escrita, a volume of essays on literature and culture from a feminist perspective. Denilson Lopes's late 2002 publication O homem que amava rapazes e outros ensaios considered gay themes in Brazilian literature. Of great note was the 2002 second edition of the three-volume Intérpretes do Brasil, compiled and edited by Silviano Santiago. Comprising 4,000 pages, this set offered an anthology and critical appraisal of the fundamental sociocultural analyses produced by 20th-century Brazilian scholars and, consequently, provided an overview of the origins and development of modern Brazilian civilization.

      The Brazilian Academy of Letters elected several important writers to membership, including novelist Moacyr Scliar, literary critic Alfredo Bosi, and children's fiction writer Ana Maria Machado.

      The year 2003 was also marked by the deaths of novelist Geraldo França de Lima, tropicalista poet Waly Salomão, highly respected poet and literary and cultural critic Haroldo de Campos (see Obituaries (Campos, Haroldo Eurico Browne de )), folklorist Paulo de Carvalho-Neto, and political philosophers Raymundo Faoro and René Dreifuss. Also noteworthy was the passing of Roberto Marinho (see Obituaries (Marinho, Roberto Pisani )), the journalist and media baron whose omnipresent Organizações Globo media company influenced the direction of modern Brazil.

Irwin Stern

Russian
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      The central event in Russian literature for the year 2003 was the celebration of the “Russian Year” at the Frankfurt (Ger.) Book Fair. In addition to drawing many Russian publishers and writers, the fair served to publicize German translations of numerous Russian books, primarily fiction from Russia's most popular writers of the 1990s—Viktor Pelevin, Vladimir Sorokin, and Tatyana Tolstaya—but also works from two major writers of an older generation, Yury Mamleyev and Andrey Bitov.

      The exciting developments that had been observed at the turn of the century lost steam in 2003, and the outlines of a new era failed to take shape. One thing was clear: the stars of the 1990s attracted fewer readers. For example, the appearance of a new book from Pelevin, Russia's most popular author of the 1990s, sparked no special interest. More attention was drawn to two books by Ilya Stogov, an author whose phantasmagoric and grotesque works, noted for their brutal and laconic confessionalism, were reminiscent of American author Charles Bukowski's output. Stogov's novel mASIA— (2002; with an obscene English word as part of the title) described a trip through the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union during and after the Soviet period; his book Tabloid (2001), based in part on his own professional experience, was a fierce send-up of journalism. Also popular was Dmitry Bykov's novel Orfografiya (“Orthography”). This experiment in “alternative history” imagined the abolition of Russian orthography as a major goal of the Bolsheviks who came to power in 1917. Leto v Badene (1999), Leonid Tsypkin's 1970s novel about several events in the life of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, was published in Russian in 2003 and widely discussed in the Russian press. First published in German, the novel was translated into English as Summer in Baden Baden (1987).

      Although the usual authors—Oleg Pavlov, Marina Vishnevetskaya, and Irina Polyanskaya for the generation of the 1990s and Bitov and Vladimir Makanin for the older generation—were represented in the major literary journals (Znamya, Novy mir, Oktyabr, Zvezda), several other works did stand out: Andrey Dmitriyev's novella Prizrak teatra (“Phantom of the Theatre”), about a provincial actor; Aleksandr Kabakov's Opyty chastnoy zhizni (“Experiments in Personal Life”); Yury Arabov's Bit-bit; and Uchitel bez uchenika (“Teacher Without a Student”), Mikhail Ayzenberg's memoir about underground prose writer Pavel Ulitin.

      The talents of the 30-year-old poet Igor Bulatovsky were on display in his book Poluostrova (“The Archipelago”). Also published were two collections by deceased poets of his generation: Anna Gorenko (who lived in Israel) and Boris Ryzhy (from Yekaterinburg). Other well-known poets with new books included Dmitry Bobyshev, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, and Sergey Zavyalov. New poems were also offered by Yelena Shvarts, Olga Martynova, Sergey Volf, Viktor Sosnora, Aleksandr Kushner, Sergey Stratanovsky, Svetlana Kekova, and (after a long silence) Olga Sedakova.

      The single most important new theme discussed in the major journals was the rise of a new wave of left-wing political radicalism in the literary milieu. The leading antagonists in this debate were S. Chuprinin and V. Lapenkov. (Some of this discussion can be followed on the Internet at .)

      Literary prizes, which had caused several major scandals over the previous few years, produced no sensations in 2003. Vishnevetskaya won the Apollon Grigoryev Prize for her novella A.K.S. (Opyt lyubvi) (“A.K.S. (An Experiment in Love)”). The National Best-Seller Prize was awarded to the debut novel (Golovo)lomka (“Brain(twister)”) by two Russian authors from Riga, Latvia—Aleksandr Garros and Aleksey Yevdokimov. The work was praised for its satiric depiction of the Latvian business world in a style that reminded some of the American filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen. The Andrey Bely Prize in prose went to Eduard Limonov, for Kniga vody (“The Book of Water”), a work he wrote while serving time on a conviction for inciting revolution (he was pardoned in mid-2003). The jury that awarded him the prize, however, noted that it did not share his (neo-Bolshevik) political views. The winner in poetry was Mikhail Gronas and in humanities Vardan Airepetyan. An award for “services to Russian literature” was given to poet Dmitry Kuzmin. The short list for the Russian Booker Prize included the “intellectual detective story” Kazaroza by Leonid Yuzefovich; Iupiter (“Jupiter”) by Leonid Zorin; the autobiographical novel Beloye na chyornom (“White On Black”) by Rubén David González Gallego (a Russian author of Spanish descent); Frau Shram by Afansy Mamedov; Villa Reno by Natalya Galkina; and Lavra (“The Monastery”) by Yelena Chizhova. The relatively low aesthetic level of several nominees did not augur well for the future of this prize. Indeed, the number of literary prizes, which had reached a peak in the mid-1990s, was diminishing noticeably: in 2003 alone both the Anti-Booker and Northern Palmyra prizes were terminated.

      Deaths in 2003 included those of Georgy Vladimov, dissident author and 1995 Russian Booker laureate (see Obituaries (Vladimov, Georgy )); the 92-year-old poet, translator, and memoirist Semyon Lipkin, one of the last Russian Modernists, who personally knew Andrey Bely, Osip Mandelshtam, and Marina Tsvetayeva; and, at age 69, the extremely talented hermetic prose writer Vladimir Gubin.

Valery Shubinsky

Jewish

Hebrew
      Perhaps the only interesting phenomenon in Hebrew prose of 2003 was a marked tendency toward rich literary Hebrew, rather than the pedestrian language typical of many 1990s novels. The former was exemplified by Deror Burshṭain's Avner Brener, Einat Yakir's ʿIsḳe tivukh (2002; “A Matter of Negotiation”), and Benny Mer's Rov ha-lelot (“Most Nights”). Works by veteran writers included Aharon Appelfeld's Pitʾom ahavah (“Love, All of a Sudden”), Yoel Hoffmann's Efrayim, Gayil Harʾeven's Ḥaye malʾakh (“Life of an Angel”), Mira Magen's Malʾakheha nirdemu kulam (“Her Angels Have All Fallen Asleep”), and Beni Barbash's Hilukh ḥozer (“Rerun”). First novels included Uri S. Cohen's ʿAl meḳomo be-shalom (“Resting in Peace”) and Yossi Avni's Dodah Farhumah lo hayetah zonah (“Auntie Farhumah Wasn't a Whore After All”).

      Agi Mishʿol's Mivḥar ve-ḥadashim (“Selected and New Poems”) included a critical essay by Dan Miron, and Ramy Ditzanny collected his political poems in Erets zavah: Shirim 1982–2000 (“Land Oozing: Poems 1982–2000”). Other collections by veteran poets included Yehiel Hazak's Le-hashiv esh le-esh (“Flames of Fury”), Meron Ḥ. Izaḳson's Biṭul ha-liṭuf ha-nashi (“Banning Her Caress”), and Rachel Gil's ʿAkhshav tori lamut (“My Turn to Die”). The younger generation was represented by Tamir Lahav-Radlmesser's Temunat maḥazor (“Year Book”), Yakir Ben-Moshe's Be-khol boḳer maḳriaḥ le-faḥot adam blondini eḥad (“Every Morning at Least One Blond Man Goes Bald”), and Liat Kaplan's Tsel ha-tsipor (“Shadow of a Bird”).

      Yafah Berlovits edited an absorbing anthology of stories by women writers in pre-state Israel; She-ani adamah ve-adam (“Tender Rib”) contradicted the accepted view that there were no Hebrew women writers of note between Devorah Baron, who gained her reputation in the 1920s, and Amalia Kahana-Carmon, prominent during the 1960s and '70s. Another feminist-oriented study was Orli Lubin's Ishah ḳoret ishah (“Women Reading Women”). Dan Miron published a comprehensive study of the poetry of Uri Zvi Greenberg, Aḳdamut le-U.Z.G. (“Prolegomena to U.Z.G.”), and Uzi Shavit interpreted Nathan Alterman's plague poems (1944) in Shirah mul ṭoṭaliṭariyut (“Poetry and Totalitarianism”).

Avraham Balaban

Yiddish.
      Works of Yiddish poetry in 2003 included Russian writer Maks Riant's Mit di oygn fun mayn harts (“With the Eyes of My Heart”), a collection of songs, ballads, and poems. Plutsemdiker regn (“Sudden Rain”) was Gitl Schaechter-Viswanath's poetic debut, and Rivka Basman Ben-Haim's poetic collection Oyf a strune fun regn (2002; “On a String of Rain”) described a literary pilgrimage from the Vilna (Vilnius) ghetto and German concentration camps to Israel.

      From Ukraine came Mikhail Reznikovich's children's book Ikh hob lib shpiln (“I Love to Play”) and Aleksandr Lizen's reflective Neviim, emese un falshe (“Prophets, Real and False”).

      Zackary Sholem Berger's Di kats der payats, a Yiddish translation (in the original rhyme scheme) of Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat, joined Leonard Wolf's translation Vini-der-pu (A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh) and Shlomo Lerman's translation Der kleyner prints (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit prince) in the gallery of children's classics available in Yiddish.

      Shmuel Gordon's Yizkor: di farmishpete shrayber (“Remembrance: The Condemned Writers”), a monumental documentary novel by a participant-observer, recorded the edicts against Jewish cultural activities during the last years of Joseph Stalin's regime and the execution of 13 Soviet Yiddish writers and cultural leaders on Aug. 12, 1952.

      In her small lexicon of Vilnius Jewish society, Mit shraybers, bikher un mit … Vilne (“About Writers, Books, and … Vilnius”), Musye Landau provided a rich panorama of the writings and authors she knew.

      Based on archival research, Mishe Lev's fictionalized history Sobibor: ven nit di fraynd mayne … (2002; “Sobibor: If It Were Not My Friends …”) told the story of the heroic revolt launched on Oct. 14, 1943, by inmates of the Sobibor extermination camp.

      The Hebrew University in Jerusalem published Yidishe dertseylungen 1906–1924 (“Jewish Stories 1906–1924”) by Y.D. Berkovitsh, one of Israel's foremost bilingual writers. It provided an arresting portrait of the younger generation of Russian Jews who played an important role in the culture and politics of the early 20th century.

      The author of five assemblages of refined poetry, Aleksandr Shpiglblat turned his hand to prose in Shotns klapn in shoyb (“Shadows Rap on Glass”), in which he described Jewish life in Romania at the beginning of World War II.

      Yiddish literary scholar, poet, and editor Chaim Beyder died in New York City on December 7.

Thomas E. Bird

Turkish
      The year 2003 was hardly a banner year for Turkish literature; it produced few major novels, few noteworthy collections of poetry, and meagre accomplishments in criticism. For the 30th consecutive year, Turkey's press raised hopes in vain regarding Yashar Kemal's candidacy for a Nobel Prize for Literature. Orhan Pamuk won Ireland's International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (the world's largest monetary award for a novel) for his book My Name Is Red (2001; originally published in Turkish, 1998). Modernist playwright and fiction writer Adalet Ağaoğlu was honoured by a volume of tributes on the occasion of her 55th year as an author.

      Notable novels of 2003 included Ahmet Ümit's Beyoğlu rapsodisi (“Rhapsody of Beyoğlu”), which depicted ordinary lives in Istanbul's European quarter, a once-elegant sector grown seedy and sinful. With this book, the author, who was remarkably successful with his pioneering literary detective fiction, ventured into new territory, portraying Beyoğlu as a vivid character while he explored his central theme of immortality. Another characterization of Istanbul was presented in Tuna Kiremitçi's best-selling Git kendini çok sevdirmeden (“Go Away Before You Are Loved Too Much”).

      Melisa Gürpınar, one of Turkey's prominent woman poets, received the Cevdet Kudret Prize and published an impressive new collection entitled Ada șiirleri (“Island Poems”). Murathan Mungan, a commanding figure as novelist and playwright, produced an attractive new book of poems, Timsah sokak șiirleri (“Poems of Alligator Street”). Eminent poet İlhan Berk celebrated his 85th year with an elegant volume of more than 1,900 pages. It contained the entire output of a 65-year career during which he remained at the forefront of poetic experimentation. Also noteworthy was Seyhan Özçelik's Toplu șiirler (“Collected Poems”), which included a selection of recent verse.

      Among the few exceptional volumes of literary criticism were two by Hilmi Yavuz, Kara güneș (“Black Sun”) and Sözün gücü (“The Power of the Word”), and several stimulating collections of essays, two by Füsun Akatlı—Kültürsüzlüğümüzün kıșı (“The Winter of Our Culturelessness”) and Felsefe gözüyle edebiyat (“Literature Through the Vantage Point of Philosophy”)—and two by Tahsin Yücel—Romanımıza neler oldu? (“What Happened to Our Fiction?”) and Sözcüklerin diliyle konușmak (“Speaking in the Language of Words”).

Talat Sait Halman

Persian
      In 2003 the literary production of all Persian-speaking cultures was driven by certain back-to-basics impulses, as presaged by Iran's 2002 landmark publication of Farhang-i buzurg-i sukhan (“Great Speech [or Word] Dictionary”), an eight-volume dictionary of the Persian language. In Afghanistan local reissues of selected expatriate writings of the late 1980s and '90s dominated literary output. In Tajikistan the National Assembly made the Cyrillic alphabet the sole official script for Tajiki Persian and thus dealt a final blow to the movement begun in the early 1990s to revive the Perso-Arabic alphabet.

      Women continued to play a leading literary role in Iran and within Persian-speaking expatriate communities. Two works, Mahnāz Karīmī's novel Sinj o sinawbar (“The Spruce and the Service Tree”), and Jaleh Chegeni's collection of poems, Sarchishma-yi nigāh (“Source of Vision”), headed the long list of literary works by younger female writers.

      In spring the launch of Samarkand, a new literary journal that examined one Western writer per issue, signaled a strong desire to approach the literature of Western cultures in a more systematic way. The first two issues, devoted, respectively, to Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust, indicated heightened attention to the psychological dimensions of literature. The Fourth Congress of Teachers of Persian Language and Literature, hosted in October by Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, brought together linguists, language teachers, and literary scholars engaged the world over in the teaching of and research into Persian language and literature. In its resolution the congress issued a plea for the development of a Unicode Standard for the use of the Persian script in cyberspace. Also in October the Mehregān Prize for lifetime achievement went to octogenarian writer Simin Daneshvar, and the prize for works created for young audiences was awarded to Jaʿfar Tuzandajani's Mihamnī-yi dīvhā (“Banquet of the Demons”). The prize for the best novel went unclaimed because, the jurors declared, the year's output did not meet their standards.

      In the Iranian diaspora communities, one work stood out in psychological intensity: Partaw Nūrī ʿAlā's Misl-i man (“Like Me”). This collection of six short stories delved into the private lives of Iranian exiles who, having left behind the traditional modes of meeting potential partners, had yet to be initiated into more Westernized personal and sexual mores.

Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak

Arabic
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      In 2003 the Arab world continued to face political and cultural challenges, some resulting from events such as the Second Persian Gulf War and others from the effects of globalization and what is perceived as the West's anti-Islamic crusade. The situation prompted Arab intellectuals to call for a new cultural approach, and in response the Egyptian High Council for Culture hosted a conference on July 1–3 to formulate a new cultural discourse for the future. The Arab representatives stressed the need for an authentic Arab cultural renewal rather than mere conformity with Western culture. They urged a greater freedom of expression for writers, an end to government interference, and the renewal of religious discourse. The number and complexity of the problems at hand, however, made the mood at the conference generally pessimistic.

      The Egyptian poet Aḥmad ʿAbd al-Muʾṭī Ḥijāzī invited Arab thinkers to consider the ways in which they might contribute to world culture while protecting their identity and remaining true to themselves without becoming isolated.

      Elsewhere, Iraqi writers living in exile responded to the war in Iraq with short stories and poems that took the conflict as their subject. Most were published in Arabic literary journals, and in the May–June issue of one such publication, Al-Adāb, Buthayna al-Nāṣirī, an Iraqi living in Egypt, issued a call for Iraqi unity and support.

      Poetry also continued to occupy an important place in Arabic literature. On May 29–31, Rabat, Mor., which had been designated the 2003 capital of Arabic culture, hosted an impressive poetry festival—despite the May 16 suicide bombings in Casablanca that had killed 45. The festival was attended by well-known poets such as Palestinian Maḥmūd Darwīsh, Iraqi Saʿdī Yūsuf, and Moroccan Muhammad Bennis, to cite only a few. The festival's main theme was a call for solidarity with the Iraqi and Palestinian peoples.

      Two young poets following in their fathers' footsteps published their first books, Tamīm Barghūtī's Al-Manẓar (2002; “The View”) in colloquial Egyptian and Bahāʾ Jāhin's Kūfiyyat ṣūf lī al-ṣhitāʾ (“A Woolen Scarf for Winter”). Both were critical of social and political conditions in Egypt. Much of the anger of the younger generation of writers, such as Hudā Ḥusayn (Hoda Hossein) and Rānā ʿAbbās Tūnsī (Rana Abbas Tonsi), was expressed in poetry transmitted by means of the Internet.

      Three writers used the U.S. as a location for their books: Muḥammad Sulaymān in his novel Taḥta samā' ākhar (“Under Another Sky”) addressed the materialism of the U.S.; Aḥmad Mursī wrote of his own experience there in his poetry collection Brūfah bi al-malābis lī faṣl fī al-jaḥīm (“Dress Rehearsal for a Season in Hell”); and Ṣun ʿAllāh Ibrāhīm depicted American society during the Bill Clinton–Monica Lewinsky scandal in his novel Amricanelli (a combination of the Arabic words Amrī kāna lī, “I Decided for Myself” or “My Own Decision”; the Arabic form of the name America forms the first part of the word).

      Other notable fiction included the work of Jamāl al-Ghīṭānī, Egypt's most prominent and prolific writer, who published an autobiographical trilogy titled Dafātir al-tadwīn (“Notebooks”). Central to the trilogy were his encounters with several women he befriends during his travels. His flowing style and concise, evocative phrases were unparalleled. The Egyptian Salwā Bakr took an insightful look at Egyptian morality in her novel Sawāqī al-waqt (“The Water Wheels of Time”).

      New francophone Maghribi literature was represented by Abdelkébir Khatibi's Pélérinage d'un artiste amoureux, a mystical journey that examines man's relation to God. Mohamed Taïfi published his first novel, the autobiographical La Source enragée, which shed light on colonial rule in Morocco. Siham Ben Chekroun returned to fiction with a collection of short stories, Les Jours d'ici. Tunisian writer al-Ḥabīb al-Sālimī paid tribute to women in his novel ʿUshshāq Bayya (“Bayya's Lovers”), which had a woman as its central character.

      A few writers broke their silence after more or less lengthy absences. Fadéla M'rabet returned with Une Enfance singulière, an autobiographical novel about her early years in Algeria and her experience with racism in France. Sudanese novelist al-Ṭayyib Ṣāliḥ's Jabr al-Dār (“Jabr al-Dar” [a proper name]) was set in The Sudan, like most of his previous novels. Aḥlām Mustaghānimī published her third novel, ‘Ābir Sarīr (“Passing Through a Bed”), and Ḥanān al-Shaykh wrote Imra'atān ‘alā shāṭi' al-baḥr (“Two Women on the Beach”).

      Notable deaths in 2003 included those of Palestinian poet Muḥammad al-Qaysī and Algeria's prolific and outstanding francophone novelist and poet, Mohammed Dib. (See Obituaries (Dib, Mohammed ).)

Aida A. Bamia

Chinese
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      In 2003 the general situation of Chinese literature in both print and electronic publishing could be described as depressed. One found few new creative literary books in city bookstores; the shelves were occupied almost entirely by popular fiction, including youth manga-stories, Korean-style romances, and anticorruption novels.

      Among the few books worthy of mention was Yang Xianhui's Jia bian gou ji shi (“Accounts of Jia-Bian Valley”), a collection of seven interviews and seven short stories concerning the terrible history of Jia-Bian Valley, where a forced-labour camp (part of the laogai system) was established in the mid-1950s. About 3,000 political prisoners were transferred into the camp in 1957–58, but only half that number remained alive in 1961. Yang's stories described in powerful detail the daily lives of the prisoners, especially their fears, hungers, and deaths. Realistic and sharply focused, the book was referred to on the Internet as a Chinese Gulag Archipelago, in reference to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's exposé of the Soviet system of labour camps for political prisoners.

      A noteworthy novel, published in December, was Shou ji (“Cell Phone”) by Liu Zhenyun. An earlier four-volume novel by Liu, Gu xiang mian he hua duo (1998; “Hometown Noodles and Flowers”), had met with a cold reception because of its length. Shou ji, by contrast, was short and pithy. It was composed of 42 brief chapters; most of these were under three pages, and some consisted of only one sentence. This stark difference was partly because Liu developed the novel from a film plot by the same name but also partly because he wanted to stress the novel's theme, which was printed on the book's back cover: The useful words in the world make up fewer than 10 sentences a day. Liu brought home this point in his novel by juxtaposing the habits of modern people, who use such high-tech devices as cell phones and communicate little with far too many words, with communication of earlier times. Cell phones, Liu concluded, brought mostly unhappiness. A single sentence transmitted orally 150 years ago could take almost 3 years to reach the intended recipient in distant lands, but it was meaningful enough to reinvigorate a young idler's memories of and feelings for his family and to move him to return home.

      Another bright spot of 2003 was the expansion, beginning in October, of the length of the monthly Shanghai Literature. This was especially encouraging at a time when many literary journals were being transformed into nonliterary ventures. Chen Sihe, a well-known professor of literature, was named the new editor in chief of the Shanghai-based journal. As one of the leading literary periodicals of mainland China, Shanghai Literature continued to play an important role in Chinese literature.

Wang Xiaoming

Japanese
       World Literary Prizes 2003(For Selected International Literary Awards in 2003, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2003).)

      In May 2003 Nihon Bungaku Shinkokai (Society for the Promotion of Japanese Literature) appointed Eimi Yamada to the screening committee of the Akutagawa Prize—Japan's most prestigious literary award, given semiannually to the most promising new Japanese writers of fiction. Her appointment was unusual because Yamada herself had never won the prize, though in 1987 she won the Naoki Prize (for best work of popular literature). Despite the presence of some other Akutagawa Prize winners among the candidates who had been considered for the position, the society chose Yamada because of her popularity among young readers and for her experience on judging panels for other literary prizes.

      In the first half of 2003, the Akutagawa Prize went to Tamaki Daidō's “Shoppai doraibu” (“Salty Drive”), first published in the December 2002 issue of Bungakukai. Daidō's story of a love affair between a single 34-year-old woman and a married 66-year-old man created a stir among young Japanese women. Other candidates for the prize included senior high schooler Rio Shimamoto, whose tale “Ritoru bai ritoru” (“Little by Little”) was published in the November 2002 issue of Gunzo magazine. In the second half of the year, the Akutagawa Prize went to Man'ichi Yoshimura's “Hariganemushi” (“The Hairworm”), originally published in the May 2003 issue of Bungakukai. Its narrative involves a high-school ethics teacher who is undone by his increasingly unmanageable sexual obsession with an uneducated married woman.

      Perhaps the most significant event for Japanese literature in 2003 was Haruki Murakami's new translation of American author J.D. Salinger's classic novel of adolescence The Catcher in the Rye (1951). Published 39 years after Takashi Nozaki's popular and influential version titled Raimugibatake de tsukamaete (“Catch Me in the Rye”), Murakami's translation retained a Japanese version of the original English title—Kyaccha in za rai. The translations differed in other respects as well; many critics suggested that Murakami's narrator (the teenage Holden Caulfield) was more pessimistic and more penetrating than Nozaki's Holden, who was seen as wild and uncontrollable.

      Kyōichi Katayama's Sekai no chūshin de, ai o sakebu (2001; “Shouting Love in the Centre of the World”) remained on the best-seller list throughout 2003. This account of the life and death of a young couple captivated many young Japanese readers.

      The Yomiuri Prize for Literature went to Minae Mizumura's Honkaku shōsetsu (“Genuine Novel”). Based on the English novelist Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights (1847), it concerns three sisters and their daughters, living in Tokyo. The Kawabata Prize, given to the year's most accomplished work of short fiction, was awarded to Toshiyuki Horie's “Sutansu dotto” (“Stance Dot”) and Koji Aoyama's “Wagi moko kanashi” (“Feeling Sorry for My Sister”). Best-selling literary works that appeared in 2003 included Banana Yoshimoto's Deddo endo no omoide (“Memory of the Dead End”), Yamada's Pei dei!!! (“Pay Day!!!”), Ira Ishida's Naoki Prize-winning fiction 4 teen (“Fourteen”), and Haruki Murakami's Shonen kafuka: Kafka on the Shore Official Magazine, a collection of his Web site dialogues with readers concerning his work Umibe no Kafuka (2002; “Kafka on the Shore”).

Yoshihiko Kazamaru

▪ 2003

Introduction

English

United Kingdom.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2002, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2002).

      Martyn Goff, chairman of the Booker Prize committee, aroused debate in literary circles in 2002 when he suggested that by 2004 titles by writers from the United States should be eligible for the prize, which was open only to British, Irish, and Commonwealth writers. The chairman of judges, Lisa Jardine, countered that American authors such as Philip Roth would overwhelm the rest of the competition. “With someone like Roth at his best,” she said, “I can't see how an [Martin] Amis or a [Ian] McEwan could touch him. The American novelists paint on a much bigger canvas. If you look at Pulitzer Prize winners, every book there is on a majestic scale.” Other Britons agreed, despite the ambitious breadth of much recent British fiction. In November, Booker Prize organizers announced that the prize would remain closed to American writers, however, they were contemplating the establishment of a second prize for lifetime achievement, and for that prize Americans might be able to compete. The Booker also had a modern makeover. The main award was increased from £20,000 to £50,000 (about $29,000 to $72,000), and a new five-year sponsorship partner was found in the Man Group, a global provider of alternative investment funds.

      The year's judges read 130 titles, from which the original list of 20 novels was chosen. Young stars such as Zadie Smith, with her novel The Autograph Man, were pitted against seasoned authors such as Anita Brookner, whose elegant The Next Big Thing was a compassionate story of a lonely 73-year-old man. The shortlist, comprising six novels, contained few surprises. Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (see Biographies (Mistry, Rohinton )), a dark Mumbai (Bombay)-based story about a 79-year-old widower, was a favourite with many critics, as was William Trevor's The Story of Lucy Gault, which featured Protestants living in Ireland's County Cork during the independence struggle in 1921. Carol Shields's offering, Unless, was an admired depiction of the bonds between mothers and daughters. The Sunday Times promised that it would resound in readers' minds “for years, perhaps for a lifetime.” (Both Shields and Mistry were Canadian contenders.) An Australian possibility was Tim Winton's Dirt Music (2001), about a woman stranded in a remote fishing community with a husband she does not love and two stepchildren. The only British finalist was Sarah Waters. Her fast-paced Victorian-world Fingersmith was a popular success but was perhaps deemed too conventional in form to win.

      The judges' decision was rendered more transparent by the broadcasting of some of their debate on BBC Television. The unexpected winner, possibly a compromise choice, was Yann Martel's Life of Pi (Canadian-U.S. edition 2001), published in Edinburgh by Canongate, a small independent press. A lively and readable fable, with Noah's Ark resonances, the novel charts the voyage of a young boy, Pi, who emigrates from India to Canada with animals from his family's zoo. Lisa Jardine hailed it as an “audacious book in which inventiveness explores belief. It is, as the author says, ‘a novel which will make you believe in God—or ask yourself why you don't.'” Martel, who lives in Montreal, said that his book “was the luckiest” and that accepting the prize was like “winning the lottery.” Canongate immediately began reprinting 50,000 copies, and its managing director, David Graham, said the win was a “quantum leap” for his press, although it had enjoyed another popular success with the bawdy The Crimson Petal and the White, an 864-page Dickensian-style epic by Michel Faber.

      The Booker Prize, although the most famous of British literary awards, was not the most lucrative. The new Northern Rock Foundation Writer Award, worth £60,000 (about $87,000) was established by a Newcastle-based bank for writers living in England's northeast. The first winner was Anne Stevenson, a poet from Durham. Her award, she said, was a challenge to those who “imagine that London is and will always be the only city of culture.” The much praised novel Atonement (2001) by Ian McEwan (see Biographies (McEwan, Ian )), which had been hotly tipped for the 2001 Booker Prize, was a popular winner of the 2002 WH Smith literary prize, worth £5,000 (about $7,200). Meanwhile, American writer Ann Patchett (see Biographies (Patchett, Ann )) won the Orange Prize for Fiction, aimed at women writers and worth £30,000. Her topical novel Bel Canto (2001), about terrorists in Latin America who take hostage an American opera diva and a Japanese CEO, was praised for its attractive simplicity. On receiving the money, she said, “Hopefully I'll give it away. If I can find it in my character.” The Whitbread Book of the Year, also worth £30,000 (about $43,000), went for the first time to a children's author, Philip Pullman. The third volume in the His Dark Materials trilogy, The Amber Spyglass (2000), was deemed “exceptional” by the judges and was enjoyed as much by adults as by children; the author insisted that the sharp divide between writing for children and writing for adults was over.

      The robustness of the children's market continued. Terry Pratchett, another best-selling author who crossed the child-adult divide, won the year's Carnegie Medal. His The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (2001) was a dark but humorous take on the Pied Piper tale and was praised by the chair of the judges' panel for its deft questioning of “our society's attitudes and behaviour” and its ability to be at once “funny and irreverent.” On receiving the award, the prolific author castigated J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings for its insistence on war as a remedy to evil, saying he preferred to explore the possibility “that peace…can be maintained by careful diplomacy.” The international Hans Christian Andersen Children's Author of the Year was Aidan Chambers, the first British writer to win the title since Eleanor Farjeon in 1956. The Carnegie Medal winner in 1999, Chambers was admired for his nonpatronizing handling of complex issues such as war, homosexuality, and death.

      There was critical approval when W.G. Sebald, a German writer who had settled in East Anglia and had died in a car crash in December 2001, posthumously won both the National Book Critics Circle fiction prize in the U.S. and the U.K.'s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. The awards confirmed him as a literary giant whose international reputation was rapidly increasing. Sebald's works were compared to those of Franz Kafka, Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, and Vladimir Nabokov, and the judges of the British award hailed his novel Austerlitz (2001), a story told in a single 415-page paragraph, as a “novel of the first magnitude.” His 1988 prose poem, After Nature, was published in English in 2002 and was applauded as a haunting and sublime interweaving of memory, migration, and identity.

      Notable fiction that was omitted from the prize lists included A.S. Byatt's A Whistling Woman, her fourth tale in an engaging series about the lives of post-World War II women, and Linda Grant's Still Here, a Liverpool-set portrayal of family, love, and loss that was autobiographical in tone. John Banville's Shroud, a story about an aging academic, was also praised, for its exceptional fluency, but it made only the Booker long list, while Maggie Gee's The White Family, a gritty drama of a contemporary North London family, reached the Orange shortlist. Tim Lott's Rumours of a Hurricane, about a worker in a printing concern who goes on the picket line, was another deserving offering, with its deft portrait of politics and working-class culture in Margaret Thatcher's Britain.

      In nonfiction, themes of insecurity, war, and shifting identities threaded many titles as if echoing larger global trends. Philip Bobbitt's 922-page The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace and the Course of History was a reflection of the growing anxiety that history might be “ending.” Charting 500 years of conflict, it claimed that the nation-state was dying, that a new constitutional order was emerging, and that politicians had to grasp the new reality if further warfare was to be prevented. Past wars remained under the historian's lens. Michael Howard's The First World War was a terse summation of that conflict and its aftermath, while Ian Ousby rendered a dense microcosm of one bloody battle in The Road to Verdun: France, Nationalism and the First World War. An original depiction of the Spanish Civil War was Paul Preston's Doves of War: Four Women of Spain, which followed the fortunes of two English and two Spanish women caught up in the conflict of 1936–39. The Oxford historian Robert Gildea offered a thought-provoking study of France under the Nazis in Marianne in Chains: In Search of the German Occupation, 1940–1945. More provocative was Martin Amis's reappraisal of Stalin. His Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million was criticized for what some deemed a simplistic equation of Hitler and Stalin, although others welcomed its reappraisal of a regime that killed millions. Richard Fletcher went back farther in time in his Bloodfeud: Murder and Revenge in Anglo-Saxon England, an ingenious early history that used anthropology to illuminate scanty historical sources.

