Τρίτη, 14 Φεβρουαρίου 2017

Lydia Davis and Jhumpa Lahiri Learn New Languages

By  posted at 6:00 am on February 7, 2017 at the Millions

Within a month and a half, both Lydia Davis and Jhumpa Lahiri published essays on their efforts at learning a new language. Their reasons and methods couldn’t have been more different, yet underneath their distinct approaches runs a commonality that unites them in a common act. It’s the same commonality that links together every reader of literature, present and past.
Lydia Davis’s essay, “On Learning Norwegian,” was included in the first volume of John Freeman’s biannual anthology. Davis had a rather bizarre compulsion to read Dag Solstad’s “Telemark novel.” There is almost no chance that it will ever be translated into English. It will be a miracle if more than five Norwegians even read it. To call the book a novel is to bend that word to the limit. There are fierce debates in Norway over Solstad’s use of this term to describe to his newest project.
The “Telemark novel” is long — 426 pages not counting the appendix. It is devoid of any action or drama. There is no unifying plot. It is a recitation of Solstad’s ancestors who lived in the town of Telemark from 1691 to 1896. Accounts of their births, deaths, marriages, and property transactions. And little else. Why Davis was moved to read this book, I’m not sure and neither is she. It has less to do with the novel itself and more with Davis’s desire for experiment.
Davis did not know Norwegian. And she knew that it’s almost inconceivable that the novel would ever be translated into a language she could access. So why not just learn Norwegian? Reading Solstad would be a rewarding challenge in itself. The act would not accomplish anything, per se. There is no joy to be had in following a great storyline or new knowledge to learn about the universe. The only delight Davis would receive from reading Solstad is being the only non-Norwegian to have done it. But how? That’s the part Davis wants to experiment with.
Davis thought it would be even more challenging to read the “Telemark novel” without using a dictionary and without formal language training. This isn’t as ludicrous as it sounds. Davis already knew German and French so right off the bat she was able to discern certain things — verb conjugation patterns, cognates, the alphabet and its sounds, and some prepositions. And there are advantages to not using a dictionary.
Dictionaries can be detrimental crutches for those learning a new language. They are psychological hindrances to fully grasping vocabulary. If you know that a dictionary is only a keystroke away, you’ll likely not spend as much effort driving new words into your head as you would if you had no safety net. Furthermore, discovering words in context gives a deeper understanding than scanning an abstract definition.
Davis created her own treatments of the Norwegian language. She worked from the inside out. Whenever Davis would divine a term’s import she would add it to a running list. Each time she’d crack open a syntactical feature she’d include it in her nascent grammar. She did cheat a few times. She had a handful of sessions with a language teacher and she read through a children’s book and a graphic novel to acquire a basic vocabulary. But other than she taught herself Norwegian by reading one of the most opaque “novels” to ever be published in any language.
She is open about the fact there was much in the book she didn’t understand. But going through it slowly, reading it word by word, opened to her new ways of thinking. She learned almost as much about the English language as she did the Norwegian. Most of these discoveries were etymological but often they would lead to more philosophical observations. Davis learned that “neighbor” means to live near someone. She mused that this could be good or bad, depending upon the persons involved. She also noticed characteristics about Solstad’s writing that she might not have understood if she were reading fast. Solstad shifts his narrative mode to explain the same event in a different way and his writing changes pace to reflect the nature of the narrative. These insights are fairly minor but they were products of hard-fought work so to Davis they were grand accomplishments.
Davis did not become fluent in Norwegian. She is not able to speak it nor can she readily compose Norwegian prose. She was able to understand a good bit of a tremendously challenging tome without recourse to learning aids. A herculean task if there ever was one.
Jhumpa Lahiri did precisely the opposite of Lydia Davis. In “Teach Yourself Italian” published in The New Yorker, Lahiri describes how she availed herself of every tool imaginable to learn her language of choice. She bought textbooks, met with tutors for years on end, and finally moved her family to Rome. It took her years and years of frustrating toil but she finally reached the point where she was satisfied with her efforts. Most impressive to me was the fact that her essay was translated into English by Ann Goldstein. Lahiri wrote it in Italian.
Lahiri explores more deeply than Davis her reasons for learning a new language. For here it wasn’t a merely a fun challenge. Lahiri’s mother was born in India and she raised Jhumpa speaking Bengali. But Lahiri admits that her command of Bengali is far from perfect. She can’t write in it. Nor can she speak it without an accent. She feels alienated from her mother tongue. But English, her default language, is actually her second language. She feels like a linguistic exile, an author without a home.
Lahiri wanted to get away from English, to find rest and transformation in a language new and different. She reconstructed herself from the grammatical ground up. Lahiri wanted to connect with another way of viewing the world and fuse it with her own. Davis and Lahiri are similar in this. Why else would Davis spend an entire year reading a single book? She wanted to grow, to change, to metamorphose through the challenge. She also desired a connection with this very alien way of telling a story, to see the world through Solstad’s eyes.
Davis and Lahiri’s narratives remind me of the first author that we know of in human history—a Mesopotamian princess who went by the name Enheduanna. We don’t know exactly how Enheduanna learned the language she wrote, but we can surmise that she probably did it through a hybrid of Davis’ and Lahiri’s approaches.
Roughly 4,500 years ago, Enheduanna’s father united two cultural groups of Mesopotamia into a single empire. These two areas spoke different languages and thought of themselves as different peoples. Enheduanna grew up speaking Akkadian, but after her father conquered the southern lands and joined them to his kingdom, he sent his daughter to become the high priestess at one of this region’s most significant temples. While she was there, Enheduanna learned their dominant language, Sumerian.
Likely, Enheduanna had teachers and, like Lahiri, she also made use of textbooks. Also like Lahiri, Enheduanna moved to the Rome of her day — she traveled to a foreign place where people lived and spoke differently, a place with a reputation as a cultural and religious capital. But like Davis she probably relied on word lists to acquire vocabulary. Enheduanna did not use a dictionary as we understand them. Also like Davis she learned grammar inductively, through reading instead of by memorizing rules of syntax.
Enheduanna also had a similar goal in learning this new language. She produced the first collection of poetry that is known to exist. She rounded up 42 temple hymns that celebrated various shrines across her father’s empire. She included religious sites from both the north and the south. These regions had an open and longstanding hostility toward one another. Enheduanna wanted the residents of the two parts of the new country to understand the commonalities they shared. They had different customs and they spoke different languages but by reading each other’s poems they could bridge these divides, they could meet a new people and come to know themselves in a fresh way.
Lydia Davis came to a realization after she finished Solstad’s book: “It also occurred to me, as I bent over my thin pencil scratches on the handsome pages of the book, that we read selfishly — and we read in whatever way we choose.” I think this is true for the way that most every human reads and has read. We like different types of books; some stories resonate with us while others do not. Davis’s observation is even true for the way we learn languages. People learn in different ways. But the why of reading? I think that, in large part, is something we all share. We’ve been searching texts for a connection to another person or community for more than 4,000 years. This is what Davis and Lahiri wanted. It’s what Enheduanna tried to create. It is likely the reason why you are reading this right now. And in this desire for connection, every reader, across time and place, is intimately linked.

