The Carinthian publisher, Lojze Wieser, on literature from Eastern Europe.
Does literature from the former communist countries in Eastern Europe differ from those from the rest of Europe?
Wieser: Yes, it already differs in that it is usually unknown and is received with a certain reserve. Eastern European literature has attracted attention only in times of political persecution or in the initial stages of a war.
It also differs – this time from an aesthetic perspective – in that it is also narrative art of the highest quality, poetical and imaginative. And last but not least, it is able to blend in a text the cultural and linguistic intricacies, the different conceptual elements and tonality of the region.
Are the topics in literature different in Eastern Europe?
Wieser: That depends on the time and the author. Often they are ahead of their time, like Gellu Naum in Romania or the again already forgotten Schwejk in the Czech Republic, or Kosmac's Tantadruj and the constructivist poems of Kosovel in Slovenia.
They often focus on contemporary topics, and yet they are compellingly different. Last but not least, there are issues which are not taken up any more here in a narrative form, like the mother–child image of Theodora Dimova, winner of the Grand Prize for East European Literature.
The narrative perspective also has a strong appeal because it works through social and human contradictions in ways which are highly individual, often ironical and sad.
At Wieser Verlag Bank Austria publishes EditionZwei, the bilingual literary edition, and supports therewith writers from Central and Eastern Europe.