      History as it illuminates identity—particularly English identity—was a preoccupation of many writers, perhaps in response to the Queen's celebration of her Golden Jubilee. William Shawcross rendered an upbeat 50-year account of her reign in Queen and Country, while Richard Weight's Patriots: National Identity in Britain, 1940–2000 optimistically expected another 100 years of British Union, despite the increasing resentment of England in Wales and Scotland. Peter Ackroyd pondered English identity across a larger canvas. His 516-page Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination concluded that although the English vision “tended towards the local and the circumstantial,” it had made possible a vast creative achievement across many fields. Robert Colls's Identity of England probed the more elusive nature of national definition. Examining imperial expansion and immigration and how these affected what it was to be English or British, he pointed to history as the “first act of recognition” in the process of building a sense of identity. Maurice Cowling, a retired Cambridge historian, delivered the third and final volume of his immense Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England (2001). Subtitled Accommodations, it asked “whether the modern mind can escape religion” and analyzed, often with barbed invective, the basis on which British leaders and thinkers assumed their authority. Eric Hobsbawn's memoir Interesting Times: A Twentieth-Century Life also illuminated England's intellectual life, while The Victorians by A.N. Wilson, a survey of 724 pages, examined the previous century and what its author termed “the period of the most radical transformation ever seen by the world.” Another history on the broad scale was T.C.W. Blanning's The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture: Old Regime Europe, 1660–1789, a broadly interpretative vision of the Age of Enlightenment.

      Controversy followed when three politicians produced memoirs. Edwina Currie's Diaries 1987–1992 covered her time in the House of Commons and shocked many with its revelation of her love affair with former prime minister John Major. The imprisoned former politician and blockbuster writer Jeffrey Archer broke prison regulations with the publication of his prison diaries, which berated the state of the penal system; the prison authorities decided not to punish him so long as he promised to publish no more memoirs until his release. A third Thatcherite, former defense minister John Nott, published Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: Recollections of an Errant Politician, a memoir containing revelatory inside information, especially on the handling of the 1982 Falklands Islands War.

      Well-received biographies included Rosemary Ashton's Thomas and Jane Carlyle: Portrait of a Marriage, which provided the domestic context behind the development of Carlyle's thought, and Vanessa Collingridge's Captain Cook, an adventurous study of the explorer's life. The fourth and penultimate volume in John Grigg's biography of Lloyd George covered his war years, but Grigg's untimely death in the last days of 2001 begged the question of who would complete the study. Claire Tomalin's Samuel Pepys: The Unequalled Self showed Tomalin as mistress of her craft with its sure sense of period and multifaceted portrait of her subject. Wilfred Owen: A New Biography by Dominic Hibberd was only the second study of arguably World War I's most famous poet; it captured Owen's shy charm and thoughtful morality. David Gilmour demonstrated similar shrewd perception in his The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling.

      Comedian Spike Milligan (Milligan, Terence Alan Patrick Sean ), a beloved radio and television personality as well as poet, died at 83. A former member of the radio quartet the Goons, he also authored several volumes of hilarious war memoirs and nonsense poetry, rejoicing in such titles as Floored Masterpieces with Worse Verse, which he penned with Tracey Boyd. Lady Elizabeth Longford (Longford, Elizabeth Harman Pakenham, Countess of ), the biographer of figures such as Queen Victoria and the duke of Wellington, also passed away. (See Obituaries.)

Siobhan Dowd

United States.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2002, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2002).

      Most serious readers of American fiction would have to say that 2002 was an unusual year because the novel that dominated the best-seller list from late spring on was a first novel—California writer Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones—and the National Book Award (NBA) nominees in fiction, some of them first books, were all by writers unknown to a general audience. The winner was Julia Glass's first novel, Three Junes, a family tale taking place on three continents.

      Which was not to say that some known quantities had not published fiction of value and interest. Novelist William Kennedy weighed in early in the year with Roscoe, an addition to his Albany, N.Y., cycle that celebrates both the comedy and the pathos of urban American politics. Its eponymous hero cavorts through the thicket of time and competing interests that make up a city alive with pols and entrepreneurs, madames and lovers, mayors and thugs. After a 10-year hiatus, Thomas McGuane brought out a novel, The Cadence of Grass, with a smart if damned protagonist (“Good looking, quick-witted, a soul rented to darkness”), which won him some critical praise. Among other master veterans who published fiction were Gilbert Sorrentino with Little Casino, Ann Beattie with The Doctor's House, Howard Norman with The Haunting of L., and Bharati Mukherjee with Desirable Daughters.

      Kathryn Harrison, famous for her incest memoir The Kiss, published a novel, The Seal Wife, interesting both for its unusual presentation of her usual themes—passion and history—and for its exotic far north setting. In spare but telling prose, the story carves in ice a portrait of a young American present at the creation of modern meteorology. (Bigelow, the main character, “records ephemera: clouds, a fall of rain or of snow; hailstones, that after their furious clatter, melt silently into the ground. Like recounting a sigh. … He is recording a narrative that unfolds invisibly to most people, events that, even if noted, are soon forgotten.”)

      A hard act to imagine—let alone follow—was the Bausch brothers, Richard and Robert, identical twins and both of them novelists, and both of them with well-received novels published in 2002. In Hello to the Cannibals, Richard Bausch produced an imaginative hybrid of a book, with a contemporary narrative about a young woman doing the research for a play about 19th-century British explorer and eccentric Mary Kingsley, whose story Bausch interweaves into the modern tale. Robert Bausch chose rural Virginia for his story of intrigue and retribution titled The Gypsy Man. Tennessee-born-and-raised novelist Madison Smartt Bell also went south in Anything Goes, his novel about a young rock musician on the American road. Robert Hellenga's Blues Lessons (2001) took the reader into the world of contemporary music as he told the story of a young Michigan man and his love of the blues guitar and a girl from his childhood.

      Less successful in execution was The Incantation of Frida K., Kate Braverman's lyrical reconstruction of the life of 20th-century Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Oscar Hijuelos had a bit more success with the life of a Cuban composer in A Simple Habana Melody (from When the World Was Good). For his second novel, Walk Through Darkness, David Anthony Durham went to the history of slavery for an intense narrative about love and escape. In Big If, Mark Costello chose to make subtle comedy out of the material usually reserved for genre books. Spy novelist Robert Littell outdid himself with The Company, an 892-page novel recounting the birth and life of the Central Intelligence Agency. Craig Nova went to science fiction to produce Wetware, a story about two androids on the run and, in his competent hands, a study of the nature of what it is to be human. With Rapture, her book-length story of an act of coitus, Susan Minot stumbled badly. A fantasy writer with a literary bent (or a literary writer with a fantasy bent?), Jonathan Carroll produced White Apples. The late William Gaddis came to life again, with a posthumous short novel titled Agapē Agape.

      One of the fine first books of 2002 was Berkeley novelist David Masiel's 2182 kHz, the recounting of a rudderless Alaska tugboat crewman and his hope for a life beyond the ice and cold, a story told in lively, sensual language evoking a particular place: “The smell of the barge, with its mix of oil and grease and fuel, and its outdoor wind filled with diesel exhaust. … The patterned ground of the tundra … like a geometric field reaching to forever. The incongruity of a land that was at once desert and frozen marsh, the smell of the sea when it finally thawed, the sound of a lone seal.” Another great first book was Daniel Mason's extremely well-reviewed novel about a late 19th-century London music technician traveling in eastern Burma—The Piano Tuner. Montana writer Debra Magpie Earling's first novel, Perma Red, beautifully evoked the loneliness and solitude of a young woman's life on a remote Indian reservation. Brad Watson's first novel, The Heaven of Mercury, the thickly painted portrait of a small Southern town, was nominated for a National Book Award.

      Among short-story collections, some masters of the form were at work during the year. Richard Ford came out with A Multitude of Sins (first published in London in 2001). Ron Carlson offered At the Jim Bridger; the late Alice Adams was represented by The Stories of Alice Adams; and the genre-busting Ursula K. Le Guin signed in with The Birthday of the World and Other Stories. Rick Bass published a new collection called The Hermit's Story, and MacArthur Award winner Andrea Barrett delivered Servants of the Map. Tell Me, Mary Robinson's collected stories, also came out. New writer Maile Meloy made her debut with Half in Love, and first-time book writer Adam Haslett's collection You Are Not a Stranger Here was nominated for a National Book Award.

      The value of some of the book-length essays and critical works for the year was readily apparent. Former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky spoke strongly and well on one of his favourite themes—the role of poetry in an entertainment culture—in Democracy, Culture, and the Voice of Poetry. William Gaddis was represented once again by a posthumous volume, in this case the sharp-eyed (and sharp-tongued) essays on art and contemporary culture in The Rush for Second Place. Prize-winning novelist Jonathan Franzen approached the same subject in many of the essays and articles in How to Be Alone.

      New Yorker Morris Dickstein took a traditional critical approach to post-World War II American fiction in Leopards in the Temple: The Transformation of American Fiction, 1945–1970. Louis Menand, also a mainstay of New York criticism and winner of a Pulitzer for his work on American intellectual history, looked at writing and other aspects of contemporary culture in American Studies. Peter Gay went to bourgeois European culture, his traditional stamping grounds, in Savage Reprisals, an analysis of the novels of Charles Dickens, Gustave Flaubert, and Thomas Mann.

      Poet Edward Hirsch, the recently appointed head of the Guggenheim Foundation, looked mainly to poetry for his subject in the lively The Demon and the Angel: Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration. Arguing for a broad synthesis of modernist art and the work of American jazz geniuses such as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, the literary critic Alfred Appel, Jr., made Jazz Modernism: From Ellington and Armstrong to Matisse and Joyce one of the most interesting critical works of the year. Russell Martin focused on the painting Guernica in his well-argued study Picasso's War.

      “Norma Olivia Walgren met Winfield Sprague Harrison in 1933 at the River Gardens, a dance hall just north of Big Rapids, Mich., on the banks of the Muskegon River.” Thus novelist and poet Jim Harrison's memoir Off to the Side opens, rather conventionally, but Harrison manages before it is over to offer discourse on childhood, outdoor sports, food, writing, Hollywood, the American landscape, and philosophy in a spare and unpretentious voice. Writers Anne Bernays and Justin Kaplan, a couple for many decades, jointly composed Back Then: Two Lives in 1950s New York, in which family, the literary life, and indoor sports are recalled and scrutinized with great charm.

      Some younger writers revealed themselves in memoirs such as Teacher by Mark Edmundson, an insightful glimpse into the intellectual (and nonintellectual) life of a Boston-area high school in the late 1960s; The Black Veil, in which novelist and storyteller Rick Moody assays his own moods and airs; and My Sky Blue Trades, in which one of the U.S.'s best young literary critics, Sven Birkerts, depicts his early life. Poet Gregory Orr wrote of a tumultuous event in childhood in The Blessing. Kim Stafford chronicled life with his father, the Oregon poet William Stafford, in Early Morning.

      The third volume in Robert A. Caro's massive biography of Lyndon Johnson appeared (and won an NBA)—The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate—while scholar Stanley P. Hirshson published General Patton and Edmund S. Morgan added Benjamin Franklin to the bookshelves. In Sinclair Lewis, Rebel from Main Street, Richard Lingeman turned the light on an American writer being reevaluated by critics and readers. May Sarton: Selected Letters, 1955–1995 was edited by Susan Sherman.

      For poets, the year never lost its lustre, though it was dimmed somewhat by the death in late 2001 of Agha Shahid Ali (“A night of ghazals comes to an end. The singer/ departs through her chosen mirror, her one diamond/ cut on her countless necks. I, as ever, linger/ till chandeliers dim to the blue of Samarkand domes and I've again lost everyone”). The poet's Rooms Are Never Finished made him seem quite alive still. Maxine Kumin in The Long Marriage (2001) went “Skinnydipping with William Wordsworth” (“I lie by the pond in utter nakedness/ thinking of you, Will, your epiphanies/ of woodcock, raven, rills, and craggy steeps”). Among other senior poets, 87-year-old Ruth Stone's In the Next Galaxy won the poetry NBA, Grace Schulman presented Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems, and Mona Van Duyn offered Selected Poems.

      “Call it a field where the animals/ who were forgotten by the Ark/ come to graze under the evening clouds./ Or a cistern where the rain that fell/ Before history trickles over a concrete lip./ However you see it,/ this is no place to set up/ the three-legged easel of realism”: so U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins displayed his off-hand manner and Frost-driven plain style in Nine Horses. J.D. McClatchy put out Hazmat; Elizabeth Spires published Now the Green Blade Rises; and C.D. Wright signed in with Steal Away: Selected and New Poems (“In the space of an ear/ she told him the uncut version/ in all but inaudible detail/ without motors without phones/ he gathered round her/ like books like chairs/ her warmth her terrible warmth/ flooded the tone”).

      Among the other many fine poets with books out in 2002 were Alan Shapiro (Song and Dance), Frank Bidart (Music like Dirt), Gerald Stern (American Sonnets), Donald Hall (The Painted Bed), Charles Wright (A Short History of the Shadow), Jorie Graham (Never), Stephen Sandy (with a long poem Surface Impressions), Joy Harjo (How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems), and John Koethe (North Point North: New and Selected Poems). In addition, Robert Sward signed in with Heavenly Sex (“Hello wife, hello world, hello God./ I love you. Hello certain monsters,/ ghosts, office buildings, I love you. Dog,/ dog-dogs, cat, cat-cats, I love you./ Hello Things-in-Themselves, Things Not Quite/ in Themselves [but trying], I love you.”) The debut volume by Santa Cruz poet Tilly Washburn Shaw, Swimming Closer to Shore, was met with serious pleasure. Among translations were Anne Carson's If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho and Mark Strand's renditions from the Quechua and from Carlos Drummond de Andrade and Rafael Alberti in Looking for Poetry.

      Ann Patchett (see Biographies (Patchett, Ann )) won the 2002 PEN/Faulkner Prize for her novel Bel Canto (2001), and the Pulitzer committee chose Richard Russo in fiction for his novel Empire Falls (2001), Carl Dennis in poetry for Practical Gods (2001), Suzan-Lori Parks in drama for Topdog/Underdog (2001), and Louis Menand in history for The Metaphysical Club (2001).

Alan Cheuse

Canada
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2002, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2002).

      In Canadian novels of 2002, the family—the importance of, the saving of, the destructiveness of, the hopes for—was a persistent theme. It was often explored from the viewpoint of a child, as in Mary Lawson's Crow Lake, in which four orphans struggle to raise each other under the fierce, protective leadership of the oldest brother. In Lures, Sue Goyette studied temptation in the lives of two families, using their respective daughters as lenses. Donna Morrissey, in Downhill Chance, presented successive generations attempting to unravel the past in their search for a future. In Family Matters, Rohinton Mistry (see Biographies (Mistry, Rohinton )), wove the unpromising strands of poverty, age, and estrangement with those of love, forbearance, and luck into a tapestry of life in modern Mumbai (Bombay). In Unless, Carol Shields investigated the meaning of goodness by portraying a mother's efforts to understand her daughter's decision to live on the streets. Nino Ricci approached similar themes from radical new angles in Testament. Cynthia Flood employed the metaphor of a calcified fetus in Making a Stone of the Heart to examine how love can die but remain unburied.

      Escape from one's family was a significant subtheme. In Christy Ann Conlin's Heave, the bride flees the altar in order to come to terms with her life; in Marnie Woodrow's Spelling Mississippi, two women inform each other's search for love and independence. Also on the run, in this instance from the consequences of political activism, was the protagonist of Ann Ireland's Exile. In contrast, the search for one's family, one's origins, was the core of Wayne Johnston's The Navigator of New York and, in a different way, at the heart of Lori Lansens's Rush Home Road, the story of a black woman's de facto adoption of a mixed-race child. Nightlong reminiscences were the thread on which Austin Clarke, in The Polished Hoe, and Neil Bissoondath, in Doing the Heart Good, hung their tales of murder, mayhem, regret, and reconciliation, while David Bergen, in The Case of Lena S., strung up the myths of adolescent relationships with a fine noose of humour.

      Short stories also covered familiar terrain. In The Broken Record Technique, Lee Henderson presented families who have lied so often to themselves and others that they no longer know what the truth is. Nancy Lee, in Dead Girls, dissected the lives of women in peril, whether in their homes or on the streets, and in Real Life: Short Stories, Sharon Butala deftly depicted how the uneven contours of dailiness can trip up even the wariest. Bill Gaston's Mount Appetite studied the nature of the hungers, spiritual and physical, that drive us, often away from ourselves. Lisa Moore's Open lifted the lid on young people looking for a way out, and Diane Schoemperlen's Red Plaid Shirt: Stories New and Selected focused on the lives of lonely single small-town women. In Silent Cruise and Other Stories, Timothy Taylor explored the fates of people caught in the nets of their own elaborate plots.

      Poetry went its usual idiosyncratic way, whether in Lorna Crozier's Apocrypha of Light, in which women of the Bible were newly illuminated; Stephanie Bolster's Pavilion, a metaphoric stroll through a garden of elemental images; Colin Browne's lyrical fusion of war, conquest, and sacrifice in Ground Water; or Erin Mouré's explorations of the nuances of citizenship and feminism in O Cidadan.Games also figured, from Take Me Out to the Ballgame, Raymond Souster's playful musings on that enduring summer pastime, to bill bissett's peter among th towring boxes, text bites, in which the excesses of vernacular were subtly disciplined, to Kathleen McConnell's satiric sporting with modernity in Nail Builders Plan for Strength and Growth, Douglas Barbour's experiments with sound in Breath Takes (2001), and Linda Rogers's examination of how people resist the pressures of modern life in The Bursting Test. Michael Crummey picked gems of insight from the wrack of loneliness, death, and broken pride in Salvage; Marilyn Bowering mixed emotions in transformative moments in The Alchemy of Happiness; and P.K. Page circumnavigated humanity in Planet Earth.

Elizabeth Rhett Woods

Other Literature in English.
      In 2002 literature in English from Africa, Australia, and New Zealand was distinguished by the number of international, regional, and national awards received as well as by new releases from major writers. Nigeria's Wole Soyinka, the first African Nobel laureate in literature (1986), became the first black and African recipient of Italy's Vita di Poeta Prize. His new verse collection, Samarkand & Other Markets I Have Known, was published at year's end, and his 2001 play King Baabu, a satire on the dictatorship of Nigeria's Gen. Sani Abacha, appeared in print. Two nonfiction works that focused on the subject of African dictatorship were David Blair's Degrees in Violence: Robert Mugabe and the Struggle for Power in Zimbabwe and Martin Meredith's volume Our Votes, Our Guns: Robert Mugabe and the Tragedy of Zimbabwe. On a lighter note, Nigerian fiction writer Femi Ojo-Ade provided unpredictable twists of fate in his short-story collection Black Gods, while countryman Chimalum Nwankwo offered lyrical virtuosity with The Womb in the Heart & Other Poems.

      In South Africa, J.M. Coetzee, twice winner of the Booker Prize, brought out Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life II, his much-anticipated second volume of serialized memoirs, in which he offers a self-portrait as a young artist whose eventual success is born out of misery. Talented 44-year-old novelist Ivan Vladislavic garnered South Africa's 2002 Sunday Times Fiction Award with The Restless Supermarket (2001). Jack Mapanje was the recipient of the 2002 Fonlon-Nichols Award conferred by the African Literature Association (U.S.) for his contribution to African poetry and civil rights. Nobelist Nadine Gordimer won the Africa regional competition for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for best book with her novel The Pickup (2001), and Manu Herbstein won the Commonwealth best first book award with Ama: A Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade (2000).

      Best-selling Australian novelist Colleen McCullough completed her Roman series by re-creating Julius Caesar in The October Horse: A Novel About Caesar and Cleopatra. Veteran author Thomas Keneally brought out American Scoundrel, his biography of the infamous politician, American Civil War general, and murderer Daniel Sickles, while Australia's finest living poet, Les Murray, saw the publication of two new works: Poems the Size of Photographs and Collected Poems 1961–2002. Tim Winton's novel Dirt Music (2001) won the 2002 Miles Franklin Award. Winner of the 2002 Commonwealth Writers Prize was Richard Flanagan's entertaining Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish (2001).

      In neighbouring New Zealand, notable recipients of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards were Lynley Hood for A City Possessed: The Christchurch Civic Crèche Case (winner in three categories: reader's choice, nonfiction, and history), Craig Marriner for his provocative Stonedogs (fiction), and Hone Tuwhare for his collection Piggy-Back Moon (poetry).

      One of Australia's most distinguished authors of children's books, Elyne Mitchell, died on March 4. Mitchell, a writer for more than 60 years, was best known for her Silver Brumby series.

David Draper Clark

Germanic

German.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2002, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2002).

      Günter Grass, who turned 75 on Oct.16, 2002, published Im Krebsgang, a novel about the destruction of the German refugee ship Wilhelm Gustloff in January 1945, during the final months of World War II; this catastrophe, which killed thousands, many of them women and children, was probably the most horrendous passenger-ship disaster in history, far surpassing the sinking of the Titanic. The survivor-mother of the novel's fictional narrator was pregnant with him at the time of the catastrophe and gives birth to him shortly thereafter. The novel addresses the difficult moral and political question of whether it is permissible or appropriate for Germans to explore their status as victims, not just as perpetrators. Im Krebsgang initiated a major discussion in Germany about the expulsion of ethnic Germans from East Prussia, Silesia, Pomerania, and Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II and afterward. Grass's position, in the novel and elsewhere, is that the topic of German victimization should not be left to the right wing.

      Christa Wolf published Leibhaftig, an extended narrative about an elderly woman fighting a near-fatal disease during the final crisis of the German Democratic Republic. In interior monologues the woman explores the borderline between life and death and the one between body and soul; she comes to the therapeutic realization that the differences between these poles are not as well defined as she had previously believed. In her novel Endmoränen, Monika Maron, like Wolf a writer from the former German Democratic Republic, also explored a woman's experience of aging and her terrifying realization that the most important part of her life has passed and that she faces an indeterminate, but possibly very long, period of decline and decay.

      The most controversial novel of the year was Martin Walser's Tod eines Kritikers, a ferocious, barely hidden attack on Marcel Reich-Ranicki (see Biographies (Reich-Ranicki, Marcel )), Germany's most popular literary critic. In this roman à clef, a famous critic who strongly resembles Reich-Ranicki, and who is portrayed as unscrupulous and scheming, is believed to have been murdered by an author whom he had previously criticized. (In the end it turns out that the critic is alive and well.) The novel, originally scheduled for serialized publication in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, was rejected by that newspaper's editor, Frank Schirrmacher, in an open letter on the front page of the newspaper; this very public rejection by a former defender of the controversial Walser was accompanied by accusations that the novel was anti-Semitic. After a hefty controversy, the Suhrkamp publishing company decided to stand behind Walser and rejected the accusations of anti-Semitism. Bodo Kirchhoff's Schundroman was another satire on Germany's frequently overheated literary world; in it a critic who also strongly resembles Reich-Ranicki actually is killed. Kirchhoff's novel, however, did not stir up the kind of controversy that Walser's did.

      Liane Dirks's autobiographical novel Vier Arten meinen Vater zu beerdigen was about a woman and the father who abuses her sexually and ultimately disappears from her life, winding up as a master chef on the island of Barbados, where his daughter rushes, too late, to see him on his deathbed. As an old Caribbean woman tells the daughter, one of the four ways of burying her father is to tell his story, and it is this final method of coming to terms with the past that results in the narrative itself.

      Martin Z. Schröder's Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen was a novel about everyday life in the criminal underworld of a major German city. The novel's protagonist Savio is a young man who embarks on a downward spiral of criminality; his encounters with German bureaucracy fail to improve his, or society's, problems. André Kubiczek's novel Junge Talente portrays a young man from the East German countryside who goes to Berlin at the end of the 1980s, just as the state is collapsing, and lives the life of a bohemian.

      In her novel Eden Plaza, Dagmar Leupold depicted a romantic triangle involving an unhappily married woman, her prosaic husband, and her romantic lover. Christoph D. Brumme's novel Süchtig nach Lügen also dealt with a romantic relationship, one between two people who can hardly stand each other; they seem to take pleasure in inflicting pain. In contrast, Hans Pleschinski's autobiographical novel Bildnis eines Unsichtbaren was about a gay man mourning but also celebrating the memory of his longtime partner, who has died of AIDS. Arno Geiger's novel Schöne Freunde related the fantastic tale of a small boy living in a world entirely determined by literature and the imagination. In his short-story collection Von den Deutschen, Georg Klein sought to explore the roots of German identity even in a world of globalization.

Stephen Brockmann

Netherlandic.
      The year 2002 saw the publication of novels by several second-generation immigrants to The Netherlands whose initial entries had catapulted them into prominence and thereby launched them into the role of sought-after lecturers and authors of opinion pieces. Among them Naima El Bezaz and Abdelkader Benali demonstrated again their right to such prominence. In Minnares van de duivel, El Bezaz, a Moroccan-Dutch lawyer, retold folktales of Arabic origin in a deceptively simple style and with minimal literary artifice. Benali, in De langverwachte, offered a tangle of stories, with frequent references to other texts. The work illustrated—and sometimes questioned—a variety of approaches to Moroccan-Dutch identity.

      Robert Anker received the Libris Literatuur Prijs for his novel Een soort Engeland (2001). It was praised for presenting “passionately, intelligently, with irony and self-mockery” both the life of an actor and the Dutch theatre world in the second half of the 20th century. Allard Schröder was awarded the AKO Literatuur Prijs for his historical novel De hydrograaf, a love story about a German hydrographer as well as a “novel of ideas on a European scale.”

      One theme of several major novels in 2002 was the importance of imagination in life and literature. The protagonist in Maria Stahlie's De lijfarts, a hypochondriac, indulges in exasperating magical thinking. That she is not destroyed by her strange approach to the truth is due only to another's remarkable act of imagination and grace. In Nelleke Noordervliet's Pelican Bay, a novelist travels to Curaçao to solve a family mystery—the 18th-century murder of a slaveholder's wife—and perhaps to reunite with her vanished brother. She finds that imagination is a necessary requirement for a return to the past. With Boze tongen, Tom Lanoye's “monster” trilogy ended without revealing the “truth,” although the reader understands that the main character is destroyed by others' fantasies. The trilogy offered an incisive social and political critique dressed up as grotesque soap opera. Leon de Winter's God's Gym dared to imagine alternative chains of events even as it spun a virtuosic tale in a world of surprises.

Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

Danish.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2002, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2002).

      In 2002 Danish writers often looked to the past. Maria Helleberg's novel about Princess Louise Augusta (1771–1843), Kærlighedsbarn, portrayed the love affair between the princess and her husband and the one between the princess's parents, the traitor Johann Friedrich Struensee and Queen Caroline Matilda. Peter Fogtdal's Lystrejsen also depicted regal romance, between Frederik IV and someone he met long ago in Italy. Italy also figured importantly in Adda Lykkeboe's Balladen om Antonie (2001). In Fortællinger til Abram (2001), Janina Katz focused on the love affair of two Polish Jews. Nansen og Johansen: et vintereventyr, the well-received novel by Klaus Rifbjerg (see Biographies (Rifbjerg, Klaus )) about Fram-expedition polar explorers, sparked controversy in Norway. Both Jane Aamund (Vesten for måne) and Hans Edvard Nørregård-Nielsen (Riber ret: et tidsbillede) created family chronicles of life in Jutland. The poet Henrik Nordbrandt explored his troubled past in Døden fra Lübeck. Mogens Lehmann created a fictional portrait of 17th-century scientist Ole Rømer in Lysets tøven, while Kirsten Rask focused on the founder of comparative linguistics in her biography Rasmus Rask: store tanker i et lille land.

      Misfits also figured in Danish fiction in 2002. In Mads Brenøe's Bjerget (2001), recipes punctuated the travails of portly Jens, who planned a reunion for all his childhood tormenters. In Nordkraft, Jakob Ejersbo depicted a group of ne'er-do-wells in 1990s Aalborg. Kim Fupz Aakeson focused on the boxing gym in Mellemvægt. Helle Helle's novella Forestillingen om et ukompliceret liv med en mand introduced a curious ménage à trois. Ib Michael's Kejserens atlas (2001) centred on two sets of twins: two wildly dissimilar Danes and a Japanese shogun and his gardener-brother. Leif Davidsen presented a tale of family secrets in De gode søstre (2001). In Bjarne Reuter's Barolo Kvartetten, casual thoughts of murder became reality. F.P. Jac's Numse-Kajs otier på de græske øer (2001) depicted the mishaps of a retired school principal during a holiday on Crete. Niels Jørgensen's poems in the brief but glorious Gilliaps store tid (2001) harmoniously melded love and nature. In Det værste og det bedste, Søren Ulrik Thomsen's poems traversed life's triumphs and tragedies. The journalist Poul Blak ranged far in En ø i galaksen: ekspanderende essays.

      Hans Edvard Nørregård-Nielsen was named an honorary member of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2002 and received the Golden Laurels for Riber ret, while Bo Lidegaard garnered the Søren Gyldendal Prize for Jens Otto Krag, his biography of the former prime minister.

Lanae Hjortsvang Isaacson

Norwegian.
      The year 2002 was a successful one for Norway's recently established authors, who shared a compassionate interest in portraying the abused and wounded child. Niels Fredrik Dahl was awarded the Brage Literary Prize for his second novel, På vei til en venn, which portrayed the effects of abuse on a young boy. Others who addressed the vulnerable child in acclaimed novels included Lars Amund Vaage (nominated for the Brage Prize for Kunsten å gå), Merethe Lindstrøm (Natthjem), MiRee Abrahamsen (BOLS: en fortelling fra landet), Håvard Syvertsen (I lyset), and Sylvelin Vatle (Mørket bak Gemini). Synne Sun Løes tackled youth and depression in Å spise blomster til frokost, which was awarded the Brage Literary Prize for Youth Literature.

      Bror Hagemann's De blyges hus won acclaim for its unsentimental depiction of an institution for mentally disabled children and for its brave and beautiful portrayal of the love between a patient and a teacher. Linn Ullmann addressed euthanasia, heightening awareness and increasing dialogue on the subject with her third novel, Nåde, which was commended for its graceful tone and humour.

      Among well-established authors, Jostein Gaarder was awarded the Brage Honorary Prize for his comprehensive work—from children's literature to philosophy—in the previous 10 years; his works had been translated into 48 languages. Lars Saabye Christensen was awarded the 2002 Nordic Council Literature Prize for his widely praised Halvbroren (2001), and Liv Køltzow was nominated for the following year's prize for her acclaimed Det avbrutte bildet, about a woman's maturing into an artist after a broken relationship. Køltzow's work offered perceptive reflections on not only art but also the dynamics between women and men. The latter subject, especially the topic of unfaithfulness, was a popular theme during the year and was lustfully described by Hans Petter Blad, who debuted with the critically applauded I skyggen av små menn midt på dagen.

      Among other debuts, Heidi Linde's Under bordet, about the lives of young urbanites in Oslo, received most of the acclaim and attention. Erik Honoré probed the uses and abuses of the Internet by pedophiles and pornographers in his critically commended Orakelveggen.

      Treasured poet Jan Erik Vold delighted with his characteristic talent in making the everyday poetic in Tolv meditasjoner. Time-honoured Stein Mehren plumbed the existential experience of time in Den siste ildlender. Newlyweds Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn's book of collected meditations on love and spirituality, Fra hjerte til hjerte, raised eyebrows for its atypical format. Journalist Åsne Seierstad's Bokhandleren i Kabul: et familiedrama, a documentary about an Afghan family in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban regime, became an award-winning bestseller.

Anne G. Sabo

Swedish.
      There was a touch of pastiche to many novels published in Sweden during 2002. Some—such as Stewe Claeson's Rönndruvan glöder, Ernst Brunner's Fukta din aska, and Monica Braw's Främling—were based on careful studies of a historical epoch, focusing on a great figure of the time. In other novels—such as Carl-Johan Vallgren's Den vidunderliga kärlekens historia, Gabriella Håkansson's Fallet Sandemann, Torbjörn Elensky's Döda vinklar, Aris Fioretos's Sanningen om Sasha Knisch, Mons Kallentoft's Marbella Club, and Jerker Virdborg's Svart krabba—genres with a mystifying potential (gothic fiction, crime novels, or thrillers) were used, both out of sheer fascination with their characteristics and, it seemed, in order to portray strong, basic human feelings in our ironical time.

      Long-established authors Kerstin Ekman, with Sista rompan, and Torgny Lindgren, with Pölsan, used their skilled craftsmanship to display an interest in history. Their depictions of the hardships of Swedish rural life in the not-too-distant past were on the surface simple and realistic but turned out to be burgeoning with symbolic possibilities and narrative inventiveness. The same was true for Elisabeth Rynell's Till Mervas and Lotta Lotass's Band II: Från Gabbro till Löväng, the latter using the short-story cycle rather than the full-length novel form.

      Among younger writers, the trend toward shorter fiction kept its grip. Cecilia Davidsson and Ninni Holmqvist, trendsetters in the mid-1990s, appeared with new minimalist collections, Vänta på vind and Biroller, respectively. Karl Johan Nilsson worked with separate stories thematically interlinked in Korsakovs syndrom. Helena Ljungström's Kring en trädgård, Åsa Ericsdotter's Kräklek, and Sara Villius's first book, Nej, det är en snöklump, could be read either as fragmented novels or as collections of poetry devoted to the roving experience of young love. Daniel Sjölin's Oron bror and Johannes Sjögren's Backabo used the flickering possibilities of short fiction to cast uneasy light on childhood in the 1970s, while Henrik Kullander's Elfenbenssvart and Oscar Danielson's Siljans konditori could be the start of a new type of clearly nostalgic stories about prolonged boyhood.

Immi Lundin

French

France.
      One of the themes most prevalent in French literature of 2002 was the empty isolation felt to be characteristic of modern life. In Mon petit garçon, Richard Morgiève explored this theme on the personal level in the postdivorce misery of his separation from his son. The title, endlessly repeated, became a refrain of paternal longing. In Danièle Sallenave's D'amour, the author considered two suicides disastrous for her, her aunt's and her lover's, in an attempt to understand how two people so different could have committed the same lonely act and whether she might have done something to stop them.

      On a larger scale, the idea of modern capitalistic times as empty in contrast to the poetic idealism of the more revolutionary 1960s and '70s suffused Patrick Raynal's Ex, in which a man who in 1968 joined a Marxist group aiming at revolution by 2001 receives an unexpected visit in 2001 from the leader of his long-disbanded group. Olivier Rolin told a similar, if more autobiographical tale in his Tigre en papier through his alter ego, Martin, who relives the violence of the 1970s when he, like the author, had belonged to the armed branch of the revolutionary “cause.” As Martin portrays the activists, gone now or absorbed into the society they once combated, he resurrects not only the youthful beauty of their devotion but also their surrounding crowd of pseudo-Marxists, hangers-on, and police informants.

