On the Death of Siegfried Lenz ? ?You have to justify your life?

Siegfried Lenz, one of the great writers of German post-war literature is dead. He died on 7 October 2014, surrounded by his family. He was 88 years old.... more more

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28/04/2009

Magazine Roundup

Magazine Roundup, which appears every Tuesday at 12 p.m., is originally published by Perlentaucher.



The Guardian 27.04.2009 (UK)

Decca Aitkenhead portrays Kazuo Ishiguro, whose novella "Nocturnes" has just been published in England. Ishiguro is obviously preoccupied with the question of how many good novels he still has time to write. "When he was about 30, he says, it dawned on him that most of the literary masterpieces had been written by people under 40. 'So you can't get complacent in your 30s, saying: Oh I'll fart about and do some restaurant reviews and have a good time and when I'm in my 50s I'll settle down to write my masterpiece. There's something very misleading about the literary culture that looks at writers in their 30s and calls them 'budding' or 'promising', when in fact they're peaking."

"I don't understand why, in my work, writing is always so dangerous. It's very destructive. People who write books are destroyers," novelist AS Byatt tells Sam Leith. She then goes on to speak about the state of contemporary British literature: "If you notice, all the authors I like write also about ideas. You know, there's been that sort of clonking account of what was good about British writing which was McEwan, Amis, Graham Swift and Julian Barnes - but there's all sorts of other things going on. In fact I admire all four of those writers . . . and they don't only do people's feelings but nevertheless it's become ossified."

One of the ossified, Martin Amis, writes an obituary to J.G. Ballard: "Ballard was a great exponent of the Flaubertian line - that writers should be orderly and predictable in their lives, so that they can be savage and sinister in their work."


Merkur 01.05.2009 (Germany)

Sociologist, political scientist and economist Ralf Dahrendorf makes some well considered comments on the brutal collapse of credit-based capitalism and appeals for a new relationship to time and a responsible capitalism. "Mid-term thinking at top-management level necessarily results in better planning and beyond that, to more predictability for employees as regards the flexibility demanded of them by modern economies. And this also is a good time to reintroduce to the centre of decision-making, a concept which lost currency during the years of extreme credit-based capitalism, that of the 'stakeholder'. These are people that might not own a share in the firm, they are not 'shareholders', but they have a vested interested in its thriving. The stakeholders include suppliers and customers but above all the residents in the communities where the companies do business."


Literaturen 27.04.2009 Germany

Talking about his new book "You must change your life", philosopher Peter Sloterdijk explains why he'd like to see the term religion lose currency. And why he'd like to intone "practice makes perfect" with Richard Sennett: "Of course Sennett has the zeitgeist against him when he reminds people that to become a passable craftsman or musician you generally need to put in at least 10,000 hours of practice. Understandably no one wants to hear this. People today think that you have a right to be able to learn how all the main buttons function within a couple of minutes."

Further articles: As part of the magazine's focus on anniversary years, literary academic Hans-Ulrich Gumbrecht considers our handling of remembrance and history or rather the "posthistorical modality of contemporarneousness". Lutz Seiler reads J.M. Coetzee. The writer Peterlicht opens a new series on "typologies of literature" with an analysis of "the writer" titled: "Middling Paunches in Middle Age." In his map of the Internet, Aram Lintzel reveals where to find online "nest warmth" (at myheimat.de for example).


London Review of Books 27.04.2009 (UK)

The percentage of sharia-compliant banks in the global financial system is low but rising rapidly. Jeremy Harding explains their appeal to practising Muslims: "They admire what they see as a promise to achieve stability and transparency, and a sense of proportion about money: look it in the eye, tell it you like it, but admit that you have lingering doubts about the transcendent value of paper. That's an unsophisticated position, but since the credit crunch not many people trust the sophisticated keepers of the modern money culture; in this sense the rise of sharia-compliant products is also a challenge to the unofficial, polytheist faith of offshore Britannia: the worship of markets in general and financial markets in particular."

