Gabriele Annan

Gabriele Annan, who died in 2013, was born in Berlin and spent most of her life in London. She wrote more than fifty pieces for the LRB.

No Stick nor Trace: Bosnian fall-out

Gabriele Annan, 3 March 2005

Angela Brkic’s The Stone Fields is subtitled ‘An Epitaph for the Living’, but its underlying and overwhelming theme is death – death in Bosnia. It is a chronicle of Brkic’s Bosnian Croat family, from the end of the First World War to the present day (Brkic’s father emigrated to the US in 1959 and she was born there). The emphasis is on war: the Second World...

Throat-Rattling: Antal Szerb

Gabriele Annan, 5 June 2003

In his afterword, Len Rix, the translator of this Hungarian novel, says that its narrative ‘coincides with rising Fascism at home and abroad, and probes the national obsession with suicide’. It was first published in 1937 in Budapest, and its author died in a Nazi labour camp six years later at the age of 43. He was, Rix explains, a cradle Catholic, but ‘his technically...

Conversions: Ivan Klíma

Gabriele Annan, 13 December 2001

A parable, says the OED, is ‘a fictitious narrative (usually about something that might naturally occur), by which moral or spiritual relations are typically set forth’. Klíma’s new novel fits the description exactly.

There are three main characters, who take it in turns to tell the story and do a lot of thinking about ‘moral or spiritual relations’, each...

The penguin is called Misha and lives with Viktor Alekseyevich Zolotaryov in his bachelor flat in Kiev. His eyes are small and melancholy. Viktor adopted him the year before the story begins, when the zoo was giving hungry animals away to anyone able to feed them. That must have been in 1994: the novel was written between December 1995 and February 1996, so the events in its short course...

Some Kind of Remedy: Jhumpa Lahiri

Gabriele Annan, 20 July 2000

Jhumpa Lahiri’s first book is a collection of short stories. It has already won several prizes: the Pulitzer 2000 for fiction, the New Yorker for best first book and the PEN/Hemingway award. Praise from Amy Tan is quoted on the cover, as it was on the cover of Gish Jen’s Who’s lrish? Tan and Jen both write about first and second-generation Chinese Americans, and are upbeat on the whole, sometimes relentlessly so. With a few exceptions Lahiri’s characters are Indians in America, most of whom are temporary residents or, in some cases, first-generation Americans. Lahiri is funny and sharp and ironical, but kind too, and the undertow in her stories is melancholy – which makes her more endearing. She writes a lot about disappointment: not so much with America – though that occasionally figures – as with people.’

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