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Note from the Editor
by Adrian Stein

As you may have noticed, this is the second issue of Books in Canada under a new editorship. As the new editor, my primary task is to reinvent the publication's "handwriting", as it were, while preserving its integrity as an important review of Canadian books. My main goal, then, is to provide the readers, at home and abroad, with a lively, informative forum featuring discussions of some of the latest, best, and most relevant books written and published in Canada, by Canadians, about issues affecting Canadians. A significant part of this is the realization that our literature has many unbreakable, visible and not so visible, links to the world around, and these cannot be disregarded, erased or forgotten. A glance at some of the names featured in this issue suffices to indicate the "transcultural" nature of much of contemporary Canadian literature and the global network of which we and our authors are an integral part.

The process of revisioning begins in this issue with the inauguration of two special sections.

The centrepiece is devoted to the great authors of our time-those individuals whose work has shaped our consciousness in some fundamental way.

As we enter the final year of this tempestuous century and millenium, it is only fitting that our first author be internationally-renowned journalist and writer Ryszard Kapuscinski. In his books on Africa, Latin America, and the Soviet Union, Kapuscinski has taken on the tremendously difficult role of a contemporary Hermes, translating the cultural experience of the Third World and the massive paradigm shifts undergone there into a language that "our world" can understand. He accomplishes this mission of shuttling between worlds that might "otherwise nowhere come into contact" with a sensitivity, incisiveness, and poetry that are truly rare, especially in combination. And he is able to do so because of the attitude he takes toward his work, toward his subject, which are constitutive of his own life: as he expresses in one of his earliest reportages, "Words are incomprehensible if one has not lived through that about which one writes. If it hasn't penetrated through to the blood" ("The Dregs").

Here, journalist and poet Marek Kusiba presents notes in the lapidary form practised by Kapuscinski over the last few years, and sketches a portrait of the man and his life's work on the basis of seven of their encounters. We are also privileged to publish the Keynote Speech Kapuscinski presented at this year's Swedish equivalent of the Pulitzers in November, and which he kindly sent specially to this issue of Books in Canada. And we show two sides of Kapuscinski little known to his North American readers viz. a selection of his poetry and a reportage written early on in his career. These have never been published before in English.

The second special section is a new column entitled "From the Borderlands".

Here we feature an essay by Krzysztof Czyzewski, who this November was the first guest speaker of fabula rasa-a series of public meetings with authors co-hosted by Books in Canada. This past October, Czyzewski was awarded the Gabor Bethlen Prize for Central Europe's 1998 Man of the Year for his extensive and innovative cultural work. In "The Other's Voice", he offers a profound meditation on the ever-contested, constantly negotiated national identities in the eruptive, multicultural borderlands of East Central Europe. For one of the many hats he wears is as Director of the Borderland of Arts, Cultures, and Nations Centre, which was established in Sejny in northeast Poland-a region that still bears the traces of the rich and diverse cultural heritages of the Poles, Lithuanians, Belarussians, Jews, Russian Old-Believers, Tatars, Karaites, and Armenians who throughout the ages have inhabited and co-habitated this corner near the Lithuanian border. Czyzewski, who travels regularly throughout Central Europe, gives a picture of the trials and tribulations undergone, and the compromises and accommodations reached, by the people living in that part of the world. At the same time, his words-the words of the Other from over there-cannot but find their resonance here in multicultural Canada.

In addition, we continue the always refreshing practice of interviews with authors. In this issue, ever loquacious Barry Callaghan speaks frankly with Branko Gorjup about life with his famous father, Morley, and the process of writing his memoir, Barrelhouse Kings. There is also an interview by one post-Yugoslav writer-intellectual living in the States, Tomislav Longinovic, with another post-Yugoslav writer-translator living in Calgary, David Albahari, that was conducted over two continents and under the threat of natural disaster in Florida and military disaster in the writers' hometown of Belgrade.

A more regular feature in Books in Canada will be a creative and intellectual profile of a prolific Canadian author occasioned by the release of a new book. In this issue, we present Janice Kulyk Keefer, who this fall has seen published not one but three books in which she appears as biographer, poet, and editor.

As well in this issue, Sam Solecki reviews Michael Ondaatje's new book of poems, Handwriting, setting it in the context of both his own oeuvre and his literary influences. Opera and postmodernism expert Linda Hutcheon discusses Father Owen's A Season of Opera. Katherine Barber gives us a lively insider's look into the lexicographer's world with the making of The Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Cynthia Sugars reads Gail Anderson-Dargatz's Giller-nominated novel, A Recipe for Bees. Norman Ravvin talks with Governor General Award-nominated Richard Sanger about his plays. Finally, we have reviews of Romesh Gunesekera's post-colonial narrative, Robertson Davies's posthumous collections, Norman Bethune's provocative word hoard, Lucy Maud Montgomery's revealing self-portrait, and Nathalie Cooke's Atwood biography. And much more, besides.

In taking over the editorial reins of Books in Canada, I have had the good fortune to be able to call upon the talents of several individuals who bring with them a variety of experiences with both the written word (poets, prose writers, journalists, translators, editors) and with living in different regions of Canada and the world, and who are specialists in literature, philosophy, education, and cultural theory. (One of these helpful souls was Paulo Horta-thanks!)

And finally, our next issue, which is coming out in February, will feature 1998 Giller Award winner Alice Munro and 1998 Nobel Prize winner Josť Saramago.

Diana Kuprel


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