Transcript 22: Identity Revolutions
Photo: Tom Salt
Chantal Wright
Issues of Transcript are normally themed: by country, by language or by literary genre. Pondering the theme for this issue after Transcript 21's focus on the male short, I was initially unable to tie together a rich but seemingly disparate group of literary texts and essays. A number of external events reported upon in the media forged some links: Slobodan Milosevic, dead before the conclusion of his trial in The Hague; the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez unveiling a new national flag; the ongoing controversy and debate over the publication of anti-Islamic cartoons in a Danish newspaper; and, in a piece of news mostly of interest to the German language press, the illegal removal of bilingual road signs in the Austrian state of Carinthia.

Transcript 22 features some exciting new, rediscovered and undiscovered literature from the so-called 'smaller' languages of the European Union - Welsh and Catalan - as well as a group of essays by writers from 'smaller' nations - Wales, Latvia and Finland - which contemplate the hazy and not uncontroversial notion of European identity, asking what it means to be European and what the blue and yellow flag really represents. In this context, it seems appropriate to highlight the efforts of the organisation pro Kärnten / za Korosko, spearheaded by the Austrian bilingual publishing house Wieser, to enforce changes to the Austrian constitution which require road signs in certain areas of Carinthia to be displayed in both Slovenian and German to reflect the presence of the Slovenian-speaking minority.

Transcript 22 also deals in protest and the aftermath of revolution. In an excerpt from The Last Window Giraffe, Peter Zilahy 'alphabetises' the events of the 1990s in the Balkans. And, in a focus on contemporary Czech writing, we offer a glimpse into the world of Czech literature a decade and a half after the Velvet Revolution, where writers divide into those preoccupied with the nation's post-revolutionary state and those who look further afield for literary inspiration.

Moving beyond identity and revolution, the English version of Transcript 22 presents an excerpt from the novel Siamese by the Norwegian writer Stig Sæterbakken, a novel which graphically but humorously portrays aging, sickness and marital claustrophobia. And, in our French version, the Italian writer Tiziano Scarpa returns with extracts from the forthcoming French translation of his book Kamikaze d'Occident. All three language versions of Transcript are accompanied by Tom Salt's beautiful series of scarecrow photographs.

The next issue of Transcript will see a return to more usual form, featuring the best of Latvian literature to coincide with the Latvian Literature Centre's role as guest of honour at Bookworld 2006 in Prague. Both Transcript and our publisher Literature Across Frontiers will be present at Bookworld, and we hope to see some of our readers there.

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