Σάββατο, 4 Φεβρουαρίου 2017

Λάσλο Κρασναχορκάι "Η μελαγχολία της αντίστασης"

΄Ενα πολύπλοκο, πολιτικό και λογοτεχνικά απαιτητικό μυθιστόρημα από τα σημαντικότερα ευρωπαϊκά μυθιστορήματα του εικοστού αιώνα.


Η κυρία Έστερ ενώ βάδιζε στην λεωφόρο Βένκχάϊμ μιας μικρής ουγγρικής πόλης “σκεφτόταν ικανοποιημένη πως η μη αναστρέψιμη διαδικασία καταστροφής, χάους και διάλυσης, προχωρούσε κανονικά, σύμφωνα με τους δικούς της απαραβίαστους νόμους, και μέρα με τη μέρα έσφιγγε ο κλοιός...”. Στο χάος και στη διάλυση συνηγορούσαν και άλλα φαινόμενα, εξωτερικά, κακοί οιωνοί που δεν ήταν παρά το “ακατέργαστο υλικό μιας νέας τάξης πραγμάτων”.
Γεγονότα και δεισιδαιμονίες οδηγούν σε μια Αποκάλυψη που κορυφώνεται με την άφιξη ενός παράξενου τσίρκου με την βαλσαμωμένη φάλαινα, στημένο στη μέση της πλατείας. Άνθρωποι και ποντίκια, η γη και ο υπόκοσμος μοιάζουν να περιμένουν μια τρομακτική αλλαγή με φόντο ένα μουντό τοπίο, το πλήθος ανυπόμονο και επιφυλακτικό, βυθισμένο στη σιωπή καθώς στην πόλη εισβάλλει μια ομάδα ταραξιών που αποδιοργανώνουν ό,τι έχει απομείνει στη θλίψη της, καίγοντας το σινεμά, γκρεμίζοντας αναίτια στο διάβα τους, κακοποιώντας τους ανήμπορους.
Ανάμεσα σε ανθρώπους και υπανθρώπους κυκλοφορεί ο Βάλουσκα, ο τρελός της πόλης, ο ταπεινός προφήτης που αφουγκράζεται τα αστέρια, που αδιαφορεί για τους εφήμερους τρόμους και φέρνει σε αμηχανία την αυταρχική κυρία Έστερ, την κολλητή του αστυνόμου. Ο άντρας της, έγκλειστος στο σπίτι, αρνείται να καταγράψει την διαταραγμένη κοινωνία, προσπαθώντας να κουρδίσει το πιάνο του σε νέες αρμονίες για να απαλλαχτεί τον θόρυβο του περιβάλλοντος κόσμου. Αυτουνού η αντίσταση είναι μουσική.
Ο κυρία Έστερ τελικά θα παραιτηθεί από κάθε προσφυγή στην λογική όπως και ο Βάλουσκα από την γειωμένη του πορεία, καθώς βυθίζεται σε μια υπαρξιακή έκσταση. Η κυρία Έστερ επωφελείται αφού η αταξία θα επιφέρει στην πόλη μια νέα τάξη, ενός πιο ολοκληρωτικού συστήματος με την εισβολή των τανκ στην πλατεία.
Όμως κι οι τρομοκράτες, άλογοι και ανελέητοι, έχουν εξαντλήσει πια όλες τις καταστροφικές τους ορμές και αντιλαμβάνονται ότι η φονική τους αποστολή έφτασε στο τέρμα. Η νέα αστυνομική τάξη ακριβώς αυτό περίμενε: το “χρήσιμο” πέρασμά τους. Ο Βάλουσκα θα καταλήξει σε ψυχιατρικό ίδρυμα ως κινηματίας ενώ η μάνα του και αντίπαλος της Έστερ, η κυρία Πφλάουμ, με την οποία ανοίγει το μυθιστόρημα πάνω σε ένα τρένο, θα κηδευτεί ως ηρωίδα.
Οι λιγοστοί χαρακτήρες του μυθιστορήματος βιώνουν τις αλλαγές μέσα τους και έξω με ένα βίαιο τρόπο ή σαν επιδέχονται μια επιφοίτηση πέρα από το καλό και το κακό. Κεντρικός αφηγητής είναι η ροή της συνείδησής τους. Ο κάθε χαρακτήρας εστιάζει με τη δική του ματιά, κάτοικοι, τρομοκράτες, ακόμη και οι απρόσωποι “αποδομητικοί παράγοντες” στο φινάλε του βιβλίου όπου περιγράφεται με εργαστηριακή ακρίβεια η βιολογική αποσύνθεση ενός νεκρού σώματος, η απονεκρωμένη συνείδηση της έμβιας κοινωνίας.

Τι απομένει; Μια μικρής έκτασης εξέγερση, μια αδικαιολόγητη εισβολή, η επιβαλλόμενη “τάξη” με φόντο μια πόλη τη δεκαετία του ογδόντα, στην Ουγγαρία. Η συμβολική αναφορά στο πρόσφατο ιστορικό παρελθόν της χώρας θα ήταν επιπόλαιος αλλά δεν μπορείς να την παρακάμψεις (το μυθιστόρημα εκδόθηκε το 1989). Ας αναλογιστούμε όμως ταυτόχρονα την προβολή του στην σημερινή Ουγγαρία των εθνικιστικών αναταραχών χωρίς να υπολείπονται άλλες ευρωπαϊκές και υπερατλαντικές υπερδυνάμεις.
Το μυθιστόρημα του Λάζλο Κρασναχορκάι είναι ένα κοινωνικό μυθιστόρημα, μια μαύρη κωμωδία, ασπρόμαυρα μεταφερμένη και στον κινηματογράφο από τον Μπέλα Ταρ με τίτλο “Αρμονίες του Βερκμάϊστερ” (από το ομώνυμο δεύτερο κεφάλαιο του μυθιστορήματος).
Τονίστηκε ότι το βιβλίο παραπέμπει στον Μέλβιλ λόγω της αποσυντιθεμένης φάλαινας που εμφανίζεται ανεξήγητα και έτσι παραμένει, ένας Δούρειος Ίππος του αλλόκοτου και του λογοτεχνικού αλλά θα προσθέταμε και λόγω μιας λοξής “αφηγηματικής επικότητας” που ενδυναμώνεται σταδιακά. Θυμίζει σκηνικά τον Κάφκα αλλά χωρίς την απροσδιοριστία του. Έχει την ασυδοσία και το ακαταλόγιστο των ηρώων του Μπερνχαρντ.
Όμως θυμίζει και τους “Δαιμονισμένους” του Ντοστογιέφκσι στη μικρή ρωσική πόλη, τους παράφορους μηδενιστές, την ματαιότητα της εξέγερσής τους. Ακόμη και τους στερεοτυπικούς χαρακτήρες, “νομάρχης” “αστυνόμος”, εκεί θα τους βρεις όπως και στην ατμόσφαιρα του κωμικοτραγικού, του μαύρου εφιάλτη.
Το μυθιστόρημα του Κραζναχορκάι είναι ένα απόλυτα λογοτεχνικό κείμενο, κάθε ξαναδιάβασμα το απογειώνει. Οι χαρακτήρες και η ιστορία παλεύουν να δομήσουν μια ρεαλιστική ιστορία ενώ δίνεται η εντύπωση ότι την αποδομούν. Είναι ένα απολαυστικό ανάγνωσμα γιατί είναι “ένα μυθιστόρημα που σκέφτεται” παρασύροντας σαγηνευτικά και τον αναγνώστη στον αλλόκοτο κόσμο του που δεν είναι παρά και ο δικός του.

