Archive for the ‘Balkans’ Category

LEECHES by David Albahari

Marko’s silence is understandable. His best friend, the unnamed narrator of the novel, is about to embark on a narrative of 309 pages, all in a single paragraph, navigating from trivia to arcana and back again, as he tries to make sense of the apparent senselessness around him. Besides, most of the time they are together they smoke pot, entering a state not known for coherent objectivity, though the protagonist’s pot-smoking declines as the situation around him becomes more fantastic; when life itself supplies enough conspiracies for the most rabid paranoiac, who needs hashish? The run-on writing style is actually appropriate, and once picked up, the book is difficult to put down. The narrator is a professional newspaper columnist with an engaging voice. And the absence of any visual breaks in the text makes any decision to stop reading entirely arbitrary: why stop here when you could go on for another page, for twenty, to the rainbow’s end?

April 29, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Balkans, Literary, Unique Narrative, World Lit

THE TIGER’S WIFE by Tea Obreht

This spectacular debut novel by the talented Téa Obreht, is narrated mostly through the voice of young Natalia Stefanovi. Shortly after the novel opens, we learn that Natalia has followed in her grandfather’s footsteps and studied medicine. Just recently done with medical school, she has taken on a volunteer assignment to inoculate children in an orphanage in a small seaside village called Brejevina. The book is set in a war-ravaged country in the Balkans, quite possibly Obreht’s native Croatia. Brejevina, Natalia explains, “is forty kilometers east of the new border.”

March 10, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Allegory/Fable, Balkans, Debut Novel

SOLO by Rana Dasgupta

How do you write about failure?

Early in this book, its protagonist, Ulrich, a young Bulgarian man studying chemistry in Berlin, is walking down a corridor after Albert Einstein, who drops a sheaf of papers. When he picks them up and runs after the great man, Einstein thanks him by saying “I would be nothing without you.” Much later in life, after his own career has been a failure by all outward measures, and life has almost been crushed out of him by Soviet austerity, Ulrich comes to learn more about Einstein and his callousness to some of those closest to him, and realizes that genius feeds off the failure of others.

March 6, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Balkans, Commonwealth Prize, Literary, World Lit, y Award Winning Author