RESST - Restor(i)ed: European Short Story Today
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The project is based on the publisher’s tendency to publish short-story collections and on the key objectives of the Creative Europe Translation Programme and the European Agenda for Culture. It comprises translations of 8 short-story collections originally written in 8 different European languages, which will be published both as a print and an ebook. Besides, selected stories from books by 4 authors from the publisher’s catalogue will be translated into English, Spanish, German and French, respectively, with the aim of reaching out to European agencies, publishers and wider audiences. The idea is to publish 4 books in Serbian translation and excerpts from 2 collections translated into the foreign languages per year. The works are expected to reach wide audiences (marginalized groups, adolescents, young adults and adults), with the aim of restoring the sense of well-being in the very act of reading about shared identity concerns and common issues, despite individual differences.


Translations into Serbian

Tomaž Kosmač, Punk is dead / Punk is Dead

Tomaž Kosmač

Ten years after the release of the excellent debut by Tomaž Kosmač, the first-person narrator Kosmo in the collection of short stories Punk is Dead has already become a true cosmopolitan. Short, heated anecdotal records have expanded, along with the narrative space, which has so far mostly been limited to the Idrija Basin and its immediate surroundings. With a number of various (anti)heroes, he goes on trips across his homeland in search of new insights, only to return to the starting point and testify about tragicomic lessons genuinely, sincerely and without embellishments. The collection invites the reader to a funny ride of intense irony, which calls into question a number of established social norms.

Christos Asteriou, Το γυμνό της σώμα και άλλες παράξενες ιστορίες / Her Naked Body and Other Strange Stories

Christos Asteriou
photo: Zyranna Stoikou

Her naked body and other strange stories consists of ten short stories in the tradition of fantasy literature with obvious Kafkaesque and Borgesian elements. The stories take place somewhere between reality and imagination and, despite the multiple influences, are ultimately very personal in style. In all short stories painful losses occur but the ending remains open and ambivalent. A birth in the 11th month of pregnancy, a pianist with twelve fingers, a dead uncle that “returns” to guide an ill nephew through life, a castaway who refuses to be saved, a mysterious actor and his prompter, are some of the main subjects of the book that was nominated for the best literary debut in Greece.

Peter Denchev, Истории в минало време / Stories from the Past

Peter Denchev
photo: Plamen Mirčev

The short-story collection Stories from the Past includes sixteen stories and a novella. For a short period of time the book managed to attract the attention of modern Bulgarian critics and audiences. The literary critic Angel G. Angelov says that in these refined texts what stands out is the characters and their communication - they communicate timidly and sorely, poetically but also painfully. These stories pose the most difficult question: what is the self comprised of? The themes and motifs that make up these short stories are dominated by the perception of loss. This is noticeable in the elements of the trauma surrounding the plots. Thus these stories draw not only a contemporary existential perspective of man but also look for a perspective on how the national, the Bulgarian one fits into the global one - placing the person in a traumatic engagement with the world sadness. The loneliness of the man here becomes a sort of a totem of modernity - that capsule without which its existence is impossible. The topoi on which the action unfolds are scattered both in the concreteness of space - Paris, Varna, Athens, and on the imaginary territories - death, the past, the dream. Here we find a fragmentary negotiation of today’s big problem - atomization and how are we able to establish a connection with others.

Mikołaj Grynberg, Rejwach / Uproar

Mikołaj Grynberg
photo: Juno

Grynberg is the most important chronicler of Jewish life in Poland after the Holocaust. His work has echoed through Polish society and moved many people to reach out to him to tell their personal stories of Jews and gentiles still affected by the terrible events of Poland’s past. Rejwach, his fiction debut, was written as an artistic response to those stories. The book is made up of short monologues, each by a different character and about three pages long. The individuals are Jewish, Christian, and non-religious, from all backgrounds and walks of life. All have had their lives shaped by Poland’s Jewish history in some way - people discovering as adults they are Jewish, Jews wondering if they feel more at home in Poland or Israel, ordinary Poles trying to do right by their country’s history, anti-Semites convinced all the fuss is ginned up for political reasons. The title (pronounced rey-vakh) is a Polish Yiddishism referring to a commotion, a hullabaloo - essentially, a big, noisy mess. Grynberg takes a bold, unsentimental look at the forces shaping contemporary Jewish life in Poland, offering a powerful counter to nationalist and ahistorical narratives. This book was shortlisted for the NIKE literary prize for the year 2018.

Marie Redonnet, Silsie / Silsie

Marie Redonnet
photo: Jacques Sassier © Gallimard

Silsie is the story of a farewell. It is the story of a passage: between two worlds, two times, two civilizations, the story of a bet: that it is possible for Silsie to end the curse, and to save himself. The principal characters create fables to make sense of the world they inhabit. Redonnet establishes a specular relationship between the narrator and the reader, as they both labour to interpret a disorienting fictional space. Ultimately, the reader's interpretive attempts mirror those of the narrator: just as the characters attempt to create a meaningful fable around which to order their existence, so too must the reader choose a center around which to construct his or her interpretation.

Source: Brand, Philippe. (2007). Eccentricity in 'Silsie' (Marie Redonnet). The French Review.

Elvira Navarro, La isla de los conejos / Rabit Island

Elvira Navarro
photo: Rubén Bastida

A failed inventor brings rabbits to an island so that they will completely destroy all existence of these nests from birds whose name nobody knows. In the nightly penumbra, a species extinguished thousands of years ago now appears and walks into the Archduke. The dreams of hotel guests are the object of an unusual theft. The ghost of a mother opens up a Facebook account and requests her daughter’s friendship. A couple about to break up wanders through a hostile motel. In a Parisian banlieue a section of an avenue disappears.