Ο Λάσλο Κρασναχορκάι γεννήθηκε το 1954 στην πόλη Gyula της Ουγγαρίας. Σπούδασε νομικά και φιλολογία στα Πανεπιστήμια του Ζέγκεντ και της Βουδαπέστης. Θεωρείται ένας από τους σημαντικότερους σύγχρονους Ούγγρους συγγραφείς. Έχει τιμηθεί με πολλά βραβεία (ανάμεσά τους το βραβείο Kossuth, που αποτελεί την πιο σημαντική διάκριση της Ουγγαρίας, και το γερμανικό βραβείο Bestenliste-Prize). Το 2015 τιμήθηκε με το βραβείο The Man Booker International Prize. Δύο βιβλία του Λάσλο Κρασναχορκάι («Το Τανγκό του Σατανά» και η «Μελαγχολία της Αντίστασης») έχουν μεταφερθεί στον κινηματογράφο από τον φίλο του σκηνοθέτη Μπέλα Ταρ, για τον οποίο έχει γράψει επίσης πρωτότυπα σενάρια.

Εκδόσεις ΠΟΛΙΣ 2016
μετάφραση Ιωάννα Αβραμίδου

Δημοσιεύτηκε στα ΝΕΑ βιβλιοδρόμιο 4/02/17

Κυριακή, 29 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Μετάφραση στα αραβικά

Το μυθιστόρημα “Αλούζα χίλιοι και ένας εραστές” (2005, ΠΑΤΑΚΗΣ) μεταφράστηκε στα αραβικά από τις εκδόσεις του Εθνικού Κέντρου Μετάφρασης στην Αίγυπτο που είναι ο μεγαλύτερος φορεάς που ασχολείται με την μετάφραση και την έκδοση μεταφρασμένων βιβλίων στην Αίγυπτο καί στην Αραβική περιοχή.

Ο Χάλεντ Ράουφ είναι μεταφραστής, έχει σπουδάσει στην Αίγυπτο, Ελλάδα και ΗΠΑ ελληνορωμαϊκή αρχαιολογία.
Ελληνικά σπούδασε στην Ελλάδα όπου έζησε πάνω απο 12 χρόνια.
Ασχολείται με την μετάφραση ελληνικής λογοτεχνίας από το 2009 και έχει μεταφράσει περίπου 16 βιβλία από τα ελληνικά αναμεσά τους (Ρίτσο, Τσίρκα, Δ.Δημητριάδς, Κ. Πολίτη, Π. Κουμούτση, Ν. Μαραγκού, Π.Ιωαννίδη).

Τετάρτη, 25 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Έφυγε η Νατάσα Χατζηδάκη

«« Επινοώ τον εαυτό μου/ αλλά για τη συντήρησή του/ σε χρειάζομαι/ Αγάπησέ με/ είναι πρωταρχικό/ για την επιχορήγηση των ονείρων μου ».»
 Νατάσα Χατζιδάκι

Με μεγάλη λύπη πληροφορηθήκαμε τον θάνατο της ποιήτριας και ιδρυτικού μέλους της Εταιρείας μας Νατάσας Χατζιδάκι. Η κηδεία της ποιήτριας θα γίνει στον τόπο καταγωγής της, στο Ρέθυμνο της Κρήτης. Στους οικείους της εκφράζουμε τα θερμά μας συλλυπητήρια.

Η Νατάσα Χατζιδάκη σπούδασε δημοσιογραφία στην Αθήνα και Αγγλική λογοτεχνία στο Λονδίνο. Στην Αγγλία έζησε συνολικά πέντε χρόνια. Συνεργάστηκε στη σύνταξη των λογοτεχνικών περιοδικών ΠρόσωπαΣήμα και Ρεύματα. Επίσης συνεργάστηκε ως παραγωγός εκπομπών λόγου στην Ελληνική Ραδιοφωνία (Τρίτο και Πρώτο Πρόγραμμα) και στην ΕΤ1. Έχει παρουσιάσει "οπτικά ποιήματά" της σε ομαδικές εκθέσεις και έχει συμμετάσχει σε διεθνή Φεστιβάλ Ποίησης στην Ιταλία, Γαλλία, Αγγλία και Ισπανία. Ποιήματά της έχουν μεταφραστεί στα αγγλικά και στα γαλλικά.


Στις εξόδους των πόλεων, Περγαμηνή 1971
Ακρυλικά, Πολυπλάνο 1976
Δυσαρέσκεια, Πλέθρον 1984
Aλλοι, Κέδρος 1990
Βαθυέρυθρο, Νέο Επίπεδο 2005
Aδηλος αναπνοή, Ύψιλον 2008
The Others, Dionysia Press, Εδιμβούργο, 2007


Συνάντησέ την, το βράδυ (Νουβέλα), Μικρή Εγνατία, Θεσσαλονίκη 1979
Ιβίσκοι, νάρκισσοι (Νουβέλα), Κέδρος 1985
Ξένοι στην πόλη (Διηγήματα), Κέδρος 1993


Ελεωνόρα Κάρριγκτον, Η πέτρινη πόρτα, Αιγόκερως 1982
Περισσότερα στον ιστότοπο της Εταιρείας Συγγραφέων, στο http://www.authors.gr/members/view/author_217

