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Hidden Camera

3.27  ·  Rating Details ·  222 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
From one of Serbia's greatest contemporary writers, Hidden Camera opens with the narrator finding a mysterious, blank envelope stuck in his apartment door inviting him to a private showing of a movie. Or so he initially thinks. Upon arrival at the theatre, he discovers that there's only one other person in the audience, a very attractive woman whom he's seated next to. The ...more
Paperback, 214 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Dalkey Archive Press (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 509)
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Jul 07, 2009 RandomAnthony rated it it was ok

I get the feeling Zoran Zivkovic loved writing Hidden Camera. I don’t know much about the author but apparently he writes mostly fantasy and this was a departure from his usual work. Sometimes, however, authors should, ahem, stick to their day genres. I thought Hidden Camera was ok but maybe too sparse and jumbled for a higher rating.

Hidden Camera reads like a cross between Gogol and Murakami but contains neither the energy of the former nor the meditative playfulness of the latter. One scene fr
Nov 23, 2010 Vegantrav rated it really liked it
One of the great things about simply wandering through the stacks at the public library is that you will, on occasion, discover a great writer of whom you had never previously even heard. Such was the case with this Serbian writer: I saw the spine of Hidden Camera and the unusual author's name and, intrigued, picked up the book. They say you can't judge a book by its cover: well, I often do, and I judged that this book, based on its cover and title, would be interesting, so I decided to check it ...more
MJ Nicholls
Aug 26, 2014 MJ Nicholls rated it it was amazing
A cerebral thriller and anti-communist parable, using illusion and irony to polemicize the paranoia and suspicion surrounding the Balkan conflict.

Also heavily interpretable: I saw the glib undertaker's trip as a form of spiritual rebirth. An appreciation for the beauty of life in a cold and heartless world. (Aww.) A truly amazing book. Highly readable and playful.
May 28, 2009 Sally rated it really liked it
1/3 of the way in. Eastern European writers are TWISTED, man! Holy weirdness. Murakami with a dash of Hunter S. Thompson, hold the brevity if you please.

Update: Creepier, somehow funnier, and a bit more mesmerizing, yet in a boring way; Like watching a fish tank.

Weirder still: the fish and wine dinner in the church while watching the ballerina swim like a fish is the strangest scene of the book, and I couldn't even wrap my mind around the time warp ice melt woman turning to baby scene. What? I
Syzygous Zygote
Nov 04, 2011 Syzygous Zygote rated it it was ok
Yeah, I don't know. I was expecting more. It started off strong, wavered here and there, wandered off to the side, and whimpered to the finish. There are a lot of clues and hints that aren't followed through. The central premise of the book is pretty well executed, I think - life is strange, and that people will put up with comfortable routines is strange - but I think this book aspired to be more than it was.
Apr 22, 2014 Desirée rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-i-own
2.5 stars

For me, this was the kind of book during which I was always thinking: Something great is just around the corner!! - but there just wasn't.

Zivkovic sends a protagonist on a strange kind of scavenger hunt. He keeps thinking he's on a Hidden Camera show, while the reader realises pretty quickly that there must be something else at work. Zivkovic does have a great sense for setting a scene (especially strange scenes, that are at once very weird and very beautiful) and making it come alive
John Pappas
Jul 02, 2012 John Pappas rated it really liked it
Utterly compelling and darkly humorous, Hidden Camera presents us with a lonely, bumbling undertaker who receives a mysterious envelope, containing one movie ticket for a show that night, one evening as he returns home. Rushing to the cinema, he finds he is one of two people in attendance at a screening of a film that was secretly taken of him as he reads his book on a park bench. Thinking he is the star of a new kind of reality show, he races to show up at a series of unlikely places to which h ...more
May 14, 2010 Marleah rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 05, 2016 Lori rated it it was ok
Hmm, what to say about this? It started off well - man comes back from work to find envelope containing tickets inviting him to a film screening. He goes to the screening; it turns out to be a film of him sitting reading in the park, recorded by a hidden camera. Thus begins a trail of mysterious clues and a cat-and-mouse chase as he tries to catch-up with the people he thinks are behind it. However, it gets increasingly bizarre, has no resolution and the protangonist's irrational and foolish beh ...more
Charlie Zoops
Jun 08, 2012 Charlie Zoops rated it it was ok
It started off as a good concept: An insecure man is confronted with an endless game of hidden cameras, paranoia, and undetermined destinations.