      Modern-day blandness as the victory of image over substance was the subject of Nicolas Fargues's satiric One Man Show, in which a writer, tired of being a “good guy,” decides to explore his Machiavellian side and enter the world of television, where illusion reigns supreme. The struggle between illusion and reality also dominated Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's Lorsque j'étais une œuvre d'art, the story of a man on the brink of suicide who sells his soul to an artist. The artist then turns him into a human sculpture, a piece of merchandise exposed to the multitudes; but when the sculpture falls in love it is only a matter of time until its buried human reality resurfaces.

      Isolation pushed to the extreme of sexual predation was at the heart of Nicolas Jones-Gorlin's scandalous Rose bonbon, which brings the reader into the mind of a pedophile murderer, a novel that reaches such levels of violence that the French government briefly threatened to prohibit the book's sale to minors.

      In Christian Gailly's Un Soir au club (2001), however, hope for escape from loneliness was found in the love of another. A man saved from a downward spiral of alcohol and sex, but at the price of his music, learns to live again when by accident he steps into a jazz club, where a piano and a woman invite rebirth. It is also a chance meeting, this time on a train, that offers the protagonist of Christian Oster's Dans le train a chance for happiness: neurotic and alone, Franck offers to carry Anne's absurdly heavy baggage, and their subsequent train adventure opens the way to love.

      In two of the year's novels, happiness could be found only by eliminating society altogether. In Pierre Senges's Ruines-de-Rome, a geometer, inspired by the Bible he reads backward, from the Apocalypse to the Garden of Eden, tries to speed the coming of paradise by sowing, in the cracks of the city, any plant that will crumble the steel and concrete monstrosity mankind has built. In a more intimate project, Philippe Sollers's L'Étoile des amants shows a man and a woman, stranded alone after a shipwreck on a deserted isle, who learn to truly live, as they had been unable to do in society, by reawakening their dulled senses and sensuality.

      Two historical novels stood out by their exuberance in an often laconic, even gloomy literary landscape: Gilles Lapouge's La Mission des frontières offered a fictional account of an 18th-century mission sent from Portugal to drag a massive monolith through the mountains of newly conquered Brazil to mark its border with the neighbouring Spanish territory. When the absurd task fails, the men descend into an insane trip through the jungles to São Luis, where their adventures with paganized priests and prostitutes are interrupted by a thundering bishop come to call his flock back to order. The Martinique-born Patrick Chamoiseau's Biblique des derniers gestes (2001), destined to become a classic of francophonie (French-language literature produced outside France), displays the vast panorama of 20th-century armed resistance to colonialism through the imaginary biography of a fictional revolutionary, Balthazar Bodule-Jules, who on his deathbed reflects on his fight for freedom, which took him from his native Caribbean to countries as distant as Vietnam, Algeria, and the Congo.

      Pascal Quignard won the 2002 Prix Goncourt for Les Ombres errantes, less a novel than a series of reflections on mythology from across the globe and on the passage of time in history. Gérard de Cortanze won the Prix Renaudot for Assam, a historical novel about his ancestor Aventino di Cortanze, who traveled to India in search of the legendary Assam tea. Chantal Thomas was awarded the Prix Femina for Les Adieux à la reine, a fictionalized account of Marie-Antoinette's downfall in July 1789, and Anne F. Garréta won the Prix Médicis for Pas un jour, in which she describes 12 women she has desired or who have desired her.

Vincent Aurora

Canada.
      French Canadian literature displayed its usual variety in 2002, both cleaving to its favourites and following global trends. The literary scene in Quebec, the Canadian province in which virtually all French writing and publishing were located, evinced a flair for mixing politics and culture. At the book fair in Montreal, the Salon du Livre de Montréal—the year's main literary event—fairgoers discovered a large exhibit extolling the joys of the French language in Canada, including the art of blasphemy. The exhibit underscored the 25th anniversary of the Charter of the French Language in the province of Quebec. Also at the fair, the Union des Écrivaines et des Écrivains Québécois, or Quebec Writers' Union, celebrated its 25th year of existence. (First organized as a promoter of Quebec independence, the union passed through a period of reflection as support for that political option waned.) Another event of note was the Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, which celebrated its fourth year. Mixing readings and discussions in French and English, and sometimes in Spanish, the festival billed itself as an alternative to the segregation by language that often plagued cultural events in Montreal, the literary capital of French Canada.

      Louis Gauthier won the Grand Prix du Livre de Montréal for his prose work Voyage au Portugal avec un Allemand. Having written in the shadows for decades, Gauthier was finally rewarded for his work. Academic-based literature got a boost when Monique LaRue won the Governor-General's Award, the country's top prize, for her novel about a college teacher, La Gloire de Cassiodore. At the cash registers, Monique Proulx triumphed with Le Cœur est un muscle involontaire, a novel whose main character could not stand writers. As for up-and-comers, Guillaume Vigneault showed that men could attract their share of the glory with Chercher le vent (2001). Vigneault's father, Gilles, was one of French Canada's best-loved poets and singers.

      French Canada is a territory where writers cross genres with no self-consciousness at all; for example, in 2002 playwright Larry Tremblay produced a novel, Le Mangeur de bicyclette. His work was part of the general resurgence of the Leméac publishing firm, which reentered the marketplace after a period of difficulty.

David Homel

Italian
      The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., had quantitative and qualitative repercussions on the Italian literary scene in 2002. Book sales had begun to increase considerably during the last quarter of 2001. Readers showed a pronounced preference for essays, perhaps in an attempt to find a rational explanation for the traumatic events. Breaking 10 years of self-imposed silence, Oriana Fallaci, one of the most influential Italian opinion makers of all time (and a resident of New York City), produced a hugely successful and controversial volume. Published in December 2001, La rabbia e l'orgoglio expanded an inflammatory newspaper article written in the weeks following September 11. It combined a passionate defense of democracy and pluralism with an affirmation of the superiority of the Western and Judeo-Christian world that many found offensive and untimely. Soon translated into several languages, La rabbia e l'orgoglio enjoyed considerable popularity abroad while continuing to spark controversy. After an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the distribution of the volume in France, human rights groups brought legal charges against Fallaci, who was accused of inciting racial hatred.

      A competent account of the war in Afghanistan was provided by Gino Strada's Buskashì: viaggio dentro la guerra. The author's knowledge of the country predated the September 11 attacks and was linked to the personal and professional interests that had led him, as a surgeon, to found Emergency, a humanitarian association for the treatment of civilian victims of war.

      Another successful polemical essay, Giorgio Bocca's Piccolo Cesare, dealt with the unique Italian political situation. The country's billionaire prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, also served as minister of foreign affairs for almost a year and controlled a multimedia empire that included television channels, a major publishing house, and an influential newspaper. Bocca saw Berlusconi's success as a prime example of the degeneration of capitalism, resulting from blind faith in market laws, and he examined its significance in an international context.

      This strong tendency toward reflection could be noticed too in books that were not directly inspired by the news, such as Michele Serra's Cerimonie. The volume's 12 pieces brought a combination of essay and fiction to bear on the secular practices of the 21st century, from “happy hour” to public gatherings. Elegant and lucid, this remarkable book explored the need to elaborate new rituals for expressing joy and sorrow in a world that had lost faith in religious and political ideologies.

      Giuseppe Pontiggia's analysis of contemporary phenomena alternated with more detached cultural and literary considerations in Prima persona, a collection of articles he had written for the newspaper Il sole 24 ore. A strong ethical vein ran throughout the collection, especially in the reflections on the link between responsibility, justice, crime, and punishment.

      Two prominent artists produced autobiographical works: Dario Fo, recipient of the 1997 Nobel Prize for Literature, gave a tender and ironic account of his childhood in Il paese dei Mezaràt: i miei primi sette anni (e qualcuno in più). Dacia Maraini's La nave per Kobe: diari giapponesi di mia madre, published in late 2001, drew inspiration from the journals in which the writer's mother described the family's long journey from Italy to Japan and its experiences in the latter country. Memories from a distant past were juxtaposed with remarks on the author's present life and with reflections on the travels that would lead Maraini, as an adult, to revisit the same cities her mother had written about. Maraini had fashioned other works based on her life but had always refrained from describing the time spent in Japan, which ended tragically with the deportation of the entire family to a concentration camp because of the parents' refusal to swear allegiance to the Republic of Salò. Even in this book, only a few pages were devoted to that experience. In the conclusion, Maraini talked about her decision to stop, once again, “al limitare del bosco” (“on the verge of the forest”) before venturing into the painful memories of the concentration camp.

      Compared with this intense activity of critical reflection, the year's novels seemed to be somewhat less intense and vibrant, less capable of retaining readers' interest. Marta Morazzoni and Alessandro Baricco enjoyed a predictable but limited success among their followers with their latest works, Una lezione di stile and Senza sangue, respectively. Margaret Mazzantini won the Strega Prize with Non ti muovere (2001), a novel in which a man, awaiting news of his 15-year-old daughter who is undergoing a difficult surgery, remembers the events that led him to become a distant, indifferent father.

      Andrea Camilleri confirmed his success with six new adventures of his hero, police inspector Montalbano, in La paura di Montalbano. Far more important, however, was the publication by Mondadori of a volume devoted entirely to Camilleri in the prestigious Meridiani series. The volume included the totality of Montalbano's adventures, other works by Camilleri, and relevant criticism. Apart from being a tribute to the author, it acknowledged the new status reached by the giallo (detective story), a genre traditionally deemed inferior by Italian literary criticism.

      The publication of the first volume of Anna Maria Ortese's collected works (Romanzi, vol. 1) by Adelphi constituted a milestone in the critical recognition of one of the most original—and long-neglected—voices of 20th-century Italian narrative.

Laura Benedetti

Spanish

Spain.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2002, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2002).

      The main themes of the fiction published in Spain in 2002 had to do with emotions: pain, solitude, treason, passion, disaffection, and jealousy. Arturo Pérez-Reverte's best-selling novel La reina del sur, popular in both Spain and Latin America, explored the life of a Mexican drug dealer whose total lack of moral restraint goes hand in hand with an infinite capacity for cruelty. Josefina Aldecoa's El enigma was a story about love, the failure of love, and the difficulties of building a relationship. Manuel Rivas offered the reader a broad human landscape in the 25 short stories found in Las llamadas perdidas; much of their strength lay in the author's synthetic style and power of suggestion. The characters of Antonio Gala's Los invitados al jardín are not afraid to show what they have hitherto hidden—their desire to love and be loved. In Dos mujeres en Praga by Juan José Millás, the reader is introduced to a mysterious and lonely middle-aged woman who decides to attend a writing workshop in order to look for a professional to write the story of her life. Javier Marías reflected on the importance of both speech and silence as he depicted treason and betrayal in his new novel, Tu rostro mañana. Luis Landero's El guitarrista told the story of Emilio, an adolescent who learns to play the guitar, hoping to be able to escape from his depressing job as a mechanic and from his evening classes. Pain, absence, and solitude are the three constant features of Eugenia Rico's La muerte blanca, in which the author recalls the death of her brother. The 26-year-old writer of La matriz y la sombra, Ana Prieto Nadal, described the fervour of a loving passion that runs away from its object in order to avoid its decay in time.

      The winner of the Cervantes Prize was José Jiménez Lozano, a Spanish fiction writer, mystic, and journalist. His most recent work was the novel El viaje de Jonás (2002). Two of the publishing world's most renowned literary prizes were awarded to Latin American writers in 2002: the Alfaguara prize to the Argentine Tomás Eloy Martínez (see Biographies (Martinez, Tomas Eloy )) and the Planeta prize to Peruvian Alfredo Bryce Echenique. The National Prize for Narrative was given to a novel written in Basque, SP rako tranbia, (“A Tram in SP”) by Unai Elorriaga. The National Prize for Poetry was awarded to Carlos Marzal for his book Metales pesados (2001), where, in the words of the poet, “I explore humanity divided between the most excessive vitality and the anguish of solitude.” José Álvarez Junco was honoured with the National Prize for Essay for his work Mater dolorosa (2001), which explores the question of Spanish identity in terms of the progressive nationalism of the 19th century. In Mexico Juan Goytisolo was granted the Octavio Paz Prize for Poetry and Essay for lifetime achievement. During the year Spain lost Nobel Prize winner Camilo José Cela (see Obituaries (Cela, Camilo Jose )), author of La colmena.

Verónica Esteban

Latin America.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2002, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2002).

      As in years past, literary news from Latin America in 2002 centred on novels, but also noteworthy were memoirs and essays published by some of Latin America's best-known writers. The first volume of the much-anticipated memoirs of Gabriel García Márquez, Vivir para contarla, came out in October and became an instant best-seller throughout the Spanish-speaking world. In a narrative style and language familiar to his readers, García Márquez depicted his early years in Colombia before the publishing of Cien años de soledad. Fellow novelist Carlos Fuentes of Mexico constructed an intellectual autobiography of social, political, and personal reflections in En esto creo, a dictionary of brief essays based on the letters of the alphabet: amistad (friendship), belleza (beauty), celos (jealousy), dios (God), educación, and so on. Guatemalan writer Augusto Monterroso published Pájaros de Hispanoamérica, in which he related anecdotes and experiences he had shared with some of Latin America's most important writers. Another nonfiction work making news in Latin America was Los Bioy, a book on the lives of the famous Argentine literary couple Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo written by the journalist Silvia Arias and Jovita Iglesias, a Spanish woman who worked for the couple for 50 years. From Uruguay, Mario Benedetti offered a series of reflections on contemporary life and its problems in the prose poems of Insomnios y duermevelas.

      Several important prizes were awarded to Latin American writers in 2002. Argentine novelist and journalist Tomás Eloy Martínez (see Biographies (Martinez, Tomas Eloy )) won the Alfaguara Prize in Spain for his novel El vuelo de la reina, which told the story of a newspaper editor's erotic obsession with a woman half his age against the backdrop of an Argentina suffering from economic and moral bankruptcy. The Planeta Prize was given to Peruvian novelist Alfredo Bryce Echenique for El huerto de mi amada, a tale of passionate love between a young man of 17 and an attractive woman in her 30s. The Emecé 2002 Prize went to the Argentine writer Ángela Pradelli for her novel Amigas mías, about the lives of four friends—their daily lives, their husbands, their children, and their jobs, as well as their desires, passions, and tragedies. Finally, Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa won the PEN/Nabokov Award 2002 from the PEN American Center.

      Other novels published in 2002 included, from Chile, Isabel Allende's La ciudad de las bestias, about a young man sent to New York to live with his grandmother, who turns out to be a travel writer and who then takes her grandson on a magical journey to the Amazon in search of a giant creature. The life of Cleopatra was fictionalized in De un salto descabalga la reina by Carmen Boullosa of Mexico. Also coming out of Mexico was Hugo Hiriart's El agua grande, a novel presenting an elaborate metafictional dialogue between a teacher and his student on the origin and meaning of narrative. Mayra Montero wrote El capitán de los dormidos, a story of love and betrayal written against the background of Puerto Rican politics and history. Peruvian journalist Jaime Bayly published the novel La mujer de mi hermano, which portrayed the love triangle between a meticulous banker, his wife, and his artistic and seductive younger brother.

      The accomplished short-story writer Juan Carlos Botero, son of internationally known Colombian painter Fernando Botero, published his first novel, La sentencia. It tells the story of Francisco Rayo, an adventurer who spends half his time studying archives of Spanish history in search of information on sunken treasure and the rest of his time in the Caribbean searching for it. Also coming out of Colombia was Comandante Paraíso, by novelist Gustavo Álvarez Gardeazábal, a novel that painted a broad picture of drug trafficking in his country. It fictionalizes the lives of the great drug lords and the social and political consequences of their actions. Los impostores by the Colombian Santiago Gamboa tells the tale of three characters—impostors longing to be what they are not—who meet by chance in Beijing as they search for a mysterious manuscript. Gamboa's novel avoids the references to Colombia's violence prevalent in much of the country's current narrative and employs humour and a variety of literary styles. Further evidence of the current vitality of Colombian prose fiction comes from Mario Mendoza and his collection of stories, Satanás, which are brought together through the historical personnage Campo Elías, a Vietnam veteran who killed dozens of people in a restaurant in Bogotá in the 1980s.

      The Argentine novelist Federico Andahazi wrote a unique mystery story, El secreto de los flamencos, which takes place in Renaissance Flanders, where Florentine masters hide mathematical secrets on perspective and Flemish masters protect secrets about pigmentation and colour. A disciple of one of the great painters turns up murdered and a beautiful Portuguese woman complicates the painter's rivalries.

John Barry

Portuguese

Portugal.
      One of the most distinguished Portuguese authors, Agustina Bessa Luís, was awarded the fiction prize of the Association of Portuguese Writers for her novel Jóia de família. This was the first volume of a proposed trilogy known as The Uncertainty Principle. It was remarkable that such a prize, the most coveted by any Portuguese fiction writer, was awarded for a second time to one author.

      The novels of Bessa Luís, all of which were set in the northern part of Portugal, had tangled plots. They examined the problems of great families living in a small area. This circumscribed society, hitherto quite stable, begins to be shaken by waves of economic change, and Bessa Luís spun her narrative in a way that captured the new moods and the psychological makeup of her characters. Bessa Luís was particularly good at detecting the nature of the conflicts, unclear to the characters themselves, and she challenged the reader to follow her in her inquiry. Her style was rich and ornate, overly allusive and visually impressive, and it was fluent in its evocation of passions and situations, showing a descriptive quality that translated well into the film adaptations of her novels. Jóia de família was made into a film by the acclaimed Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira.

      Portuguese fiction was flourishing. The number of titles published was on the increase, which provided a better opportunity for works of quality to appear. Short narratives were taking the place of the long novel, but literary experimentation was still the preserve of well-established names. Júlio Moreira, one of the most innovative authors of fiction, published a new novel, Dentro de cinco minutos, in which he addressed the conflict of the big corporations in their relations with the society they were supposed to serve. Relying mainly on the art of the dialogue, he succeeded in showing the elusiveness of intentions in a complex game of interests that swamps everything.

      One of Portugal's most prolific writers, Urbano Tavares Rodrigues, who had been writing fiction for more than 50 years, was honoured for his work. Its main themes were solitude, the pain of living and loving, and the injustice of social conditions. The human variety of his characters was impressive, and his engaging style made the reading of his novels a real joy.

L.S. Rebelo

Brazil.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2002, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2002).

      João Ubaldo Ribeiro's new novel Diário do farol was a best-seller during 2002, perhaps in part owing to the worldwide scandals within the Roman Catholic Church. (See Religion: Sidebar (Roman Catholic Church Scandal ).) The protagonist is a morally corrupt priest whose confessions take the form of a rambling memoir. (Ribeiro's distinguished artistic career was examined by Zilá Bernd and Francis Utéza in O caminho do meio: uma leitura da obra de João Ubaldo Ribeiro [2001].)

      The 2002 collections of short fiction included Rubem Fonseca's Pequenas criaturas, which focused on both the common and the extreme psychological dilemmas of daily living. For example, in one story a young fellow's girlfriend urges him to tattoo her name on his penis.

      Several new works of theatre graced the Brazilian stage in 2002. Among them were Astro por um dia, João Bethencourt's latest light comedy about the show-business world, and Matheus Nachtergaele's co-production of a version of Georg Büchner's Woyzeck, called Woyzeck, o brasileiro. Büchner's play was adapted to contemporary proletarian Brazil, a nation that, coincidentally, in 2002 elected Latin America's first president to rise from the proletariat: Luiz Inácio (“Lula”) da Silva. (See Biographies (Lula ).)

      In late 2001 Christopher Dunn published a new study of the Brazilian Tropicália countercultural movement of the late 1960s, Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture. In 2002 the Revista do livro, a leading journal of intellectual debate in Brazil between 1956 and 1970, was relaunched by the Biblioteca Nacional with an orientation similar to that of the original but with a mission to incorporate technology into the Brazilian intellectual panorama. Zélia Gattai was inducted into the Brazilian Academy of Letters and occupied the chair held by Jorge Amado, her recently deceased husband.

      Several Internet sites dedicated to broadening the appeal of Brazilian literature and culture gained large audiences. Jaime Leibovitch founded “Projeto poesia brasileira” to stimulate a wider interest in Brazilian poetry. João Cézar de Castro Rocha, in conjunction with the Advanced Program in Contemporary Culture at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and other organizations, further enhanced his site, “Crítica literária brasileira: pólo de pesquisa e informação” , which sought to make its audience aware of recent Brazilian literary trends within an international context.

Irwin Stern

Russian
      The year 2002 in Russian literature was marked by a series of literary scandals with distinctly political overtones. For one, the conservatively oriented youth group Idushchiye Vmeste (“Forward Together”) organized a campaign against two of Russia's most popular writers of the 1990s, Viktor Pelevin and Vladimir Sorokin. In Sorokin's case Idushchiye Vmeste managed to have an official criminal investigation launched into Sorokin's allegedly “pornographic” writings. A criminal investigation was also initiated against Bayan Shiryanov (pseudonym of Kirill Vorobyov), whose novels depicted the underworld of drug users. Even more seriously, the trial of Eduard Limonov, the famous writer and leader of the extremist National Bolshevik Party, began. Limonov, who had been in jail for almost two years, was charged with having plotted antigovernment violence. Finally, there was the uproar associated with the awarding of the 2002 National Best-Seller Prize to Aleksandr Prokhanov, editor in chief of the nationalistic daily newspaper Zavtra (“Tomorrow”), for his novel Gospodin Geksogen (“Mr. Geksogen”). Rather pedestrian as a literary work, Gospodin Geksogen nevertheless drew widespread attention for its depiction of the Moscow apartment bombings of late 1999 as the work of the Russian government and secret police. The scandals associated with these works, most of which had little literary value, bore witness to the continuing social importance of the writer and literature in Russia.

      Several books by younger writers depicting the experiences of their generation garnered critical acclaim and commercial success. The two most significant among them were Ilya Stogov's Macho ne plachut (2001; “Macho Men Don't Cry”) and Irina Denezhkina's Day mne!—Song for Lovers. The former, stylistically reminiscent of Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski, grittily portrayed Russian bohemian life. Day mne!, which placed second to Prokhanov's novel for the National Best-Seller Prize, told the story of a group of Russian teenagers.

      Russia's literary establishment still took little notice of the younger generation. The Apollon Grigoryev Prize was awarded to the 78-year-old playwright Leonid Zorin for his novel Trezvennik (“The Teetotaler”), which follows several members of the liberal Soviet intelligentsia as they attempt to adapt to post-Soviet life. The poet Sergey Gandlevsky's Nrzb (“Indeciph.”), a finalist for the Russian Booker Prize, essentially took up the same subject. Among the other Booker finalists was Vladimir Sorokin's Lyod (“Ice”). The political significance of Sorokin's nomination did not go unnoticed. He had never before been a Booker Prize finalist, and the work itself was generally thought of as one of his weaker literary performances. The winner, however, was Oleg Pavlov for Karagandinskiye devyatiny (“Karagarnda Nines”), the final book of his Povest poslednikh dney: trilogiya (2001, “A Tale of Recent Days: Trilogy”).

      Poets Aleksey Tsvetkov, Nikolay Kononov, and Oleg Yuryev published prose in 2002. Tsvetkov, prominent in the 1970s and '80s poetry group Moscow Time, released a novel and selection of other prose under the title Prosto golos (“The Voice Itself”). Kononov, in a collection of short stories entitled Magichesky bestiariy (“A Magical Bestiary”), continued his explorations of sexual deviance and high literary style. Yuryev brought out the second in a series of novels, Novy golem, ili voyna starikov i detei (“The New Golem, or the War of the Old Folk and the Children”), in part based on Gustav Meyrink's classic novel Der Golem; it presented a highly subjective and grotesque panorama of Russia, Europe, and the U.S. in the mid-1990s. Oleg Postnov's novel Strakh (2001; “Fear”) combined a Nabokovian style with late- and post-Soviet subject matter and stirred some debate. Another novelist of the Nabokov school, Leonid Girshovich, published Subbota navsegda (2001; “Saturday Forever”). Asar Eppel, a well-known poet and translator as well as one of Russia's finest living prose stylists, released a collection of stories, Tri povestvovaniya (“Three Narratives”). Vasil Bykov, the famed bilingual—Russian and Belarusian—author, also published a new book during the year, Korotokaya pesnya (“A Brief Song”). Vladimir Sharov's Voskreseniye Lazarya (“The Resurrection of Lazarus”) was the most accomplished of many works that continued to explore fictionally the meaning of Russia's political and intellectual history.

      The most important single book of poetry published in 2002 was Yelena Shvarts's two-volume selected works. Other important poets publishing new collections were Bella Akhmadulina, Aleksandr Kushner, Timur Kibirov, Sergey Wolf, Aleksandr Mironov, Mariya Stepanova, and Svetlana Ivanova. The writer and postmodern critic Vyacheslav Kuritsyn, who in September shut down his influential Web site Kuritsyn-Weekly, conducted a poll of Russian writers to “rate” Russia's poets. The winner was Gandlevsky. Kibirov, Shvarts, and Dmitry Prigov followed close behind. Since the poll illustrated the makeup of contemporary Russia's literary groups and the power relations among them, its results might be of interest to future historians of Russian literature.

      The deaths of several beloved figures of the Soviet era occurred: Viktor Astafyev (who died at the end of 2001), the greatest of the “Country Prose” writers; historical novelist Yury Davydov; poet and science-fiction writer Vadim Shefner; adventure writer Viktor Konetsky; and playwright Aleksandr Volodin (who also died at the end of 2001).

Valery Shubinsky

Jewish

Hebrew.
      By 2002 the autobiographical novel had become one of the leading genres in contemporary Hebrew fiction. Perhaps the best one in 2002 was Ory Bernstein's Safek hayim (“A Dubious Life”). Others included Amos Oz's Sipur ʿal ahavah ve-ḥoshekh (“Tale of Love and Darkness”), Ioram Melcer's Ḥibat tsiyon (“The Lure of Zion”), and Jacob Buchan's Naḥal ḥalav ve-tapuz dam (“Flowing Milk and Blood Orange”).

      David Grossman chose to focus on family matters in Ba-guf ani mevinah (“In Another Life”). Michal Govrin, on the other hand, dealt directly with the complicated political situation in Hevzeḳim (“Snapshots”), and so did Orly Castel-Bloom in Ḥalaḳim enoshiyim (“Human Parts”). Other works by veteran writers included Aharon Appelfeld's Lailah ve-ʿod lailah (2000; “Night After Night”), Meir Shalev's Fontanelle, Savion Librecht's Makon tov lalaila (“A Good Place for the Night”), and Dan Tsalka's Besiman halotus (“Under the Sign of the Lotus”). Hanna Bat Shahar departed from the short-story form in her first novel, Hana'ara me'agan Michigan (“The Girl from Lake Michigan”). Works by younger writers included Edgar Keret's Anihu (“Cheap Moon”), Aleks Epshṭain's Matkone ḥalomot (“Dream Recepies”), and Shoham Smith's collection of short stories Homsenṭer (“Homecenter”).

      Veteran poet Haim Gouri published a new collection of poems (Me'uḥarim [“Late Poems”]), as did Arieh Sivan (Hashlamah [“Reconciliation”]) and Nurit Zarchi (ha-TiḲrah ʿafah [2001; “The Ceiling Flew”]). Yitzchak Laor's Shirim, 1974–1992 (“Poems, 1974–1992”) and Rachel Chalfi's Miḳlaʿat ha-shemesh (“Solar Plexus),” poems from 1975 to 1999, were collections of early poems. Aharon Shabtai published Artseinu (“Our Land”), poems from 1987 to 2002. The most interesting first collection of poetry was Anna Herman's Ḥad-ḳeren (“Unicorn”), rich in imagery and sound patterns. The veteran dramatist Yoram Levy Porat published his first book of poetry, Oniyot ha-teh (2001; “Tea Boats”).

      The most comprehensive literary study was Yael S. Feldman's Lelo heder mishlahen (“No Room of Their Own,” translated from the English edition of 1999), which examined gender and nation in Israeli women's fiction. Avner Holtzman published Temunah le-neged ʿenai (“Image Before My Eyes”), with essays on Micah Joseph Berdichevsky, Uri Nissan Gnessin, and Joseph Ḥayyim Brenner.

Avraham Balaban

Yiddish.
      During 2002 autobiography was important in Yiddish literature. Yoysef Gubrin's In shotn fun umkum: zikhroynes (“In the Shadow of the Holocaust: Reminiscences”) portrayed his childhood in Transnistria, his stay in the ghetto of Mogilev, and his journey by ship to Israel. Avrom Meyerkevitsh's Oyfn veg tsu dem tsugezogtn land (“On the Way to the Promised Land”) vividly recounted his sojourn in Russia and homecoming to Israel.

      Aaron Spiro's Mentshn un goyrl (“Men and Fate”) provided an absorbing account of the war period and the post-Holocaust scene in Eastern Europe.

      Jeremy Cahn wrote a masterful study of the Jew as reflected by Christians in the Middle Ages in Vi a blinder in a shpigl (“Like a Blind Man in a Mirror”). In his Der bal-khaloymes fun Manhetn (“The Dreamer from Manhattan”), Yakov Belek fashioned an intriguing mixture of historical boundaries and authorial fantasy to effect the transformation of Jesus of Nazareth into an Israeli Jew.

      In his collection Reportazshn un eseyen (“Reportage and Essays”), Dovid Sh. Katz described a variety of Eastern European Jewish communities.

      The 37,000-word Dos naye yidish-frantseyzishe verterbukh (“The New Yiddish-French Dictionary”) was compiled by Berl Vaysbrot and Yitskhak Niborski. Yoysef Guri issued a valuable anthology of picturesque Yiddish expressions, Vos darft ir mer? (“What More Do You Need?”).

      December saw the appearance of the second volume of Emanuel S. Goldsmith's monumental collection Di Yidishe literatur in Amerike 1870–2000. Yekhiel Shayntukh published a reconstruction of writer Aaron Zeitlin's polemics in a collection of letters titled Bereshus harabim uvirshus hayokhed: Aaron Tseytlin vesifrus yidish (“In the Public Domain and the Private Domain: Aaron Zeitlin in Yiddish Literature”). Aleksandr Shpiglblat issued a highly acclaimed study of Itsik Manger in Bloe vinklen: Itsik Manger—lebn, lid, un balade (“Blue Corners: Itsik Manger—His Life, Poems, and Ballads”). It included a selection of the poet's work.

      Troim Katz Handler's Simkhe (2001; “Celebration”) was a rich gathering of love letters in poem form. Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman pursued her lyrical muse in Perpl shlengt zikh der veg (“The Purple Winding Road”).

Thomas E. Bird

Turkish
      For poetry, usually strong in Turkey, the year 2002 was meagre. An exceptionally fine new book entitled Şeyler kitaby (“Book of Things”) came from the perennially innovative poet İlhan Berk, who won top honours at the Istanbul Book Fair. Noteworthy collections included Ataol Behramoğlu's Yeni aşka gazel (“Ode to New Love”), which marked the poet's coming to terms with the aesthetics of classical Ottoman poetry; Süreyya Berfe's Seni seviyorum (“I Love You”), highly polished neoromantic lyrics; and İzzet Yasar's Dil oyunları (“Language Games”), which Berk characterized as “obscure, difficult, imprecated.”

      UNESCO proclaimed 2002 International Nazım Hikmet Year. The centennial of Hikmet's birth was observed by many activities in Turkey and abroad (London, Paris, and New York, for example). Literary circles were impressed, too, that Özdemir İnce was elected to membership in the European Poetry Academy.

      The year basically belonged to fiction. Two eminent novelists, Adalet Ağaoğlu and Yaşar Kemal, were honoured at major symposia—the former at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul and the latter at Ankara's Bilkent University, which also gave him an honorary doctorate (first ever to a novelist by a leading Turkish university).

      Orhan Pamuk's Kar (“Snow”), with its potent political comments, was a runaway best-seller, although its critical reception was cool, sometimes hostile. It marked a new age in American-type book promotions and called forth opinions about aggressive campaigns distorting literary values.

      Important novels included Kemal's Karıncanın su içtiği (“Where the Ant Drank Water”), Murathan Mungan's Yüksek topuklar (“High Heels”), Tahsin Yücel's Yalan (“The Lie”), Erendiz Atasü's Bir yaşdönümü rüyası (“A Mid-Life Dream”), Zülfü Livaneli's Mutluluk (“Joy”), Şebnem İşigüzel's Sarmaşık (“Ivy”), and Mehmet Eroğlu's Zamanın manzarası (“Panorama of Time”). Two best-sellers stirring extensive debate were Perihan Maǧden's İki genç kızın romanı (“A Novel of Two Young Girls”), depicting a lesbian love affair, and Ahmet Altan's Aldatmak (“To Deceive”), about types of deception.

      Among the significant collections of essays and critical articles were Budalalığın keşfi (“The Discovery of Stupidity”) by Hilmi Yavuz and Güzel yazı defteri (“Lovely Notebook”) by Tomris Uyar.

      Turkey mourned the loss of two prominent literary figures in 2002: Melih Cevdet Anday, poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, and translator, and Memet Fuat, literary critic.

Talat Sait Halman

Persian
      Thanks to the more culturally tolerant atmosphere in Iran brought about by the reform movement led by Pres. Mohammad Khatami, Persian-language literary activity in 2002 was more abundant and more diffuse, if not higher in artistic quality than in recent years. The year's best-selling book was a biography of Shaʿbān Jaʿfarī, a low-level functionary of the monarchical state who was thought to have organized the 1953 coup. Written by Los Angeles-based journalist Humā Sarshār and published in Los Angeles in March, the book appeared in Tehran by May in pirated editions, sometimes heavily censored. By year's end it had gone through at least 12 printings (about 50,000 copies), a phenomenal achievement in the context of Iran's recent history. The situation gave rise to renewed political controversy and also to heated debates over Iran's refusal to join the Berne conventions on copyright.