«Από τις πιο χαρακτηριστικές φωνές της γενιάς του ΄70 η Χατζιδάκι, με τη βίαια και θραυσματική στιχοπλοκή της, τη φαντασμαγορική εικονοποιία της, το ανατρεπτικό και οξύ της βλέμμα μάς έχει χαρίσει ποιήματα μεγάλης διεισδυτικότητας και δύναμης, που στοχάζονται όχι μόνο τη θέση της γυναίκας σ΄ έναν καθαρά εχθρικό, ανδροκρατούμενο κόσμο, αλλά και τη σημασία της ποίησης στη σύγχρονη μετανεοτερική, βιομηχανοποιημένηκαι γι΄ αυτό χυδαία στη μη αυθεντικότητά της- πραγματικότητα. Όπως έχει εύστοχα παρατηρήσει ο Ζήρας, η ποίηση της Χατζιδάκι, με σαφείς επιδράσεις από τον υπερρεαλισμό και την αμερικανική beat λογοτεχνία, «χαρακτηρίζεται από παράδοξη και αντιφατική εικονοπλασία, μέσω της οποίας άλλοτε σατιρίζονται και σαρκάζονται και άλλοτε μυθοποιούνται ή και εξιδανικεύονται τα αποσπασματικά βιώματα, οι συναισθηματικές διακυμάνσεις και η ψυχική περιπέτεια της σύγχρονης γυναίκας». Ωστόσο η ποίησή της δεν εξαντλείται σε μια εις βάθος διερεύνηση της γυναικείας φύσης. (…) Το σκληρό αλλά εξαιρετικό ποίημα «Βαθυέρυθρο», για παράδειγμα, (αφιερωμένο στη Λίντα Κατσαμπιάν και την Ουλρίκε Μάινχοφ), στο οποίο η Χατζιδάκι υφίσταται αλλεπάλληλες μεταμορφώσεις, επιλέγοντας να φορέσει τα προσωπεία «μοιραίων» γυναικών (Ντόροθι Λαμούρ, Άννα-Μαρία Πιεράντζελι, Μία Φάροου, Νάταλι Γουντ, Τζάνετ Λι) δεν μας συγκινεί επειδή γνωρίζουμε αυτές τις σταρ και μπορούμε να ανακαλέσουμε στιγμές της κινηματογραφικής ή αληθινής τους ζωής, αλλά επειδή λειτουργεί ποιητικά. Και λειτουργεί μέσω αιφνίδιων σκηνικών ανατροπών, ευρηματικών μεταφορών και πυκνών λεκτικών σχημάτων. Η Χατζιδάκι είναι γνήσια ποιήτρια γιατί γνωρίζει ότι καλά ποιήματα δεν γράφονται ούτε με δακρύβρεχτα μάτια, ούτε με τρεμάμενο χέρι. Η δική της ποιητική ταυτότητα είναι εγκιβωτισμένη μέσα στις σπάνιες λέξεις της».
                                                Από κριτική του Χάρη Βλαβιανού στα ΝΕΑ, 19/7/2008

Πέμπτη, 5 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Για τον Χριστόφορο Μηλιώνη

                                                                                                             Αθήνα, 5/1/2017

Aνακοίνωση της Εταιρείας Συγγραφέων

Με μεγάλη μας λύπη πληροφορηθήκαμε τον θάνατο του βραβευμένου πεζογράφου και ιδρυτικού μέλους της Εταιρείας μας, Χριστόφορου Μηλιώνη. Ο Χριστόφορος Μηλιώνης ήταν ένας καταξιωμένος συγγραφέας, ιδιαίτερα γνωστός για τα διηγήματά του, τα οποία βραβεύτηκαν και μεταφράστηκαν στο εξωτερικό. Στους οικείους του εκφράζουμε τη συμπαράστασή μας.  
Ο Χριστόφορος Μηλιώνης γεννήθηκε στο Περιστέρι Πωγωνίου, των Ιωαννίνων, το 1932. Φοίτησε στη Ζωσιμαία Σχολή και σπούδασε φιλολογία στο ΑΠ Θεσσαλονίκης. Υπηρέτησε τη μέση εκπαίδευση, στην Ελλάδα και την Κύπρο, ως καθηγητής, γυμνασιάρχης και σχολικός σύμβουλος. Υπήρξε μέλος της ομάδας εργασίας που συνέταξε τα Κείμενα Νεοελληνικής Λογοτεχνίας Γυμνασίου/Λυκείου, και μέλος των εκδοτικών ομάδων των γιαννιώτικων περιοδικών Ενδοχώρα και Δοκιμασία. Αρκετά άρθρα του δημοσιεύτηκαν στην Φιλολογική Καθημερινή και αργότερα στα Νέα. Ήταν σύζυγος της ομότιμης καθηγήτριας της γαλλικής φιλολογίας Τατιάνας Τσαλίκη-Μηλιώνη, και ιδρυτικό μέλος (έχοντας διατελέσει και μέλος του Διοικητικού Συμβουλίου) της Εταιρείας Συγγραφέων. 

Στα γράμματα πρωτοπαρουσιάστηκε το1954, με διήγημά του, στο περιοδικό Ηπειρωτική Εστία. Ακολούθησαν τα βιβλία διηγημάτων (θεωρείται από τους σημαντικότερους του είδους στο δεύτερο μισό του 20ού αιώνα): Παραφωνία (1961)· Το πουκάμισο του Κένταυρου (1971)· Τα διηγήματα της Δοκιμασίας (1978)· Το πουκάμισο του Κένταυρου και τ’ άλλα διηγήματα (1982, συγκεντρ. έκδ.)· Καλαμάς κι Αχέροντας (1985)· Χειριστής ανελκυστήρος (1993)· Το μικρό είναι όμορφο (1997)· Τα φαντάσματα του Γιορκ (1999)· Μια χαμένη γεύση (1999)· Η φωτογένεια (2002), Ακροκεραύνια (1976)· Το μοτέλ. Κομμωτής κομητών (2005) , μυθιστορημάτων: Δυτική συνοικία (1980)· Ο Σιλβέστρος (1987),  φιλολογικών μελετών, δοκιμίων και μεταφράσεων από τα αρχαία ελληνικά. Τιμήθηκε με το Κρατικό Βραβείο Διηγήματος (1986), το Βραβείο του περιοδικού Διαβάζω (2000) και το Βραβείο Ουράνη της Ακαδημίας Αθηνών (2005).