But there is only really one hidden camera, in the beginning.
There is no audience, no social consequences from the other hidden cameras,that don't exist outside of his mind.
There are overwhelmingly relentless descriptions that only add text to the page.
The situations are so fabricated and cliché that the book reads like a teen fantasy, and the narrator
Sep 19, 2011 Kelly rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
You've been invited to a special screening of a movie. You go because you have nothing better to do that night. Sitting down, nearly alone in the theater, the film begins. You recognize the setting and, then, you realize you're the star. It's a film of you eating lunch on a bench while reading. Then the movie ends. This is how the story in Hidden Camera begins. This is the quest of the main character (who remains nameless) to determine who has filmed him and why. And, probably more importantly, ...more
Oct 12, 2011 Lori rated it really liked it
Read 10/5/11 - 10/12/11
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended
Pgs: 217
Publisher: Dalkey Archive

Every once and awhile, I stumble across a blog post or lit magazine article listing "the best books you're not reading". I discovered Hidden Camera by just such a list, though you'll have to forgive me for not remembering who wrote it and where I read it.

How this book flew so far under my radar for so long (it was originally published back in 2003, and rereleased in 2005) is beyond me, since it's right up my al
Cynthia Egbert
Aug 20, 2016 Cynthia Egbert rated it liked it
Shelves: library
I am at a bit of a loss on what to say about this novel. I love this author and his crooked way of seeing the world. I really enjoyed the novel even as I understood that it must only be someone from a Communist bloc country who could write this weird, creepy, and yet spiritual tale. A jaded and cold undertaker who has allowed his surroundings and his job to remove hope from his soul is brought back to a place of hope in one night of intense craziness. This is actually a Serbian version of Dicken ...more
May 07, 2012 Patty rated it liked it
Maybe 2.75 stars. I can't even decide whether or not I liked it. It wasn't bad. It was a sort of psychological thriller, without the thrill. I didn't find it suspenseful, but since I dislike suspense, that was OK with me. But I guess the main reason you keep reading is the same as the primary motive of the protagonist, which is to get to the end and get some sort of "reveal." We never get one. I have no idea what happened, and neither does our poor hero, which is terribly unsatisfying.
Jeff Bursey
Sep 06, 2013 Jeff Bursey rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars, really. Nice, tense atmosphere, and good for one read, but not the kind of book that draws me back. I'd like to read more by Živković, though.

For a joint review of Mati Unt's Things in the Night and Zoran Zivkovic's Hidden Camera, go to:
Feb 18, 2009 Erin rated it did not like it
I kept waiting for this book to blow my mind at the end, figuring that it was so strange it had to. It didn't.
Parrish Lantern
Apr 02, 2015 Parrish Lantern rated it really liked it
You come home from work & find an unmarked white envelope, you open it and are invited to a film screening that night, do you go? This is how Hidden Camera starts, the narrator goes to the screening to find that only one other person is there for the viewing. As the film progresses he comes to realise that it is him on the screen sitting on a bench eating his lunch, and that a rather beautiful women who joins him on the bench, is the other individual at the screening. End of film lights go d ...more
Aug 05, 2009 Trevor rated it really liked it
A friend left this book with me awhile ago and it has been setting on my shelf all along. The other night I picked it up and, seeing that it was published by the Dalkey Archives press (who haven't disappointed me yet), decided to read it. I was so engrossed that I read 100 pages that night, and had it finished by the next day. A great postmodern mystery novel where the trip is more important than the destination (although there does seem to be some heavy significance at the end that I haven't qu ...more
Oct 06, 2014 Steve rated it liked it
Shelves: novels, translations
Hidden Camera had a terrific, mysterious momentum from the start, as the protagonist is drawn into one strange circumstance after another, but as it went on those circumstances felt a bit redundant or one-dimensional. I suppose I was waiting for some other layer of the novel to be revealed in a way that never quite happened. Ultimately it reminded me quite a bit of another novel to which I had an identical reaction to, Philippe Claudel's The Investigation — both of them stories in which so much ...more
Not sure what to make of this odd little story, and I suspect confronting and settling on an explanation of its impenetrability is partially the point.

