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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Two selections - very different from each other - worth reading inBest European Fiction 2017

Two additional pieces of interest in Best European Fiction 2017: First, selections from Polish writer Agnieszka Taborska's book Not As In Paradise, each a short (one paragraph) essay about a strange encounter or observation: a person shopping for groceries is embraced by a man who claims to be the long-lost brother-in-law; two friends sit down to dine in a restaurant, one is served right away and the other is never served, as the restaurant gradually clears and closes; a family whose house is wrecked by fire installs all water beds, to their later chagrin; and so on. Each of these is worth reading and pondering - yet I have to wonder: a whole book of these apercus? Not sure if they would be enhanced by the cumulative effect, or diminished. Another selection worth reading is from Russian writer Liza Alexandrova-Zorina, a Russian writer, whose story Bad Town is about the Tajik immigrants into a rural Russian community, the hardships and discrimination they face, their banishment, their eventual return - life is even worse back at home, they offer glumly. Something about this piece reminds me of Chekhov, particularly his stories from the steppes: the sorrowful tone, the sympathy for the outsiders, the somewhat detached omniscient narrator. This story is one of the few in the collection that focuses on contemporary European issues.

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