International Literary News

By David Varno

Finnish-born Swedish author Willy Kyrklund passed away last month at 88. As Notes from the North put it in their philosophical discussion of Kyrklund's oeuvre, Kyrklund was "often called an existentialist, [though] his thought reaches beyond disorientation and existence into essence.... Kyrklund notes that humanity has not the knowledge of man."

His story "Heart's Desire," translated from the Swedish by Paul Norlén, was included in our June 2007 Scandiavian Issue.

Also, make sure to see Margarita Meklina's eloquent and thorough obituary on Russian writer Vasily Aksyonov.

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The announcement of Sayed al-Qimni as winner of the State Award of Merit in Social Sciences, the highest literary honor in Egypt, has brought protest from Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, along with allegations that Qimni has practiced apostasy, as Al Arabiya reports. Gamal al-Ghitani, who sits on the Supreme Council of Culture, refused to comment, adding that he has his íown reasonsë not to. Read al-Ghitani's "Annihilation," from Pyramid Texts, here, translated from the Arabic by Humphrey Davies.

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Prolific Indoensian author Seno Gumira Ajidarma, who was included in the World Through the Eyes of Writers anthology, will participate in this year's Ubud Writer's and Readers Festival, along with JM Coetzee, Kate Grenville, Hari Kunzu and others. According to Antara News, Ajidarma had initially preferrred to "be a listener than be a speaker" at the UWRF 2009, but agreed to participate "following an intense SMS debate on the nature of violence and compassion."

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Poetry Foundation blog Harriet's Don Share posted an audio recording of an interview he recently conducted with poets Dunya Mikhail and Vera Pavlova at the Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam last month.

Read three of Dunya Mikhail's poems here, published in our September 2004 issue and translated from the Arabic by Elizabeth Winslow: "The Chaldean Ruins", "Non-Military Statements", and "What's New"


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