«Κεντρική σημασία σε όλα τα πεζά του Χριστόφορου Μηλιώνη έχει η μνήμη, ο απεριόριστος και αεικίνητος χρόνος της αναθύμησης, της αναπόλησης. `Ολα συμβαίνουν εκεί, καθώς σχεδόν όλες οι ιστορίες του εκκινούν από προσωπικά βιώματα και αναπτύσσονται έπειτα διασταλτικά μέσω της συγγραφικής φαντασίας, με τη χρησιμοποίηση προσώπων που αφηγούνται για λογαριασμό του. Επίσης, κεντρικό ρόλο στις μικρές και μεγάλες ιστορίες του Μηλιώνη παίζει το περιβάλλον, συνήθως ο εξω-αστικός χώρος, η ενδοχώρα των Ιωαννίνων και το φυσικό τοπίο της, εκεί όπου ο ίδιος άρχισε να σχηματίζεται ως συνείδηση και εκεί όπου απέκτησε τα νεανικά και παιδικά του βιώματα, συσχετισμένα σχεδόν πάντοτε με το βαρύ αποτύπωμα της ιστορίας της Κατοχής και του Εμφυλίου, και των δραματικών επιπτώσεών της δράσης της στη ζωή των ανθρώπων. Ως άξιος συνεχιστής μιας πεζογραφικής παράδοσης που ξεκινά από τον Αλέξανδρο Παπαδιαμάντη και φτάνει ως τον Δημήτρη Χατζή και τον Γιώργο Ιωάννου, στην οποία παράδοση η αίσθηση και η έννοια του γηγενούς, της μητέρας πατρίδας, αποτελούν τον πυρήνα της ποιητικής τους, ο Μηλιώνης αντέταξε ως διαρκέστερο πυρήνα των μυθοπλασιών του την περιοχή της Ηπείρου. Εκεί έστησε το τοπίο της προσωπικής του μυθολογίας. Θρύλοι, ακούσματα δικά του, εικόνες από δημοτικά τραγούδια, παραμύθια, αναμνήσεις που διαπλέουν τον παρελθόντα και παρόντα χρόνο, υπήρξε η πρωταρχική του ύλη. Ο μετρημένος, βασανισμένος, ασκητικός μικρόκοσμος της Ηπείρου έγινε μέσω της λογοτεχνικής του αναπαράστασης ο κόσμος της δημιουργικής φαντασίας που τον έκαναν στη συνέχεια αγαπητικά δικό τους οι αναγνώστες του.  Αυτός ο λογοτεχνικός χώρος έγινε, βιβλίο το βιβλίο, το πεδίο της νοσταλγικής του καταφυγής, της κάθαρσης από τη φθορά του αστικού βίου, της λύτρωσης από τον ισοπεδωτικό και απρόσωπο ρυθμό της ζωής στην πόλη. Ακόμα κι όταν δεν κατονομάζεται γεωγραφικά, υπονοείται καθαρά από την υποβλητική περιγραφή του αδρού, ορεινού τοπίου και των αρχέγονων σχέσεων των ανθρώπων. Από την ελεγειακή ψυχική διάθεση όσων έζησαν εκεί σε συνθήκες άκρως λιτοδίαιτες αλλά πλούσιες ως προς την εσωτερική ζωή. 
Και, συμπληρωματικά με τα παραπάνω, αξίζει να τονίσουμε ένα από τα μορφολογικά χαρακτηριστικά του έργου του Μηλιώνη, τον εσωτερικό ρυθμό που μεταφέρεται από την ψυχική κατάσταση στη ροή της αφήγησης, κάνοντάς την ελεγειακή. Η σιωπή των βουνών, οι λίγες μόλις απαραίτητες λέξεις που ανταλλάσσουν μεταξύ τους οι άνθρωποι, ο ήχος των φυσικών στοιχείων που γεμίζει το βάθος των ιστοριών, η θλίψη για τα φονικά, όλα αυτά ανταποκρίνονται στον μουσικό, παραπονεμένο τρόπο με τον οποίο ο συγγραφέας του Καλαμά και Αχέροντα αναμνημονεύει και αφηγείται περιστατικά, όπου εγκιβωτίζεται το βουβό πάθος, η εγκαρτέρηση, η ερωτική λαχτάρα, η συναισθηματική οδύνη λαϊκών κατά βάση ανθρώπων. `Η ανθρώπων που έχουν την ικανότητα να συναισθάνονται την εσωτερικότητα της λαϊκής ψυχής. Ασφαλώς, αυτή η διπλή σχέση του Χριστόφορου Μηλιώνη με τον χώρο και την ιδιαίτερη κοινωνία του, υπήρξε σε τέτοιο σημείο καθοριστική για το έργο του, ώστε τα πρόσωπα των ιστοριών του πολύ συχνά, όταν είναι φορτωμένα από συναισθηματικές εμπλοκές, αδιέξοδες καταστάσεις ή αποτυχίες, αναζητούν την αναβάπτιση και ίασή τους σ΄ετούτο τον λιτό, απέριττο, πολλαπλά δύσβατο και δυσβάστακτο,  αλλά και πηγαίο κόσμο της δεκαπενταετίας 1935-1950». 


Τετάρτη, 21 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

New Yorker contributors' ”best lists” for 2016

New Yorker contributors share which books made their personal ”best lists” for 2016.
It sometimes felt like there was little time for Books I Loved this year, what with staying on top of the all-consuming Twitter Feed I Hated. But some of the reading that I did (in actual books, on real paper—what a relief) took me away from the appalling questions that the news was raising, questions like “So is this what American fascism looks like?,” or “Wait, what happened to my E.U. citizenship?,” or, simply, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

Instead, these books brought me face to face with more elemental concerns: birth and bereavement. In her deceptively slim third novel, “Eleven Hours,” Pamela Erens presents a woman who has just entered the maternity wing of a hospital, and, in the course of the hours between her arrival and that of her child, unfolds her story. The retrospective narrative—who is this woman, and why is she there, alone?—is interwoven with a propulsive, often harrowing account of the physical demands of labor in all its irresistible, unimaginable inevitability. For those of us who have been there, Erens skillfully evokes that wild, supra-political condition. And she reminds all readers, those who have experienced labor or not, of the dangerous trespass along the margin of life which every childbirth entails.

My friend Katherine Barrett Swett is one of the best-read people I know; her students at the Brearley School, where she teaches English, are fortunate beneficiaries of her careful, analytical, sensitive affinity for literature. This year saw the publication of Swett’s own book of poems, “Twenty-One.” It is a collection born of tragic circumstance: the poems, most of them only three lines long, were written after the death of Swett’s daughter, at the age of twenty-one, and together they chart the terrible cycle of the first year spent in that aftermath. They are spare, resonant, sometimes drawing upon or alluding to the writers and works of literature that have sustained Swett: Robert Frost, Sappho, “King Lear.” They are shattering—tiny containers filled with boundless pain. I have one poem, “Ornery,” written out by hand in its entirety on a Post-it above my desk: “I hope that some god can forgive all / us parents who will never forgive ourselves / every meanness in a short life.” It reminds me on whose behalf I’m most despairing about the turn the world has taken, and for whom that despair must, nonetheless, daily be dispelled.

—Rebecca Mead

It’s not surprising, in retrospect, that, in a year of deadlocked ideologies, I was drawn to novels of friendship. Mauro Javier Cardenas’s début, “The Revolutionaries Try Again,” tells the tale of three Ecuadorian friends—one living in exile in San Francisco, the other two still in Guayaquil—who come together in a quixotic attempt to take the country’s Presidency. “Everyone thinks they’re the chosen ones,” one character reminds another, and Cardenas’s gift is to show, through long, brilliant sentences, the charm of inaction and delinquency. The book was published by the small and savvy Coffee House Press, and deserves a much wider audience—it is funny and honest and packed with playful modernist tricks.