      The proliferation of literary prizes in Iran and the establishment of similar awards in Tajikistan and Afghanistan brought lesser-known authors to the fore. In Iran the Mehregan Prize went to Zūyā Pīrzād for Chirāghhā rā man khāmūsh mīkunam (“I'll Turn Off the Lights”), which told the story of an Armenian-Iranian family in the oil boomtown of Abadan in the early 1960s; the novel shed much-needed light on this important ethnic and religious minority. A better-known and pioneer woman writer, octogenarian Simin Daneshvar, published the novel Sariban-i sargardan (“Wandering Caravan Master”).

      Among expatriate Iranians too, women dominated the fiction scene, led by two California-based writers. Veteran novelist Shahrnush Parsipur and the younger Mihrnūsh Mazāriʿi made new strides with, respectively, Bar bal-i bad nishastan (“Riding on the Wind's Wing”) and Khākistarī (“Gray”).

      The year marked the death of several literary figures, most notably that of Ahmad Aʿta, who was associated with the leftist Tudeh Party and wrote under the pen name Ahmad Mahmud. His death marked the end of a generation of political fiction writers whose work typified the middle decades of the 20th century. The new dominant trend appeared to be writing from a conservative Islamic point of view.

Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak

Arabic
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2002, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2002).

      An outflow of fiction by women writers characterized Arabic literary production in 2002. This literature distinguished itself from past contributions by the absence of a confrontational tone and by the extension of feminist themes to an interest in national and global affairs. Dealing with mainstream social issues, these works portrayed female characters whose strong voices lacked the apologetic or defensive tone of earlier writings. An outstanding novel in this category is Mayy al-Ṣāyigh's Fī intiẓār al-qamar (“Waiting for the Moon”), which chronicled the story of the 1948 Nakba (“Disaster,” as the Palestinians refer to the events attending the first Arab-Israeli War). The novel, set in Lebanon, reveals the strength of Palestinian women as they assume responsibility in exile when men falter or are busy resisting the occupation. Al-Ṣayigh softened the harshness of her topic with a flowing poetic prose. In Bustān aḥmar (“A Red Garden”), Lebanese writer Hādyah Saʿīd examined the lives of political refugees in exile. Moving between Baghdad, Iraq; Beirut, Lebanon; Rabat, Morocco; and London, her novel depicted the refugees' failure to find meaning in their lives.

      Egyptian Mīrāl al-Ṭaḥāwī established herself as an innovative writer with a well-defined technique in her third novel, Naqarāt al-ẓibāʾ (“The Hoofbeats of Gazelles”). Her subject was the changing world of the Bedouins, which she had previously evoked in Al-khibāʾ (1996; The Tent). Naqarāt al-ẓibāʾ focuses on the desperate efforts of an aging man to maintain tradition, to which he sacrifices the happiness of his three daughters. Al-Ṭaḥāwī has a distinctive style and a solid knowledge of Bedouin dialect, reinforced by her familiarity with classical Arabic literature. Egyptian novelist Najwā Shaʿbān moved into new territory for women when she set her novel Nawwat al-Karm (“Al-Karm Gales”) in the world of sailors.

      Leila Aboulela published her collection of short stories Coloured Lights at the end of 2001, transporting the reader to her native Sudan as she depicted both its conflict of cultures and the strength of its traditions. “The Museum,” a story from that collection, won the Caine Prize 2000. In Syria, Nādra Barakāt al-Ḥaffār pursued more traditional themes of love and betrayal in her latest novel, Qulūb mansiyyah (“Forgotten Hearts”).

      The young Tunisian Rashīdah al-Shārnī continued to make her mark with a collection of short stories, Ṣahīl al-asʾilah (“The Neighing of Questions”), which in 2000 received the first prize for women's creativity in the short story awarded by young women's clubs in Sharja. Another prizewinner was the Egyptian-born Francophone writer Yasmine Khlat, who received the Prize of Five Francophone Continents for her novel Le Désespoir est un péché (“Despair Is a Sin”) in November 2001. Commemorating the centenary of the death of the Egyptian poet and woman of letters ʿAʾishah Taymūr, the Egyptian Forum of Women and Memory reedited her 1892 book Mirʾāt al-taʾammul fī al-umūr (“The Mirror to Contemplate Matters”). Both Dār al-Marʾah al-ʿArabiyyah (The Institute of the Arab Woman) and its journal Nūr played similar roles.

      Two male novelists portrayed city life, ʿAlāʾ al-Aswānī in ʿImārat Yaʿqūbiyyān (“Yaʿqūbiyān Building”), which centres on the life of some of the inhabitants of an old downtown building in Cairo, and Muḥammad Jibrīl in Madd al-mawj (“The Rising of the Waves”), which takes place in Alexandria.

      Poetry was recognized in November 2001 through the awarding of the Lannan Foundation Prize for Cultural Freedom to Palestinian Maḥmūd Darwīsh. (See Biographies (Darwish, Mahmud ).) His latest collection, Ḥālat ḥiṣār (“A State of Siege”), revolved, as did poetry in many Arab countries, around the events of the second intifāḍah. Young poets were recognized in the fifth Tangiers poetry award festival, named after Iraqi poet Nāzik al-Malāʾikah. The first prize was shared by Syrian Ghāliyyah Khujah, for her collection Unshūdat al-dhanni (“The Song of Suspicion”), and Moroccan ʿAbd al-Karīm al-ʿAmmārī, for Al-Awāʾĭl (“The First Ones”). The Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature was awarded to the Moroccan Ben Salem Himmich for his novel Al-ʿAllamah (1997 and 2001; “The Erudite”), which features the renowned sociologist Ibn Khaldun.

      Egypt lost its well-known literary critic ʿAbd al-Qādr al-Qutt in June 2002. A professor of Arabic literature at Ayn Shams University, al-Qutt had centred his attention on modern Arabic poetry and contributed to the translation into Arabic of established English writers. Jordanian novelist Muʾnis al-Razzāz also died during the year.

Aida A. Bamia

Chinese
      The year 2002 was one of poor harvest in the literary fields of China. Although more than 500 novels and 400 collections of short stories and essays were published, critics commonly felt that the year brought no outstanding new book of literature.

      Like print literature, electronic or Internet literature was in the doldrums in 2002. The biggest of the literary Web sites in mainland China, Rongshu.com, was sold at a very low price and lost its appeal to both authors and readers. Other like-minded Web sites, such as Wenxue.com, one by one curtailed their activities and narrowed their scope, mainly for lack of financial support.

      Nonetheless, a bright spot was provided by Yang Chunguang, a ferocious poet whose verses and essays on poetry could be seen only on the Internet. As a former officer and an activist during the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement of 1989, Yang developed a powerful poetic style that since 1990 had combined linguistic experiment with political protest. By his own account, he deliberately “deconstructed” his straightforward narration by cutting the links between scenes. This unusual style gave a shocking power to most of his recent poems, especially his suites of poems entitled Mengma (“Mammoth”), Wo xiang dengshang Tiananmen (“I Want to Mount the Tiananmen”), and Pige waitao (“Leather Overcoat”), which were widely read on the Internet in 2002.

      Two novels of 2002 were also worthy of mention. One was Anshi (“Hint”) by Han Shaogong, one of the leading contemporary novelists in China. In contrast to Han's last novel, Maqiao ci dian (1996; “Dictionary of Maqiao”), which stressed the language's decisive power to transform human life, Anshi tried to expose the limits of language. Having no coherent plot and no central character, the novel consisted of 113 independent chapters, some of which were short essays while others seemed to be theoretical analyses. This odd structure caused some critics to treat Anshi as nonfiction, although Han insisted that the book was a novel.

      The other novel of interest was Tao li (“Disciples”), a first novel by reporter Zhang Zhe. Using his well-developed reportorial skills, Zhang described vividly a series of ugly incidents in the lives of a famous law professor and his students and lovers, some of which were based on actual events of the 1990s. With its calm narration and black humour, the novel presented a satire view of corruption on campus, which could be seen as a microcosm of society at large.

Wang Xiao Ming

Japanese
      In September 2002 the Supreme Court ruled that Miri Yū's Ishi ni oyogu sakana (“Fish Swimming in Stones”), published in the September 1994 issue of Shinchō), could not be published in book form, since Yū portrayed as a friend of the heroine a Korean-Japanese girl who resembled one of Yū's friends in her physical features (including a conspicuous tumour on her face) and in her personal history. The girl's family relationships also resembled those of Yū's friend. This decision by the Supreme Court marked the first instance in which the court had prohibited publication on the basis of an individual's right to privacy and dignity. The court said that the damage to the real person could well be greater than any damage suffered by Yū as a fiction writer. This misfortune did not extend to Yū's former work Gōrudo rasshu (1998; Gold Rush), translated into English in 2002. Gold Rush fared well in the United States as well as in Asian countries. Furthermore, a movie based upon Yū's nonfiction work Inochi (2000; “Life”) became one of the most popular Japanese films of 2002.

      In the first half of 2002, the Akutagawa Prize, awarded semiannually to the most promising new Japanese writer of fiction, went to Yu Nagashima's “Mō supiido de haha wa” (“Mom, at Full Speed,” published in the November 2001 issue of Bungakukai). Nagashima told the story of a divorced mother from the viewpoint of her only son, who found her attitudes toward him sometimes cold-blooded, sometimes too sweet. The story depicted sensitively the emotional ups and downs and maternal love of a middle-aged woman. In the second half of the year, the Akutagawa Prize went to Shūichi Yoshida's “Paaku raifu” (“Park Life,” from the June 2002 Bungakukai). Setting his story in a central Tokyo park, Yoshida portrayed the present-day life led by urban adolescents.

      Haruki Murakami published a new novel, Umibe no Kafuka (“Kafka on the Shore”), in which a 15-year-old boy trips through the world of concepts in the quiet of a library. Murakami's collection of short stories Kami no kodomotachi wa mina odoru (2000; “All God's Children Can Dance”), which was translated into English in 2002 as After the Quake: Stories, received good reviews in the United States. In Kenzaburō Ōe's new novel, Ureigao no dōji (“A Child's Sorrow on His Face”), the Nobel Prize winner depicted the comical adventure befalling an old novelist seeking the truth about his dead mother and a disappearing friend. Keiichirō Hirano, four years after his sensational debut with Nisshoku (“Solar Eclipse”), told a story of great Parisian artists of the 19th century in Maisō (“Burial”).

      The Yomiuri Prize for Literature went to Anna Ogino's Horafuki Anri no boken (“The Adventures of Henri, a Boaster”), about a girl searching for her father's roots. The Kawabata Prize was awarded to Taeko Kōno's Han shoyūsha (2001; “A Half Owner”) and to Kō Machida's Gongen no odoriko (“A Dancer of Incarnation”). Best-selling literary works that appeared during the year included Kaori Ekuni's Oyogu no ni anzen de mo tekisetsu de mo arimasen (“It's Not Safe or Suitable for Swim”), Yasutaka Tsutsui's Ai no hidarigawa (“The Left Side of Love”), and Hiromi Kawakami's Ryūgū (“The Palace of the Dragon King”).

Yoshihiko Kazamaru

▪ 2002

Introduction

English

United Kingdom.
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      The Booker Prize chairman of judges, Lord Kenneth Baker, reported that the many entries he had read during 2001 proved that the novel was thriving and keeping abreast of developments within British life. Displacement, often depicted through the uprooted feelings of émigrés or refugees, was a strong presence in many novels considered by the panel. Though historical themes remained popular, World War I was less in evidence as a subject. Instead, writers moved on to World War II and the years leading up to and spanning the 1970s, decades that, though conjuring up a sense of difference, were within living memory. Lord Baker also praised many of the year's novelists for their vivid and unsentimental treatment of childhood. Stories were told from the point of view of children with unusual and forceful personalities, and romanticization was successfully avoided, as evidenced in Philip Pullman's The Amber Spyglass (2000), which narrowly missed the Booker shortlist but marked the first time that a children's book read widely by adults had made the long list.

      The six titles short-listed included Rachel Seiffert's assured literary debut, The Dark Room, a Holocaust story from the German perspective that The Observer newspaper praised as a “simply phrased and understated” book that “shatters prejudices”; Andrew Miller's Oxygen, an intricate story about a Hungarian writer and his play of the same name, which was tipped as third favourite to win; David Mitchell's fast-paced postmodern number9dream, an ambitious and complex tour de force about a young man's search for his father in a brash futuristic Tokyo; Ali Smith's Hotel World, which was also nominated for the Orange Prize and featured a cinematic blend of five different female narratives; and Ian McEwan's best-selling Atonement, which opens in 1935 and follows its protagonists to the century's end. McEwan's handling of time, memory, and revisionism was hailed as “impressive, engrossing, deep, and surprising” by The Observer. McEwan had won the Booker in 1998 for his last novel, Amsterdam.

      The 6–4 favourite, True History of the Kelly Gang (2000) by Australian Peter Carey, was named the prizewinner. Carey, who had also won the Booker for his Oscar & Lucinda (1988), declared that he was “wildly excited and exhilarated” and that, as a result of a private bet between him and McEwan, he owed the latter a sumptuous dinner. Lord Baker observed that both Carey's and McEwan's offerings were their best books ever. In Carey's “magnificent story of the early settler days in Australia,” he re-created the character of the outlaw Ned Kelly, sometimes described as an Australian Robin Hood. Carey admitted that were Kelly alive today he might not recognize himself in the book's narrator. A piece of literary ventriloquism, the work was inspired by a 56-page letter Kelly once wrote in justification of a bank robbery.

      The Orange Prize for Fiction, awarded annually to a woman writer, was also won by an Australian. Kate Grenville's The Idea of Perfection (1999) was acclaimed for its touching and humorous depiction of love between two unlikely rustics in a farming community in the outback. It beat, among other strong contenders, Smith's Hotel World and Margaret Atwood's odds-on favourite The Blind Assassin (2000). A male panel of judges, set up as a research project in tandem with the actual female panel, sharply criticized the shortlist. Novelist Paul Bailey, who admitted that he did not approve of the prize because “sexes should not be separated like this in art,” said the women judges had gone “soft when it came to the crunch” and had chosen big names and dull, soppy stories instead of seeking out grittier stories by lesser-known writers. Despite his objections, his male “shadow panel” admitted that Grenville's book, which had hitherto been little known in Great Britain, was the one worthy contender on the shortlist.

      The other major literary award, the 2000 Whitbread Book of the Year—in which novels, volumes of poetry, and nonfiction vied for the prize—was won by novelist Matthew Kneale. This was the first time in five years that the award had not been given to a volume of poetry. Kneale's English Passengers (2000), a story of an 1857 expedition to Tasmania, was praised by jury chairman Sir Tim Rice for the way several of its characters, both English and Aboriginal, came together “to tell a story which is at times hilarious and at times tragic.” A close contender was Lorna Sage's Bad Blood (2000), a forthright memoir of teenage pregnancy and family tensions in postwar Britain. The panel of 10 judges had been evenly divided, and Rice had been obliged to cast the deciding vote. Unexpectedly, Sage died 13 days before the award was announced in January. Her agent, Faith Evans, divulged that the book had been the result of 15 years' work.

      The David Cohen British Literature Prize for lifetime achievement went to 81-year-old veteran Doris Lessing. The award, administered by the Arts Council, was given every two years to a writer who had significantly contributed to literature. Arts Council Chairman Gerry Robinson characterized Lessing's novels as “an accumulation of excellence—a body of work that has in its unique and determined way shaped the literary landscape.” Meanwhile, a previous recipient of the David Cohen Prize, Trinidadian-born V.S. Naipaul, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. (See Nobel Prizes .) Both he and Lessing published novels (Half a Life and The Sweetest Dream, respectively) in a year in which reviewers found strong elements of nonfiction.

      Visibly missing from the Booker shortlist was Beryl Bainbridge. Her According to Queeney, described by The Literary Review as “the grimmest but also the funniest book Bainbridge has written,” was an unflinching treatment of the subject of death. Other prominent novelists whose offerings similarly failed to attract enthusiasm from the judges included Salman Rushdie, whose Fury was coolly received by critics, and Pat Barker, whose Border Crossing was much praised. Hanif Kureishi's Gabriel's Gift—a quirky, stalwart tale about a 15-year-old boy whose parents split up—was another lacuna, as was Jonathan Coe's The Rotters' Club, an artful comedy, with moving interludes set in 1970s Britain. Elaine Feinstein's Dark Inheritance (2000) was an elegant evocation of an academic woman's unhealthy fascination with Rome.

      The children's book market remained buoyant. South African-born writer Beverley Naidoo was a surprise winner of the Carnegie Medal. Her story for children aged 10 and up, The Other Side of Truth (2000), addressed the sensitive issue of asylum seekers and beat tough competition from David Almond, Melvyn Burgess, and Philip Pullman. Naidoo hoped that her book would “encourage readers to make leaps of imagination, heart and mind as they explore our common humanity.”

      Claims that the novel was dead had been made since the 1950s, and the author J.G. Ballard, on publication of what he termed his “complete” short stories, claimed that these too were “heading for extinction” because people had “lost the knack of reading them” and there was almost “nowhere to publish them.”

      The memoir, however, enjoyed continued popularity. Paul Arnott's A Good Likeness: A Personal Story of Adoption (2000) described the author's sometimes hilarious quest for his natural parents and was greeted by The Literary Review as a “wonderful, multifaceted voyage of discovery.” Also praised was Penelope Lively's A House Unlocked, an ingenious depiction of nine decades of family history woven around her grandmother's Edwardian home in Somerset.

      There were a number of notable biographies, including Adrian Tinniswood's His Invention So Fertile: A Life of Christopher Wren, a vivid portrait of an era that had been dubbed the “Wrenaissance” and a versatile accolade to Wren's scientific and architectural achievement. Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette: The Journey was an intelligent consideration of a much-misunderstood life. Susan Watkins tackled another legend in Mary, Queen of Scots and achieved a succinct story of an intelligent woman whose Achilles heel was a lack of discrimination in her love life. At 674 pages, Alison Weir's Henry VIII: King and Court was a well-paced, ambitious retelling of this larger-than-life monarch; his queens and counselors were vividly drawn alongside an analysis of his political legacy. The witty, urbane, and sometimes pompous Roman writer was the deftly handled subject of Anthony Everitt's biography Cicero: A Turbulent Life. One of the last Republicans in a time of civil discord, Cicero enjoyed telling jokes—a predilection that Everitt demonstrated proved part of his undoing.

      History painted across large canvases appeared in three notable books. Barry W. Cunliffe's 600-page Facing the Ocean: The Atlantic and Its Peoples, 8000 BC – AD 1500 was a confident and erudite charting of developments across nearly 10 millennia in the Atlantic world, based largely on archaeological evidence. John E. Wills attempted a lateral approach with his 1688: A Global History. He mined historical sources from a time of global change in such diverse parts of the world as Bolivia, Japan, China, Africa, and Europe. Niall Ferguson presented a 300-year consideration of whether economics alone drove world events with his The Cash Nexus: Money and Power in the Modern World 1700–2000; he concluded that the explanation of global change could be attributed only partly to the traffic of money and that people, with their often irrational actions, also affected the course of history.

      An immense and impressive historical offering was Hew Strachan's 1,190-page The First World War, Volume 1: To Arms. The first of three planned volumes, the book examined the war's origins and its launch, demonstrating that the conflict was doomed to be global in its extent from the start. This work was complemented by Margaret MacMillan's probe of the ensuing peace agreement, Peacemakers: The Paris Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War, which argued that the decisions made that year, and subsequently, made World War II inevitable. Meanwhile, the British mandate in Palestine came under the unbiased eye of Israeli journalist Tom Segev. His One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the Mandate (2000) explored new research resources and reached a verdict—that the British were chiefly pro-Zionist, not pro-Arab. Moving on through the postwar era, the culture of spies as it waxed and waned was the arena of Richard Aldrich's fascinating The Hidden Hand: Britain, America and Cold War Secret Intelligence.

      Two notable edited collections were a volume of Bertrand Russell's letters—presented with helpful commentary by Nicholas Griffin to portray a long life of intensity and brilliance—and The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (2000), a 1,223-page treasury assembled by Elizabeth Knowles containing apocrypha, outré stories, and unusual turns of phrase.

      Among the literary deaths during the year were those of novelist, book reviewer, and editor of The Literary Review Auberon Waugh (Waugh, Auberon Alexander ), who admitted in later life that he was overshadowed by his father, Evelyn Waugh; Douglas Adams (Adams, Douglas Noel ), the creator of the quirky and original tale of Arthur Dent's trip around the universe, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which was first broadcast on radio in 1978 and spawned an industry of TV shows, stage adaptations, books, and a huge following of fans; poet and dramatist Anne Ridler (Ridler, Anne Barbara Bradby ), whose devotional verse evoked that of T.S. Eliot; writer Simon Raven (Raven, Simon Arthur Noel ), whose 10-novel sequence Alms for Oblivion highlighted his sardonic wit; and poet Elizabeth Jennings (Jennings, Elizabeth Joan ), whose verse reflected her devout Roman Catholicism and her love of Italy. (See Obituaries.)

Siobhan Dowd

United States.
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      In a talk in August 2001, novelist Philip Roth put forward the proposition that in 25 years literature as it had been known to the present time would be relegated to the dust. Roth argued that the popularity of the screen and the image, currently riding high, would ride even higher in the future.

      One might wonder, however, if David Kepesh, the main character in a number of other Roth novels and now an aging professor-journalist with a sex drive still rampant, would agree. Kepesh stands as the main figure in Roth's brilliant short novel The Dying Animal, an erotically charged story that reads as a kind of satyr play following the novelist's prizewinning The Human Stain. The metaphor-making power of The Dying Animal rivaled anything that Henry Miller had written on the sexual encounter and made pornographic images look pallid by comparison. (“You feel it and you get a sense of this other-world fauna, something from the sea. As though it were related to the oyster or the octopus or the squid, a creature from miles down and eons back. … The secret ecstatically exposed.”) Literature dying? Après moi, pas de deluge, Roth seemed to be arguing.

      Writers would say almost anything, however, to gain public attention. Speaking rather immodestly as someone who probably still would be around and writing in 25 years, novelist Jonathan Franzen, author of the much-touted best-selling (and National Book Award-winning) novel The Corrections, gave an interview to The New York Times Magazine in which he suggested that his own work was going to turn contemporary fiction on its head. He also won the distinction of having his book chosen for Oprah Winfrey's book club—then unchosen, after Franzen objected to having the book club imprint placed on the cover of his novel.

      The rest of the American writers who came out with new publications let the works speak for themselves. Unsurprisingly, the results were mixed. Veteran fiction writer James Salter revised his 1961 novel The Arm of Flesh and in late 2000 published it as Cassada, a moody and brilliant homage to fighter pilots between wars, in which his evocative lyric prose worked heroically to evoke landscape or, in this case, skyscape. (“[The sun] was in the last quarter of its elevation, the light flat. The white of the clouds had faded like an old wall. Everything seemed silent and still.… There was a strange, lost feeling, as though they were in an empty house, in rooms without furniture, looking through windows that had no glass.”) Paul Theroux signed in with Hotel Honolulu, in which the prose was flat but the linked stories about the inhabitants of a downtown Honolulu tourist spot led the reader on and on. Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter was a successful reworking of the pattern that Tan used in her biggest hit, The Joy Luck Club—the reader was taken from contemporary San Francisco to historical China and back again.

      Santa Cruz novelist James Houston, the uncrowned laureate of contemporary California fiction, turned to the 19th century and the material of the Donner party and a few of its members for Snow Mountain Passage, a solid hit. In Carry Me Across the Water, Ethan Canin, a Californian living half the year in self-imposed exile in Iowa, went from the Pacific theatre in World War II to the present for his quiet, lyrical study of a Jewish-American man assessing his life. Reginald McKnight sent his anthropologist hero to Africa for an engaging study of a black man abroad in He Sleeps. Percival Everett stayed home to parody black middle-class culture and the American publishing industry in Erasure.

      With mixed success octogenarian novelist Mary Lee Settle turned to America's colonial past for her novel I, Roger Williams, and William T. Vollmann, her junior by more than 40 years, added Argall, another huge—flawed—volume, to his already gargantuan “Seven Dreams” series, this one taking up the matter of the colonization of Virginia. At least Vollmann had a sense of humour; he reviewed his own book in the Los Angeles Times Book Review and basically dismissed it. Puerto Rican novelist Rosario Ferré worked on the story of Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova and her sojourn in the Caribbean in the slow-moving Flight of the Swan. The accomplished Louise Erdrich created an engaging epic out of the material of the lonely North Dakota landscape and its inhabitants, European and Native American, in The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. The talented young African American writer Colson Whitehead made variations out of myth and history in John Henry Days. Gifted Brooklyn, N.Y., writer Jonathan Lethem amused his fans with a 55-page novella he called This Shape We're In.

      After years of writing for television, fiction writer Michael Malone returned to the novel with a wonderfully entertaining murder mystery set in North Carolina called First Lady. Novelist Chaim Potok came out with a collection of three linked novellas in Old Men at Midnight, and novelist and short-story writer Ward Just turned to the one-act play and published Lowell Limpett, along with two previously unpublished stories with a Washington, D.C., setting. Published posthumously was a nearly 600-page novel by Tennessee writer Richard Marius, An Affair of Honor, a bulky old-fashioned and splendid story about a double murder in rural Tennessee. (“Saturday night, August 8, 1953. It had been miserably hot. The temperature broke slightly when the sun sank in the west, turning off the fire that baked the world. The round thermometer with the needle and the dial over the door of Kelly Parmalee's clothing store on the square showed ninety-four degrees.”)

      Chuck Kinder and Peggy Rambach turned their associations with writers Raymond Carver and Andre Dubus into gossipy romans à clef, titled Honeymooners and Fighting Gravity, respectively. The two best first novels of the year also took historical material as their subjects, often in highly charged prose, as in David Anthony Durham's Gabriel's Story, about a young black cowboy on a quest from Kansas across the Southwest (“The mountains before them rose like sand blankets draped around skeletons of rock … ancient carcasses of some giant creatures—backbones, ribs, limbs and digits stretched out and decaying beneath a godawful sun.”), and the Armenian genocide in Micheline Aharonian Marcom's intensely lyrical Three Apples Fell from Heaven (“In the desert, the Mesopotamian beetles drink blood and soup. There is a lake that overflows its bounds, transshapen by flesh.”).

      A couple of volumes of collected stories, both by influential stylists, deserved serious notice: a more than 440-page volume from Saul Bellow and the posthumously published The Collected Stories of Richard Yates. Also published posthumously was Meteor in the Madhouse, several novellas by Leon Forrest, an African American writer from Chicago. From established story writers came Faithless by Joyce Carol Oates, Perfect Recall by Ann Beattie, Drinking with the Cook by Laura Furman, Zigzagging down a Wild Trail by Bobbie Ann Mason, and Bargains in the Real World by Elizabeth Cox. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni focused on Asian American transplants in The Unknown Errors of Our Lives, and Rick Moody jazzed the usually more placid melodies of Anglo-Americans in Demonology. Extremely promising, if somewhat uneven, first books of stories came from Baltimore, Md., writer Christine Lincoln—Sap Rising—and Vermont-based writer Arthur Bradford—Dogwalker.

      Poetry became more prosaic as Billy Collins, the new U.S. poet laureate, published his low-key, sometimes even trivial verses in Sailing Alone Around the Room. J.D. McClatchy and Stephen Yenser edited the Collected Poems of the late James Merrill. Louise Glück presented The Seven Ages. (“In my first dream the world appeared/ the salt, the bitter, the forbidden, the sweet/ In my second I descended// I was human, I couldn't just see a thing/ beast that I am/ I had to touch.”) The subtle nuances of familiar emotions packed the pages of Jane Hirschfield's lyrical collection Given Sugar, Given Salt. (“It is foolish/ to let a young redwood/ grow next to a house.//Even in this/ one lifetime,/ you will have to choose.// That great calm being,/ this clutter of soup pots and books—//Already the first branch-tips brush at the window./ Softly, calmly, immensity taps at your life.”)

      Al Young, in The Sound of Dreams Remembered, rhymed “sixties” and “striptease.” The Darkness and the Light came from Washington, D.C., poet Anthony Hecht, and Poems Seven: New and Complete Poetry was released by Alan Dugan. Old hand Robert Bly issued The Night Abraham Called to the Stars, and younger poets Forrest Gander and Mark Doty signed in with Torn Awake and Source, respectively. Novelist John Updike produced a collection of occasional verse titled Americana.

      Some fine translations by American poets were released, among them Brooks Haxton's Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus (“The river/ where you set/ your foot just now/ is gone—those waters/ giving way to this,/ now this.”) and Arthur Sze's translations from a number of classical Chinese poets in The Silk Dragon (including this gem from the 8th-century poet Wang Wei—“Sir, you come from my native home/ and should know the affairs there./ The day you left, beside the silk-paned window—/ did the cold plum sprout flowers or not?”).

      A number of fiction writers and poets turned to autobiography and memoir. John Edgar Wideman explained the importance of basketball in his life in Hoop Roots; Horton Foote told of his early life in the theatre in Beginnings; Jimmy Santiago Baca chronicled his emergence as a poet in A Place to Stand; Deborah Digges described her relationship with her difficult son in The Stardust Lounge; Tess Gallagher detailed her relationship with Raymond Carver in Soul Barnacles; and novelist and essayist Edward Hoagland recounted his descent into blindness in Compass Points: How I Lived.

      A number of fiction writers published essay collections, criticism, and journalism. The first essay in Tom Wolfe's Hooking Up (2000) was his attempt to sum up “What Life Was Like at the Turn of the Century.” In Political Fictions, Joan Didion collected her columns from the New York Review of Books. Native American writer Louis Owens weighed in with I Hear the Train: Reflections, Inventions, Refractions; Alan Cheuse produced Listening to the Page: Adventures in Reading and Writing; and Clarence Major collected a number of essays and reviews in Necessary Distance. Adrienne Rich offered Arts of the Possible: Essays and Conversations. Farther afield, if not entirely trivial was Jay McInerny's wine book Bacchus & Me (2000). A much more interesting example of a novelist writing on a subject other than literature was Nicholas Delbanco's short history of a Niccolò Paganini cello in The Countess of Stanlein Restored. An example of a nonfiction writer working with the imagination of a novelist was Red, Terry Tempest Williams's evocative book about the Utah desert. In Halls of Fame, essayist John D'Agata explodes the form of the nonfiction collection as he explores the various Americana exhibitions around the nation, ranging from ones devoted to bowling to those honouring modern dance. (“Woman in black [Clytemnestra] enters empty stage from right flanked by two attendants who carry red cloth. Clytemnestra moves stage left & sits on throne. Man dressed in gold [Agamemnon] enters from stage right on litter.”)

      Various artists served as the subject for some interesting biographies. Nancy Milford's Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay won a lot of praise among reviewers. Less well noticed were Isadora: A Sensational Life by Peter Kurth and Norman Rockwell by Laura Claridge. Biographer Alfred Habegger released My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson, and crime-fiction writer James Sallis worked on Chester Himes. African American scholar Emily Bernard edited Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten, 1925–1964. In the political realm, Tom Wells recounted the life and times of Daniel Ellsberg in Wild Man. In the world of therapy, Charles B. Strozier concentrated on Heinz Kohut: The Making of a Psychoanalyst. The most widely read biography of the year was David McCullough's John Adams.

      Roth captured the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for The Human Stain, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story went to Richard Ford and Sherman Alexie. Chabon won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and Stephen Dunn took the Pulitzer in poetry for Different Hours. The latest volume in David Levering Lewis's biography of W.E.B. Du Bois—W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919–1963—won the Pulitzer for biography. The Pulitzer for history was captured by Joseph Ellis for Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation.

      Among the literary luminaries who died during the year were poet A.R. Ammons (Ammons, A R ), poet, playwright, and novelist Gregory Corso (Corso, Gregory Nunzio ), novelists Frank Gilbreth, Jr. (Gilbreth, Frank Bunker, Jr. ), Ken Kesey (Kesey, Ken Elton ), and John Knowles (Knowles, John ), suspense writer Robert Ludlum (Ludlum, Robert ), crime novelist Peter Maas (Maas, Peter ), and short-story writer and novelist Eudora Welty (Welty, Eudora Alice ). (See Obituaries.)

Alan Cheuse

Canada
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      The past—personal, historical, and imaginary—was the chosen ground for many Canadian novels in 2001, ranging from Nega Mezlekia's exploration of precolonial Africa from a postcolonial perspective in The God Who Begat a Jackal to Robert Hough's 20th-century circus saga about a tiger-taming woman, The Final Confession of Mabel Stark, and including along the way the globe-encompassing 18th-century quest for the infinite book in Thomas Wharton's Salamander. In addition, early 19th-century Newfoundland was powerfully evoked in Michael Crummey's River Thieves; prerevolutionary Russia and beyond, where the focus was on the trials of Mennonite families, were explored in both Sandra Birdsell's The Russlander and Rudy Wiebe's Sweeter than All the World; and World War I Ontario and France were the disparate locales of Jane Urquhart's The Stone Carvers, which revealed the complex relations between workers, immigrants, and other nomads. Richard B. Wright's Clara Callan and her sister survive the Depression in their separate ways, and the postwar Hiroshima of The Ash Garden was thoroughly cultivated by Dennis Bock.

      More contemporary times were reflected in myriad facets in Nancy Huston's Dolce Agonia, a town-and-gown tale set in New England; Timothy Taylor's Stanley Park, in which a young chef and his father meet on the cutting edge of experience and self-knowledge; Kelli Deeth's The Girl Without Anyone, exploring the search for self through self-imposed exile; poet Michael Redhill's first novel, Martin Sloane, an excursion through minutia to obsession; Kelly Watt's Mad Dog, depicting a chaos of characters crazy as foxes; and Diane Schoemperlen's Our Lady of the Lost and Found, in which some of the many apparitions of Mary are chronicled during the Lady's weeklong retreat in the author's home. Yann Martel's Life of Pi seemed to occur in no time at all.