The plot is straightforward: an aging undertaker takes part in a series of increasingly surreal events he believes to be a ploy for a hidden camera show, and in the process finds the sense of peace that had been missing from his life. The end result, not so straightforward; the author has deliberately avoided an explanation, leaving the conclusio
David Rim
Mar 03, 2008 David Rim rated it liked it
I've always been neurotic enough to monitor myself, which made this one pretty enticing to me. An undertaker gets an invitation to a movie starring himself and goes on a strange journey reminiscent of Leopold Bloom's, believing himself to be the star of a hidden camera television show. I feel like there was a lot I missed in the translation, because despite the sometimes fascinating plot lines, there was a strain of allegory that I couldn't quite grab hold of. There's a strange dream-like qualit ...more
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]I think this may be my favourite Serbian writer's first attempt at a full novel. Our unnamed narrator, an undertaker, finds himself the victim of a compulsion to follow a trail of surreal summonses to a cinema, a second-hand bookshop, the zoo, a mysterious ecclesiastival building reached only by a sewer and so on. The writing is pretty sparse but lyrical with it. I found myself wondering whether we were being set up for an ending where the na ...more
Jen Rickard Blair
Jul 09, 2015 Jen Rickard Blair rated it really liked it
An enjoyable, engaging read with curiosity around every corner. The story unfolds within that indefinite space between dream and reality. Upon receiving a mysterious film-screening invitation wedged in his apartment door, a simple undertaker finds himself cast as the main protagonist in what he assumes to be a candid-camera television show.

My full review employs a soundtrack to assist in highlighting what I liked about the author's writing style and the story itself.
Christine Barnacle

I thoroughly enjoyed this book - so weird - think of twin peaks and you will enjoy this book
Jan 05, 2009 Tia rated it really liked it
Shelves: almostparadise
this book is getting very fun. kinda slow there for a while, but it gets to be like reading proust in a way: nothing really happens but a lot of thinking for pages and pages, so once there's a bit of action, wow! you are thrilled by it, however small! :)

...okay, it's a few days later now, and i've finished the book. HOLY SMOKES! will someone i know please read this so i'll have someone to discuss it with??? pretty please?? if you're in knoxville, i'll give you cupcakes:).... this book went from
Baris Bey
Mar 08, 2016 Baris Bey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kafka meets Antoioni's Blow up meets Paul Auster meets David Lynch ...
Kelly O'Dowd
Jan 26, 2015 Kelly O'Dowd rated it liked it
For a shorter book, this was quite hard to read for extended periods of time.

Enjoyed it, but it made me more curious about his other works. So I don't exactly know if I should recommend this or not.

At least it wasn't predictable.
Mar 15, 2007 Dylan rated it it was ok
even after being translated from its native language, the prose in hidden camera flows beautifully and really aids in conveying the loneliness and growing paranoia of the narrator.

unfortunately, I was expecting it to end much differently. maybe it's more of a reflection of my own expectations, but I felt cheated by an ending that throws itself suddenly into the realm of the supernatural.
May 11, 2009 Michael rated it it was ok
Maybe I just didn't get it. I read and was interested but I don't think deeply about what I read (probably why I wasn't great at English/Literature classes in school) so I think the whole point of it passed me by. I'm sure the ending is good for those who know. Death, birth, life. Something in there to think about. I don't know. I'm sure this helps anybody who wants to read it.
The narrator is well developed; we get a good sense of what he is like and how he thinks as he's led through a series of strange events one night.
Then the night ends and we get some idea of what was going on. Unfortunately, while all of his actions up to this point make sense, the narrator's final realization doesn't seem justified based on the guy we've gotten to know up until then.
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Zoran Živković was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, in 1948. In 1973 he graduated from the Department of General Literature with the theory of literature, Faculty of Philology of the University of Belgrade; he received his master's degree in 1979 and his doctorate in 1982 from the same school. He lives in Belgrade, Serbia, with his wife Mia, who is French, and their twin sons Uroš and Andreja. ...more
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