Another début, Tony Tulathimutte’s “Private Citizens,” takes a different set of friends—so-called millennials in mid-aughts San Francisco—and turns them into a soufflé of disappointments and depressions. His characters are plugged-in, hard-partying, drug-taking, Webcam-abusing Stanford graduates, who are frequently sharp and self-aware in the course of their self-destruction. As is the case with “Revolutionaries,” the brilliance of “Private Citizens” resides in its sentences, but where Cardenas’s sentences billow Tulathimutte’s are knowing and precise, as if someone had given David Foster Wallace a verbal haircut.

Both books operate on a high degree of intelligence, much like the other two books I especially admired this year: Adam Ehrlich Sachs’s début collection, “Inherited Disorders,” a brutal, comic, and exhaustive take on father-son relationships, and Vivek Shanbhag’s “Ghachar Ghochar,” a novel translated from Kannada and set in Bangalore, which features an exceedingly passive protagonist who allows his bourgeois family to turn almost criminal in their greed and clannishness. Which is, perhaps, a sadly appropriate note on which to end a recollection of 2016.

—Karan Mahajan

In 2016, while America was imploding, I happened to read three excellent books about romantic love: one magnificently cringe-inducing, one delightfully swoony, and one a bit of both. “Willful Disregard,” by Lena Andersson, which was a big best-seller in its author’s home country of Sweden, describes a female writer’s new friendship with and eventual fixation on an older and more successful male artist. Hugo and Ester have an intense intellectual connection, which makes her feel like she’s in love with him and makes him feel, well, like they have an intense intellectual connection (though he’s willing to dabble in sex with her). Like Rachel Cusk’s “Outline,” “Wilful Disregard” is lacerating in its intelligence and honesty; it makes you waver between loathing and compassion for basically all humans.

On the other side of the romantic spectrum, “Eleanor & Park,” by Rainbow Rowell, follows two high-school misfits in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1986, as they meet on the school bus, repel each other, and eventually fall madly in love. Rowell’s humor, tenderness, and sense of detail are extraordinary. And her pacing is perfect, which is a clinical way of saying that she escalates Eleanor and Park’s intensifying attraction with such wondrous control that when they do things like make eye contact or brush fingers it’s thrilling. Rowell also depicts the poverty that Eleanor’s family lives in with deftness and subtlety.

I loved “Eleanor & Park” so much that I then moved on to “Landline,” also by Rowell, about a successful, burned-out TV writer named Georgie, whose marriage to a stay-at-home dad is foundering. While Georgie is, for work reasons, separated from her husband and children over Christmas, she finds a rotary phone at her mother’s house that allows her to call her husband in the year 1998—that is, before he was her husband. Rowell pulls off this impossible premise with great charm, and her depictions of the couple’s sweet courtship and their later compromise-filled marriage are equally unsentimental and knowing.

—Curtis Sittenfeld

Read more stories about the year in culture and politics.
Read more stories about the year in culture and politics.
While my bias is clear on this one, since I penned the introduction, the long-awaited English-language release, from Verso, of Nanni Balestrini’s “We Want Everything” was, for me, a highlight of 2016, as a reader. The figure of the worker, the absurdity of work, the violence of rebellion: we would do well to study how it was that Balestrini made politics and fiction and art, all in once place. It’s one of the most compelling pieces of literature of the entire second half of the twentieth century. Also, it’s incredibly funny.

But possibly nothing, for me, topped an incredible nonfiction novel written by Catherine Leahy Scott, Inspector General of New York State, along with a staff of twenty-nine investigators. The book is titled “Investigation of the June 5, 2015 Escape of Inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt from Clinton Correctional Facility,” and, at a hundred and fifty-four pages, it is a stunning and absorbing, rollicking, tragic, unbelievable but true account of the lives of Americans in America.

—Rachel Kushner

In July, after the coup in Turkey, during the escalating Trump campaign, I read Orhan Pamuk’s “A Strangeness in My Mind.” Despite being a six-hundred-and-twenty-four-page novel about a man who sells boza—a low-alcohol fermented wheat drink of waning popularity in the Balkans and the Middle East—this novel is of gripping relevance to anyone who wants to understand either the sociopolitical landscape of Turkey or sociopolitical landscapes more generally. Pamuk did six years of field research, talking to street venders, electricity-bill collectors, and the builders and residents of Istanbul’s many shantytowns—a population that has typically voted for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the increasingly authoritarian populist who has been the head of state since 2003—and then wove the information he collected into the individual experience of this one street vender, a dreamer type who suffers from a condition that he calls “a strangeness in his head.” The book pumped me up about the possibilities of the novel—the way that it can do a kind of work that social analysis and even history, with its limited access to private life and unspoken desires, can’t: namely, tracing the relationship between large-scale historical change and the thoughts and feelings that fill a given person’s head at any given moment. I found it as head-exploding as “War and Peace,” and more comforting. It gave me a window onto a part of human experience, and a part of Istanbul’s geography, that I thought I didn’t and couldn’t understand.

For readers with a particular interest in Turkish politics, or a more general curiosity about polarized democratic societies with authoritarian patriarchal rulers, I also recommend “Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy,” a passionate nonfiction work by Ece Temelkuran, one of many Turkish journalists who have lost their jobs for criticizing the current government. Now that I think back about how movingly Temelkuran writes about the difficulties faced by women in today’s Turkey, it occurs to me that Pamuk’s “Strangeness” is also very strong on this subject. I’m thinking about one character in particular, a night-club singer, who remarks, “I could write a book about all the men I’ve known, and then I would also end up on trial for insulting Turkishness.” Insulting the Turkish nation, formerly insulting Turkishness, is a punishable crime according to Article 301 of the Turkish penal code, which was used to bring charges against Pamuk himself, in 2005.

—Elif Batuman

This year, I reread Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front.” The book had a great impact on me when I first read it, thirty years ago, during my compulsory service in the Israeli Army, and it has stayed as painful and as relevant in my second reading.

More than a hundred years have passed since the First World War began, and, even though our world has advanced in so many ways, too many things have remained as senseless as they were a century ago. I read somewhere that “All Quiet on the Western Front” is Donald Trump’s favorite book. If it is true, I urge him to reread it, too.

—Etgar Keret

This summer, when I picked up Robert J. Gordon’s “The Rise and Fall of American Growth”—a seven-hundred-and-eighty-four-page history of living standards in America—I wasn’t expecting to be moved. Gordon’s book covers the years between 1870 and 1970, which he calls the “special century”—a time during which our collective way of life was transformed by unprecedented inventions, such as indoor plumbing, electricity, telephones, antibiotics, and automobiles. Some of those transformations are obvious. “Though not a single household was wired for electricity in 1880, nearly 100 percent of U.S. urban homes were wired by 1940,” Gordon writes. But others are more subtle, or, at any rate, more invisible, to us now that they’re complete. The book is full of statistics about how—to choose just one example—light bulbs have grown dramatically brighter and more durable in ways that elude the Consumer Price Index. We can easily imagine a dark eighteenth-century city, and we know what our homes look like now. Gordon gives us the dim homes of the past growing brighter, decade by decade.