      The fact that single acts could have far-reaching consequences was apparent in a number of works. In Kenneth Radu's Flesh and Blood, falling in love with someone of a different race liberates and confounds both lovers in unexpected ways; in Critical Injuries, Joan Barfoot dissected the long-term consequences—good, bad, and ambivalent—of a happenstance encounter between a middle-aged woman and a teenager ripe for trouble; and in Spadework, Timothy Findley played with the interlocking fates of people whose lives are disrupted by a single stroke of a gardener's spade.

      Short fiction as usual ranged widely in theme and content. In Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, Alice Munro framed her latest collection of stories in the vagaries of a childhood game; in The Path of Totality, Audrey Thomas observed the darkness, metaphoric and personal, of those blinded by the light of a sun studied too closely. P.K. Page's A Kind of Fiction was an odd assortment of tales drawn from a poet's point of view by a prosaic pen, while the Simple Recipes of Madeleine Thien combined the shifting alliances of family relationships in bold new flavours of character and intrigue. Joseph Boyden's Born with a Tooth traced the paths of those caught between two worlds, native and white, while Adam Lewis Schroeder's Kingdom of Monkeys took the reader into the jungles of Southeast Asia and the human heart.

      Poetry is founded in the ever-present tension between senses and meaning, exemplified in George Elliott Clarke's Execution Poems or the communion of romance and reality that distinguished This Tremor Love Is by Daphne Marlatt. Robert Kroetsch elucidated the mysteries of passion in The Hornbooks of Rita K.; Zoë Landale ventured with brave foolishness into the conundrums of parenthood in Blue in This Country; David Zieroth examined the conflicting claims and alliances of the spirit and the flesh in Crows Do Not Have Retirement; Rhea Tregebov tested the connections between grief and joy in The Strength of Materials; and David Helwig presented four epic poems in Telling Stories.

      New voices included those of Billie Livingston in The Chick at the Back of the Church, singing the sad, triumphant songs of a survivor, and Shani Mootoo in a mouthwatering concoction of native-English vocabulary and syntax, The Predicament of Or. Voices that became silent included those of poet Louis Dudek (Dudek, Louis ), essayist and novelist Mordecai Richler (Richler, Mordecai ), and crime novelist L.R. Wright (Wright, L R ). (See Obituaries.)

Elizabeth Woods

Other Literature in English.
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

       Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa continued to provide critically acclaimed and commercially successful literary works in English in 2001. Australian Peter Carey became only the second two-time winner of Great Britain's Booker Prize. His fictional treatment of 19th-century Australian folk hero and outlaw Ned Kelly in True History of the Kelly Gang (2000) also garnered the author his second top Commonwealth Writers Prize and eclipsed much notice of Carey's other published work of the year, 30 Days in Sydney: A Wildly Distorted Account. Another Australian, Arabella Edge, won the South East Asia and South Pacific regional Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book with her historical novel The Company: The Story of a Murderer (2000), which was set in 17th-century Amsterdam. Frank Moorhouse won the 2001 Miles Franklin Award for Dark Palace (2000), and Hannie Rayson's Life After George (2000) represented the first time in the award's history that a play had been short-listed. Tim Winton drew praise for his Dirt Music, a novel that explored the complexities of existence and of marginal relationships. Anna Rutherford—Australian editor, publisher, and scholar of Commonwealth literature—died in February.

      Literary highlights in nearby New Zealand were dominated by poets and included the publication of the inaugural poet laureate Bill Manhire's Collected Poems; Ian Wedde's long-awaited collection inspired by Horace, The Commonplace Odes; the final and posthumously published verse collection Late Song (2000) by much-loved poet Lauris Edmond; and the latest collection by veteran Allen Curnow, The Bells of Saint Babel's: Poems 1997-2001, his first book in four years. Before his death in September, Curnow had been revered by many as the country's greatest living poet. (See Obituaries (Curnow, Allen Monro ).)

       South Africa offered its usual fare of outstanding works and award-winning authors. The much-heralded novelist J.M. Coetzee brought out Stranger Shores: Literary Essays 1986–1999, a selection of 26 pieces on literature and writing, and Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer released her 13th novel, The Pickup, the story of a provocative and complex relationship between a wealthy white woman and an Arab mechanic. Countrymen Zakes Mda (The Heart of Redness [2000]) and K. Sello Duiker (Thirteen Cents [2000]) were honoured as the African regional winners of the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book and Best First Book, respectively.

      Also of note was Tanzanian Abdulrazak Gurnah's latest novel, By the Sea, which focused on immigrants and exiles in its depiction of two very different refugees who both left the same seaside town in Zanzibar to be reunited many years later in Great Britain. Elsewhere, internationally acclaimed Somalian-born novelist and essayist Nuruddin Farah received the 2001 Fonlon-Nichols Award, conferred by the African Literature Association. In his acceptance speech he commented, “Whatever anyone might think, good writing has something of an uplifting quality. What a rewarding experience to find a book that one loves as oneself, as an extension of one's own story. One feels better for it after having read it, as if one has made a lifetime friend.”

David Draper Clark

Germanic

German.
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      In his 2001 novel Rot, Uwe Timm sought to come to terms with the experiences of the generation of so-called 68ers, people who went through the cultural and political turmoil of the 1960s and '70s in West Germany. The protagonist of Rot is Thomas Linde, a 68er who makes his living as a eulogist at burials, a profession that becomes a metaphor for the death of the utopian dreams for social and political renewal of an entire generation—one that now holds the reins of political power in both Germany and the United States. In the end the protagonist dies, and the novel was, in a sense, a eulogy for him and his generation.

      Bodo Kirchhoff's novel Parlando dealt with the experiences of the children born to the 68ers. The novel's main character, Karl Faller, is in his mid-30s and is a screenwriter for television; he attempts to free himself from the influence of an oppressive father who was once, like so many other 68ers, a social revolutionary and is now a cynic. Like many of Kirchhoff's other works, Parlando was also an erotic journey.

      In his novel Die Vertreibung aus der Hölle, Austrian writer Robert Menasse wove together two stories, one from contemporary Europe and the other from the Europe of the 17th century. The contemporary story deals with a semiautobiographical 68er who experiences the political turmoil of the late 1960s and early '70s, and the other story chronicles the life of a distant ancestor of the contemporary Central European, a Jewish philosopher who must contend with Christian anti-Semitism. Although the novel suggested parallels between the two life stories, the fundamental differences between the kinds of persecution that the two protagonists endure suggested that there is such a thing as progress in human history. In his novel Fräulein Stark, Swiss author Thomas Hürlimann told an autobiographical story about a teenager coming of age in provincial Switzerland in a devout Roman Catholic milieu.

      Friedrich Christian Delius also combined contemporary narrative and historical fiction in his novel Der Königsmacher, which told the story of Minna—the illegitimate daughter of William of Orange and Marie Hoffmann—a working-class girl in Berlin, and on another level followed the life of the fictional novelist Albert Rusch, Minna's descendent and biographer. Der Königsmacher was also a satire of contemporary literary life in Germany, notably the tendency to turn certain authors into pop stars. Martin Walser's Der Lebenslauf der Liebe told the pathetic story of Susi Gern, a woman who rises from humble beginnings to riches following her marriage but then falls into degradation and despair.

      Juli Zeh's first novel,Adler und Engel, was a serious political and crime thriller that offered a devastating critique of contemporary European society. Its protagonist, Max, finds himself mixed up in criminality through his relationship with Jessie, the daughter of a wealthy businessman who happens to be a major drug dealer. In the end the novel told the story of Max's disillusionment and, like Bertolt Brecht's Die Dreigroschenoper (1928), suggested an identity between capitalism on the one hand and criminality on the other. In his novel 1979, Christian Kracht explored the tensions between the European world and Islamic fundamentalism at the time of the 1978–79 Iranian revolution. Both of these novels by young authors produced strong evidence that the much-discussed younger generation of German writers was by no means ready to banish politics completely from their thinking.

      Ursula Krechel's novel Der Übergriff told a far less overtly political story of loneliness and aging. Its protagonist is a middle-aged woman who must gradually learn to assert herself and to overcome her tendency toward self-deprecation. Norman Ohler's novel Mitte, set in the lively Berlin neighbourhood of the novel's title, showed a colourful counterculture coexisting uneasily with Germany's government. The protagonist moves into one of the many old apartment buildings in the centre of Berlin, where he makes a number of mysterious discoveries that lead him to an understanding of the haunted nature of the German capital. Georg Klein's Barbar Rosa was set in early 1990s Berlin at the time of German reunification.

      Ralf Rothmann's short-story collection Ein Winter unter Hirschen explored the miracles of everyday life and the possibility that a book with a Christian theme could find an audience in contemporary Germany. Thomas Hettche's novel Der Fall Arbogast was a postmodern thriller exploring the relationship between sex and death in the story of a coroner on the trail of an erroneous verdict handed down many years earlier.

      On May 18 Germany lost its most distinguished literary critic, Hans Mayer (Mayer, Hans Heinrich ), who during his 94 years had experienced six states and political systems as well as their writers. Stefan Heym (Heym, Stefan ), one of the former German Democratic Republic's most respected dissident writers, died on December 16. (See Obituaries.)

Stephen Brockmann

Netherlandic.
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      In 2001 well-known novelist and essayist Louis Ferron was awarded the Dutch national Constantijn Huygens Prijs for his uncompromisingly singular and “completely unfashionable and contrary” body of work. The Libris Literatuur Prijs went to Tomas Lieske for his novel Franklin (2000), which showcased his brilliant style and bold wit.

      Jeroen Brouwers's novel Geheime Kamers (2000) was awarded three literary prizes—the Gouden Uil, the Multuli Prijs, and the AKO Literatuur Prijs, the most lucrative award for Dutch literature. The work was lauded as a great novel that “sounds like a symphony and is constructed like a cathedral”; it featured a complex plot in which all the narrative lines connected in the end, grounded in the dark underworld of myth, forgotten fears, and suppressed needs and desires. In his acceptance speech for the Gouden Uil, Brouwers criticized the practice of making the presentation of the AKO Literatuur Prijs in a televised ceremony (as Arnon Grunberg had also done the previous year), and he declined to attend the ceremony. Brouwers maintained that the “circus” surrounding literary prizes debased the literature itself and fostered an inappropriate sense of competition between authors.

      In his novel De mensheid zij geprezen, Grunberg radically questioned Erasmus's humanist legacy—the lawyer who defends humankind's offenses (hatred, opportunism, lies, and war) sports great rhetorical skill. Harry Mulisch published Siegfried, a novel that takes on the relationships between fiction, imagination, and reality in a story about a writer who decides to undo Adolf Hitler by way of fiction. In Als op de eerste dag Stefan Hertmans explored the sublime and the sinister potential of fantasy. A younger writer, Floor Haakman, also considered thoughts of fantasy in Oneetbaar brood, a suspenseful philosophical novel.

      A few Dutch works were also published in English, notably Oscar van den Boogaard's novel Love's Death, translated by Ina Rilke, and Grunberg's Silent Extras (2000), translated by Sam Garrett. Love's Death, written in a fluid and virtuoso style, told a compelling story in a narrative that revealed surprises and complicated motives.

Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

Danish.
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      Danish writers cast reality to the wind and explored “surreality” in 2001. Per Højholt's novel Auricula described a universal silence that is followed by the marvelous conception of actual ears that witness pivotal events of the 20th century; gossip with artists, philosophers, and politicians; and serve as “ear witnesses to history.” Søren Jessen's novel Zambesi focused on odd characters whose Kafkaesque lives conclude at Café Zambesi, the place where everyone meets and reality unravels. Grete Roulund's Kvinden fra Sáez was a tale of intrigue and crime close to home. Hans-Otto Jørgensen's novel Molly—historien om en engel (2000) focused on a Juttish farmer, Jens Thorstensen, and the missing moments in his life. The novellas in Jens-Martin Eriksen's Jonatan Svidts forbyrdelse. Nye beretninger (2000) depicted ominous outsiders who wreak havoc on serene villages.

      In Fiske i livets flod (2000), Merete Pryds Helle created a wonderful palimpsest of stories dealing with the written word. Nina Belling and Nina Bolt recaptured other times and places in their works. Belling's Til en fremmed (2000) concerned a young Florentine illuminator whose inheritance proves very dangerous. Spejlmageren (2000), Bolt's novel of early Renaissance Venice, focused on Bartolomeo, a Murano glassmaker searching for perfection, and on a company of players whose dramas both reflect and transform life. Maria Helleberg's historical novel Rigets frue concerned Danish Queen Margrethe I.

      In Til sidst Asger Baunsbak-Jensen offered a poignant look at the final days of a sadly forgotten and very ill office executive. Jens Christian Grøndahl's Virginia (2000) traced wartime love between a 16-year-old girl and an English pilot, as witnessed by a 14-year-old boy. A problematic love lasting through time was the subject of Bonsai (2000), Kirsten Thorup's first novel in six years. Anne Strandvad's Hvor er svalerne om vinteren? (2000) focused on young Karina's meeting with love and death—and with dire consequences. Kirsten Hammann's Bruger De ord i kaffen? conjoined a novel about a novelist with “poetics,” discussions on writing. In Sjælen marineret Benny Andersen combined a suite from younger days, surrealistic lyrics, and cityscape poems. Christian Yde Frostholm's poems in Mellem stationerne (2000) dealt with urban rhythms, personal journeys, and loves. The Children's Book of the Year Prize went to Henrik Einspor for Med døden i hælene, and Joakim Garff garnered both the Georg Brandes Prize and Weekendavisen's Literary Prize for SAK, his biography of Søren Kierkegaard. Kirsten Thorup claimed the Annual Award of the Danish Academy. Essayist and short-story writer Villy Sørensen died in December.

Lanae Hjortsvang Isaacson

Norwegian.
      The year 2001 was a successful one for established authors in Norway. The 2001 Nordic Council Literature Prize was awarded to Jan Kjærstad for Oppdageren (1999). Lars Saabye Christensen won acclaim for his gigantic novel Halvbroren, which chronicled three generations in Oslo; it was awarded the Brage Prize and Bokhandlerprisen and was nominated for the 2002 Nordic Council Literature Prize. Ingvar Ambjørnsen released Dukken i taket, which portrayed the psychological perversity of revenge, and he was awarded a Tabuprisen for his openness about angst. In Om bare Vigdis Hjorth returned to the tangles of love, a theme she excelled in exploring.

      Hans Herbjørnsrud's short-story collection Vi vet så mye investigated the tension between the unexpected and the familiar; it was also nominated for the 2002 Nordic Council Literature Prize. Frode Grytten received rave reviews for Popsongar, which spun each story around a pop song. Svømmetak, by acclaimed short-story writer Laila Stien, followed the everyday life of women.

      In addition, several young authors made their debuts during the year. Many of their works were inspired by the dirty realism launched by cult figure Ari Behn in 1999 and rebelled against the authority of well-established social realism. The Cocka Hola Company—Skandinavisk misantropi by Abo Rasul (Matias Faldbakken's pseudonym) instigated controversy with its obscenities. Grethe Nestor's Kryp turned the popular genre of the urban single woman à la Bridget Jones into a disturbing tale of venereal disease and crawling insects. Espen Dennis Kristoffersen's Hvit was a Lolita-like story, told from the girl's perspective, that was loaded with swearing.

      Mystery novels concerned with contemporary issues flourished, notably Jon Michelet's Den frosne kvinnen and Fredrik Skagen's Blitz. Tom Kristensen's and Jon Lyng's debuts En Kule and Valgets kval, respectively, described Oslo's financial and political circles.

      Annie Riis was awarded the Brage Prize for poetry for Himmel av stål, which was praised for its thematic scope and imagery. Veteran poet Cecilie Løveid's Split delighted with its cheerfulness and confident language. Endre Ruset's promising debut, Ribbeinas Vingespenn, plumbed the possibilities of transgressing physical limits in language and content.

      Numerous biographies were welcomed. Sven Kærup Bjørneboe used humour and melancholy in the revealing portrayal of his uncle Jens Bjørneboe. With Jæger Ketil Bjørnstad completed his work on the Christiania Bohemians.

Anne G. Sabo

Swedish.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table.

      A feeling of lost control and an urge to use language to beseech a present and a past that had gone out of hand served as a rough summary of preferred themes in Swedish literature in 2001. Per Olov Enquist's Lewis resa portrayed revivalist Lewi Pethrus, the founding father of the Swedish branch of the Pentecostal Movement. The 600-page factual novel told the story not only of the man but of the time, and it was also discussed as a biography and 20th-century document.

      One observed an inclination for the subjective and a biographical turn, explicit in Lisbeth Larsson's Sanning och konsekvens, a study of the art of biographical narration. Using personal experience, many writers found ways to formulate a growing feeling of social estrangement, notably Stig Claesson in Det lyckliga Europa, Theodor Kallifatides in Ett nytt land utanför mitt fönster, and Bodil Malmsten in Priset på vatten i Finistère.

      The inspired preacher, a patriarch lost or abandoned, turned out to be somewhat of an icon in Kerstin Norborg's well-written first novel, Min faders hus, in senior poet Ragnar Thoursie's first prose book, Ditt ord är ljus, and in lyrical form in Jesper Svenbro's Pastorn, min far. The murdered prime minister Olof Palme turned up as a lost secular father figure in Lars Åke Augustsson's Sveavägen. In Ellen Mattson's impressive short novel Snö, the ambivalence surfaced in a bravely unheroic historical version of the theme staged at the death of King Charles XII in 1718. History—convincingly studied and deliberately animated—acted as a possible mirror for the present in Maja Lundgren's novel Pompeji.

      As for genre, short—often hybridic—forms were frequent. Along with the explicit subjective focus, there was an opposing trend that brought out a marked impersonal attitude. Interesting examples, including Magnus Florin's Cirkulation and Lotta Lotass's Aerodynamiska tal, left realism behind, whereas Mare Kandre's Hetta och vitt, Mats Kempe's Saknar dig sällan så mycket som nu, Mats Kolmisoppi's Jag menar nu, and Alejandro Leiva Wenger's Till vår ära used other techniques to estrange everyday life, often by focusing the effects of migration on identity and language.

Immi Lundin

French

France.
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      In 2001 French literature's marked inclination towards gloom continued unabated as it had for over a decade, leaving no permutation of familial misery unabated. Death in the family was a favourite topic, and Laure Adler's À ce soir described the death of her son and the subsequent guilt that has consumed her for the past 20 years. François Bon's autobiographical Mécanique traced childhood memories of an existence surrounded by cars, recollections that were stirred by the death of his father, a Citroën car dealer. In Des phrases courtes, ma chérie, Pierrette Fleutiaux chronicled a voyage of self-discovery that a daughter took as she accompanied her mother during her final months, while conversely, Isabelle Hausser's La Table des enfants depicted the death of a daughter and a distraught mother's attempt to dispel the shroud of mystery concealing the person she was. Marie Darrieussecq covered mourning from several angles at once in Bref séjour chez les vivants, in which she examined the devastation wreaked upon a family member one at a time by the drowning of Pierre, their youngest son and brother. Though Anne Sibran's Ma vie en l'air did not revolve around death, it did relate the young heroine's insane delusions of flying, which stemmed from incestuous sexual abuse.

      Amid the horrors of family life, cracks appeared in the monolithic depressiveness with novels noteworthy for the strategies they used to overcome bleakness. In the undisputed literary event of the year, Michel Houellebecq's Plateforme fully recognized and even wallowed in the ills of directionless Western life but reversed conventional values by seemingly singing the praises of Europeans' sexual tourism to poor countries such as Thailand, a twist that aroused a storm of controversy even before the novel was released. In La Vie sexuelle de Catherine M., Catherine Millet also overturned sexual taboo to make promiscuity a banner of individual freedom by describing in explicit, even scandalous, detail her encounters with men of every stripe and perversion. Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's strategy was even more original; in his La Part de l'autre—in contrast to a utopia, or place that never existed—he created a uchronia, or time that never existed, to invent the happy 20th century that would have been if only young Adolf Hitler had been accepted into the Viennese art school to which he applied in 1908.

      Though dealing with death, Jean d'Ormesson's Voyez comme on danse, which began at a funeral, used the normally mournful occasion to resurrect the joy of a man whose love of life and women blazed through the nightmares of Nazism and Stalinism from the Greek Mediterranean to the war zone of Algeria. In Paulette et Roger, the ever-sunny Daniel Picouly avoided the blandness of the present by tenderly and lovingly reconstructing what his parents' life as a couple must have been before children came along. Eric Chevillard sidestepped the real world altogether with perhaps the most original work of the year, Les Absences du Capitaine Cook, a feast of the absurd in which the usual unities of character and plot were abandoned in favour of a series of insane episodes strung together by far-fetched analogies, word games, and proverbs taken literally that served to reaffirm the author's reputation as one of the most dazzling writers on the literary scene.

      Two perennial favourites also published new works; Nobel laureate Claude Simon's Le Tramway reconstructed the world of the author's childhood by the freewheeling analogies of memory as one thought resurrected another with the connecting thread of the trolley rides Simon had taken as a youth. Alain Robbe-Grillet returned to fiction after a long foray into autobiography and a nine-year silence with La Reprise, which, in a style familiar to readers of his earlier experimental works, used the trappings of a conventional spy novel to present the story of a secret agent sent in 1949 to bombed-out Berlin to carry out a mission about which he himself knows nothing, a mystery only deepened by the strange memories the city seems to awaken in him.

      The Prix Femina went to Marie Ndiaye's Rosie Carpe, in which the protagonist and her brother, adrift in the world and on the run from themselves, progressively decline into misery as they reproduce upon their own children the same loveless environment their parents had inflicted on them. The Prix Médicis was awarded to Benoît Duteurtre's Le Voyage en France, which presented modern-day France as seen through the disillusioned and shocked eyes of a young man, the illegitimate son of an American woman and a French father he never knew. After years of idealizing the country from afar, the protagonist at last decides to take the trip from New York to see Paris for himself. Martine Le Coz won the Prix Renaudot for Céleste, the story of the love between a white woman and a black doctor in cholera-stricken 1830s Paris, a love threatened by the incestuous passion of her uncle, who rages with the jealousy of one forbidden love for another. The Prix Goncourt went to Jean-Christophe Rufin's Rouge Brésil, a tale of bitingly ironic wit set against the backdrop of the 16th-century French conquest of Brazil, in which the Europeans' religious fury contrasts with the native Indians' pristine simplicity.

Vincent Aurora

Canada.
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      Though the French literary community in Canada viewed itself as a society distinct from the rest of the country, its tastes remained entirely global in 2001. The third installation of Pierre Godin's ongoing biography about the late René Lévesque, the popular provincial politician, attracted attention among parliamentarians and ordinary citizens alike, but readers also were captivated by the adventures of Harry Potter and anything that would shed light on Afghanistan following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. Nothing, however, could match the outpouring of love for Marie Laberge, the author of several best-selling works of romantic fiction. Her popularity—always strong—was unstoppable, especially with the completion of her trilogy Le Goût du bonheur (2000). Another female voice that had fallen by the wayside reemerged with new strength—that of Acadian novelist Antonine Maillet, who in 1979 had become the first non-French person to win France's Prix Goncourt. Her new novel was Madame Perfecta.

      Another worldwide trend, pornography written by women, was evidenced in Quebec-born writer Nelly Arcan's Putain, the story of a girl who engages in the world's oldest profession and who makes her confession to a nameless psychiatrist. The question of whether the author actually experienced the scenarios described in the book occupied many readers' minds. Madness among women continued to be a favourite topic in French Canada, and writer Andrée-A. Michaud produced Le Ravissement; her efforts were recognized with the Governor-General's Award, Canada's premier French-language fiction prize. Though plays were rarely published for their literary merit, Normand Chaurette's Le Petit Köchel was an exception; it picked up the Governor-General's Award for French-language drama.

      One positive trend in publishing was the solidifying of the so-called outlaw small presses, including Les Intouchables, Planète Rebelle, and Trait d'Union, which relied on daring and worked at poverty wages to give younger writers a forum for their works. Though writers in English-speaking markets faced a crisis with the downfall of Chapters, the country's largest retail bookstore chain, French-Canadian authors were largely unaffected by the closure, owing to the strength of independent bookstores in French-speaking Canada.

David Homel

Italian
      The most distinctive feature of Italian literature in 2001 was the publication of several novels whose settings in the recent past served as a framework for a reflection on history. Davide Longo's Un mattino a Irgalem takes place during the Italian colonization of Ethiopia, a topic traditionally neglected by historians and creative writers. In the action a short and failed investigation into the crimes of a bloodthirsty sergeant unveils the brutality of colonialism, as well as the dilemmas facing those who are not willing to justify it on ideological grounds. Antonio Franchini's L'abusivo focused on more recent history and on the parallel lives of Giancarlo Siani—a young journalist killed by the camorra in 1985 for his reportage on organized crime—and the author-narrator, a former colleague of Siani's, who left journalism and Naples for literature and Northern Italy and tried to reconstruct the dramatic events that led to Siani's death.

      Bruno Arpaia, Laura Pariani, and Massimiliano Melilli also looked to the past and anchored their fiction in the biographies of three philosophers: Walter Benjamin, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Antonio Gramsci, respectively. In L'angelo della storia, Arpaia alternated scenes from Benjamin's life with those of Laureano Mahojo, a republican fighter in the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). Reflection and action and different perspectives and narrative rhythms run parallel until the two protagonists meet at Port Bou, where Benjamin tragically ends his life. More introspective and lyrical was Pariani's La foto di Orta, centred on an 1882 photo of Nietzsche with Lou Salomé and the glimpse at love and happiness it symbolized in the eyes of the philosopher, bound to loneliness and insanity. Largely based on Gramsci's letters and notebooks, Melilli's Punta Galera reconstructed the 43 days the antifascist intellectual spent in confinement on the island of Ustica before being sent to prison on the Italian mainland. Melilli re-created Gramsci's relationship with the other exiles and paid special attention to a school of science and humanities they established for the island community. What emerged was the portrayal of a curious, active, and generous man, determined to defy the infamous sentence pronounced at the 1928 trial by the Fascist tribunal that sought “to prevent Gramsci's mind from functioning for twenty years.”

      Andrea Camilleri confirmed his success with a new adventure for his hero, police inspector Montalbano. More than for its plot, L'odore della notte was remarkable for the protagonist's evolution: the inspector, just over 50, longs for human warmth and love and views globalization and the new economy with bitter irony. Antonio Tabucchi ingeniously played with the conventions of the epistolary genre in his Si sta facendo sempre più tardi, where the perturbing letters sent by 17 men to their beloved ones (be they real or imaginary, dead or alive) are answered by a single, pointed female response.

      Writing outside current trends, Paola Mastrocola and Niccolò Ammaniti received widespread public acclaim. Mastrocola's Palline di pane treated with lightness and humour the uneasiness of family life, whereas Ammaniti's Io non ho paura chronicled the adventures of Michele, a boy struggling to save a newly found friend, in the incomprehensible world of grown-ups.

      Strong theatrical features marked Claudio Magris's La mostra, centred on the life of Vito Timmel, a painter from Trieste who died in 1949 in a psychiatric hospital. The title alludes to an exhibit organized after Timmel's death, but it could also be interpreted as a reference to the structural characteristics of the text, in which a life is reconstructed through the fragmented discussions of friends, fellow inmates, and hospital personnel as well as through the visionary monologue of the artist himself. Alternating between different chronological periods and voices, Magris developed an analysis of the relationship between sanity and insanity and explored madness as a refuge from the persecution of life.

      Some of the most relevant poetic production of the year was written not in Italian but in dialect, notably in Rimis te sachete, Flavio Santi's latest collection. The 28-year-old Santi chose the dialect of the Friuli region for poems that allude to international music and cinema (from rock star Jimi Hendrix to film director David Cronenberg) without losing sight of the dramatic recent history of the area (from the 1976 earthquake to Pier Paolo Pasolini's death). Andrea Zanzotto also employed some dialect in Sovrimpressioni, in which the poet revisited the natural landscape he had celebrated in Dietro il paesaggio (1951); 40 years later that environment was almost unrecognizable, altered by pollution and cement and devastated by consumerism.

      Following the disappearance and death of Geno Pampaloni (1918–2001)—a scholar as well as a militant critic and the author of hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines—Giuseppe Leonelli edited a collection of Pampaloni's selected essays, Il critico giornaliero, which paid tribute to the activity of this intellectual of subtle irony and masterful synthetic precision.

Laura Benedetti

Spanish

Spain.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table.

      Readers looking for novels with a historical base, for novels presenting stories about real people, for history books, or for poetry about the passage of time, would find many possibilities in the literature published in 2001 in Spain.

      Juan Marsé won the National Prize for Narrative with Rabos de lagartija (2000), another of his works set in the postwar years of the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). The novel centred on David, an adolescent who had a love-hate relationship with his parents; his father was an anarchist sought by the police, and his mother had an ambiguous relationship with the officer looking for her husband. Antonio Muñoz Molina's Sefarad was an account of the history of the 20th century through the voices of the persecuted and forgotten. The novel contained thousands of stories, some true and some fictionalized, that recalled cruel episodes in history, including the Holocaust and the communist repression. In Juan Manuel de Prada's most recent work, Desgarrados y excéntricos, he rescued from oblivion 15 frustrated 20th-century Spanish writers. Each portrait was the result of a meticulous investigation about the writers, all of whom were ignored in the literary canon. The Planeta Prize, which awarded approximately $550,000 on its 50th anniversary, was given to Rosa Regás's La canción de Dorotea, a story of mystery and intrigue involving a woman hired to take care of an ailing man in a country house.

      In El oro del rey, the fourth and final volume of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's series of adventure novels about the mysterious Capitán Alatriste, the captain and his partner become involved in a mission concerning the smuggling of gold aboard Spanish galleons arriving from the Indies. One of the most applauded novels of the year was Eduardo Mendoza's El tocador de señoras, a funny, clever, and satiric X-ray of certain guilds (politicians and journalists) as well as several members of the Catalonian bourgeoisie. Lucía Etxebarria published her fourth novel, De todo lo visible y lo invisible, which began with the second suicide attempt of Ruth, a film director; Ruth meets Juan, a poet who has just arrived in Madrid to write a novel, and these two narcissistic and insecure characters develop a passionate dependence that degenerates into a terribly destructive relationship. Enrique Vila-Matas was the winner of the Rómulo Gallegos Prize of Venezuela for El viaje vertical (1999), his traveling book framed in the Spanish Civil War. Promising young author Javier Lucini weighed in with La canción del mal amado, y otras desmitologías, a collection of short stories based on Greek mythologies.

      A year after his death, José Ángel Valente was awarded the National Prize for Poetry for Fragmentos de un libro futuro (2000), which appeared posthumously and encompassed more than 90 poems and some brief prose pieces. The coveted Cervantes Prize, the highest distinction in Spanish letters, went to Colombian Álvaro Mutis. After nine years of silence, Ángel González published Otoños y otras luces, which explored the endless autumn, the extinguishing life, and the silence discovered by the poetic creation.

Verónica Esteban

Latin America.
      For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table.

      In 2001 many works explored Latin America's past and present social and political realities as well as offering variations on the theme of love. From Mexico, writer Carlos Fuentes returned to fantastic literature and to the theme of love's difficulties in Instinto de Inez. In La piel del cielo, Elena Poniatowska, winner of the 2001 Alfaguara Prize, offered an overview of science in Mexico as well as a political social history of that country's past 70 years as seen through the eyes of an astronomer. Laura Esquivel brought indigenous and Spanish-speaking cultures together in Tan veloz como el deseo, a tale in which love is the redeeming force in the difficult years following the Mexican Revolution. In El espía del aire, Ignacio Solares returned to the charged atmosphere of Mexico in the late 1960s. Other fiction from Mexico included Federico Campbell's novella La clave Morse, the story of an alcoholic telegraph operator and amateur writer told through the eyes of his daughters; Ana García Bergua's Púrpura (1999), which presented another vision of 20th-century Mexico and the political transformations of that country; and Álvaro Uribe's Por su nombre, a tale of obsessive love. In the realm of awards, novelist Juan García Ponce won the Juan Rulfo Prize, and the poet José Emilio Pacheco was awarded the first José Donoso Prize for his extensive body of work, which spanned over four decades. The literary world was saddened by the death of Juan José Arreola, author of a small but brilliant narrative corpus.

      Sergio Ramírez of Nicaragua released Catalina y Catalina, a collection of stories that presented his country's harsh social and political realities. Rey Rosa of Guatemala published the short novel Piedras encantadas, which told the story of children in the streets of Guatemala City and the mysterious death of an adopted boy. Milagro en Miami by Zoé Valdés of Cuba explored the theme of exile involving a girl kidnapped from the island to become a supermodel in Milan. More than 10 years after the death of Reinaldo Arenas of Cuba, Alfaguara published his El palacio de las blanquísimas mofetas, the story of a boy growing up in rural poverty during the last years of the Fulgencio Batista regime. In La fábula de José, Eliseo Alberto of Cuba chronicled the life of a 33-year-old Cuban who arrives during the 1960s in Florida on a raft; he is given a choice of staying in jail or being exhibited in a zoo.

      From Colombia, Álvaro Mutis's seven novels dealing with the popular protagonist Gaviero were republished in a volume entitled Empresas y tribulaciones de Maqroll el Gaviero. In December Mutis was named the recipient of the Cervantes Prize. Héctor Abad Faciolince published Basura, which explored the relationship between reading and writing. Medardo Arias Satizábal wrote Que es un soplo la vida about Carlos Gardel's death and the transporting of his body across Colombia. Making significant international literary news was the widely anticipated auction of the galleys of Gabriel García Márquez's Cien años de soledad, but the minimum opening bid of $530,000 was not met.

      Chilean novelist Antonio Skármeta released La chica del trombón, a story of a young girl looking for her identity in the days prior to the election of Salvador Allende. Marcela Serrano's novel Antigua vida mía, a finalist for the Planeta Prize, was a narrative about a depressed woman who travels with a friend to Chiapas after the death of her son. Chilean poet Raúl Zurita won the national literature prize, awarded in August 2001.

