I confess I had a lot of fun while reading this novel which is a fantastic page turner indeed.
I guess that living in Poland right now and having dealtI confess I had a lot of fun while reading this novel which is a fantastic page turner indeed.
I guess that living in Poland right now and having dealt with smiling backstabbing HR personnel in the UK for some years played a significant part in my enjoyment, though. Well done to A.M. Bakalar for having taken such a good snapshot of both aspects, then.
But wait a moment. Did she? Well, yes and no.
To be honest, the author here indulges way too much on some stereotypes about Poland that you might have not expected to find in a book written (in English) by a born and bred Pole like she is. This doesn't mean that reading 'Madame Mephisto' was not entertaining, but I'd daresay that A.M. Bakalar could have avoided a number of things which were not that necessary to her plot.
I lived in Krakow for a couple of months and the idea that many locals might insult a black person calling him 'monkey' while he's taking a stroll in daylight and in the beautiful Old Town is just absurd. I'm not denying that Polish society might be racist sometimes, but placing racist insults of that sort and in that place was just gratuitous and left a foul taste in my mouth. You see, the author there was trying her best to stress out the differences between multicultural UK and a current almost monocultural Poland. But it didn't work well. Another dumb note was the cannabis selling subplot. This stuff looked (and read) overimposed on the novel merely to make the point of Magda's double personality clear. I don't know anything about cannabis homegrowing and handshaking purchase, but my impression is that the author herself relied on information coming from some friend(s) of hers and magazine features to build up those junkie bits.
To counterbalance my criticism, I have to say that the pages focusing on Magda aka Madame Mephisto changing jobs in London were much better than those set in Warsaw. I didn't live in London but spent four years working in the UK and most of the office dynamics described here were similar to those I experienced myself. The importance given to summer parties, KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), silly Excel spreadsheets and involvement in charity events instead of to the quality of your work and the results you gain. That and the often disturbing interference of people working in Human Resources on your job and career were depicted perfectly here. I'd like to stress out that I'm not against HR (cannot guarantee for A.M. Bakalar, though), but more than once I had the impression that they struggle to legitimate their position within a company by making up the most absurd procedures and regulations. Smiling everyone?
The fact that Madgda/Madame Mephisto is a natural born troublemaker and a whistleblower displaying the occasional fits of rage certainly helped in having plenty a tragicomic job-related scene included in this novel. And that I enjoyed a lot.
Perhaps the reason why I give this book a decent pass is that - for all its flaws - it was funny to read and with a first person narrator that didn't annoy me. The same fact that there are some interesting, if slightly clumsy, switches to a third person narrative whenever Magda looks at her other self Madame Mephisto, helped in alleviating the prose. Oh well, I don't really know. What I can say is that if you had the chance to experience both, the UK and Poland you might like this book. And yet, if you hail from Poland, be prepared to stumble upon some cheesy scenes about your homecountry. ...more
A reportage book cannot get much better than this.
Believe me when I say that I'm actually lobbying for Witold Szabłowski to get translated into ItaliaA reportage book cannot get much better than this.
Believe me when I say that I'm actually lobbying for Witold Szabłowski to get translated into Italian as soon as possible. And I'd like all of my English reading friends to give 'The Assassin from Apricot City' a well deserved chance. They might listen to me. Go and tell them if you happen to stand this review!
Mr Szabłowski himself, a Pole who got interested in Turkey and speaks flawless Turkish, is only 34 years old and I think that this 'Zabójca z miasta moreli' is his very first book. But I bet you won't notice that.
Now, you might not be familiar at all with Polish reportage and I won't annoy you here with its main authors and chief characteristics. Still, if you like well-written journalistic accounts on interesting aspects of foreign countries (think about your better than average New Yorker text), young Szabłowski is your man.
So, what do we know about Turkey? Well, I guess the answer to this question depends on your whereabouts.
As a born and bred Italian who had the chance to travel and to live abroad for a number of years, I learnt something on this topic; first hand accounts, if you like. In fact, I met, befriended, worked with and even interviewed many a Turkish person in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. They were all cool (and pretty fashion conscious too) people who mostly disliked Mr Erdogan's doings, admired Mr Ataturk and knew a lot about basketball. And yet, to be honest with you, I still don't know much about their fascinating and everchanging homecountry. I didn't have the chance to visit Turkey so far and - when I'll do that - I suppose I stick to Istanbul as there's quite enough to see and to grasp there.
