I have spoken up before about the absence of Slovak literature translated into English. Ask for it in Bratislava’s English language bookstores and you get strange looks or apologetic shrugs – almost as if, with such a readily available abundance of Czech literature in English, Slovak literature doesn’t need to be showcased in other languages.
A few editions have emerged over the years. I know, because I’ve made a point of purchasing them. I have a great now out-of-print compendium from the 1960’s – and recently got my hands on a copy of In Search of Homo Sapiens – Twenty-Five Contemporary Slovak Short Stories. In this regard the Slovak community in North America have traditionally been far more active at preserving their country’s literary heritage (perhaps distance from their homeland has enabled them to realise the value of it).
But nothing like the Dedalus Book of Slovak Literature has ever appeared before. Never has such a wide-ranging selection, from the first authors to write in Slovak in the 19th century up to the present, appeared in English – or, for that matter, in any of the world’s widely-spoken languages. Even the most famous modern Slovak writer, Dominik Tatarka, has never previously been available to read in English – this volume is full of such exciting firsts.
I’m very much looking forward to going to the launch of this book at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic on Wednesday to get a copy, so that I can finally appreciate some of the writers I’ve heard so much about (and then write a little more about it all on this blog).
Embassy of the Slovak Republic
25 Kensington Palace Gardens
6:30pm, November 25th…