      From Argentina came Federico Andahazi's political novel El principe, which chronicled the rise to power of the son of a diabolical and fantastic father. Juan Forn published Puras mentiras, the tale of a man who finds his life unraveling and ends up traveling anonymously to a small coastal village. Marcelo Birmajer published Tres mosqueteros, a novel in which a Jewish man returns to Argentina on an unknown mission after having lived 20 years in Israel and is kidnapped in the airport. Tulio Stella's novel La familia Fortuna, in the tradition of Julio Cortázar's Rayuela, allows the reader to freely combine the seven “novels” in the text. Juan Gelman, one of Argentina's leading poets, published Valer la pena, a collection of 149 poems he wrote between 1966 and 2000.

      Uruguayan authors had a banner year. Hugo Burel won the Lengua de Trapo Prize for Narrative for El guerrero del crepúsculo, about an encyclopaedia salesman who leaves the hospital after a brain operation only to enter a comic Kafkaesque world and end up in a house of prostitution, and Rafael Courtoisie showcased his narrative talent with the stories in Tajos (1999). In Hugo Fontana's Veneno, a friend from childhood narrates the story of a man who is condemned to death in the U.S. for alleged arson of a hotel frequented by gays. Mario Benedetti received the José Martí Iberoamerican Prize for his vast contributions to literature over almost 50 years.

John Barry

Portuguese

Portugal.
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      The Association of Portuguese Writers awarded its 2001 Great Prize for Fiction to Maria Velho da Costa for her novel Irene ou o contrato social (2000). Velho da Costa, who first gained international acclaim with the publication in 1972 of Novas cartas portuguesas, turned to the subject of euthanasia in her latest prizewinning novel, in which a contract is made between a female patient and a male friend who helps her to die. The story was told in a complex and tangled way, challenging the reader to decipher literary allusions and echoes and associations with characters from her previous novels.

      Short-listed for the same prize was Helder Macedo's novel Vícios e virtudes, a story about a fiction writer whose reputation is on the rise. Macedo used the literary technique of a narrative within a narrative to tell the story of an intriguing woman who is having an affair with a friend, who in turn is writing his own novel based on her. The interplay of situations and affections, the suspicions that assail the narrator, the ambiguities of language that prevail, changing everything into its opposite, confuse the narrator in the pursuit of the obscure object of his own desire. This most entertaining novel, written in an elegant and witty style, possessed a depth of thought that was never sacrificed to literary effect. Vices could become virtues, and virtues could masquerade as vices, depending on the way in which the cards were played.

      Concern with language was pursued with great rigour and discipline by Gastão Cruz in his book of poems Crateras (2000), which was awarded the D. Dinis Prize for Literature. The sound of the word and the music of the verse served as the essence of his poetry, and meaning was subordinate to them. A simple description of a place had to convey its presence in the tone and colour of the word.

      The Camões Prize was awarded to Eugénio de Andrade for his exceptional body of work. His poems breathed the air of nature and reflected an intense contemplation of nature-related objects, including leaves, seeds, roots, water, and birds. They all combined in a symphony of the four elements. In his O sal da língua (1995), the complexity of thought was matched by simplicity of expression.

L.S. Rebelo

Brazil.
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      Brazilians mourned the death in August 2001 of Jorge Amado (see Obituaries (Amado, Jorge )), who for some 70 years was the country's most distinguished writer. In the 1930s and '40s he produced a body of Social Realist fiction that was totally committed to an ideal of communism, a factor that led to periods of his enforced exile from Brazil. From the mid-1950s he developed a unique style of “utopian realism,” in which social dilemmas were dealt with from a more comical perspective. Amado claimed that his favourite among his works was The Violent Land (1942), which presented the cacao land struggles in his native state of Bahia. It was with his later group of works—including Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon (1958) and Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1966)—and their adaptation to film, stage, and television that he earned international fame. These and other later novels were notable for highlighting the lives of blacks in Brazilian society and for their sympathetic portrayal of female characters in a traditionally macho society, approaches that caused these works to be praised and detested at the same time.

      Fabrício Carpi Nejar published a new poetry collection, Um terno de pássaros do Sul, and the Complete Poetical Works of the symbolist poet Alphonsus de Guimaraens was published by his son and his grandson, both poets, Alphonsus Filho and Afonso Henriques da Costa Guimarães, respectively. The Guimaraens family continued its long tradition in Brazilian letters—dating back to 19th-century poet and novelist Bernardo Guimaraens—with the publication of Alphonsus Filho's own volume of poems, O tecelão do assombro.

      Notable works of fiction included Joyce Cavalcante's novel O cão chupando manga and new short fiction by Luci Collin, Precioso Impreciso.

      Two quite insightful volumes of cultural criticism appeared in late 2000. The essays in Brasil, país do passado?, edited by Lígia Chiappini, Antônio Dimas, and Berthold Zilly, took Stefan Zweig's classic Brasil, país do futuro (1941) as the starting point for a reevaluation of the concept of past, present, and future within the Brazilian context. Fiction and essays by many of Brazil's leading militant intellectuals of the past 50 years, including Antônio Callado, Darcy Ribeiro, Paulo Freire, Paulo Francis, and Herbert José de Souza (“Betinho”), were analyzed to decipher the significance of the national past and what might occur in the future. An interdisciplinary study of the social role of Brazilian soap operas appeared in English: Living with the Rubbish Queen: Telenovelas, Culture and Modernity in Brazil by Thomas Tufte. In addition to analyzing the relevance of their themes and contents, the author sought to determine the impact of soap operas on the typical Brazilian viewer—the low-income urban woman.

Irwin Stern

Russian
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      The year 2001 was one of losses and gains for Russian literature. Several leading figures died, among them Viktor Krivulin, a major poet, critic, and organizational force in Russia's 1970s “underground”; Vadim Kozhonov—critic, literary scholar, and an intellectual leader of the “populist” wing of Russian literature; and Viktor Golyavkin, a prose writer in the absurdist vein who was a prominent figure in the 1960s. The suicide of 27-year-old Yekaterinburg poet Boris Rizhy received considerable attention in literary circles, especially after the news that he had been posthumously awarded the Northern Palmyra Prize.

      Skirmishes continued between the two major literary “parties.” The first, led by critics Pavel Basinsky and Andrey Nemzer, stood for values associated with the best traditions of Soviet literature— “humanness,” “emotionality,” and the “accurate depiction of the realities of daily life.” Much of the success of poets Rizhy and Vera Pavlova, winner in 2001 of the Apollon Grigoryev Prize, was attributed to their appeal to this segment of the Russian reading public. Pavlova's poetry was especially interesting in this regard, combining traditional Soviet poetic devices with explicit eroticism.

      The opposing literary party, whose primary bastions were the journal of literary criticism Novaya russkaya kniga (“The New Russian Book”) and the Andrey Bely literary prizes, looked upon the literary Conceptualists (Dmitry Prigov, Lev Rubinshteyn, Vladimir Sorokin, and other postmodernists) as the driving force of contemporary literature. Yaroslav Mogutin was awarded the Andrey Bely Prize for poetry for his militantly homosexual verse, and the prize for prose went to Aleksandr Pyatigorsky for his postmodern combination of scholarship and play in Vspomnish strannogo cheloveka (1999; “You Remember That Strange Man”). At the same time, postmodern and avant-garde writing sought a wider audience through publishing ventures (the Amfora Publishing House in St. Petersburg was a typical example) and new literary prizes, including the National Best-Seller. This prize, which attempted to merge serious and escapist literature, was awarded to Leonid Yuzefovich for Knyaz vetr (“The Wind King”), an intellectual mystery that took place at the end of the 19th century in Russia and Mongolia. None of the nominated books, however, could be called true best-sellers; the only real crossover author continued to be Boris Akunin, whose novels—like those of Yuzefovich—combined history, fantasy, and the mystery genre.

      The nominees for the Russian Booker Prize in 2001 included Tatyana Tolstaya's anti-utopian novel Kys; Lyudmila Ulitskaya's Kazus Kukotskogo (“Kukotsky's Case”); Alan Cherchesov's Venok na mogilu vetra (2000; “A Wreath on the Wind's Grave”), written in the magic realism style; Sergey Nosov's postmodern Khozyayku istorii (2000; “To the Master of History”); and two fictionalized memoirs, Anatoly Nayman's Ser (“Sir”), about Isaiah Berlin, and Aleksandr Chudakov's Lozhitsya mgla na staryye stupeni (“Darkness Falls on the Old Stairs”). The winner was Ulitskaya's Kazus Kukotskogo.

      Some more aesthetically daring works were published, including a volume of short stories from Nikolay Kononov, nonfiction from essayist Kirill Kobrin, and a novel from Oleg Yuryev, Poluostrov zhidyatin (“The Zhidyatin Peninsula”), which described the encounter of a group of descendants of 15th-century Jewish heretics with contemporary assimilated Jews.

      The most important poetry publications were Yelena Shvarts's Dikopis poslednego vremeni (“A Nonsense of Recent Times”) and the four volumes released by Novoye literaturnoye obozreniye (“New Literary Review”) of the 2000 Andrey Bely Prize for poetry finalists: Yelena Fanaylova (who won the award), Sergey Stratanovsky, Mikhail Ayzenberg, and Aleksandra Petrova. Soon after Krivulin's death, a powerful last book appeared, Stikhi posle stikhov (“Verse After Verse”). Viktor Sosnora also published a new book, as did his less-well-known contemporary Sergey Volf. Other notable volumes were released by Prigov, Dmitry Vodennikov, Aleksandr Levin, and Kirill Reshetnikov (who also wrote under the pseudonym Shish Bryansky). The work of the 24-year-old Reshetnikov, very much characteristic of his generation, was marked by a combination of exalted lyricism, weary sarcasm, and provocative vulgarity.

      In criticism Olga Slavnikova and Nikita Yeliseyev were singled out for the quality and variety of their publications. Two works of the typically Russian genre of publitsistika (social and political commentary) were also superior: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's examination of the “Jewish question” in Russia, Dvesti let vmeste, 1795–1995 (“Two Centuries Together”), and Mikhail Epshteyn's rather different but no less lively futurological study Debut de siècle.

      The role of the “thick journals” continued to diminish, and all attempted to compensate for lower print runs (each now below 10,000 copies) with an Internet version, sometimes in tandem with their journals, but sometimes—like Text Only—as stand-alone Web sites. Finally, the Little Booker Prize was awarded to the Yuratin Foundation from the city of Perm for its publishing and literary activities. Following that award the Little Booker ceased to exist; part of the rationale for eliminating the prize was the optimistic view that contemporary Russian literature was ready to stand on its own feet and no longer needed external support.

Valery Shubinsky

Jewish

Hebrew.
      The quantitative prosperity of Hebrew fiction in 2001 produced mixed results. The few impressive achievements included Gabriela Avigur-Rotem's Hamsin vetziporim meshuga'ot (“Heatwave and Crazy Birds”), Yoel Hoffmann's The Shunra and the Schmetterling (“The Cat and the Butterfly”), Daniella Carmi's Lesha'hrer pil (“To Free an Elephant”), and Reuven Miran's Shalosh sigariot bema'afera (“Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray”). A noticeable improvement was marked by the new collection of short stories of Gafi Amir (Dash mine'ura'yich [“Regards from Your Youth”]) and the new novel of Yael Ichilov (Zman ptsiot [“Overtime”]).

      A.B. Yehoshua published his most pretentious work by far, Hakala hamesh'hreret (“The Liberating Bride”), which sums up his canon by implicit allusions to his stories and novels and on the other hand copes with the difficulties of understanding the Palestinians and their culture from a Jewish-Israeli point of view. The novel, however, did not match Yehoshua's previous literary achievements. Several other works by veteran writers failed to match previous accomplishments. Among them were Joshua Kenaz's Nof im shlosha etzim (2000; “Landscape with Three Trees”), Avram Heffner's Kemo Abelar, Kemo Elu'yiz (“Like Abelard, Like Héloïse”), Yoram Kaniuk's Hamalka ve'ani (“The Queen and I”), and Sammi Michael's Ma'yim noshkim lema'yim (“Water Kissing Water”). First novels were penned by Rachel Talshir (Ha'ahava mesha'hreret [“Liebe Macht Frei”]) and Marina Groslerner (Lalya). Ronit Matalon published a spellbinding collection of autobiographical essays along with articles about art and literature (Kro ukhtov [“Read and Write”]).

      Perhaps the best collection of poetry was Isha shemitamenet belih'yot (“A Woman Who Practices How to Live”) by Shin Shifra. Other notable books of poetry included Aryeh Sivan's Eravon (“Pledge”), Dory Manor's Mi'ut (2000; “Minority”), Ronny Someck's Hametofef shel hamahapekha (“The Revolution Drummer”), Maya Bejerano's Ha'yofi hu ka'as (“Beauty Is Rage”), Yohai Openhaimer's Beshesh a'hrei hatzohora'yim (2000; “At Six in the Afternoon”), Dalia Kaveh's Geshem (“Rain”), and Ariel Rathaus's Sefer hazikhronot (“The Memories' Book”).

      The most intriguing work of literary scholarship was Dan Miron's Parpar min hatola'at (“From the Worm a Butterfly Emerges”), which studied the life and work of young Nathan Alterman. Hannan Hever examined nationality and violence in Hebrew poetry of the 1940s (Pitom mar'e hamilhama [“Suddenly, the Sight of War”]); Hillel Barzel published the fifth volume of the History of Hebrew Poetry, which deals with the poetry of Abraham Shlonsky, Nathan Alterman, and Lea Goldberg; and Aharon Komem discussed David Vogel's poetry and fiction in Ha'ofel vehapele (“Darkness and Wonder”).

Avraham Balaban

Yiddish
      The year 2001was a stellar one for Yiddish poetry, but only a few other Yiddish works were noteworthy.

      Baym rand fun kholem (“At the Edge of a Dream”), by master of the short novella Tsvi Ayznman, was a family chronicle of tales and sketches that traced a life journey from Poland to the Soviet Union, with sojourns in the Czech lands, Italy, and Cyprus. After finally settling in Israel, an Auschwitz survivor finds a terrorist on his doorstep whose appearance, in the wake of a bloody outrage, presents the protagonist with a series of moral dilemmas.

      Another notable work was Ite Taub's authoritative reminiscence in rich Ukrainian Yiddish, Ikh gedenk (“I Remember”). Her narrative began with a retelling of childhood memories in the shtetl of Stidenitse, Ukraine, and provided incisive commentary about the pre- and post-October Revolution years and the political currents that had an impact on the Jewish communities of that republic.

      Azarya Dobrushkes's ambitious three-volume miscellany, Shpeter shnit (“Late Harvest”), included vignettes about pre-World War II Vilna together with essays on a variety of literary themes.

      Dvoyre Kosman's Yidish: heymish, geshmak (“The Yiddish Language: Native and Tasty”) was a capacious anthology of prose and poetry. Eli Beyder's Fun bolshevistishn “gan-eydn” in emesn heymland (“From the Bolshevik ‘Paradise' to My Real Homeland”) portrayed a hegira in verse and provided a stinging indictment and eyewitness account of Soviet attitudes toward the national minorities.

      In the thought-provoking volume Velfisher nign (“Lupine Melody”), author Velvl Chernin, a recent arrival from Russia, explored the life, people, and history of Jerusalem; the book's title was a pun on the author's name. Chernin employed Hebrew chapter titles and found biblical resonances in the perennial political tensions of his adopted country. Gele Shveyd Fishman's In shtile shoen (“In Quiet Hours”) was an inspirational collection of lyric poetry. Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman's Mume Blume di makhsheyfe (“Aunt Blume the Witch”) was a charming fairy tale in verse that featured animal protagonists and richly embellished colour illustrations by Adam Whiteman.

Thomas E. Bird

Turkish
      The Turkish literary field proved fertile in 2001. Many impressive works of fiction with wide-ranging themes and topics appeared, including Ahmet Altan's İsyan günlerinde așk (“Love in Days of Rebellion”), about an early 20th-century fundamentalist uprising; Buket Uzuner's Uzun beyaz bulut—Gelibolu (“Tall White Cloud—Gallipoli”); Ayla Kutlu's Zehir zıkkım hikâyeler (“Bitter Stories”); Ömer Zülfü Livaneli's Bir kedi, bir adam, bir ölüm (“A Cat, a Man, a Death”), winner of the Yunus Nadi Award; Yashar Kemal's Tanyeri horozları (“Roosters of the East”); Erhan Bener's Sonbahar yaprakları (“Leaves of Autumn”); Hasan Ali Toptaș's chilling neosurrealistic Ölü zaman gezginleri (“Planets of Dead Times”); Oya Baydar's Sicak külleri kaldı (2000; “Hot Ashes Remain”), which won the Orhan Kemal Prize; and Hıfzı Topuz's Gazi ve fikriye, a semifictionalized account of Kemal Atatürk's love affair and its tragic end.

      A new genre appeared—book-length interviews dubbed “nehir söyleșileri” (“interview fleuves”). The first two books in the series featured two major novelists, Adalet Ağaoğlu and Tahsin Yücel. A welcome event was the publication, in 13 volumes, of the complete short stories of the late satirist Aziz Nesin. A succès d'estime was Emre Kongar's Kızlarıma mektuplar, his collection of letters written to his twin daughters. In other literary news, eminent poet Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca was awarded an honorary doctorate by Mersin University, UNESCO designated 2002 as “the Year of Nazim Hikmet” in honour of the centennial of Hikmet's birth, and Orhan Pamuk's My Name Is Red (translation from Turkish by Erdağ Göknar) was featured on the September 2 cover of the New York Times Book Review. In addition, a number of important collections of poetry appeared, including those by Hilmi Yavuz, Küük İskender, and Lale Müldür, among others. The publication of critic Mehmet H. Doğan's anthology of modern poetry generated controversy after numerous omissions were noted.

      It was a banner year for essays and criticism, with impressive collections published by Melih Cevdet Anday, Enis Batur, Memet Fuad, Erendiz Atasü, Doğan Hızlan, and Ahmet Oktay. Memoirs and autobiographies attracting wide attention included those by Ayfer Tun, Abidin Dino, Vedat Türkali, Hilmi Yavuz, and Uğur Kökden.

Talat S. Halman

Persian
      By all accounts, 2001 was an eventful year for Persian literature, both in revisiting the achievements of the previous century from fresh perspectives and in providing glimpses into new literary experiments. Two important international conferences examined the literature of the 20th century, one by focusing on M.T. Bahār (1880–1951) and the other by surveying the entire literary canon of the Persian-speaking world. In the United States, Harvard Film Archive published the bilingual edition of Hamrāh bā bād. Titled Walking with the Wind, the collection featured haikulike poems by renowned Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, who was prevented from participating in scheduled appearances and readings in several American cities following the terrorist attacks in September.

      In Iran the granting of several literary awards by private cultural organizations signaled further loosening of state-imposed restrictions on creative writing and greater attention to literary works produced by secular writers. The foundation named for novelist Hūshang Gulshīrī awarded prizes to two newly published novels, Abū Turāb Khusravī's Asfār-i kātibān (“Books of the Scribes”) and Khusraw Hamzavi's Shahrī kih zīr-i dirākhtān-i sidr murd (“The Kingdom That Died Beneath the Cedar Trees”). The foundation's lifetime achievement award went to Aḥmad Maḥmūd. The Kārnāmah Cultural Association awarded its poetry prize to Ali Āmūkhtah-nijād's Yak panjshanbah, yak piādahrow (“One Thursday, One Sidewalk”).

      The most notable literary event of the Iranian diaspora was the publication in Sweden of the original Persian version of Gulshīrī's Shāh-i Siyāʾ Pūshān, a haunting narrative of a prison encounter between a secular poet and a turncoat political activist. Though Abbas Milani's 1990 King of the Benighted, the English translation of Gulshīrī's novella, had already been recognized as a notable work, Gulshīrī's original work was not released for publication until after his death in 2000. ʿIzzat Gūshahgīr's collection of short stories . . . Va nāgahān palang guft: zan (“. . . And Suddenly the Panther Cried: Woman!”) contributed to an emerging and significant trend in writing by Iranian women, audacious articulations of gender relations in narratives of deep psychological insight. The most significant work by a Tajik author was Askar Hakim's long poem Sang-i man almās ast (“My Stone Is Diamond”).

Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak

Arabic
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      The predominant theme of 2001 was literature that chronicled the ordeals of political prisoners in a number of Arab countries. Works defined as “prison literature” were authored by freed political prisoners motivated to speak out by the relative freedom in the past two years in their countries. Writing in French, Moroccan Ahmad Marzouki published Tazmamart, cellule 10 (2000), and Jaouad Mdidech followed with La Chambre noire; ou, Derb Moulay Chérif (2000), with a preface by another freed prisoner, Abraham Serfaty. Moroccan Tahar Ben Jelloun fictionalized the experience of a prisoner in Tazmamart in his novel Cette aveuglante absence de lumière. Before his death in April, Egyptian ʿAli ash-Shūbāshī published Madrasat al-thūwār (“The School of Revolutionaries”), in which he recounted his prison experience between 1950 and 1964.

      Though modern Arabic literature was increasingly targeted by conservative religious groups, a number of Arab writers addressed the issue of fanaticism critically in an effort to protect the freedom of expression in their societies. Egyptian critic Jābir ʿAṣfūr published Ḍidd al-taʿassub (“Against Fanaticism”), and Moroccan Zuhūr Guerrām wrote Fī ḍiyāfat al-Riqābah (“A Guest of the Censor”) in support of Kuwaiti writer Laylā al-ʿUthmān, who was fined and condemned with ʿĀliyā Shuʿayb to a two-month suspended prison sentence; they were accused of producing texts damaging to religion and morality.

      The Arab intellectuals' preoccupation with the threatening spectre of globalization continued. Writers again analyzed the damaging effects of globalization on the economy and culture of the region. Two Moroccan critics sounded the alarm, Saʿīd Yaqṭīn in Al-adab waal-muʾassasuah (2000; “Literature and the Institution”) and Mahdī al-Manjara in Intifāḍāt fī zamān al-dhuluqrāṭiyyah (“Upheavals in the Era of Disgrace”). They deplored increased government control and interference in everyday life, the stifling of creativity, and the deterioration of intellectual thinking. Al-Manjara viewed globalization as a cultural war on Arab-Islamic values.

      Ironically, the author who had recently attracted the critics' attention and praise was Leila Aboulela, a veiled Sudanese woman who wrote in English and was inspired by her Islamic faith. Her novel, The Translator (1999), was hailed by critics, and her collection of short stories, Coloured Lights, showcased her creativity and the harmonious coexistence of Islamic and Western values.

      The short story made a noticeable comeback. Two important collections were published in Egypt. Ibrāhīm ʿAbd al-Majīd's Sufun qadīmah (“Old Boats”) portrayed aspects of social and psychological disorientation in Alexandria, and Idwār al-Kharrāt's Raqṣat al-ashwāq (“The Dance of Longing”) was a collection of previously published short stories. Prolific Moroccan novelist Muḥammad ʿIzz ad-Dīn at-Tāzī published Shams sawdāʾ (2000; “A Black Sun”), which reflected the melancholic mood of his society. The regular publication of a number of reputable literary journals, including Al-Ādāb in Lebanon, Manārāt in Morocco, Aqwās in the West Bank city of Rām Allāh, and Al-Hilāl in Egypt, provided a platform for a new generation of young writers who, in the absence of government-subsidized presses, would find it difficult to publish their work independently.

      Poetry, on the other hand, found the Internet a suitable outlet. A Web site dedicated to intifāḍah (Intifada) poetry featured verse by established writers, notably Maḥmūd Darwīsh's Muḥammad, following the tragic killing of Muḥammad ad-Durrah in 2000; Ḥanān ʿAshrāwī's Hadīl's Song; Fadwā Tūqān's Martyrs of the Intifada; and Naomi Shihab Nye's For the 500th Dead Palestinian Ibtisām Bozieh. Noteworthy printed collections included those of two Moroccan female poets, Malīkah al-ʿĀṣimī's Dimāʾ al-shams (“The Blood of the Sun”), a daring thematic and artistic work; and Thurayyā Mājdūlīn's second collection, Al-mutʿabūn (2000; “The Weary”). Another woman, Egyptian writer Sumayya Ramadān, received the 2001 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for her novel Awrāq an-anrjis (“Narcissus Leaves”).

      Departing from his usual interest in social issues, Egyptian Bahāʾ Ṭāhir portrayed characters striving to fill a spiritual void in their lives in his novel Nuqṭat al-nūr (“The Point of Light”). Al-Kharrāt, on the other hand, focused on his Coptic roots and his Upper Egyptian traditions in his novel Ṣukhūr al-samāʾ (“The Rocks of the Sky”). Morocco lost a great writer when Muḥammad Zifzāf died in July; Egyptian short-story writer Jāḍibiyya Sidqī died in December.

Aida A. Bamia

Chinese
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      Three novels were particularly eye-catching to the Chinese literati in 2001. The first was You Fengwei's Zhongguo 1957 (“China 1957”). Written in the first person, the novel told a series of tragic stories about the victims—mostly university students and teachers—of the antirightist campaign of 1957 in which more than 550,000 Chinese were subjected to severe criticism and, in some cases, retribution by the Communist government. The book detailed the hardships that followed for some of the victims, including imprisonment, forced labour, and public humiliation. The novel was considered one of the most important literary works to address this dark chapter in Chinese history.

      The second novel was Wang Anyi's Fuping. It told the story of a young girl, Fuping, from a rural area who settles in 1950s Shanghai in hopes of making a better life for herself. The book offered a vivid description of the city, with a wonderful presentation of the various styles and customs of everyday life in Shanghai at the time.

      The third novel was Mo Yan's Tanxiang xing (“Penalty of Sandalwood”). On display were the author's active imagination and his characteristic use of inflated language and satire, but this story was darker than his previous works. It was a portrait of a royal executioner at the beginning of the 20th century and gave a very detailed description of how he did his job; the executioner's story is intertwined with that of a peasant rebel who becomes the target of the headsman after his revolt against German merchants and soldiers fails. The novel contained so many cultural and political hints about contemporary conditions in China that it drew great attention when it was published.

      In the field of Chinese poetry only one important work appeared, Mengchao shuibi (“Writing in Dream-Nest”) by dissident poet Huang Xiang, who was living in the U.S. and whose works had been banned by the Chinese government. Mengchao shuibi, which included both poetry and prose, was published in Taipei, Taiwan. Huang's unrestrained imagination and unyielding spirit made the book attractive.

      So-called Internet literature continued to appear in 2001, with more literary Web sites emerging in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The largest Web site featuring Chinese literature was Rongshu.com, which boasted some 1,600,000 registered users and more than 600,000 manuscripts in its database. The site reportedly received more than 6,000 literary submissions per day. Although the boundary between electronic and print literature was becoming indistinct, with an increasing number of writers publishing their works on the Internet, many highly touted e-books failed to find a good market during the year. It seemed that Chinese readers still paid most attention to traditional writers such as Wang Anyi and Mo Yan.

Wang Xiaoming

Japanese
       World Literary Prizes 2001For Selected International Literary Awards in 2001, see Table (World Literary Prizes 2001).

      In the first half of 2001, the Akutagawa Prize, awarded semiannually to the most promising new Japanese writers of fiction, went to Toshiyuki Horie for his story “Kuma no shikiishi” (“The Bear's Pavement,” published in the December 2000 issue of Gunzō), and to Yūichi Seirai for his story “Seisui” (“Holy Water,” from the December 2000 Bungakukai). In Horie's work a Japanese narrator visits an old friend, a Frenchman of Jewish descent, in the Normandy countryside. During the visit the friend tells the narrator the harrowing story of his family's experiences during the Holocaust. On one level the work explored the relationship between two friends from vastly different cultures; on a broader level it critiqued the Japanese reaction to events in modern European history.

      Seirai's “Seisui” told the story of a son and his dying father. Although alienated by conflicting beliefs and desires (the father is a fervent Christian who wants his son to take over the family business; the son is a religious skeptic who has his own plans for the future), the two attempt to resolve their differences before the father's death. Such themes as family loyalty and the nature of faith were sensitively addressed in “Seisui.”

      In the second half of the year, the Akutagawa Prize went to Sōkyū Gen'yū for his story “Chūin no hana” (“The Mourning Flower,” from Bungakukai, May 2001). Gen'yū, a Buddhist priest, used the story as a means to expound a profound vision of life and death.

      One of Japan's most prominent—and prolific—writers, Banana Yoshimoto, continued to attract attention. (See Biographies (Yoshimoto, Banana ).) Her best-selling collection of novellas, Asleep, first published in Japanese in 1989, appeared in English during the year, earning her an even wider international audience. A new English translation of Genji monogatari (The Tale of Genji) was welcomed as the world's first novel approached its 1,000th anniversary. (See Sidebar (In Celebration of the World's First Novel ).)

      A more recent classic, Kuroi ame (1966; “Black Rain”) by Masuji Ibuse, who died in 1993, was again the subject of literary discussion. Ibuse's book chronicled, in diary and documentary form, the effects of the atomic bomb on the people of Hiroshima and especially on a young girl, Yasuko, who could not marry because of her exposure to radiation. Readers had assumed that the diary in the novel was the product of Ibuse's imagination, but critic Naoki Inose pointed out in his work Pikaresuku (2000; “Picaresque”) that there actually existed a real diary on which the novel was based, and he claimed that in some instances Ibuse had copied directly from this text. The controversy intensified after the diary, entitled Shigematsu nikki (“Shigematsu's Diary”), was published in 2001. Comparing the two works, however, most critics were reluctant to suggest plagiarism and agreed that the device of the diary simply shed light on Ibuse's fictional technique.

      The Tanizaki Prize went to Hiromi Kawakami for her novel Sensei no kaban (“The Teacher's Briefcase”), a love story about a teacher and a student. The Yomiuri Prize for Literature was awarded to Naoyuki Ii's short-story collection Nigotta gekiryū ni kakaru hashi (2000; “A Bridge over a Muddy Torrent”), which portrayed the lives of rural Japanese, and Eimi Yamada's A2Z (2000; “A to Z”). Best-selling literary works that appeared during the year included Haruki Murakami's essay on the Sydney Olympic Games, Shidoni! (“Sydney!”), Randy Taguchi's novel Mozaiku (“Mosaic”), and Yasutaka Tsutsui's Daimajin (“Daimajin, the Stone Samurai”).

Yoshihiko Kazamaru

▪ 2001

Introduction

Overview
      The brightest literary star of the year 2000 came out of South America, but flashes of incandescent brilliance appeared in other areas of the world as well. With La fiesta del chivo, Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru produced what many readers considered Latin America's finest novel ever. Interweaving three separate narratives in a series of alternating chapters, Vargas Llosa chronicled the 31-year reign and ultimate demise of Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo and evoked the chaos and confusion that followed Trujillo's 1961 assassination.

      Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott of St. Lucia also took up a Caribbean theme in his book-length poem Tiepolo's Hound. Walcott examined his own life and that of Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro. The volume's dual narrative highlighted their shared experiences of exile and artistic achievement as well as the cultural influences of Europe and the West Indies, which created a certain division in each of them.

      Russian author Viktor Pelevin (see Biographies (Pelevin, Viktor )) led a banner year in Eastern European fiction with his wildly imaginative novel Buddha's Little Finger, a hallucinatory recasting of the life of the legendary Bolshevik commander Vasily Chapayev as told by a time-traveling asylum inmate.

      Acclaimed Hungarian author György (“George”) Konrád brought out Stonedial, a striking work that combined elements of the intellectual teaser and whodunit with the more expansive tapestry of a historical novel covering the years from World War II through the early 1990s.

      Chinese novelist Mo Yan—famed for the scathing satire and historical sweep of such works as Red Sorghum (1993) and The Garlic Ballads (1995)—produced an even more stunning novel, the savage and hallucinatory farce The Republic of Wine. Following alarming reports of widespread corruption and infanticidal cannibalism in the province of Liquorland, Communist Party officials dispatch a special investigator to the scene, but he himself soon falls prey to debauchery and mental breakdown and fails to survive the province's insidiously pervasive (and wildly funny) destructive tendencies.

      Sri Lankan-born Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje published Anil's Ghost, a superb novel set in his native country during its vicious mid-1980s civil war. Though the politically tinged murder mystery that dominates the main plotline is never fully resolved, the novel succeeds beautifully in all other aspects.

      In the gripping novel In Search of Walid Masoud, Arab author Jabra Ibrahim Jabra tracked the disappearance of a Palestinian intellectual who had been a member of an organization engaged in the armed struggle against Israel. The author artfully used a lengthy but disconnected tape recording of jumbled utterances to compose a series of revealing monologues that together produced a penetrating study of both individual and national character.

William Riggan

English

United Kingdom.
      Although many critics complained that 2000 was a thin year for fiction, a number of literary debuts showed promise. The most remarkable one was that of Zadie Smith, whose White Teeth was a panoramic and germane tale addressing issues of ethnic and cultural hybridity in northwestern London. The novel, which sold robustly, was penned by Smith while she was a student at the University of Cambridge and was greeted enthusiastically for its ambitious scope and confident characterizations.

      Another promising newcomer was Jason Cowley. He was hyped on the cover of his Unknown Pleasures as a “cool, edgy new voice,” but The Literary Review, though praising his book for its feverish readability, found his style more old-fashioned, with “more than a hint” of Graham Greene. Meanwhile Kristin Kenway's Precious Thing, an acerbic tale of a disillusioned anarchist in search of love, was compared to Martin Amis's debut novel, The Rachel Papers (1973). Among the most praised fictional titles of the year were two collections of short stories. Equal Love by Peter Ho Davies was hailed as a “feat of ventriloquism.” Though the stories' themes were unexceptional (a funeral, a hospital visit, or marital problems), they were infused with a graceful quirkiness that lifted them above the mundane. The nine stories in Anita Desai's Diamond Dust constituted an unsentimental examination of overlapping cultures; in one of the most striking, “Winterscape,” two old Indian widows visiting Canada see snow for the first time. Another novel singled out for particular praise was John Banville's Eclipse, a story about an actor whose career ends when he dies on stage; it was greeted by The Guardian newspaper as a “spectacularly beautiful . . . work of art.”

