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Best European Fiction 2010 (Best European Fiction)

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  217 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Historically, English-language readers have been great fans of European literature, and names like Franz Kafka, Gustave Flaubert, and Thomas Mann are so familiar we hardly think of them as foreign at all. What those writers brought to English-language literature was a wide variety of new ideas, styles, and ways of seeing the world. Yet times have changed, and how much do w ...more
ebook, 460 pages
Published December 15th 2009 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published December 1st 2009)
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(showing 1-30)
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MJ Nicholls
This European Fiction series is a commendable and awesome idea, and as Zadie Smith says in her intro, one size does not fit all with anthologies. But the Best European Fiction 2011 collection was ordered in a more palatable way (not alphabetical by country as arranged here) and seemed a richer and more bountiful batch than this debut. Among my personal favourites were the excerpt from Ornela Vorpsi’s novel The Country Where No One Ever Dies, Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s ‘Zidane’s Melancholy,’ Georg ...more
May 16, 2010 Yngvild rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Generally, I avoid anthologies of short stories. They tend to collect the second rate, those pieces not quite good enough to make money for the author any other way. Best European Fiction 2010 was an exception: the quality of the writing was excellent overall, and one or two pieces were outstanding.

Considering European populations, this was not a statistically “fair” survey of countries (30), languages (26) or genres, although it was a good mix. For example, there was a crime mystery by Orna Ní
This was a challenging read in many ways, but I was glad of the experiece. Since it was a fiction collection rather than a short story collection, some of the pieces left me confused and unsatisfied without understanding of the point or "ending", but there were a few pieces that struck me & I believe will stay with me such as "Resistance", about a chess teacher's effect on a group of schoolboys over a few weeks, and "The Orphan and the Mob" which was incredibly funny... especially the strang ...more
Laura Leaney
This anthology moves from the completely depressing to the completely depressing. Who can blame the writers? Not me. I can't possibly know what living outside of America's fat and relatively peaceful boundaries might be like - but it's more than interesting to read the artistic sensibilities of Latvian, Estonian, and Croatian writers. The stories here all seem linked thematically by death - and in one fascinating story by Peter Terrin of Belgium, the world's citizens are allowed to kill two peop ...more
Not sure if I'm going to finish this one. It started out with a fabulous Albanian story, which got me really excited about the collection. But then it devolved into a mass of post-apocalyptic pseudo-stories with anonymous protagonists. In one (Finnish?) piece, it has become legal to commit a certain number of murders, as long as we report our acts to the government. In another piece, an elderly man writes an old-fashioned letter to his son who is now living several planets away, inviting him to ...more
Mar 13, 2012 debra47 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommend these stories as the plot lines quite unusual. Also great way to be introduced to new authors.
Nov 04, 2010 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting collection of short stories from around Europe. There's one piece from each country, so it really felt like a broad and varied collection rather than being weighted toward particular countries. One thing I didn't like is that some of them were extracts from longer pieces, which I don't think works very well. A short story is crafted specifically to fit that length; an extract from a novel, no matter how well-written, often feels dissatisfying to me because I feel as i ...more
Jul 24, 2010 Drew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I was very interested by an anthology of short stories as well as the clever frame of choosing stories from across Europe. I've found some of my favorite writers by dabbling in a novel here or a short story there, so I picked up this volume with high expectations. I was disappointed.

The editor started by talking about the decline in quality of American writers and the lowbrowing of the American audience, I found that many of the stories in this volume offered little in the way of actual story te
Apr 18, 2010 Poupeh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to Dalkey Archive and Alexander Hemon, here is a very diverse unique collection of short stories.
Stories that might not make any sense according to traditional rules of writing or what they teach us in creative writing classes, but stories that are very entertaining and engaging nonetheless, taking one on a really European trip - with fresh structures, styles, narrations, characters, etc.

couple of favorite parts randomly picked:

"All my lovers give me bookmarks. They seem to think i mus
Aiden O'Reilly
Oct 23, 2013 Aiden O'Reilly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is any general statement possible about fiction coming from over thirty different countries across Europe?
Surprisingly one or two can be made. Fiction in the English-speaking world places great value on colloquial dialogue and realistic setting. The reader might be expected to have some familiarity with the location, might even have followed a soap opera set there. But a writer in Latvia will be not be so concerned with communicating the idiosyncrasies of Rigan slang. Instead there are more gen
Apr 02, 2014 Lauren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this would be all short stories, but I was wrong. It only says fiction so that was my mistake. It is mostly excerpts and short stories with a couple sections that are several tiny stories and there is also one poem. The back has info about the authors and I wish they'd been before each author's section. The stories were a pretty even mix of good, OK, and not so great.
Feb 04, 2011 Charles rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If this is the best Europe had to offer in 2010, I would be very surprised and disappointed.
Most of these stories tried too hard to be deep and vague and dreamlike and incomprehensible.
Fortunately it was pretty easy to figure out which ones were like that and I could skim along to the end.
Of course you don't expect to read something like this and like everything.
I was hoping to find a few good ones and I did:

The best was "The Orphan and the Mob" by Julian Gough (Ireland)

Also some pretty good sto
Christopher  Ryan
This collection was a terrible let-down. Most of the stories were overrun with narrative intrusion, meandering vantages, and dull premises. The ones that worked best, such as Peter Stamm's, were stories in the truest sense of the art: they worked around a singular premise, used precise and clear yet not simple language, and intended to simply tell a damn good story (as Stamm explained in his bio/statement). The other 90% were frustrating, overly self-conscious, pretentious, or just plain dull. M ...more
A little disappointed that the stories I liked the most were the stories I knew I'd probably like the most, namely Toussaint, Pelevin. However there were some good discoveries, too. Irish guy, Julian Gough, funny stuff! Julian Rios, you reminded me of Borges and Sebald. Montalbetti of France, your imaginary date with Murakami was like a dream in slow motion. Albahari of Serbia and Manolache of Romania, very nice to meet you.

