EDITORIAL

Born of the Pen
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`Far from the prize-giving ceremonies pencilled into the diaries of establishment figures, far from safe academies, writers in Slovenia, as in other eastern European countries, have, in recent decades, known censorship and poverty.´

by Diarmuid Johnson.

Transcript is delighted to present this its special Slovenian edition on the eve of Prague International Book Fair where Slovenia is guest of honour this year.

A small country with a strong voice, Slovenia might be described as a microcosm of today´s emerging Europe. Here is a country that owes its existence, in part at least, to the tenacity and vision of its writers and thinkers. Far from the prize-giving ceremonies pencilled into the diaries of establishment figures, far from safe academies, writers in Slovenia, as in other eastern European countries, have, in recent decades, known ostracisation, censorship and poverty.

But is censorship of a different kind not tangible today in western Europe? A market-imposed censorship, a complacency dictated by the consumer's pocket? Meanwhile, rich and powerful countries manufacture arms, abuse the workforces of poorer countries, and contribute massively to environmental change to which they then turn a blind eye.

How can the pen change this? Integrity is an issue for the writer as much as for politicians, jurists and the corporate world. Slovenian writers have answered the call of integrity, and in doing so, have, in a corner of Europe where the territories of Slavic-, Romance- and Germanic-speaking peoples converge, created a democracy which is contributing to the stability of a continent.

In this issue of Transcript, we feature eleven such writers. Our readers will be familiar with Drago Jancar whose story Jump off the Liburnia we publish now. Other names which emerge are Andrej Blatnik and Suzana Tratnik. In Seven Urban Tongues, we include Taja Kramberger and Peter Semolic. In Slovenian Books in English the reader will find details of works in translation by these and other writers, Tomaz Salamun, for example, interviewed in Transcript 13.

Living and working in an infant democracy, and exposed to the winds of globalisation, an artist's honeymoon will however be short. A book in Slovenia today costs as much as Dinner For Four, writes Andrej Blatnik in his informed overview of the history of publishing in Slovene. In Banalities, Brane Mozetic writes of life in Ljubljana: I can only see a crowd of people who´ve put on t-shirts that say: `I'm nobody. Who are you?´ His bewilderment at the pace of change in his country is echoed by others of his peers. `Now she lives in a big old house, no, a manor, not far from Ljubljana,´ writes Suzana Tratnik in Berlin-Metelkova. `The manor stands in the middle of an overgrown garden with a dirty stone pool I´ve been dreaming about all my life´.

Reading contemporary Slovenian literature we enter a space where different forces vie with one another, old and new, rural and urban, homosexual and heterosexual, Balkan and Mediterranean, and where the collapse of older conventions seems to have left a vacuum in which lives are lived and books written.


Now read Slovenia in Prague 05.















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