      Other offerings from more established fiction writers were met with varying levels of enthusiasm. Will Self's third novel, How the Dead Live—about the death of a middle-aged woman from cancer—showed more humanity than his glitteringly clever earlier books, but some critics found it, like many other novels of the year, too long at 404 pages. Michèle Roberts's The Looking Glass, an exuberant tale of an orphan's way through the world, examined the complexity of feminine needs and projected desires. Doris Lessing, entering her ninth decade, delivered Ben, in the World—a sequel to her best-selling The Fifth Child, published 12 years earlier—but most agreed that it failed to match the forcefulness of its predecessor.

      Besides the aforementioned, other Booker Prize hopefuls included Julian Barnes, A.S. Byatt, Muriel Spark, and Fay Weldon, but they were passed over in favour of four somewhat obscure authors. Three of those four short-listed had together sold only 553 copies of their works. Only Kazuo Ishiguro and Margaret Atwood were instantly recognizable. The Observer newspaper noted that all the selections had strong narratives and predicted that the millennial shortlist would prove a turning point away from the more innovatory offerings of past years.

      Nevertheless, the clear favourite—the bookmakers put it as an odds-on winner at two-to-one—was The Blind Assassin by Atwood, the doyenne of Canadian fiction. A structurally baroque account of an elderly woman looking back on her life and her relationship with a long-dead novelist sister, the book welded together themes of rivalry, female fulfillment, politics, and history. Ishiguro's When We Were Orphans—a detective story set in 1930s England, where the sleuth investigated the disappearance of his own parents—was the second odds-on favourite. Critics found in these pages the assurance displayed in Ishiguro's earlier winner, The Remains of the Day (1989). Though the lesser-known works were ranked as outsiders, many fancied The Hiding Place by Trezza Azzopardi. The only debut novel on the shortlist, it was narrated by a gambler's daughter from the Maltese community living in the Welsh town of Cardiff in the 1960s. Michael Collins, at 36, was the youngest writer represented. His third novel, The Keepers of Truth, was a story about a burnt-out local reporter in the U.S. Midwest. Matthew Kneale's English Passengers, a historical novel about a 19th-century voyage to Tasmania, was given only a six-to-one chance, while Brian O'Doherty's The Deposition of Father McGreevy (1999) was judged the least likely to win. The latter was a tale of rural Ireland narrated by a defrocked priest.

      Atwood, who had been short-listed three times earlier (The Handmaid's Tale [1985], Cat's Eye [1988], and Alias Grace [1996]), was victorious. Simon Jenkins, the chairman of the judges, declared that the panel had agreed that her book was “far reaching, dramatic and structurally superb,” demonstrating Atwood's “poet's eye for both telling detail and psychological truth.”

      The winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction, awarded annually to a woman novelist, was Linda Grant for her When I Lived in Modern Times. The work told of a Soho hairdresser who travels to 1940s Palestine to become a citizen of the new country of Israel at its formation. Soon after she was announced as the unanimous choice of the judges, she faced accusations of plagiarism. A.J. Sherman claimed that she had overly relied on his academic study Mandate Days (1997) for her period detail and for certain passages. Although Sherman dismissed the allegations, Grant and her publisher, Granta Books, agreed to acknowledge his book in future editions.

      The world's richest literary prize, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, worth £Ir 100,000 (about $120,000), went to Nicola Barker, the 34-year-old author of Wide Open (1998). This novel dealt with a group of mismatched individuals struggling to live on a remote island amid a backdrop of startlingly funny Magic Realism. The judges praised the book's “razor-sharp comic sensibility and flawless structure.”

      The Carnegie Medal, a major award for a children's or young-adult book, went to Aidan Chambers for Postcards from No Man's Land (1999). Owing to the frank treatment of such themes as adultery, homosexuality, and euthanasia, the choice surprised some. The author, a 65-year-old former monk, defended his outspokenness: “At 15 people . . . are very interested in thinking about important questions for the first time. . . . I refuse to sell young people short by compromising on language or subject matter.”

      The other children's author to capture headlines was J.K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth in the blockbuster series, appeared amid a frenzy of advance publicity and anticipation. Its publisher, Bloomsbury, arranged a special tour for Rowling upon a steam-engine train dubbed “Hogwarts Express,” the name of the magic train in the story. Despite her phenomenal commercial success, the author narrowly missed winning the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (1999). The judges were reportedly divided between Rowling and poet Seamus Heaney, whose translation and adaptation of the Old English epic Beowulf (1999) had been rapturously received by the critics. One of the judges, biographer Anthony Holden, commented, “Potter is charming, but I think it's derivative, traditional and not particularly well-written, and to compare it to Heaney is absurd.” Another judge, writer Robert Harris, countered that it was time to close the gap between the “arbiters of literary taste” and the reading public. After a 5-to-4 vote, the award, worth £21,000 (about $34,000), went to Heaney. Former model Jerry Hall, whose appointment as a judge had been interpreted as a gesture toward acknowledging popular taste, voted with the Heaney faction.

      Martin Amis (see Biographies (Amis, Martin )) released one of the most discussed nonfiction titles, his long-anticipated memoir, Experience. It was praised as both “entertaining” and “profound.” There were accusations, however, that Amis had affected to be closer than in fact he was to his cousin Lucy Partington, who had been famously kidnapped and murdered in 1973. Nevertheless, the book was deemed a success both as an autobiography and as a depiction of Amis's close relationship with his late father, novelist Kingsley Amis.

      Another major autobiography was Max Hastings's Going to the Wars, a portrait of decades of war reporting in Northern Ireland, Biafra, Indochina, Jordan, and the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas). Anecdotal rather than analytic, it was praised for casting some fresh light on how modern-day wars had been fought. World War II continued to provide fodder for more scholarly questioning. Eric A. Johnson's massive Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans (1999) reappraised the extent to which “ordinary Germans” could be held jointly responsible for the genocide of Jews in the Nazi camps. He concluded that most citizens were not as terrorized by the Gestapo as had been assumed and could have known what was really happening to those transported to the camps; on the other hand, he warned that their culpability and lack of moral concern might be found in any society where there was deeply embedded hostility “to those perceived as outsiders.” William Shawcross, meanwhile, questioned whether the United Nations had the ability to prevent such atrocities in the future. His Deliver Us from Evil: Warlords & Peacekeepers in a World of Endless Conflict concluded that the mushrooming of horrific local wars, refugees, and mass killings would be addressed effectively only if the UN's Charter could be fully realized.

      History was a recurring theme of the year, dominated by Simon Schama's epic A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World?: 3000 BC–AD 1603, the first of two volumes accompanying a highly successful BBC documentary series and described as “magnificent” by The Guardian. Philip Wilkinson's What Did the Romans Do for Us? was published to complement another BBC documentary series and discussed the legacy (including bridges, roads, decorative arts, and cuisine) of the 400-year Roman occupation of Great Britain. Another major best-seller was the paperback edition of The Isles: A History by Norman Davies. It challenged the anglocentricity of other such histories and stressed the importance of the influence of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland on the British Isles as a whole. The Times (London) hailed it as a masterwork, declaring it a “tract for the times.”

      Also noteworthy was Piers Brendon's 880-page narrative, The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s. Its main theme was the role of propaganda and falsehood in a European society still dominated by class. A refreshing historical analysis came from The Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Political Thought. Edited by Christopher Rowe and Malcolm Schofield, this collection of scholarly and eloquent essays probed how the ancients viewed and ran their societies and how their ideals of loyalty to the state and security evolved along with their development of differing kinds of constitutions.

      Among the biographies was a scrupulously researched account by Claire Harman of Fanny Burney, the novelist whom Virginia Woolf once described as the “mother of English fiction.” Burney's long and illustrious life straddled the 18th and 19th centuries, but her biographer had to sift through a phlethora of rumour and gossip—some of it engendered by Burney herself—in order to present a faithful portrait. Janet Todd in Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life similarly dispensed with myth when she disregarded the heroine worship that had surfaced in hindsight for the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) and dispassionately conveyed a woman who was far from perfect. Samuel Pepys by Stephen Coote was said to be the first life portrait of the famous Restoration diarist in a generation and depicted Pepys's relationship with his contemporaries, including architect Christopher Wren. A more unusual offering was Peter Ackroyd's remarkable London: A Biography; the author explained that the city was for him a “living organism” and thus not a subject of mere history or geography.

      Among the literary figures who died were Dame Barbara Cartland (Cartland, Dame Barbara Hamilton ), the best-selling author of popular romantic fiction, and Penelope Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald, Penelope Mary Knox ), a novelist of quiet incisiveness who in 1999 had won a PEN award for lifetime achievement. (See Obituaries.)

Siobhan Dowd

United States.
      In 2000 it was the year of the great hype about the electronic book, the e-book, or whatever other catchy phrases Internet technologists and their publisher partners used to refer to work that appeared on the Internet rather than in a book-bound format. In addition, such genres as fiction, poetry, and nonfiction became known as electronic “content.” It was the year that novelist Stephen King pulled an old manuscript out of his reject drawer, offered it as a serial on the Internet for a dollar or two per chapter, and drew thousands of subscribers. It was also a year in which some of the finest novelists went on writing well and publishing in the traditional fashion.

      Philip Roth, for example, brought out The Human Stain—the third volume in his contemporary American trilogy, a bruising, bawdy, and finally rather magisterial novel about identity and race, freedom of thought, and sexual repression—in which his by-now-ubiquitous narrator Nathan Zuckerman tells a story as powerful as anything Roth had ever told. John Updike worked at no less a level of accomplishment, turning out two works of fiction in a year—the ingenious Gertrude and Claudius, a moving retelling of the Hamlet story from the point of view of the troubled Dane's parents, and the story collection Licks of Love, in which Updike treated the American readership to a novella-length coda about the late Rabbit Angstrom (the protagonist in his tetralogy) and his heirs.

      Other masters produced new work, some of it flawed, such as Ravelstein, Saul Bellow's fictional version of the life of teacher and philosopher Allan Bloom; Evan S. Connell's bloodstained pseudochronicle of the Crusades, Deus Lo Volt!; and E.L. Doctorow's avowedly modernist but not entirely successful novel City of God. Joyce Carol Oates's version of the Marilyn Monroe story, a 700-plus-page novel called Blonde, also received mixed reviews. Herbert Gold's newest San Francisco novel, Daughter Mine, reprised themes of family and paternity and showcased the veteran writer's skill, in his own seriocomic way. In his novel The Married Man, Edmund White returned to his by-now-familiar material of love and death among the American and European homosexual middle class.

      Family played a central role in a number of effective works of fiction by younger writers. In Jayne Anne Phillips's moving MotherKind, a married woman and mother cares for her dying female parent. In What Remains, Nicholas Delbanco turned a fictional memoir into a moving story of trans-Atlantic crosscurrents in a Jewish family based in London. Susan Richards Shreve deployed dark comedy in Plum & Jaggers, in which a group of children, orphaned after a terrorist bombing, turn to theatre for therapy. Though not tragic, a rather bittersweet tone was heard both in Charles Baxter's novel, The Feast of Love, set in Ann Arbor, Mich., and in Cornelia Nixon's stories, set mainly in Chicago, that made up the novel Angels Go Naked.

      The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon's wonderfully entertaining third novel, recounted the education of a couple of wonder boys in the burgeoning comic-book industry during the early 1940s.

      A number of other novels had historical themes. In The Heartsong of Charging Elk, James Welch took an obscure historical incident—that of a Sioux warrior who finds himself marooned in Marseille while traveling in France with Buffalo Bill's Wild West show—and turned it into a story with great cumulative power. Josephine Humphreys turned to life among the mixed-blood Native Americans of North Carolina during the Civil War to create a lovely historical texture in the narrative voice of Nowhere Else on Earth. In Harry Gold, Millicent Dillon elaborated on the private life of one of the famous spies for the Soviet Union in the 1950s.

      In addition to the Updike stories, several fine story collections worth noticing appeared, among them Sherman Alexie's The Toughest Indian in the World and Alice Elliot Dark's In the Gloaming. Russell Banks weighed in with his collected stories in The Angel on the Roof. The most promising first volume of stories, Sam the Cat and Other Stories, came from Matthew Klam; many of his stories had first appeared in The New Yorker magazine.

      It was also an interesting year for first novels. Veteran story writer Molly Giles debuted as a novelist with her biting, ironic fiction in Iron Shoes, the story of a late-blooming California librarian who is both tightly bound to and at odds with her eccentric, ailing mother. Kate Wheeler, a onetime PEN/Faulkner nominee for her first collection of stories, signed in with an impressive first novel, When Mountains Walked, set in contemporary Peru. Porter Shreve carried on the literary efforts of his family into the second generation when he came out with his well-received first book, The Obituary Writer, in which a young staff writer in search of a place in the world of journalism stumbles on some troubling news. Lucinda Rosenfeld's What She Saw in Roger Mancuso, Günter Hopstock, Jason Barry Gold, Spitty Clark, Jack Geezo, Humphrey Fung, Claude Duvet, Bruce Bledstone, Kevin McFeeley, Arnold Allen, Pablo Miles, Anonymous 1–4, Nobody 5–8, Neil Schmertz, and Bo Pierce—the quirky, erotic, and ultimately quite charming novel about a New Jersey girl's entry into the world of love, sex, and work—met with mostly favourable reviews. The most successful experiment of the year was Los Angeles writer Mark Z. Danielewski's horror novel, House of Leaves.

      Many of the most interesting and appealing works of nonfiction came in the form of autobiography, memoir, and biography. Among the memoirs, magazine editor Dave Eggers's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius was the most highly publicized and, for the most part, extremely well received. Leap, an unconventional prose meditation on life and art, came from Terry Tempest Williams. A Life in the Twentieth Century by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., was probably the most interesting of mainstream work. Lauren Slater's Lying had a certain subversive appeal on the subject of looking back on one's life.

      Doris Grumbach took a long view of her literary past in The Pleasure of Their Company, and novelist Larry Woiwode signed in with the first volume of his memoir, What I Think I Did, the title of which was a play on the title of his first novel, What I'm Going to Do, I Think (1969).

      King, fresh from a roadside accident in which he nearly lost his life, combined autobiography and his thoughts on the making of fiction in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. Poet Maxine Kumin reported about her near-fatal horseback-riding accident in Inside the Halo and Beyond. The late Sylvia Plath was represented by The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950–1962, edited by Karen V. Kukil. Prizewinning poet C.K. Williams told of family bitterness in his memoir, Misgivings. In Miles and Me, poet Quincy Troupe looked back on his encounters with great jazz musician Miles Davis.

      Among literary biographies, James Atlas's Bellow was first among equals, at least as far as the interest it stirred. A mix of straightforward biography and shorthand literary criticism, the book was a warts-and-all account of the life and work of Saul Bellow, the Nobel Prize-winning octogenarian. In light of some of the gossip included about Bellow's sex life and marital problems, Bellow probably wished that he had never given his consent to the project. Since most of the subjects of David Laskin's Partisans: Marriage, Politics, and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals were dead, they could not feel the uneasiness that Bellow had to be suffering. The New Yorker's former editor Frances Kiernan released Seeing Mary Plain: A Life of Mary McCarthy, a gathering of mostly oral testimony on the life of the once enormously popular novelist. Journalist Michael Herr was appreciative and affectionate toward Stanley Kubrick in Kubrick, his short tribute to the recently deceased motion picture director. Among other literary memorabilia, Bonnie Kime Scott edited the Selected Letters of Rebecca West, and John F. Callahan and Albert Murray edited Trading Twelves: The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray.

      Historian David Levering Lewis published W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919–1963, the second installment of the biography; Lewis had won an array of prizes for the first volume. One of the best-known American socialist organizers in the second half of the 20th century served as the subject of Maurice Isserman's The Other American: The Life of Michael Harrington. American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century was Christine Stansell's interesting subject. Alice Kaplan produced The Collaborator: The Trial & Execution of Robert Brasillach.

      It was a grand year for poetry; both the outgoing and incoming U.S. poet laureates brought out new books. Robert Pinsky published Jersey Rain: “It spends itself regardless into the ocean./ It stains and scours and makes things dark or bright:/ Sweat of the moon, a shroud of benediction,/ The chilly liquefaction of day to night,// The Jersey rain, my rain soaks all as one . . . ,” and Stanley Kunitz released The Collected Poems: “Summer is late, my heart,/ Words plucked out of the air/ some forty years ago/ when I was wild with love/ and torn almost in two/ scatter like leaves this night/ of whistling wind and rain./ It is my heart that's late,/ it is my song that's flown. . . .”

      C.K. Williams published Repair (1999), John Ashbery brought out Your Name Here, Yusef Komunyakaa offered Talking Dirty to the Gods, and Jay Wright weighed in with Transfigurations, his collected poems. Among other collections were Stanley Plumly's Now That My Father Lies Down Beside Me: New & Selected Poems, 1970–2000 and August Kleinzahler's Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems, 1975–1990: “Drifting, drifting, a single gull between sky and earth,/ He said of himself, alone at night on the Yangtze,/ Bent grasses and gentle wind./ And asked where his name was/ Among the poets./ No answer, moon's disk on the great river.” Also emerging on the scene were Charles Wright's Negative Blue: Selected Later Poems and two volumes by Gjertrud Schnackenberg, Supernatural Love: Poems 1976–1992 and The Throne of Labdacus. Several volumes on Native American themes appeared: William Jay Smith's The Cherokee Lottery, Sherman Alexie's One Stick Song, and Adrian C. Louis's Ancient Acid Flashes Back.

      A large group of accomplished lyric poets brought out new volumes, including Richard Tillinghast (Six Mile Mountain), Lawrence Raab (The Probable World), MacArthur fellowship winner Anne Carson (Men in the Off Hours), Michael Collier (The Ledge), and Lloyd Schwartz (Cairo Traffic).

      The literary world mourned the loss of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gwendolyn Brooks, who died in December. (See Obituaries (Brooks, Gwendolyn Elizabeth ).)

      It was a fecund year for unorthodox literary criticism. Novelist Nicholas Delbanco included a novella on themes out of Ernest Hemingway's life among the essays in his collection, The Lost Suitcase: Reflections on the Literary Life. Joan Acocella created an expanded version in book form of her provocative essay for The New Yorker in Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism. In For Rabbit, with Love and Squalor, novelist Anne Roiphe featured essays on male characters in contemporary American literature, such as Updike's Rabbit Angstrom and Richard Ford's Frank Bascombe, with whom she became enamoured, she explained, as she read. Harold Bloom focused on How to Read and Why, and Kumin was reflective in Always Beginning: Essays on a Life in Poetry. In Canon and Creativity: Modern Writing and the Authority of Scripture, Robert Alter looked to the Bible as a template for modern literature. David Rosenberg also looked to Hebraic texts as his focus in Dreams of Being Eaten Alive: The Literary Core of the Kabbalah. Cynthia Ozick took a temperately Old Testament tone in Quarrel & Quandary, a collection of her recent critical essays. Experimental writer Carole Maso encouraged readers and writers to Break Every Rule.

      A bit more conventional was Updike: America's Man of Letters, William H. Pritchard's intelligent critical assessment of John Updike, one of the deans of contemporary literature. Art critic Arthur C. Danto collected his pieces from The Nation magazine in The Madonna of the Future. Eric Bentley's collection What Is Theatre? (2nd edition) gathered criticism and reviews from 1944 to 1967. Poet Mark Strand joined in with The Weather of Words: Poetic Invention. Michigan poet Thomas Lynch, a mortician by profession, wrote about art and life in Bodies in Motion and at Rest.

      Short-story writer Jhumpa Lahiri captured two awards, the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the PEN/Hemingway Award for first fiction. C.K. Williams won the Pulitzer for poetry. Embracing Defeat (1999) by John W. Dower, a study of Japan in the aftermath of World War II, took the general nonfiction Pulitzer. Ha Jin (see Biographies (Jin, Ha )) won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story went to Ann Beattie and Nathan Englander.

Alan Cheuse

Canada.
      Ghosts of many kinds enlivened the fictional offerings of 2000. In Michael Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost, it is one of the many victims of Sri Lanka's interminable guerrilla war whom Anil, a forensic anthropologist, seeks to rescue from anonymity. In Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin, the younger sister, a long-ago suicide, bedevils the elder as the latter spins interlocking anecdotes of deceit and betrayal arising from their love for the same man. In Susan Musgrave's Cargo of Orchids, a blackly funny and bleakly honest account of one woman's sojourn to death row, the haunting is by the ghost of what might have been. Spirits of mythic proportions inform Eden Robinson's first novel, Monkey Beach, about a young native woman grappling with the death of her beloved brother amid the shifting mists of the British Columbia coast. In Steven Heighton's The Shadow Boxer, the ghosts of the doomed freighter Edmund Fitzgerald serve as companions to a young man seeking to find his own way in a deserted lighthouse on the shore of Lake Superior. The presence hovering over Elizabeth Hay's A Student of Weather is still alive, but no less potent; in another tale of sibling betrayal, two sisters compete for the same sweet fellow.

      Flight and denial were also common themes. In Catherine Bush's The Rules of Engagement, a young woman flees into exile to avoid discovering the outcome of a duel fought over her. In Burridge Unbound by Alan Cumyn, a survivor of terrorism returns to the place of his incarceration, and Fred Stenson's The Trade encompasses a host of fugitives—from the law, civilization, or themselves—forced to face the cold realities of the northern fur trade. Anita Rau Badami dealt with several levels of denial in The Hero's Walk, in which an old man, suddenly responsible for his young granddaughter, must face a future foreign to him, his family, and his caste. Mercy Among the Children by David Adams Richards presented the consequences of a pact with God as not entirely unlike those arising from a pact with the devil.

      Short fiction naturally spawned a number of diverse works. In Carol Shields's Dressing Up for the Carnival, a high-class midway was full of familiar yet unique people. Luck in all of its manifestations—good, bad, and indifferent—attends an engagingly eclectic assortment of individuals in the late Matt Cohen's Getting Lucky. In Lynn Coady's Play the Monster Blind, the cultures of the coasts of Canada were revealed through the idiosyncratic excesses of their inhabitants. Terence Young's Rhymes with Useless was a mixed bag of ordinary families coping in their separate ways with an extraordinary world. The first collection by Madeline Sonik, Drying the Bones, featured a series of investigations into and beyond the obvious.

      Though Al Purdy (see Obituaries (Purdy, Alfred Wellington )), one of Canada's major poets, died in April, his voice lives on in the posthumously published Beyond Remembering: The Collected Poems. Another death, that of Patrick Lane's mother, informed his latest collection, The Bare Plum of Winter Rain. The death of Charles Lillard, poet and husband, was mourned in Rhonda Batchelor's Weather Report. Winona Baker expressed the essence of life's transient seasons through haiku in Even a Stone Breathes. Although death was not ignored, a lighter note was struck in bill bissett's b leev abul char ak trs. In Ruin & Beauty: New and Selected Poems, Patricia Young explored the necessary contradictions at the heart of life, a concept that also animated A Pair of Scissors, Sharon Thesen's examination of how opposites work against each other to create something new. For Don McKay in Another Gravity, it was the contrariness of nature and the ambivalence of human nature that formed the dramas of people's lives. George Bowering, in His Life: A Poem, spins his timeless meditations on the rotations of solstice and equinox. What the Small Day Cannot Hold: Collected Poems 1970–1985 summed up Musgrave's mordant take on life in the late 20th century.

Elizabeth Woods

Other Literature in English
      In addition to hosting the 2000 Summer Olympic Games, Australia laid claim to English-language writers who accomplished literary feats of Olympic proportion during the year. Leading the way was poet and novelist David Malouf, who released Dream Stuff, a collection of short stories, before taking home the gold twice by winning both the Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the Lannan Prize for fiction. Close behind were Thea Astley, who garnered the Miles Franklin Award for the fourth time (this time for her novel Drylands [1999]), and Lily Brett, whose novel Too Many Men (1999) received the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. Other highlights included works by such well-established authors as Colleen McCullough (Morgan's Run), Frank Moorhouse (Dark Palace), and poet Les Murray (Conscious and Verbal [1999]), as well as by newcomer Ben Rice with his first novel, Pobby and Dingan.

      In nearby New Zealand, Kapka Kassabova's novel Reconnaissance (1999) won the regional Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book, while veteran authors C.K. Stead (Talking About O'Dwyer [1999]) and Fleur Adcock (Poems: 1960–2000) had important new books as well. Michael King published Wrestling with the Angel, his biography on the remarkable life of novelist Janet Frame.

       Africa offered its usual fare of outstanding works in English, including Chinua Achebe's Home and Exile, in which he provided a personal account of his intellectual and writing life; it was the Nigerian's first book in 13 years. Achebe was widely considered the patriarch of the modern African novel. Poet, fiction writer, and critic Tanure Ojaide brought out a selection of poems spanning more than three decades, Invoking the Warrior Spirit (1998), in which the eponymous warrior is the poet himself at battle within his troubled Nigeria. Countryman Funso Aiyejina received the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book in Africa for his collection The Legend of the Rockhills and Other Stories (1999), and South African J.M. Coetzee continued his commercial and critical success by winning the top Commonwealth Writers Prize for 2000 for Disgrace (1999). Master storyteller André Brink released The Rights of Desire, a fictional meditation on aging and love, loneliness and fulfillment, guilt and innocence, and loss.

      Also noteworthy was the publication of Yesterday, Tomorrow: Voices from the Somali Diaspora (1999) by the much-heralded Somalian exiled writer Nuruddin Farah, along with outstanding fiction debuts from Ugandan-born Moses Isegawa (Abyssinian Chronicles) and South African-born Sindiwe Magona (Mother to Mother [1998]), both of whom also lived in exile. Drawing on his own experience of exile in Europe and Africa and going home to an emerging democracy still trying to define itself, Mandla Langa of South Africa offered The Memory of Stones, his most ambitious work to date. The memory of Ken Saro-Wiwa of Nigeria was kept alive with the publication of the critical anthology Before I Am Hanged: Ken Saro-Wiwa—Literature, Politics, and Dissent, edited by Onookome Okome. Dambudzo Marechera of Zimbabwe was remembered with the posthumous release of his poetry collection Cemetery of Mind.

David Draper Clark

Germanic

German.
      Wolfgang Hilbig's 2000 novel Das Provisorium—the author's first major work since “ICH” (1993), his masterful literary examination of the East German Stasi (secret police)—was an anguished, moving autobiographical account of the life of an East German writer who, unable to live productively in the communist state, descends into alcoholism and moves to West Germany. There he leads a peripatetic and problematic existence, moving from town to town while continuously forced by western expectations to play the role of the persecuted East German writer. Hilbig depicted realistically and without euphemism his protagonist's inability to leave behind the German Democratic Republic (GDR), his failed relationships with women, his foreignness in the provisional world of the German west, and his desperate addiction to alcohol.

      Brigitte Kronauer's magnificent novel Teufelsbrück was a complex and ambitious examination of love and desire as well as a celebration of the sensuous qualities of language and literature. Set in a Hamburg milieu depicted in realistic, sensuous detail, the novel tells the story of the triangular relationship between two women and the much-sought-after man with whom they are both romantically involved.

      Dieter Wellershoff's novel Der Liebeswunsch also was about a romantic triangle—this time between two men and a woman who has married one of the men after first having had an affair with the other. Into this established triangle of experienced and somewhat jaded adults enters a young female student who longs for pure romantic rapture, no matter what the risks, and whose longing ultimately leads to her demise; her character simultaneously highlights the hypocrisy and compromises of the other, more mature characters.

      The Austrian writer Josef Haslinger published his second novel, Das Vaterspiel, five years after the appearance of his remarkably successful political thriller Opernball. The main character of Das Vaterspiel was Rupert Kramer, who rebels bitterly against the politics and viewpoints of his father, an opportunistic and financially successful socialist. The son ultimately creates and markets a computer game, the patricidal theme of which provides the title for the novel. Interspersed with Kramer's story is that of a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant to the United States who has survived the Holocaust. His life intersects with that of Kramer's after Kramer—who has gone to the United States to pursue a love interest as well as to work further on his computer game—discovers a war criminal hiding in a basement on Long Island, N.Y.

      The Swiss writer Ulrich Schmid also published a novel with a trans-Atlantic political theme—Der Zar von Brooklyn, a powerful thriller about the Russian mafia in New York City and the transformation into a criminal of its main character, a young journalist from Moscow. The novel also touched on many of the problems of Russia itself after the demise of communism.

      Bernhard Schlink followed up his 1995 international best-selling novel Der Vorleser with Liebesfluchten, a well-received and popular short-story collection. As the title suggested, most of the seven stories in the collection revolved around the theme of love and escape, particularly the perceived inability of men to give and receive love. As in Der Vorleser, some of Schlink's stories delved into the problems both of the German past and of a younger generation coming to terms with it. Another literary work dealing with the themes of love, retreat, loss, and politics was Michael Kumpfmüller's novel Hampels Fluchten, the picaresque story of a sexual and political adventurer who travels from East Germany to West Germany and back again, fleeing various personal and political failures.

      David Wagner's first novel, Meine nachtblaue Hose, was the story of a young West German man seeking, together with the woman of his affections, to remember a childhood in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) that, together with the GDR, came to a kind of end in 1989–90. The work was an attempt to interpret the present and past for a generation of West Germans whose world, the author seemed to suggest, was radically transformed by national reunification. Maxim Biller's first novel, Die Tochter, was a reflection on German and Jewish identity in contemporary Europe, whereas Ralf Bönt's second novel, Gold, was a bitter, sarcastic account of life in Berlin, the reunified German capital. Doris Dörrie's first novel, Was machen wir jetzt?, was a compassionate portrait of middle age and personal decline. The young Swiss writer Zoë Jenny's second novel, Der Ruf des Muschelhorns, was an account of loneliness and betrayal. German writer Susanne Riedel's debut novel, Kains Töchter, was a sensational and improbable account of family anger and hatred. Finally, Botho Strauss's Das Partikular, a collection of short prose, dealt with problems of love and individuality in the contemporary world.

Stephen Brockmann

Netherlandic.
      Dutch literature raised its public profile in the media during 2000, with well-received works by both new and established writers. In addition, Dutch literature in translation continued to find a welcome audience in various foreign markets.

      In January, on the first annual Nationale Gedichtendag (“National Day of Poetry”), Gerrit Komrij was named the first Dutch poet laureate, a position created by the Poetry International festival, the newspaper NRC Handelsblad, and NPS-TV. Komrij stated that he intended to publish at least four times annually a poem commenting on an event of national significance. Meanwhile, he wrote on such tragic and controversial matters as the involvement of Dutch peacekeepers in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and a major disaster in Enschede, Neth. (See World Affairs: The Netherlands (Netherlands, The ).) The poetry-reading public also voted Hendrik Marsman's famous “Herinnering aan Holland” its favourite Dutch poem.

      Eva Gerlach (a pseudonym for Margaret Dijkstra) was awarded the P.C. Hooftprijs in honour of her oeuvre, 10 volumes of poetry, which was praised for its sophisticated linguistic simplicity. The prize citation stated that “Gerlach's poems read like magical incantations: attempts to create an order in language which does not exist, or is invisible, in reality.”

      Thomas Rosenboom's novel Publieke werken (1999), lauded for its literary style and thematic sophistication, won the Libris Literatuur Prijs for the best novel of the year. Rosenboom had previously won for Gewassen vlees (1994).

      The Generale Bank Literatuurprijs was known once again as the AKO Literatuurprijs, owing to a change in funding, and the latter was awarded to Arnon Grunberg for Fantoompijn, the story of a failed writer's great loneliness and unfulfilled dreams. Grunberg caused controversy by “accepting” the award on live television via e-mail from his home in New York, rather than appearing in person.

      Grunberg was also the suspected author of De geschiedenis van mijn kaalheid, which was published under the name Marek van der Jagt. The novel, which allegedly bore stylistic resemblance to Grunberg's work, was awarded the Anton Wachterprijs for best debut. Grunberg had received that prize in 1994 for Blauwe maandagen; the fact that the prize was not collected led to lively discussions in the media.

Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

Danish.
      During 2000 Danish writers and poets explored new themes and modes of expression; created memorable characters, settings, and scenes; and plumbed the depths of emotion, meaning, and memory. In Vibeke Grønfeldt's novel Det rigtige (1999), combative Ena Jakobsen struggles to preserve her family's past in a dying village. Arthur Krasilnikoff's Nattens rygrad (1999) delves into the past of the Kalahari raconteur Kanta and that of his people. In Cæcilie Lassen's Trio (1999), three Russian trapeze artists escape an ominous past in Moscow only to reencounter it in Copenhagen. Naja Marie Aidt's collection of poems Rejse for en fremmed (1999) interweaves the historical Joan the Mad (1479–1555) with a modern woman's search for identity. Tradition as well as past loves and losses also figured importantly in several novels. In Anne Marie Løn's Kærlighedens rum, a casual acquaintance of the narrator, Edith Moreau, reveals a happy, secret love affair spanning 25 years. Morten Sabroe's Den spanske Gæst focuses on young Ingeborg's love affair with a transient Spanish visitor and on their son, Arthur, the village outsider. In Anne Marie Ejnæs's Theas færd (1999), the title character breaks with tradition to follow her own path. Emma, the protagonist of Karen Fastrup's debut novel, Brønden, works on restoring both church frescoes in Lisbon and her connections to the past. The stories in Jan Sonnergaard's Sidste søndag i oktober record the passage of time and the loss of love for the aging characters from Radiator (1997).

      Imaginary worlds were also explored. Vagn Lundbye's collection of novellas Syv vidnesbyrd om vor Herre Jesu Kristi latter (1999) interweaves mystery and the magic in personal connection. In Janne Teller's richly satiric Odins ø (1999), Old Odin discovers an island beyond time. In Per Helge Sørensen's crime novel Mailstorm, a student witnesses an Internet murder with serious ramifications. F.P. Jac created a new poetry of joie de vivre in Fugl føniks ajour (1999).

