It is not very often that international literature is covered in the seemingly ever-shrinking space allowed for book reviews in newspapers, so it was especially nice to see Carlin Romano’s review of Harold Segel’s The Columbia Literary History of Eastern Europe since 1945 in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer.
While there has undoubtedly been a lot of interest in Czech literature thanks to the recent brouhaha about Milan Kundera’s alleged activities as an informant, too much of the literature from this part of the world has been ignored by U.S. readers. Here’s what Romano had to say about the book:
[The Columbia Literary History of Eastern European Literature] is a one-man show, the magisterial synthesis of a Columbia University professor emeritus of Slavic literatures whose 14 books display the same synoptic touch shown here…. If you have a taste for serious European writing, you’ll find yourself constantly marking Segel’s brisk accounts of scores of remarkable books and writers—many accompanied by sharp commentary and contextualization—so you can hunt them down in translations.”