Further articles: The New Yorker literary critic James Wood analyses the novels of Ian McEwan and concludes that the British author is at his best when examining his own manipulative desires and - particularly in this novel "Atonement" - also at the level of narrative manipulation. Daniel Finn turns his thoughts to Irish Republicanism or the lack thereof. Thomas Jones writes about the earthquake in Abruzzo, his wine cellar and Plato's cave. Peter Campbell visits the Isa Genzken show in London's Whitechapel art gallery.


El Pais Semanal 26.04.2009 (Spain)

Having been terrorised for seven days in a row, Javier Maris never wants to see another Easter procession again. "Spain is starting to look more like the Franco era every day. Back then the Easter processions were obligatory. Today we have discovered their tribalist-folklorist value and stage them back-to-back in every last nook and cranny and in front of my house as well. The crowds are mostly made up of the worst sort of foreigners, the type who constantly hold up their idiotic cameras in the air. They watch the spectacle – if you can describe something this dull as such – just as we would watch Comanche or Sioux people dancing round their totem poles or Muslims flagellating themselves on TV. But the most depressing thing is that even supposedly level-headed people and people from the left seem to be getting a taste for it."


The Times Literary Supplement 27.04.2009 (UK)

Paul Binding celebrates the centenary of the "travelling publicist of the New Deal and enduring storyteller of the Old South", Eudora Welty. Welty's writing sprang from the early photographs she took while travelling around Mississipi as a publicity agent for Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration at the height of the Depression. "She took photographs of Mississippians of all kinds, young and old, black and white, working and at leisure. A good many of her subjects had never been photographed before, and yet she never took a conventional 'posed' picture and was keen to include as much background as possible, 'to set people in their context'. 'I learned quickly enough when to click the shutter, but what I was becoming aware of more slowly was a story-writer's truth; the thing to wait on, to reach there in time for, is the moment in which people reveal themselves. You have to be ready, in yourself; you have to know the moment, when you see it. The human face and the human body are eloquent in themselves, and a snapshot is a moment's glimpse (as a story may be a long look, a growing contemplation) into what never stops moving, never ceases to express for itself something of our common feeling. Every feeling waits upon its gesture.'" (More photos here.)


Nepszabadsag 25.04.2009 (Hungary)

With an eye on the rising numbers of Slovakian politicians who play the anti-Hungarian card and use it to fan fear – as in the recent presidential elections, Slovakian literary academic, Rudof Chmel, protests against the growing nationalist ideology in his country. "If politicians can foment fear and lead the population astray, incite panic, impose their own fears and complexes onto others and then package it as a nation-defining idea – this more that just rumour mongering. Spreading anguish about another country's nationalism, is, on the one hand, evidence of low self-esteem at civic, national and state level. On the other hand it does little to recommend politicians who claim to be capable of leading the nation out of crisis – and not only the financial crisis. Why should these people be paid for summoning the spirit of the Cold War and excluding people from society, when they should be working to create an atmosphere of neighbourliness, cooperation and understanding?"


Le Monde 25.04.2009 (France)

Mezri Haddad, Tunisian philosopher and theologian
discusses the "vampirisation" of Islam. He accuses the west of making no differentiation between quiet worshippers and fundamentalists, between intellectual elites and the masses, between theocratic and semi-secular states. Because there are many ways to interpret the religious duty that commits every Muslim to defend his religion against enemies and conspirators. On the subject of the Taliban, he writes: "This sect is an spin-off of Saudi-Arabian Wahabism which is to Islam what the Inquisition was to Christianity: a theological-political perversion. The progression from Wahabism to Talibanism is a natural process, psychologically and ideologically speaking. The case of Osama bin Laden is symptomatic. When this sect ruled Afghanistan, the only states that recognised their bloody regime were Saudi-Arabia and Pakistan, two countries which have a religious base and have Anglo-American strategic genius to thank for their creation."


