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Novels keep Slavic nations in touch

EVEN Slovaks themselves are often surprised by how easily they are understood in Bulgaria, Macedonia or Belarus. And, apparently, it is not only the similarity of languages that binds the 13 Slavic nations living in Europe.

EVEN Slovaks themselves are often surprised by how easily they are understood in Bulgaria, Macedonia or Belarus. And, apparently, it is not only the similarity of languages that binds the 13 Slavic nations living in Europe.

It seems as if the countries still wish to 'keep in touch', even if their political or socio-economic backgrounds often differ substantially. A good example of this is the Slovenia-based Forum of Slavic Cultures (FSC) and its most extensive project, entitled “100 Slavic Novels”. Each member state involved selects 10 contemporary novels by domestic authors, which are then to be translated into the other countries' languages.

At the end of February, the first translation into Slovak was presented in Bratislava. The novel My Name Is Damian by Suzana Tratnik, an outstanding Slovenian writer, tells the story of a 19-year-old boy with a complicated sexual identity.

“Dealing with stereotypes and prejudices, the book is a kind of litmus test of today's society,” Stanislava Chrobáková Repar, the translator of My Name Is Damian, told the TASR newswire.

The ten Slovak novels are still waiting to be published in other languages. They were selected two years ago by the Centre for Information on Literature (LIC), the Slovak partner of the FSC.

Together with Ladislav Ballek’s A Helpmate (Pomocník), which is already being translated into Slovenian, The Ornament (Ornament) by Vincent Šikula and An Unwritten Novel (Nenapísaný román) by Stanislav Rakús made it to the list of novels. However, the project's progress is slowed down by the lack of resources and qualified translators.

“Since this project is vast and includes many countries, the tempo is of course slow and there is no way to predict its conclusion,” said Jaka Jarc from the FSC. “Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that it has an open end, meaning that it can run indefinitely and may either expand or be modified.”

As Jarc underlined, the project has been successfully launched in five countries so far, and it has lately even surpassed its managers’ expectations by another piece of good news.

“To our greatest pleasure, some publishers in Great Britain and the US have expressed their interest in translating the novels into the English language also,” he told The Slovak Spectator.

As a result, “100 Slavic Novels” has already met some of its specified objectives, Jarc stated.

“The primary importance of the project indeed lays not so much in the total number of novels translated, but rather in the work leading up to it, as this serves as a means of cooperation and is in itself a form of intercultural dialogue,” he concluded.

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