In the course of Gordon’s book, a vivid picture of everyday life as our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents lived it emerges. He documents what we would now experience as privations: until relatively recently, offices and workplaces were frigid in the winter (imagine the cab of a truck or the floor of a warehouse before cheap heating); food was monotonous and unhealthy (many Americans ate mostly salted pork and corn, or “hogs ‘n’ hominy”); and life was boring (in 1870, “major league sports were still to come”). He also presents delightful examples of ingenuity and self-sufficiency. I didn’t know that, on a nineteenth-century farm, one might see horses “walking on treadmills that ran machines to compress hay into bundles and to thresh wheat.” I was fascinated to learn that, although canned food was invented in the early nineteenth century—America’s first canned-food magnate, Gail Borden, started his business in response to the Donner Party disaster, in 1846—it didn’t take off until well into the mid-twentieth, in part because of “housewifely pride in ‘putting up’ one’s own food and admiring the rows and rows of Mason jars with their colorful contents.” One of Gordon’s subjects is the gradual way in which new inventions make their effects felt. It can take a generation or two for an important technology, such as canning, to spread through society, just as, today, we await the real arrival of driverless cars, solar roofs, and virtual reality.

On some level, “The Rise and Fall of American Growth” is about how easily we forget how good we have it. It’s also about the bluntness of G.D.P. as a measurement tool (it fails to capture “the liberation of women, who previously had to perform the Monday ritual curse of laundry done by scrubbing on a wash board”) and the grand and perhaps unsustainable narrative of material progress that has become foundational to the “American dream.” Gordon believes that we’re unlikely to experience such dramatic transformations again; the iPhone, though cool, isn’t as consequential as the toilet. (Other economists are more hopeful about the future.) Now that the “special century” is over, he argues, we need to rethink our relationship to progress. What lingers in my mind, alongside these ideas, is a new, weightier sense of the past, and of what the people who lived in it ate, touched, heard, saw, and did. Reading “The Rise and Fall of American Growth,” I thought a lot about my grandparents. Gordon’s book has made their lives more real to me.

—Joshua Rothman

One of my favorite book experiences this year was rereading “Madame Bovary,” in the translation by Lydia Davis. Each word vivid and precise, leading to the inevitable tragedy. While reading, I typed a list of all the phrases in the book that involve color: a green box on the table; a little scrap of white paper; their yellow gloves. They unfold like many little Manets.

—Maira Kalman

Maybe the only good thing to come out of 2016 was the Olympic champion Simone Biles, whose grins, on her way to gymnastics gold, were as wide as her backflips were high. The same could not be said of Nadia Comaneci, the subject of one of my favorite novels of the year, “The Little Communist Who Never Smiled,” by the French writer Lola Lafon, translated by Nick Caistor. Lafon’s book, a metafictional biography tracing Comaneci’s life from her relentless formation by Bela Karoli into the first gymnast to earn a perfect 10, at the ripe old age of fourteen, to her defection to the United States days before the Ceausescu regime collapsed, is a brilliant blend of fact, invention, and creative historiography. Lafon was raised by French parents in Ceausescu’s Romania; her observations on the hypocrisies of both capitalism and Communism when it comes to sport, and to the lives of women, are sharp and unsparing. This is a fiercely feminist novel. It’s compulsively readable, too, with descriptions of feats of physical daring to stop your heart.

A very different kind of daring is the subject of “How to Survive a Plague,” David France’s riveting account of the effort by citizens and scientists alike to combat aids in its devastating early years. France moved to New York fresh out of college, in 1981, and he focusses on the city, where nearly half of the gay population was infected with H.I.V. before the virus was discovered. Threaded with poignant personal recollection, his history is formidable in scope and profoundly humane. It’s also a study in the power of protest and civil disobedience, bound to be useful in the days ahead.

With a nod to the Times Book Review’s custom of asking writers to recommend a book to the President, I’d like to suggest that the President-elect pick up a copy of “Evicted,” by the sociologist Matthew Desmond, which the magazine excerpted this spring. Writing about Milwaukee, Desmond shows how homelessness is not simply a result of poverty; it’s at poverty’s root. It’s also at the root of disenfranchisement. A new state law in Wisconsin requires that voters show approved photo-I.D. cards, which can’t be obtained by citizens, like Desmond’s subjects, who are forced to move too often to keep a fixed address. The vulnerable deserve protection from their government. They deserve dignity, too, which Desmond’s forceful prose bestows on them in abundance.

Last, for some much-needed comic relief: inspired by a glimpse of Jane Austen’s letters at the Morgan Library this spring, I went on a bit of an Austen binge, reading “Mansfield Park” and “Persuasion” for the first time, and “Pride and Prejudice” for the third. I duly intended to turn up my nose at “Eligible,” Curtis Sittenfeld’s retelling of “Pride and Prejudice,” set in Cincinnati. Instead, I gleefully gobbled it down. Bingley is the star of a “Bachelor”-like reality show; Mr. Darcey is a neurosurgeon; Liz Bennett is, well, a magazine writer. (Jane teaches yoga, of course.) It should be a universally acknowledged truth that the whole ride is a zippy pleasure.

—Alexandra Schwartz

“Grackles are Donald Trumps.” Earlier this year, I drove to the Albany woods to spend a terrifically odd forty-eight hours with the author of this terrifically odd line—the seventy-one-year-old Bernadette Mayer, who is one of the great experimental poets and downtown figures of her generation. The only woman included in the original anthology of New York School poets, Mayer has written twenty-eight books that encompass an epic poem written in one day, a lengthy dialogue with a house, and a series of lyrics composed during a state of half-sleep. Her latest collection, “Works and Days,” which came out this June, is among her very best, colliding daily struggles (menstruation, money) with natural obsessions (blue herons, mushrooms) and big unanswerable questions (Is motherhood virtuous? Whither patriarchy?). All of this is undergirded by a hefty serving of irony:

I Left NYC because it took
So long to get out the door
In the city the streets are
Your hallways, I am a mole person
I wanted to transcend growing up in Brooklyn
Now out the door I can see
A creek monster or rainbow

Mayer writes the kind of nonsense that makes sense, and sense that is nonsense: I can’t think of a better centering device in these topsy-turvy times.