These stories hold fabulous transformations that aren’t lived as a liberation but with fear. Elvira Navarro’s relentless precision takes us through lives that fatally deform, dragging us with them. Reading Navarro is like evoking a terrifying shadow, and in the same way that what’s known turns profoundly strange when night hits, in these stories, the characters get lost in their locked-up bedrooms, in their muddy islands, in the mental labyrinths that shake normality and drive us to a hallucinating white noise that nobody can escape from.

Spiró György, Álmodtam neked / I Dreamt to You

Spiró György
photo: Márton Merész

In addition to his epochal great novels and excellent theatre pieces, György returns from time to time to what he calls the toughest genre, the short story. Spiró’s stories are dense texts whose perfection stems from their pithiness and structural precision. These are masterful examples of short prose forms that communicate exactly as much information as they refuse to disclose. They shape the essence. At the same time, however, the biographical basis, a strong personal presence enhanced by restraint, the fact that Spiró is both a narrator and a hero of particular stories, make this a carefully and artfully composed collection. We are able to follow the life of our hero from the moment of his conception: his discoveries, encounters, experiences, sorrows. In György Spiro’s opinion, 'a good story needs to hit me on the head as I read it, and to stay inside me afterwards, so that I cannot get rid of it. To see a picture – namely, that the writer sees it as he writes the story, and that I get goosebumps, when it crops us again somewhere.' We see a picture here. And it hits us on the head. It's fatal. It stays inside us.

Peter Hobbs, I Could Ride All Day in My Cool Blue Train / I Could Ride All Day in My Cool Blue Train

Peter Hobbs
photo: Alison Harris

I Could Ride All Day in My Cool Blue Train is a punchy and vividly imagined collection of discrete short stories which loop through common themes of anxiety and dislocation, mental instability and the slippery aspects of reality. Seven of the tales are dreams, numbered as though from a journal; they swell from a lush male fantasy of courting success to an impassioned lament for the beautiful dream world that has been suppressed by behaviour-controlling medication. This angry ex-dreamer rails against the 'underlying powerlessness with respect to my life', which reverberates between many of Hobbs's other narrators.

Sources: Independent, The Guardian

Translations from Serbian

Dragana Mokan, Play Them Some Soft Music

Dragana Mokan
Dragana Mokan's debut book of stories is a distinct occurrence in contemporary Serbian and regional prose. Completely reluctant to take over any of the ready-made narrative models, the author changes them as needed, deconstructing the existing ones and creating completely new ones. Ranging from Kafka's short prose, the influence of Russian high modernism, Kharms, to the founders and most relevant promoters of the genre such as Flannery O'Connor and Carver, Play Them Soft Music is a radical experiment, unpretentious, fluttery and endlessly entertaining, forever on a border between witty and strange, and even some forms of poetry. Although at the beginning of her career, Dragana Mokan already shows that readers' expectations could and should be infinitely diffuse and great, when it comes to her work.

Miljan Milanović, Continuation of the Species

Miljan Milanović
Miljan Milanović is an author whose literary career is marked by another type of professional orientation, which is undoubtedly an advantage. A future robotics engineer, in this book Milanović moves along the edges of fiction, just to show readers how the world we once imagined has very expeditiously and irrevocably taken the place of the world in which we lived until recently. Continuation of the Species is a kind of extension of various branches of seriously studied contemporary genre capacities of the short story, as well as the options that the manipulation of certain formulas known from the poetics of fiction puts before a more thoughtful author. Such fiction is not Milanović's goal, but a means of interpreting the world of general alienation, hopelessness, and often violence, inhabited by depressed, traumatized, but cynical and logorrheic heroes.

Jasna Dimitrijević, The Fibonacci Sequence

Jasna Dimitrijević
fotografija: Gaby Jongenelen
Known in Serbian and regional literature not only as a writer, but also as an activist, Jasna Dimitrijević displays her full literary maturity in the book The Fibonacci Sequence. Although undeniably politically engaged, her poetics never fall into the domain of daily politics or pamphlets, but carefully balances between theme and interpretation, insisting on intentions and outcomes that are primarily literary. The extraordinary reception of The Fibonacci Sequence shows readers’ affection for literature which brings to the foreground minority groups, homophobia, racism, decades of bad and reckless politics, and the possibility of reconciling the Balkan formerly arch-enemies, expressing a well-founded and courageous condemnation of a society degraded in almost every respect sense.

Miroslav Ćurčić, Death in Bašaid

Miroslav Ćurčić
The first book of one of the oldest debut authors in the history of Serbian literature, Death in Bašaid by Miroslav Ćurčić, modernizes the O’Henry model of a short story, craftily executed to perfectionism, with a focus on the final sentences as turning points. Sympathetic and unpretentious losers, loners, weirdos, extraordinarily precisely constituted both psychologically and situationally, move through the narrative world of Death in Bašaid. Successfully using the metaphor of the shopping centre as a consumerist pseudo-paradise, the author places the destiny of seemingly insignificant protagonists in the context of a modern tragicomic nightmare. Effective and unforgettable, Death in Bašaid is also a book of warmth and empathy, an emotionality to which the century in which we live is not particularly prone, while Ćurčić defends himself from any pathos with striking and strange, often grotesque humour.
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