Saturday, February 10, 2007


Happy New Year, innit. Like the strapline says, I've been busy - translating Protydunaju, the masterwork of Ruthenian sage Yizhak Zhatko. Ages it took me, but Anti-Danube is ready for publication in bits on this blog. No publisher will touch it, see. Here are some of my (and, in a real sense, Zhatko's) rejection slips:

Weidenfeld & Nicolson: It is not the policy of this company to denigrate rivers or any other bodies of water.

HarperCollins: We foresee no paperback market for this title, or hardback for that matter.

Verso: He's a Fascist. Fascist!

Pergamon Press: We're interested.

So it looks like a No Good Boyo venture from beginning to end.

Zhatko, for those of you who missed the East European component of your philosophy degree, is the founder of Existential Nihilism ("I Think, Therefore It Isn't"), Ruthenia's most frequent political prisoner (Bjulleten karpatskyx zindaniv, 2004 iv/b p 23), and Europe's Least Effective Culture Minister 1992 (up against Anna Benaki-Psarouda of Greece, Grethe Rostbøll of Denmark and whatever plank ran skateboard rinks in Britain that year).

I've admired his work since I heard that he made Emil Cioran sound like a stand-up - a career that he tried briefly during Ruthenia's most Stalinist period (prison term No.2 - his first was for putting "poet" as his nationality on his national service card aged 18). Tracking down his writings could have been easier- it involved learning Ruthenian from a mimeograph of Magocsi's Bisidujme po-rus'kij that I had to degrade myself for with a librarian at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. It turned out to be the wrong type of Ruthenian, but I've busked the rest and no one's complained so far.

I'll put up some of chapter one tomorrow, whether you Slovak-loving bastards like it or not.

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