Best Novels from Eastern Europe

The best of Prose fiction from the underestimated part of Europe.
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Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Mark (new)

Mark Davess Does GDR literature count? I guess I wouldn't include German literature from the east of Germany since reunification, but just purely GDR literature, but then, of course, books written by East German authors that concern their life in the GDR, even if those books were written since reunification, would seem to fit if GDR works are permissible. That probably makes me change my mind, especially seeing as the 'Ossi' experience, consciousness and context is different to this day. So, does GDR literature and/or literature from the former GDR or GDR/Former GDR authors count? If not, why not? Didn't 'Eastern Europe' as an entity arise with the 'Iron Curtain' division, and therefore include that area?


message 2: by Michael (new)

Michael Personally I think of "Eastern European" being a cultural area that contains mainly Slavic peoples and their hundreds of years of own literatures. However, first of all you're right by saying that the idea of nowadays' "Eastern Europe" would include "East German literature" as well (in the History of Ideas there is an older differenciation of Western and Eastern parts of Europe); secondly, strictly speaking, nothing is really forbidden to do: thus, feel free to add writers from former East Germany. :)


message 3: by Mark (new)

Mark Davess Thanks, I'm glad you agree. For further clarification I'd point out that Hungary is not Slavic, or even an Indo-European language, but a 'Uralic' language, pretty much of Asian, or on the border of Asia, origin. The Baltic States, if you include them, which I'm sure you must, are not Slavic either. Estonia again has a Uralic language, related to Finnish, and the other two are generally classed as 'Baltic', with 'archaic' Indo-European characteristics. Kafka spoke and wrote in German, as did the community around him and to the north of his country. Most of the central European 'Eastern European' area was in the Austro/Hungarian empire, where German dominated, and Hungarian had a major role too of course. This is not to mention numerous other minority languages that exist in Russia and elsewhere. Though this would bring up another question of whether literature from Russia or the Soviet Union, but written by other ethnicities or natinalities, particularly near or far eastern ones, would count as 'Eastern European' literature too. I guess I'd probably agree that that wouldn't fit, that anything from beyond the Urals and south of the Caspian Sea wouldn't count. Though it's difficult, of course. Armenia, for example, is a Christian country where everyone pretty much grew up with Russian and looks towards Europe and not Asia, and there are writers from there who write in Russian. Even Muslim countries like Azerbaijan have people in their cities who pretty much only speak Russian. Georgia too has a similar situation to Armenia, and then there are lots of Buryats and other nationalities in Siberia who speak Russian and only Russian, their writers writing in Russian. Many people in Kazakhstan speak and write books in Russian too. Though this is opening another can of worms that I didn't ask about. Maybe writers like Анатолий Ким belong in another list. Or maybe the rule with writers of non-Slavic ethnicity or non-Russian nationality within the former Soviet Union should simply be that they write the books in Russian, or another language that actually is spoken by a population west of the Urals and north of the Black Sea at least. I guess that would make sense. And I'm probably one of very few people who might want to add an author like that. In the end such categories have vague boundaries, and 'Eastern Europe' is pretty much a modern construct focused on the cold-war situation. I somehow doubt Czechs or Hungarians considered themselves that before the Iron Curtain made that decision for them. Going ahead with a couple of Christa Wolf books for now anyway. Because she was a great writer. There are plenty of other worthy East German writers too.


message 4: by Mark (new)

Mark Davess Actually, you know, I think there is a validity in a list that is 'pure' (as far as is possble) Eastern European, and that would therefore exclude German speaking writers, well maybe not Germans-speaking (not Kafaka, etc.) but German writers, but it would also have to exclude Russian writers. The German and Russian cultures are kind of 'border' areas on either side of Eastern Europe, which merge into and bring in other cultures from further west or east. That would make a list excluding them valid, though not necessarily saying they form no part of Easten Europe. But you've got so many Russian writers here, so.....


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