Overall I'm just really pleased with the position Dalkey Archive has tak
Sep 03, 2011 Rachael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-and-read
A couple of outstanding stories, some mediocre stories, and some that just tried way too hard to be Huxley or Bradbury.

The writer's statements were amusing. Almost all cited Kafka as an influence. They would all list to or three world renowned authors then one obscure (or at least one obscure to me, an American) as if to say, "See, I read other things, just like you." Some false modesty thrown in for good measure.

I do appreciate Aleksandar Hemon's purpose: I wish there was more international lit
Aug 18, 2013 Jean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was due at the library before I could finish all of it. A few stories stuck out to me and I really enjoyed them (the one about Zinedine Zidane was my favorite). But I think contemporary fiction like the pieces chosen for this book aren't my thing. I appreciate the writing and what's happening with it, but the style overall isn't my favorite. That being said, from what I read, I think Hemon curated a good and well-represented collection.
Most of this book is just total garbage. Except - Viktor Pelevin. I will have to make a note - check out Homo Zapien and more Russian Science Fiction... for once, finally, someone has fused Marxist themes, and Socialist ethics, with Science Fiction... definitely the stand out piece in this anthology, in my opinion, was Pelevin's short story - Friedmann Space.

The rest was clearly written on a per word basis... overbloated rhetoric. bleck.
Nov 30, 2014 Jan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
These are well written, but some so dark I really stopped after a few.
Feb 06, 2010 Oriana marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
For some reason I've been resisting the idea that I ought to read this book.... But WTF? I love love Dalkey Archive. I definitely respect Aleksandar Hemon. I certainly of course want to read more literature in translation. I think the insanely rad Victor Pelevin has a story in here. Everyone who reviews it says it's a necessary and successful and brilliant project.

So what am I waiting for??
Katie Vincent
Mar 20, 2011 Katie Vincent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some really great stories in here. Favorites: Victor Pelevin's "Friedmann's Space" (Russia), Giulio Mozzi's "Carlo doesn't know how to read" (Italy), and Ornela Vorpsi's "from 'The Country Where No One Ever Dies'" (Albania). Others are at least okay, but worth the author bio's and process notes/personal statements at the end; very interesting from a writer's perspective.
Apr 03, 2010 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is very helpful to read fiction from parts of the world where the Iowa Writers school method does not dominate (although a few of the writers in this anthology admire their American counterparts). Of the writers I liked best, I seemed to gravitate to the Balkans: Igor Stiks, Neven Usumovic, and David Albahari especially appealed to me.
Dec 14, 2013 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an editor, Hemon did an excellent job of choosing the stories to go into this collection. I enjoyed that each country has a selection, which exposes readers like me to new literature. For countries from which I have read many works, I felt that Hemon's selection captured the literary culture of that country.
Jason McKinney
Sep 08, 2010 Jason McKinney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid collection of stories that range from the postmodern to traditional, and everything in between. The entries come from all over Europe and several countries are represented more than once. Standouts include "The Orphan and the Mob", "Friedmann Space", and "Revelations on the Boulevard of Crime".
Oct 01, 2012 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely European. I was amazed at how well it was easy to "read" the country into the tale, even if I hadn't checked to see where one of the stories was from. Some are longer/harder reads than others, but overall, I loved this.
Nov 10, 2013 Dawn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found most of this collection to be overly dense and "arty," not very accessible. Some of it was frankly incomprehensible. I'm an apologetic Midwestern American on this one. I can't help that I like curly fries.
Mar 01, 2010 Marley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There were only a few stories from this collection that I connected to. The rest were very strange or dull. I couldn't help thinking about how important finding a good translator is, in reading foreign authors.
Jun 13, 2010 Fuschia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very boring for me, was shocked how dull most of them started. Shouldn't a short story grab your attention right away?

I liked only one: Bulgaria's Georgi Gospodinov's, "And All Turned Moon."
Feb 06, 2011 Derek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad as far as fiction collections go, but always hard to have one or two writers represent the voice of that country. For the most part conventional fiction, not a lot out of the ordinary.
Fabio Bensoussan
A master work in anthologies, Hemon brings us short stories from all Europe, including authors whose countries and languages lead them to a kind of cultural isolation.
Dec 07, 2010 Stephanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the whole, a good collection. There were a few stories that, while certainly well-written, lacked the type of punch I expect from a short story.
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Hemon graduated from the University of Sarajevo with a degree in literature in 1990. He moved to Chicago, Illinois in 1992 and found that he was unable to write in Bosnian and spoke little English.

In 1995, he started writing works in English and managed to showcase his work in prestigious magazines such as the New Yorker and Esquire. He is the author of The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist f
More about Aleksandar Hemon...

Other Books in the Series

Best European Fiction (8 books)
  • Best European Fiction 2011
  • Best European Fiction 2012
  • Best European Fiction 2013
  • Best European Fiction 2014
  • Best European Fiction 2015
  • Best European Fiction 2016
  • Best European Fiction 2017

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