Sunday, April 13, 2014

Vulpes Libris – Shiny New Books

"There is no I in team,
but there's one in bitterness,
one in failure." 

Making a book magazine

SNB logo“Do you mind if my post this week is shamelessly self-promoting?” said I to the foxes, and they politely averted their eyes and commented on the weather.  Which I took as a sign that, yes, I could.  (Admittedly, one of them cheekily sent me a link to this post on plugging books.)  Well, I am not plugging a book, but rather a whole other website – Shiny New Books.  And I’m not so much plugging as taking you behind the scenes of a very bookish venture…
But first things first – Shiny New Books, as you will find out if you click that link up above (or this identical one), is a quarterly recommendations magazine set up by me and four other bloggers, whose names I will mention soon.  With the same literary enthusiasm and friendliness as the foxes, we will be reviewing the best books of the past three months (hardback and paperback), covering fiction, non-fiction, and (my section) reprints – along with features by and interviews with authors, publishers, translators etc.  There, that’s the grubby, self-promoting bit out the way.  Now, I thought you might find it interesting to come with me behind the scenes and discover how the whole thing happened…

Michael Stein is a writer and journalist in the Czech Republic and runs a blog on Central European writing called literalab. He is an editor at B O D Y.
Reading The Devil’s Workshop you come up against a remarkable and frightening historical reality: that the memory of the mass killings of World War II is most flawed, faded and even purposefully obscured precisely in those places where it was the most severe. At one point a western visitor to the commune that pops up around the site of the former concentration camp of Terezín makes a recriminatory speech to the Czechs how Western Europe has carefully tended cemeteries for its war dead, whereas here everyday life takes place on the very spots where people were killed or sent on to Auschwitz and no one seems to care. Of course, you could read about this imbalance in a history book or article, but the way Jáchym Topol is able to dramatize this amnesia and ignorance has the kind of effect no dispassionate recounting of figures could ever hope to achieve.