—Daniel Wenger

This year, I’ve sought out and found solace in language, both poetry and prose. Aracelis Girmay’s “The Black Maria” has left images still planted deep within me. Brenda Shaughnessy’s “So Much Synth” is a brilliant feminist excavation of adolescence. Juan Felipe Herrera’s “Notes on the Assemblage” has been a ladder of hope, while Monica Youn’s “Blackacre” is masterly in its unravelling of the mystery of being and the body. Manuel Gonzales’s “The Regional Office is Under Attack!,” a novel that makes jumping the shark seem like a tame literary device, made for a much-needed good time full of female superheroes and fight scenes. Hannah Pittard’s “Listen to Me” is a quiet, revelatory novel that exposes the inner workings of a marriage along a harrowing road trip. In the realm of nonfiction, Kristin Dombek’s “The Selfishness of Others” is a fascinating book-length essay that delves into the concept of narcissism in a way that might make you swear off the Internet for good. Lastly, after returning from Chile, I read and fell in love with Alejandro Zambra’s “Multiple Choice,” which is as inventive with language as it is with form; it’s a real triumph of lyrical, genre-bending fiction—or is it poetry?

—Ada Limón

Simone White’s “Of Being Dispersed,” published by Futurepoem, is a recent book of poetry for which I am particularly grateful. (It led me back to her excellent previous book, “House Envy of All the World,” which I think is out of print—and which somebody should republish.) And inside this book of poems is a prose piece entitled “Lotion,” which is one of my favorite recent essays.

I also recommend Anna Moschovakis’s “They and We Will Get Into Trouble for This,” published by Coffee House. Like White, Moschovakis uses formal innovation as a way of imagining new modes of interconnection.

At the moment, I’m reading Dorothy Wang’s “Thinking Its Presence,” a powerful challenge to conventional ways of thinking (or not thinking) about race and poetry.

I was recently introduced to the work of the Jamaican novelist Emma Brodber, and I am reading through her short but profound novels. “Myal” is probably my favorite so far.

Finally, I spent a long time in recent months with “History and Obstinacy,” by the philosopher and filmmaker Alexander Kluge with the sociologist Oskar Negt. Zone Books published an English translation in 2014, and the introduction, by Devin Fore, is one of the great things written about Kluge’s work. Kluge, by the way, recently wrote a short story about Donald Trump. It’s called “Charisma of the Drunken Elephant.”

—Ben Lerner

When I love a book, I can’t help but think of it as delicious—not brilliant or vivid or insightful but as something sumptuous and hunger-inducing. This year, I devoured, in one continuous night of reading, Liz Moore’s “The Unseen World,” a novel about artificial intelligence and family secrets. Moore brings computer science to life through the eyes of a young girl who begins to see that her scientist father is not who he appears to be. But I read the book as much for its portrait of early A.I. research, which Moore captures in all its idealism and raw emotionality: its desire to make being human less lonely by creating machine companions is an impulse not all that different from the ones that lead people to have a child or write a book.

Some books don’t lend themselves to feasting: they’re too rare, too precious. I read Rivka Galchen’s “Little Labors,” an essay in aphorisms exploring the twinned phenomena of motherhood and babyhood, and “The Ants,” an insect-obsessed poetry collection by Sawako Nakayasu, regretting that I’d have only one chance to read each page for the first time. In these cases, I recommend miserly self-control, and letting every morsel dissolve completely on the tongue.

—Alexandra Kleeman

One thing 2016 has been good for, at least, is poetry. Ocean Vuong’s “Night Sky With Exit Wounds,” Marianne Boruch’s “Eventually One Dreams the Real Thing,” and Melissa Broder’s “Last Sext” are but a few of the year’s gorgeous, dynamic arrivals. One collection that had a particularly strong effect on me was Solmaz Sharif’s début, “Look,” an indefatigable meditation on the language of war. Sharif, whose family immigrated to the United States from Iran, and lived under surveillance, draws upon the Department of Defense’s Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms to craft a powerful indictment of U.S. intervention in the Middle East. It is a book about violence, but it is also immensely loving. You can read the volume’s title poem here.

—Elisabeth Denison

My catholic taste in poetry allowed for all manner of astonishment this year. Paisley Rekdal’s collection “Imaginary Vessels” made me put my thinking cap on. Read “A Peacock in the Cage,” for instance, and observe how she builds a poem around the single notion of confinement, such that you’re levitating with her and all the better for it. Elizabeth Powell’s “Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter” is a daring hybrid collection that deftly melds lineated verse, agile prose, and striking monologues. In posing a single question—What if Loman had an illegitimate daughter?—she pivots our staid understanding of Arthur Miller’s classic play “Death of a Salesman” and the easy dramas that besiege families.

Volumes of collected poems often read like treatises of sorts. Such is the case with Rita Dove’s “Collected Poems: 1974-2004,” whose central claim, put forth in language both elegant and vividly humane, is the gravity of our histories and the restorative power of language and culture. David Rivard’s “Standoff,” which I returned to in the course of a week, while riding the subway or waiting for my son’s basketball practice to end, assailed me with its vivaciousness and cunning humor. Campbell McGrath’s “XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century,” which draws sustenance from the panoply of past century’s artists, philosophers, writers, and musicians, from Wittgenstein to Dylan and Coltrane, seems to launch its own defense of the humanities and their presence in our lives. And the poems in Vievee Francis’s haunting collection “Forest Primeval” are discreet yet revelatory, irresolute yet decisive, distressed yet serene. A poet of superb courage.

Lastly, in an election year marred by inane anti-immigration speeches and fearmongering, celebrated volumes by the young poets Solmaz Sharif (“Look”), Safiya Sinclair (“Cannibal”), and Ocean Vuong (“Night Sky with Exit Wounds”), all born on other shores, served as my personal antidote. By individuating their lives in fiercely lyrical language, each in their own way sings, critiques, and dances the body electric. Such verse honors that which is great within us—our plurality, which is our poetry.

Σάββατο, 26 Νοεμβρίου 2016

Εκπομπή για το βιβλίο στο κανάλι της Βουλής

Με τον σκηνοθέτη Μιχάλη Αναστασίου δημιουργήσαμε μια σειρά ωριαίων ντοκιμαντέρ για το βιβλίο και την ανάγνωσημε τίτλο "ο λόγος τής γραφής"
Το 1ο επεισόδιο θα προβληθεί αύριο Σάββατο 26/11, στις 7μμ, στο κανάλι τής Βουλής και κάθε Σάββατο, πάντα στις 7μμ, θα προβάλλεται νέο επεισόδιο.

Στο πρώτο επεισόδιο:

Η συγγραφέας Ρέα Γαλανάκη μιλάει για τη ζωή και το έργο της, 

ο ποιητής Γιώργος Κακουλίδης διαβάζει ποιήματά του 
από το πρόσφατο βιβλίο του «Μην ακούς τον Παράδεισο»

ο συγγραφέας Θεόδωρος Γρηγοριάδης αναλύει τη «Μαντάμ Μποβαρύ» τού Γκυστάβ Φλωμπέρ 

και διαβάζει τις ‘πρώτες αράδες’ από το βιβλίο «Confiteor» τού Ζάουμε Καμπρέ

ενώ η νέα ποιήτρια Ευτυχία Παναγιώτου διαβάζει ποιήματά της.