Al Ahram Weekly 23.04.2009 (Egypt)

Theatre critic Nehad Selaiha was impressed by actor Nora Amin's incredible powers of transformation. Playing alongside the musician Mohamed Hosni, Amin becomes all the "Women in his Life" in a string of biographical sketches about actual women who made an impression on him. Among them "two pop singers, one American whom he met during a spell in the States, the other Egyptian, working with a humble band and dreaming of stardom and money; a veiled, aggressive bourgeois woman who demands a fat fine when his small car bumps into her big and sturdy Mercedes which is hardly scratched while his own car is reduced to a mass of twisted metal; a vampirish and vulgar middle-aged showbiz star who promises him wealth and fame in exchange for betraying his integrity as an artist; and a former, gifted colleague who let her talent and voice go rusty after marriage and lives to repent it."

Another critic writes a rapturous review of Daniel Barenboim's performance with the Divan Orchestra in Cairo.


MicroMega 23.04.2009 (Italy)

Davide Nota, journalist and poet, writes a blog on politics and poetry. In it he conducted an interview with one of the grand old men of Italian journalism, Furio Colombo. MicroMega has published the conversation. It revolves around the Italian media which, Colombo says, is being increasingly forced into line. The most recent example being when TV journalist Michele Santoro was punished for posing critical questions about the handling of the L'Aquila earthquake (see our Magazine Roundup last week). "Ignore the enormity of the scandal and you will be invited into the circle of the chosen. Fail to ignore it and you will be assigned to a new category, one I call the bottom drawer. The circle of the chosen cites and interviews its members and parades them about on TV like pilgrimage madonnas. If your are in the bottom drawer, you will never be cited, even if you are a politician who gives speeches that are difficult for the media to ignore... But you will never get them aired on TV."


Le Nouvel Observateur 23.04.2009 (France)

April 24 is the anniversary of the beginning of the Turkish genocide of the Armenians. Taner Akcam, a sociologist and historian who teaches in the US, is the first Turkish scholar to broach the subject and not shy away from calling Turkey to account. In an interview he briefly expounds the central thesis of his book, which has just come out in France: "Un acte honteux. Le genocide armenien et la question de la responsabilite turque" (Denoel). It links the Turkish denial of the crime with the transition from Ottoman era to Kemalist republic and. According to Akcam, many of those who were involved in the genocide were the first to join Kemal and help found the Turkish state. This fact is still largely unknown in Turkey, where Akcam is branded a liar. "One of the reasons for this 'blank spot in the memory' is undoubtedly the fact that the ruling elite has not changed since the state was founded. Only since the Islamic AKP has been in office are we starting to see positive changes. Another critical reason is that no nation readily admits that their founding fathers were murderers and thieves."

There is also a conversation with the former Georgian foreign minister and opposition leader Salome Zourabichvili about the stand-off situation in her country.


Die Weltwoche 23.04.2009 (Switzerland)

Pierre Heumann shakes his head over the naivete of Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz and Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, who walked into the PR trap laid by President Ahmadinejad at the recent UN Conference against Racism. "Neither of them seem to understand how the world works. Neither of them has lived abroad or gathered any international experience. One has seldom left Geneva and the other has seen little outside Herisau. This naivete became particularly clear this week. Calmy-Rey, an energetic champion of the UN conference should have known better than to put her name to such a flop. Merz also wasted his time. Less than 24 hours passed between his business talk with Ahmadinejad and the Iranian president's invective against Israel. Lots of delegates left the room in protest. The Swiss delegation stayed put."

More articles: Fashion designer Matthew Williamson introduces his collection for H&M: "I have combined brilliant peacock feathers with muted olive and earthy tones."


The New York Times 25.04.2009 (USA)

David Kushner writes about the latest methods used by Columbian drug cartels to shift their merch – they are building a fleet of submarines: "Four were intercepted in January alone. But because of their ability to elude radar systems, these subs are almost impossible to detect; only an estimated 14 percent of them are stopped. And perhaps as many as 70 of them will be made this year, up from 45 or so in 2007, according to a task-force spokesman. Made for as little as 500,000 dollars each and assembled in fewer than 90 days, they are now thought to carry nearly 30 percent of Colombia's total cocaine exports."

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