      For the second straight year, a Danish poet—this time, Henrik Nordbrandt, author of Drømmebroer (1998)—won the Nordic Council Literary Prize. Anne Marie Têtevide's Mellem himlen og verden received the Royal Library Prize for Medieval Novel, and Svend Åge Madsen's Genspejlet (1999) captured Danish Radio's Novel Award. Bent Haller's Ispigen og andre fortællinger (1998) received the Nordic Children's Book Prize.

Lanae Hjortsvang Isaacson

Norwegian
      In Norway a generational shift occurred when more than 20 young writers made their literary debuts in 2000. Many of them experimented with language and genre, notably Hans Christian Grønn, whose Det som er strengt was an encyclopaedic collection of anecdotes and jargon entries. Henrik H. Langeland aroused controversy with Requiem, a pastiche of Marcel Proust's writing. Kristin Valla borrowed from Latin American magic realism in her promising literary bow, Muskat, and literary rebel Tore Renberg incorporated science fiction in his latest novel, En god tid.

      The realist novel, however, continued to dominate. Themes often focused on the dysfunctional family, such as veteran author Vigdis Hjorth's Hva er det med mor, which chronicled a daughter's life with an alcoholic mother. In Hanne Ørstavik's third novel, Tiden det tar, she showed how childhood wounds affect adulthood. Frøken Snehvit by Knut Faldbakken told a disturbing story about puberty and abuse. Jonny Halberg's lauded novel Flommen portrayed dysfunctional families in a community struck by a flood. Two of the nominees for the Brage Prize, Cecilie Enger (Brødrene Henriksen) and Per Petterson (I kjølvannet), wrote about the loss of a parent. In the prizewinning I kjølvannet, Petterson used a tragic passenger-ferry accident as the setting.

      Gunnar Staalesen completed his well-received trilogy with 1999. Aftensang, which was both a social chronicle and a detective story. Women mystery writers continued to assert their preeminence and exhibit keen psychological insight, as was evidenced in prizewinning Karin Fossum's Elskede Poona and Pernille Rygg's Det gyldne snitt. Though overlooked in the past, Jon Fosse (Morgon og kveld) and Jan Kjærstad (Oppdageren [1999]) were both nominated for the 2001 Nordic Council Literature Prize.

      Despite heated discussions on the merits of the biographical genre, numerous biographies were welcomed, including Jo and Tordis Ørjasæter's Nini Roll Anker and Knut Hendriksen's Ole Bull.

      Stein Mehren, the grand old man of poetry, delighted with Ark, and young debutante Hege Woxen impressed with her volume of poetry, Gjemsel med korte dager. Håvard Rem published his poetry collection, Tekstmeldinger, as text messages for cell phones. Ingvar Ambjørnsen was the first Norwegian to publish a novel (Dronningen sover) on the Internet prior to its release in bookstores.

Anne G. Sabo

Swedish.
      Several important books published in Sweden in 2000 kept readers off balance with rapid developments, impassioned feelings, or forces hard to explain in rational ways. The well-established realistic tradition had to skirmish with a wave of subjectiveness that took varied literary forms. As Sweden adapted to its membership in the European Union, literary regionalism flourished.

      In Kerstin Ekman's Urminnes tecken, harsh northern Sweden was portrayed with detailed realism but was inhabited by archaic creatures not yet, or perhaps never to be, human. Gunnar D. Hansson molded poems and documents, authentic and fake, to a most special rural and learned west-coast blend of past and present in Förlusten av Norge. Lars Jakobson established himself as one of the most interesting younger novelists with I den röda damens slott, in which documentary material and science-fiction elements interfered with the story of a man's quest for both a lost father and boyhood.

      Mainstream authors such as Theodor Kallifatides, Barbara Voors, and Maria Küchen tried their hands at crime writing. Inspired, perhaps, by a chance to win the Poloni Prize—which was awarded “to a promising female Swedish crime writer”—women wrote 40% of the year's fictional crime works, a considerable increase. Åsa Nilsonne's Kyskhetsbältet won the prize, and former winners Liza Marklund and Aino Trosell successfully returned with Paradiset and Om hjärtat ännu slår, respectively.

      Kerstin Thorvall in Jag minns alla mina älskare och hur de brukade ta på mig and Carina Rydberg in Djävulsformeln used personal love experiences in such a blunt way that the documentary drive turned into its opposite, strong—and transparent—debatable subjectiveness.

      Several promising first novels appeared. Cecilia Bornäs rewrote the story of Tarzan from Jane's point of view in Jag Jane (1999). Lotta Lotass thematically united four intermingled stories that dwelt mythically on arctic coldness in Kallkällan. Poet Mikael Niemi returned to the 1960s with his first novel, Populärmusik från Vittula, which cleverly, affectionately, and artistically showed the confrontation of old and modern life in a small town on the far border with Finland.

Immi Lundin

French

France.
      In 2000 the two trends that had for years most strongly marked French literature continued to affirm their hold—the genre of autobiofiction by which authors novelize portions of their lives, and déprimisme, the thematic choice by which authors dwell on the failures of French society.

      Fernando Arrabal published one of the year's most moving autobiofictions, Porté disparu, which recounted the author's childhood bereft of his father, who had been arrested in 1936 by Francisco Franco's police. The most poignant part of the novel occurs when the author discovers letters written by his mother, who, comfortable with her new, bourgeois life, repeatedly and successfully begged the government to keep her husband interred in prisons and asylums. Frédéric-Yves Jeannet in his autobiofictional Charité writes of the loss of his mother, from whom he had been estranged for 20 years. Interweaving childhood memories and present-day realities, Jeannet tried to reconstitute the past and, thus, his identity.

      Hélène Cixous offered Les Rêveries de la femme sauvage, another installment of her recent autobiofictional work; this time she concentrated on the enigma posed by her youth in Algeria, where she was born, but to which, because of her French citizenship, she had always remained a foreigner.

      The anguished quest for self-identity was also the subject of Richard Morgiève's two autobiofictional works, Ma vie folle, in which the author recounted his orphaned childhood and his attempt to construct an identity without the guidance of adults, and Ton corps, in which Morgiève, beginning with his own body, tries to pick up the shattered pieces of his life after his wife abandons him.

      Déprimisme, the almost morbid fixation with society's ills, was expressed in a number of works. Régis Jauffret's Fragments de la vie des gens presented 56 vignettes of the various miseries married life can cause. In the bitter satire of Eric Laurrent's Dehors, the protagonist leaves his wife for a life of sexual adventure, only to fall from one grotesque romantic encounter to the next as he plunges into degeneration in a society devoid of meaning. In Yves Pagès's Petites natures mortes au travail, déprimisme washes over the modern working world with 23 vignettes that show people brought low by their petty and demoralizing jobs and that belie the rosy picture painted by politicians boasting the recent decline in unemployment.

      Emmanuel Carrère wrote L'Adversaire, a déprimiste biofiction, which chronicled the life of Jean-Claude Romand, who had murdered his entire family in 1993. Without trying to explain Romand's crime, Carrère traced his progression from his first successful lie, that of acceptance into medical school, to his full-blown life of fiction as he passed himself off as a doctor while embezzling his friends' money. Carrère exposed a society in which appearances are more important than reality and may, when threatened, become as deadly as fact.

      Three authors published novels that, though marked by déprimisme, nonetheless lightened the overwhelming gloom of the year's works. In Les Belles Âmes, Lydie Salvayre joyfully attacked the hypocrisy of many who professed sympathy for the disadvantaged. Taking part in a European tour organized to visit the poor in their natural habitats, the slum safarigoers are ridiculed by their own words—from the writer wishing to remain in touch with street culture to the well-off socialists eager to finally see the poor up close to the businessman seeking a humbler replacement for the wife he has just divorced. No one escapes mockery until the group is finally abandoned at the side of the road by a guide who can stand no more. Linda Lê injected the hope of redemption in Les Aubes, in which a young man, blinded after a suicide attempt, finally begins to heal with the help of three inspiring women—the first embodying love, the second purity, and the third poetic resistance. Finally, Pascal Quignard's tender Terrasse à Rome tells the story of a 17th-century engraver who, horribly scarred when a romantic rival throws etching acid at his face, is abandoned by his love, whom he spends the rest of his life reproducing in his art. The engraver, who scratches light from inky darkness, meets his opposite mirror image in a painter who sees the world as a play of light and colour, a difference as much in philosophy as in art that is the foundation for a lifelong friendship.

      The Prix Goncourt went to the biofiction Ingrid Caven, in which Jean-Jacques Schuhl recounts the story of a German singer and of the glitzy debauchery of the 1970s art world. Côte d'Ivoirian writer Ahmadou Kourouma, famous for his recasting of French to African rhythms, won the Prix Renaudot for his Allah n'est pas obligé, in which the 10-year- old narrator tries to make sense of the insanity of wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone while wandering through those countries, machine gun in hand. The Prix Fémina was awarded to Camille Laurens's Dans ces bras-là, in which the heroine tries to understand the effect men, from her father to lovers, have had on her with the help of the analyst she hopes will learn to love her for what she truly is. Yann Apperry won the Prix Médicis for his Diabolus in musica, the story of a musician's quest for perfect orchestral symmetry.

Vincent Aurora

Canada.
      Like most of the Western world, French Canada was swept by the Harry Potter craze in 2000. Potter was the central character in a popular series of books by British author J.K. Rowling. At one point the English version of Rowling's latest offering was the best-selling book in the French bookstore chain Renaud-Bray. Though the province of Quebec might be politically distinct from the rest of Canada, its reading habits were alarmingly global. In a year without a dominating homegrown title, the most popular works ranged from television personality Daniel Pinard's recipe books to the Dalai Lama's universal wisdom.

      There were few standout works worth noting. A book that broke with French Canada's obsession with itself, however, was Gil Courtemanche's Un Dimanche à la piscine à Kigali, a novel set in Rwanda. Longtime journalist Courtemanche followed in Graham Greene's footsteps to create a popular work that distinguished itself on the literary scene.

      The intersection of politics and culture again resulted in a shelfful of books. This time Daniel Poliquin checked in with Le Roman colonial, an essay that served notice that nationalism was a retrogressive force in Quebec. Poliquin provoked the ire of a good number of commentators, which was his intent. Another Franco-Ontario writer, Jean-Marc Dalpé, won the country's top French-language fiction prize, the Governor-General's Award, for his novel Un Vent se lève qui éparpille (1999), a story that mixed poetry and naturalism to portray life in northern Ontario.

      A surprising success was Un Parfum de cèdre (1999), the French version of Ann-Marie MacDonald's Fall on Your Knees (1996). Translations of books between Canada's two official languages are usually not rewarded with commercial success, but MacDonald's family saga set in Atlantic Canada proved that the country's two solitudes could touch each other. The year was marked by the loss of two very different writers—the much-loved novelist and poet Anne Hébert (see Obituaries (Hebert, Anne )) and beatnik-style poet Denis Vanier.

David Homel

Italian
      Two major Italian writers died during 2000—Attilio Bertolucci (Bertolucci, Attilio ) and Giorgio Bassani (Bassani, Giorgio ). (See Obituaries.) Bertolucci was one of the most intense and accessible poets of the 20th century. At the centre of his verse was the landscape of his native region, the Po valley, the city of Parma, and his own family life. Bassani, the Jewish novelist and poet from Ferrara, was the author of Il giardino dei Finzi-Contini (1962), which chronicled the plight of an aristocratic Jewish family under Fascism; it was one of the most highly cherished and esteemed modern Italian novels.

      While most writers were busy building their World Wide Web sites, new books seemed to be quite traditional and tame. The popular success of Andrea Camilleri's detective stories, both new and old, continued unabated. One of the most widely acclaimed books was Fosco Maraini's autobiographical Case, amori, universi (1999). Writer, anthropologist, teacher, and tireless explorer of distant cultures, Maraini transposed in fictional form the many and diverse experiences of a life spent mainly in the Far East. It was a rich tapestry of both different cultures and worlds beautifully woven together by a very expert hand.

      More immediately historical was N, Ernesto Ferrero's novel about Napoleon Bonaparte. In the work, written in the form of a diary, Napoleon's librarian recounts, with an initial contempt that eventually turns to compassion, the 300 days spent by the emperor as both king and prisoner of the island of Elba. The narrator's vivid imagination transformed historical minutiae into the stuff of a compelling novel. A rigorous documentation also inspired the 20 charming Russian tales of Serena Vitale's La casa di ghiaccio. Equally well researched was Melania G. Mazzucco's Lei così amata, an elaborate portrait, part documentary and part fictional, of Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908–42), the writer, archaeologist, photographer, and journalist with whom so many men and women, including Thomas Mann's twin children, Klaus and Erika, fell desperately in love.

      Several novels explored the joys and pains of family relationships. The protagonist of Sandro Veronesi's La forza del passato discovers that his dead father—a general in the army and ostensibly a mediocre man and bigot—was in fact a KGB spy. This revelation destroys for the son all other certainties about himself and his family and compels him to review and rewrite his entire life. In Domenico Starnone's novel Via Gemito, set in Naples, a son remembers how his father—a would-be painter who must settle for a career as a rail worker—took out his frustrations on his wife and children. Though told in such a way as to express a son's hatred for a violent father, the story ultimately revealed the persistence of filial love and made memorable the very person it set out to condemn to oblivion. Against the contemporary myths of forever healthy and athletic bodies, Nati due volte by Giuseppe Pontiggia praised the virtue and beauty of physical weakness. In this novel a father teaches his disabled son how to accept his condition and live “normally”; in the process, the father discovers a new and more authentic way of life for himself. In Giorgio Pressburger's Di vento e di fuoco, four women write a series of letters, faxes, and e-mail messages to a fifth woman who is about to have a baby. The correspondence revolves around the pregnant woman's dead father, a man the four writers loved and by whom they were all loved. The death in 1968 of this troubled, restless, and mysterious man who survived the Holocaust signals the beginning of the new baby's journey through life.

      Andrea De Carlo's Nel momento (1999) was a love story of sorts—a detailed diary of self-discovery and of a newfound love following the protagonist's fall from a horse. Quite popular was Sveva Casati Modignani's Vaniglia e cioccolato, in which the aptly named Penelope finally abandons her husband, after his umpteenth affair, to find self-respect and happiness with someone else.

      Social satire was strong, albeit at the margins of the literary scene. In Ermanno Cavazzoni's Cirenaica (1999), the protagonist travels by train to a station in an unspecified “lowland,” where he is besieged by hordes of pseudorelatives who quickly relieve him of all his possessions. Equally surreal was Maurizio Salabelle'sIl caso del contabile (1999), in which an accountant lives in a superficially ordinary world, which conceals a madness that suddenly explodes and just as suddenly is absorbed. Most surreal, fierce, and comical of all was Spiriti, by the very popular Stefano Benni; it was a visionary portrait of a mad, fantastic, and futuristic society—a fusion of Italy and the U.S., called Usitalia.

      Pithy and humorous sketches that were part of Carlo Emilio Gadda's unfinished novel were published from recently discovered notebooks from the 1930s with the title Un fulmine sul 220.

Lino Pertile

Spanish

Spain.
      In a bold experiment, the first of its kind in Spanish publishing, the Madrid-based publisher Alfaguara in 2000 offered the complete text of El oro del rey—the fourth installment of Arturo Pérez-Reverte's immensely popular Capitán Alatriste series of adventure novels set in Spain's convulsive 17th century—as a downloadable file available on the Internet for 30 days prior to its release in conventional book form. Confounding highbrow critics who look askance at readers' unquenchable thirst for punchy escapist fiction, Pérez-Reverte enjoyed phenomenal success all year with La carta esférica, a convoluted historical thriller unrelated to his now-famous Alatriste series. In contrast, Luis Goytisolo's Diario de 360°, a conjoining of semimetanovelistic cultural essays and personal aperçus, structured in the form of a diary, drew lavish critical praise and was hailed as Goytisolo's best work since his ambitious tetralogy, Antagonía (1973–76). Another senior novelist, José Luis Sampedro, startled readers with the radically ambiguous title of his latest work, El amante lesbiano, an erotically charged first-person reverie that inveighed against the repressive “normalcies” of gender and identity in contemporary society. Similarly antiauthoritarian but less reverent in tone was Juan Goytisolo's Carajicomedia, which chronicled the successive reincarnations of a 16th-century homosexual priest.

      Opera as a metaphor for life, and vice versa, was the subject of Álvaro del Amo's Los melómanos, while in La sombra del ángel Marina Mayoral looked at life as narrative process. Manuel Vicent invoked a variety of master painters in La novia de Matisse, a joyful novelistic allegory that celebrated the thaumaturgic effects of fine art upon those who knew how and where to look. Isaac Montero denounced Basque terrorism in La fuga del mar, and Rafael Chirbes's La caída de Madrid offered a bristling moral portrait of Spanish society on the eve of Francisco Franco's death in 1975.

      Spain's most lucrative literary award, the Planeta Prize, went to the popular veteran journalist Maruja Torres for Mientras vivimos, a sentimental cliff-hanger with feminist overtones, set in contemporary Barcelona, in which three solitary and dissatisfied women, all related but belonging to different generations, exploit the subtle dynamics of their friendship to find the missing pieces in the interlocking puzzles of their lives. Besides publishing Las palabras de la vida, a well-received collection of 17 autobiographical and fictional sketches, Luis Mateo Díez received both the Critics' Prize and the National Narrative Award for La ruina del cielo (1999), a beautifully wrought story of death and memory among the inhabitants of Celama, an imaginary rural setting reminiscent of the author's native León. Lorenzo Silva's El alquimista impaciente, a story of two Civil Guards assigned to investigate a crime, won the venerable Nadal Prize; and the highest distinction in Hispanic letters worldwide, the Cervantes Prize, went to the Spanish novelist, essayist, and literary critic Francisco Umbral.

      The literary world lost three major writers: novelist Carmen Martín Gaite (Martin Gaite, Carmen ), poet José Ángel Valente (Valente, Jose Angel ), and playwright Antonio Buero Vallejo (Buero Vallejo, Antonio ). (See Obituaries.)

Roger L. Utt

Latin America.
      The year 2000 seemed to inspire many celebrated writers to reflect on times past as well as on their own unique histories, struggles, and diverse cultures.

      Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru published La fiesta del Chivo, an indictment of institutionalized dictatorship and the reign (1930–61) of the infamous Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, nicknamed “El Chivo.”

      Carlos Fuentes of Mexico released what editors called “the novel of novels.” Los cinco soles de México uniquely combined elements of the novel, short story, essay, and theatre. Fuentes covered Mexico's history from the ancient Aztec civilization to such current events as the indigenous uprising in Chiapas and the end of the Institutional Revolutionary Party's political monopoly.

      Ernesto Sábato of Argentina broke a more than 25-year silence with La resistencia, which was first released as an e-novel on the Internet before being issued as a bound volume. Sábato reflected on the sociopolitical concerns of his earlier novels and, with a certain urgency, warned against the modern rush for progress, success, and material wealth.

      Isabel Allende of Chile released Retrato en sepia, which presented a parallel history of Chile from 1862 to 1910 with that of a female photographer whose art form reveals the real truth hidden behind strict social traditions. A similar historical theme characterized a new novel by another Chilean writer, Virginia Vidal. Javiera Carrera, madre de la patria recounted—through actual letters, manuscripts, and conversations—the important role played by Carrera in the 1811 struggle for national independence from Spain.

      Julia Álvarez of the Dominican Republic published her second feminist historical novel, In the Name of Salomé, a fictional elaboration of the story of Salomé Ureña de Henríquez, a 19th-century poet and educator who fought for the intellectual emancipation of women and contributed significantly to political awareness.

      Chilean author Jorge Edwards (see Biographies (Edwards, Jorge )), who in an April ceremony was presented the prestigious Cervantes Prize, produced a new novel, El sueño de la historia. The narrative wove two periods of Chilean history—the last years of colonial Chile and the final years of the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte.

      Carlos Gamerro of Argentina returned to the 19th-century pampa for the setting of his new novel, El sueño del señor juez, which recounted the barbaric conditions of the gauchos and the indigenous population caught in civil wars and their fates at the hands of arbitrary authority.

      In his new novel Viaje a los olivos, Gerardo Cham of Mexico re-created a lost part of Hispanic history by imagining the life of the first Mestizo born in Spain, the offspring of one of the first Native Americans taken from the colonies by Christopher Columbus after the 1492 conquest.

      The 1982 Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas war served as the backdrop for a debut novel by Edgardo Russo of Argentina. Guerra conyugal followed the personal story of a writer in Buenos Aires whose journalism involves him in the danger and intrigue of national politics.

      Ignacio Padilla of Mexico claimed the 2000 Primavera de Novela Prize for Amphitryon, a narrative set on a German train during World War I. Two men, a soldier, and a porter agree over a chess game to change identities.

      Many Latin American writers adhered to more universal themes. From Venezuela, Gisela Kozak Rovero published Rapsodia, a narrative re-creation of the language, music, rhythm, and poetry of Caracas. Cuban-born Puerto Rican Mayra Montero released Púrpura profundo, an erotic Caribbean novel framed in the atmosphere of classical symphonies. Priscilla Gac-Artigas of Puerto Rico published Melina, conversaciones con el ser que serás, a story of motherhood. Hernán Lara Zavala produced another collection of short stories, Después del amor y otros cuentos. Argentine novelist Pablo Toledo won the 2000 Clarín Prize for the suspenseful Se esconde tras los ojos, which followed the story of a politician, a financier, a model, and a photographer from behind the lens of the latter's camera. Luis Felipe Castillo of Venezuela published a detective novel, Como olas del mar que hubo, and Hernán Garrido-Lecca of Peru produced a collection of stories, Benedicto Sabayachi y la mujer Stradivarius. Peruvian novelist Jaime Bayly returned to his favourite topic in Los amigos que perdí, his sixth novel—personal anguish over success, old friends, and confused sexuality.

      After more than two decades of a repressive political atmosphere, Chile began to recover its rich literary reputation. Enrique Lafourcade published Otro baile en París, a story about a four-year-old child, her grandfather, and a cat; the story was reminiscent of the imaginative works of British author Lewis Carroll. Other notable Chilean works included Hernán Rivera Letelier's Los trenes se van al purgatorio; Germán Marín's Idola, a thriller about the adventures of a man arriving in Santiago after a devastating earthquake; and Marco Antonio de la Parra's Novelas enanas, a psychological novel about characters who cannot remember their past.

M.J. Fenwick

Portuguese

Portugal.
      António Lobo Antunes, a perennially strong candidate for the Nobel Prize for Literature, was awarded in 2000 the Great Prize for Fiction by the Association of Portuguese Writers for Exortação aos crocodilos (1999); it was the second time that he had won this prize. His novel, a subtle yet complex piece of work, featured the free association of events in a narrative that was directed by the soundings of memory and told in the discontinuity of time and thereby became a tale of multilayered meaning. The characters in the story were shown working out a program of rebellion against democratic institutions. Though Antunes often embraced the “terrorism” of the left as a theme, this time he dealt with the “terrorism” of the right. His characters were generally unpleasant, but in this novel their humanity was shown in a more tangible way than before. Antunes's style also underwent a change; his narrative tone was less acerbic, and his writing was gaining an unprecedented poetic quality.

      These narrative features were very much in evidence in his latest novel, Não entres tão depressa nessa noite escura, the title of which was a paraphrase of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas's poem entitled “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” The purity of language was suited to the subject matter of the novel, which was structured on the basis of the seven days of the creation. By using this method, the author entered the realm of the universal and produced a fable of human life with a deep literary resonance.

      Hélia Correia published a new version of her 1996 novel, Insânia. All the events in the story were seen and recounted by a child who appears in a Portuguese village and vanishes in the end in the same mysterious way that she arrived. The means of registering the flashes of the unconscious were subtle, and the innocence of the reader was tested and teased in an original narrative that made compelling reading.

L.S. Rebelo

Brazil.
      In 2000 the most notable literary celebration of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Brazil was the revival of major works of Brazilian theatre, ranging from plays by 19th-century dramatists to Oswald de Andrade's revolutionary O rei da vela (1937) to contemporary works. (See World Affairs: Brazil: Sidebar (Brazil's 500th Anniversary: The Paradox of Celebration ).)

      Several important critical studies appeared. Marcelo Ridenti's Em busca do povo brasileiro: artistas da revolução, do CPC à era da TV dealt with the continuing effects of the highly politicized culture of the 1960s and '70s. American critic David S. George reconsidered the fate of the Brazilian theatre of the 1980s and '90s in Flash & Crash Days: Brazilian Theatre in the Postdictatorship Period. Maria Antonieta Pereira's No fim do texto: a obra de Rubem Fonseca examined Fonseca's characters within the context of “barbarous humanism.” Luis Alberto Brandão Santos's Um olho de vidro was a critical evaluation of the literary achievement of the highly regarded novelist Sérgio Sant'Anna. In late 1999 Yudith Rosenbaum published Metamorfoses do mal: uma leitura de Clarice Lispector, in which she studied sadism as an important element in Lispector's fiction. Donaldo Schüler and Linara Ferreira Pavani organized Gregório de Matos: texto e hipertexto, a collection of essays reconsidering the colonial poet's works from a sociopolitical perspective. Marisa Lajolo's Monteiro Lobato sought to distinguish Lobato's seemingly divergent literary styles—the premodernism of his children's literature and the traditionalist conservatism of his regionalist stories.

      The growth of Internet sites dedicated to Brazilian letters and literary criticism was another highlight of the year. A new electronic publisher based in Paris, www.00h00.com (called Zero Hour), began to publish digital books of Brazilian and Portuguese literature. RBL Editora (http://members.tripod.com/Literaturelfilipe) published all genres of literature as well as literary criticism. The Network of Brazilian Women Writers (Rede de Escritoras Brasileiras) featured younger women authors on its World Wide Web site: http://rebra.org. João Ubaldo Ribeiro, one of Brazil's most eminent writers, published his new novel, Miséria e grandeza do amor de Benedita, as an electronic book (e-book). This e-book could be read on a personal computer screen or on a portable wireless computer. Discussion groups dedicated to Brazilian literature and sites featuring specific authors were also developed during the year.

      Highly esteemed literary scholar and critic Afrânio Coutinho died in August. Coutinho had organized the landmark A literatura no Brasil (3 vol., 1955–59), which introduced the “new criticism” movement into Brazilian letters.

Irwin Stern

Russian
      The most important and widely discussed phenomenon affecting Russian literature in 2000 was the burgeoning Internet. With financial backing from the Soros Foundation, which had helped support Russia's post-Soviet culture, the Russian literati established both a presence on the Internet and one of the world's most organized, vital, and interesting forms of this fledgling culture. The Internet, as elsewhere, worked in two directions; both centripetally—consolidating the dominant role played by the Russian “thick journals” (among them Novy mir, Znamya, and Oktyabr) by placing them on a single or closely linked group of sites (i.e., )—and centrifugally, that is to say serving as a portal beyond the “centre,” into cyberspace, where one could find a bewildering array of individual sites, home pages, and chat rooms. The major literary magazines used the World Wide Web to battle the twin problems of imperfect book distribution and general material impoverishment that still plagued Russian literary culture. Sergey Kostyrenko, the editor of Novy mir, published a monthly roundup on the Web that served as catalyst, critic, and guide to this outstanding phenomenon.

      In strictly literary terms the year 2000, although perhaps not epochal, did see the arrival in bookstores of many new and interesting books and witnessed a marked improvement in the realm of literary criticism. In Russian poetry the single most important publication was probably Viktor Sosnora's brilliant book Kuda poshyol? I gde okno? (1999; “Whither Gone? And Where's the Window?”), which broke a 15-year silence (Sosnora had been writing phantasmagoric prose during his absence from publishing) and for which he was honoured with the Apollon Grigoryev prize. Sergey Gandlevsky's Konspekt (1999; “Summary”), which received the Northern Palmyra prize, was remarkable for its subtle traditionalism and finely honed, if somewhat sentimental, perceptions. Less subtly but nevertheless brilliantly, the young Moscow poet Maksim Amelin in Dubia (1999) demonstrated his ability as a versifier in the classical tradition. More quietly, Mikhail Ayzenberg in Za krasnymi vorotami (“Beyond the Red Gates”) continued his crepuscular meditations, while the young Dmitry Vodennikov in his English-titled Holiday (1999) led his readers on a brilliantly realized, desperately lighthearted lyrical-fantastic journey of the soul. Other noteworthy authors who published books of poetry included Semyon Lipkin, Vitaly Kalpidi, Bella Akhmadulina, Yaroslav Mogutin, Polina Barskova, and Arkady Dragomoshchenko Russia's leading “language poet,” whose massive English-titled Description served as the author's collected works.

      After the previous year's two prose bombshells—Generation “P” by Viktor Pelevin (see Biographies (Pelevin, Viktor )) and Goluboye salo (“Blue Lard”) by Vladimir Sorokin—the year's prose marked if not a return to “normalcy” at least a turn toward lyricism, history, and storytelling. This was evident from the shortlist of Russian Booker Prize finalists, almost all of whom were in their 40s: Valery Zalotukha with his timely Posledny kommunist (“The Last Communist”); poet Nikolay Kononov with his disturbing yet highly lyrical novel of childhood, Pokhorony kuznechika (“The Grasshopper's Funeral”); Svetlana Shenbrunn with her own rather different novel of childhood, Rozy i khrizantemi (“Roses and Chrysanthemums”); Marina Paley with her brooding, philosophical Lanch (“Lunch”); Aleksey Slapovsky with Den deneg (“Money Day”); and Mikhail Shishkin, the winner, with his historical and fantastic Vzyatie Izmaila (“The Taking of Izmail”). At the same time, such disparate contemporary Russian “classics” as Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Andrey Bitov, Viktor Yerofeyev, and Viktor Astafyev appeared with new works, as did radical avant-gardist Pavel Peppershteyn and the more lyrical Postmodernist Aleksandr Ilyanen. Pavel Krusanov's Ukus angela (“The Angel's Bite”) demonstrated the possibilities of serious literary fantasy, while Vladislav Otroshenko combined a rich, almost Gogolian prose style with Borgesian fantasy in his long-awaited volume of various genres of prose, entitled Persona vne dostovernosti (“A Person Not to Be Trusted”).

      Russian literary criticism remained fiercely polemical; Andrey Nemzer, Alla Latynina, and Pavel Basinsky defended various forms of “tradition” on one side, while Vyacheslav Kuritsyn, Aleksandr Skidan, and Mark Lipovetsky advocated a more Postmodern view on the other. Other critics of note who published widely and interestingly included Karen Stepanyan, Viktor Toporov, Oleg Dark, Valery Shubinsky, Nikita Yeliseyev, and Mariya Remizova. The brightest spot in Russian criticism was probably the appearance of two new excellent magazines in St. Petersburg, Novaya russkaya kniga (“The New Russian Book”), edited by Gleb Morev, and Peterburgsky knizhny vestnik (“The Petersburg Literary Herald”), edited by Aleksey Vinogradov. Both were in large measure devoted to reviewing new books and discussing the current literary climate in Russia. They joined Ex libris and, to a lesser extent, Literaturnaya gazeta and Kommersant as general book-review centres, whose role in the culture of reading could not be overestimated.

Thomas Epstein

Eastern European
      Writing in the journal Plamak (“Flame”), Bulgarian poet Georgi Konstantinov used the term vnezapnoto pokolenie (“the unexpected generation”) to describe poets born in the 1960s and '70s who were grappling with the moral and ideological vacuum of postcommunist society such as prevailed in the Balkans in the last years of the 20th century. In recent decades the Serbian literary scene—which had produced about 5,000 new titles a year, including more than 100 novels—had been dominated by Postmodernist metafiction, but in 2000 several other works gained attention. They included Druid iz Sindiduna (1998; “Druid from Sindidun”), the third novel by exotic writer Vladislav Bajac; Pošto Beograd (1999; “How Much Is Belgrade”), a collection of 15 stories by the prominent traditionalist Serbian writer Moma Dimić; and Mexico, the new war diary that Vladimir Arsenijević wrote during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

      A collection of poems by Kalin Donkov, Sabudi me vchera (“Wake Me Yesterday”), was viewed as the best Bulgarian book of the year. Besides several excellent recent works by Anton Donchev, other books that captured the limelight included Vlakat, v koyto patuvame (“The Train We're Traveling On”), the new novel by Stefan Poptonev, and Kogato Gospod khodashe po zemyata (“When God Walked the Earth”) by Nikola Radev.

      Postmodern writer Zoran Ferić won Croatia's Djalski Literature Award (named for Croatian novelist Ksaver Sandor Djalski, 1854–1935) for his novel Andjeo u ofsajdu (“An Angel, Offsides”), and feminist writer Julijana Matanović found great success with Bilješka o piscu (“Note About the Author”). Established poet Vesna Parun came out with a collection, Političko valentinovo (“A Political Valentine”).

      Change of the System, the first anthology of short stories and a new genre for Macedonian literature, was edited by Richard Gaughran and Zoran Ančevski and published in English and Macedonian. Aleksandar Prokopiev released his intimate diary, 77 Antiuputstva za lična upotreba (“77 Anti-Instructions for Personal Use”), while Tomislav Osmanli published a play, Zvezdite nad Skopje (“The Stars over Skopje”), about problems of transition in contemporary society.

      Perhaps the best collection of poetry in Slovenia was Krogi na vodi (“Circles on the Water”) by Peter Semolić, who had won a top national poetry award in 1997. The best-received novels were by two writers, one middle-aged and the other young: Mačja kuga (“Cat Plague”) by Maja Novak and Pasji tango (“Dog Tango”) by Aleš Čar. An important collection assembled by Slovak editor Stanislava Chrobáková, 100 Years of Slovak Literature, was presented in both Slovene and English at the Vilenica Literary Festival.

      British academic John Keane published Vaclav Havel: A Political Tragedy in Six Acts (1999), the first full-length biography of the playwright who had become president of Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic. The work concentrated more on Havel's politics than on his art. Meanwhile, at the end of 1999, Havel had brought out his complete works in a self-published edition titled Spisy (“Works”).

      Flora Brovina, an Albanian-language poet and writer from Priština, Kosovo, was selected in April as a recipient—together with