Croatian author Josip Novakovich crafts a novel here which bursts the bounds of genre. Both naturalistic in its depiction of the Yugoslavian war and its atrocities, and fantastic and darkly absurd in its depiction of the life of main character Ivan Dolinar, the novel seesaws between the horrific and the hilarious. Surprising in his ability to wrest unique images from universal experiences, Novakovich writes with such clarity and directness that the reader immediately identifies with Ivan in his predicaments and empathizes with him as uncontrollable forces buffet him throughout his life. The novel follows him from childhood to his fifties, and the conclusion is a blockbuster, sixty pages of the most absurd, farcical, and hilariously ironic writing in recent memory, a section which comes close to slapstick at the same time that it is indescribably bleak.
Category Archive for 'Yugoslavia'
In Yugoslavia the extermination of Jews started early and was almost totally successful within a matter of months, with most of the Jewish men of Serbia shot to death by the fall of 1941, and “the Jewish Question in Serbia almost completely solved” by April, 1942, when virtually all Jewish men, women, and children were dead. Imagining the lives of Götz and Meyer, two SS guards who were responsible for over 5000 Jewish deaths, the speaker examines the events for which Götz and Meyer were responsible between November, 1941, and April, 1942. Often juxtaposing atrocities against simple, folksy observation, the speaker puts himself into their minds, he wondering if they ever regretted what they were doing, since they were so good at their jobs. Throughout the novel, as Albahari includes the terrible statistics, he also exhibits the ironies of the circumstances, setting the facts into sharp relief and increasing the shock. A strange novel of the Holocaust, all the more shocking because of the contrasts between the facts and the dark humor, Götz and Meyer is a memorable short novel and worthy addition to Holocaust literature.
Within this engrossing story of love and war in Berlin and Mostar, Yugoslavia, from 1989 to 1992, John Marks considers the subject of divided cities-and the damaging effects on the people who live in them. The Wall dividing East and West Berlin has just come down, and Germany is in the process of reunification, attempting to erase the invisible walls still dividing the people of Berlin and of Germany as a whole. Arthur Cape, an American reporter for Sense magazine, has been in Berlin since 1989, when he arrived there from India at the age of thirty. He and Eric Hampton, the senior editor, have been filing reports from Berlin, documenting the story of the reunification and the surprises which have accompanied it. The novel gets off to a quick start with the appearance of the Halloween “revenant,” and Marks’s crisp prose and ability to select perfect, illustrative details advance the action and keep the story moving at breakneck speed. The peaceful reunification of Berlin offers a poignant and moving contrast to the growing violence of Mostar, with Marks presenting a clear picture of the conflicts through the action, never allowing the complexities of historical background to overwhelm his story.