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Weekly News Update

By David Varno

The big news today is that Oskar Schindler's list of the 800+ people he saved has been found in a library in Australia, and also that Colombian octogenarian Gabriel García Márquez may not have any publishing plans, but he is indeed writing and has recently deigned to tell the press so.


Polish Literature Weblog Bacacay summarized the recent resurfacing of Wislawa Szymborska in English. According to the blog, her poem íTeenager,ë from the new book Tutaj (Here), which appears in Granta's spring collection of contemporary poets and is translated by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak (who translated Monologue of a Dog in 2005, which is reviewed here, is the first translation of a new Szymborska poem to appear in several years. The current New Ohio Review features a Szymborska symposium, íConsidering Wislawa Szymborska: Poems & Essays,ë with ten contributions in addition to newly translated poems. Available online is the introduction by Lawrence Rabb, which includes a quote from the Nobel laureate that could serve as a playful rebuke to the lukewarm reviews she received in Poland for Tutai:

I prefer the absurdity of writing poems

to the absurdity of not writing poems.


This past Friday, during a roundtable discussion at the New York Public Library's Celeste Bartos Forum on the French literature produced during and impacted by German occupation, Harvard Professor Susan Suleiman said in defense of Jonathan Littell, whose novel The Kindly Ones has been newly subjected to controversy since appearing in English translation this year, that fiction writers ícan do whatever they want, as long as they do the research.ë

This followed Suleiman's apologetic presentation on Irène Némirovsky's fiction, in which she explored the contradiction that despite the author's hope to be spared of Nazi capture because of her class and her stature in French society, she was aware in her fiction that the Nazis spared no Jews. See Ruth Franklin's New Republic piece (she also skewered Littell) for the background and an example of the controversy itself.

The symposium was held in conjunction with the Library's exhibition, "Between Collaboration and Resistance: French Literary Life Under Nazi Occupation," which is definitely worth checking out and features Némirovsky's handwritten manuscript for Suite Francaise.


On Friday, Artforum published an account of last week's OuLiPo festival in New York, specifically on the main program. Check back soon for our own coverage, featuring a report on Jacques Roubaud's appearance in Williamsburg.

Published Apr 7, 2009   Copyright 2009 David Varno

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