The European Review of Books is a magazine of culture and ideas, in print and online, in English and in a writer’s own tongue. We publish book-length print issues three times a year, and digital pieces each week. In 2021, we launched a crowdfunding campaign, to raise funds for early contributors, along with a digital opuscule of early essays, stories, and explorations. Issue One appeared in June 2022.
No review of books reviews only books, nor does it merely review. We publish many kinds of writing: fiction, travelogue, provocation, parody, poem, come what may. In general we champion the essayistic mode. A good essay is the antidote to the measly « opinion », the enemy of the airy platitude. We want avenues to the arcane, the profane, the grand.
One of our missions, if the word will be forgiven, is to thicken the « European » intellectual atmosphere. The Europe of our title is neither nostalgia nor telos; it is where we happen to live. (Not even we know the boundaries of « European ».) Culture in Europe filters through national and metropolitan sieves; we want to write, and to edit, beyond the nation and the metropole, to cultivate more writers, more intelligent dissent, the good kind of disharmony, a lively cacophony. « Europe » deserves better critique.
Read it twice
Lies es zweimal
The ERB’s gambit is to publish both in English and in a writer’s mother tongue. Pieces written in Greek or Arabic or Italian or Polish or Dutch—or, or, or—will be available in English and in the original.
That approach is an experiment, both strategic and romantic (not to say quixotic), in trans-linguistic editing. English is Europe’s ironic lingua franca. Ostensibly the language of the one country that has exited the EU, the English we actually speak is something else: post-American English? Eurish? Global English? Is it a connective tissue or a linguistic pall laid over the life of the mind? English is more and more a common denominator, but a common denominator for what? The fact that it’s possible to get by in English, that English is practically second-nature among young Europeans, can give the impression of an inclusive lingua franca, as frictionless as the flows of goods and capital. But it’s a fantasy, and to celebrate it is to celebrate a shallow internationalism.
Therefore! The ERB is an English-language magazine that resists, or plays with, the seeming hegemony of English. Committed both to a true lingua franca and to exclusive fluencies, to translation and to the untranslatable, we can discover new writers and new solidarities, within and beyond « Europe ». Call it predicament, irony, contradiction, paradox: we want to use the ubiquity of English to animate the multilingual.
After our crowdfunding campaign, with this concept as its foundation, we faced the daunting task of creating the actual magazine. We are now giving the European Review of Books form, in print and online. We think there is an appetite for it. It crystallizes a longstanding aspiration—a multilingual république des lettres—but also charts the new. It will evolve, and its various commitments will sometimes clash; our job, then, is to give those clashes lively and lovely form. We hope that in the future the ERB will be taken for granted.
We were covered in Italy (Il Foglio, Corriere della Sera), in Belgium (De Standaard), in Spain (El Confidencial), in the Netherlands (NRC, Trouw), in Ireland (Irish Times), in England (Financial Times), in Germany (Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Die Welt), in France (Le Grand Continent), in Austria (Die Presse), in the US (n+1) and beyond.
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