Witold Szabłowski writes about Istanbul and does it beautifully. If you followed or heard what happened down there between Taksim Square and Gezi Park on 2013, this book will refresh your memories by taking you right on the spot. The author interviews plenty of the 'rioters' who are against Mr Erdogan's government, but gives voice to conservative and pro-Erdogan people too. Szabłowski talks with students and clerks, journalists and shopkeepers, politicians and drag queens and this pot-pourri makes his Istanbul modern, dynamic (if troubled) and believable. There are a few hints here and there proving that the author of this book is all but a fan of Orhan Pamuk, the wordy bard of old Constantinople, and I get his point.
What's more, Szabłowski travels around coastal and inner Turkey keeping well far from its touristic routes and, in doing so, he delivers excellent pieces of journalism. Whereas he writes about awful honour-induced women-slaughtering in remote provinces or he tells the poignant and dramatic stories of migrants trying to reach Greece and then Europe by sea, the author always does a great job. Even when Mr Szabłowski recounts the story of Ali Agca - the Turkish guy who attempted to kill the former Pope John Paul II -, a subject that has been covered for thirty years, he sounds refreshing in its observations.
'The Assassin from Apricot City' is right there in the footsteps of the best tradition of Pol...ehm actually world class reportage. If you want to learn something about contemporary Turkey from the pen of a brilliant foreign reporter, this is the book you were looking for. ...more
I stumbled upon this one by chance while in Budapest for holidays and looking for books by Hungarian novelists'Jaguar' is a strange animal of a book.
I stumbled upon this one by chance while in Budapest for holidays and looking for books by Hungarian novelists. I had never heard of this novella and its author before. Thanks to the excellent (and Budapest based) Corvina kiadò for having translated 'Jaguar' into English making it widely available in the bookshops of the Hungarian capital.
Written by the Hungarian journalist, poet and playwright Jeno Heltai in 1914, 'Jaguar' is set twenty-three years earlier.
Now, back in 1891, Heltai's beloved Budapest was quite an exciting place to be. The town itself had been created only eighteen years later by merging the municipalities of Buda and Pest with Obuda. The beautiful Chain Bridge was only forty-two year old and the first line of the Budapest Metro was going to open in five year time. The city was probably at its cultural and economic peak back then within a still powerful Austria-Hungary and sporting a multilingual identity. Budapest in 1891 had an exciting nightlife, excellent theatres, cafes, museums and a number of daily newspapers.
Heltai lived those years working as a reporter for one of those newspapers and sort of romanticises the deeds of his early career in this novella. You'll learn how journalists in fin-de-siecle Budapest were often penniless, spent a good deal of time in coffee houses, lived in furnished rooms and worked til the early hours.
Yes, 'Jaguar' is an odd book. Semi-crime fiction novel, semi-entertainment, semi-spy story, the book revolves around the weird and kaleidoscopic character of Jaguar, a columnist who saves from closure the newspaper he writes for. Jaguar manages to do this by ensuring the publisher one exclusive scoop per week and the way he gets those news is sensational in itself.
Suffice is to say that Budapest will soon discover the existence of the daring 'There is Still Humour in the World Burglars' and Old Soldiers' Association' led by the bold and mysterious Great Nemo.
I cannot imagine a book like 'Jaguar' having been written anywhere else than in Hungary. Fellow Hungarian novelists such as Antal Szerb and Gyula Krudy might have loved this one; I've found it an entertaining quick read....more
Given that the latest book by Isaac Bashevis Singer I read ('The King of the Fields') turned out to be a big disappointment, I didn't lose my trust inGiven that the latest book by Isaac Bashevis Singer I read ('The King of the Fields') turned out to be a big disappointment, I didn't lose my trust in one of my favourite authors overall.
With 'Love and Exile' the good old I.B. I knew came back to send his regards from a very special time: his formative years.
Although the cover of the book boasts that this is 'An Autobiographical Trilogy', what we have here is an account of the first thirty-five years of Mr Singer's long life. This means that the size of the book is a manageable 352 pages which won't put off any eager readers but with limited time on their hands.
On a personal note, I would have loved if Isaac Bashevis had written even more about his early years than he did here. Not to mention including something on his following fifty-three years. But I noticed how many great authors who flirted with their memoirs were somehow reluctant to include their more mature and successful years in those books. Vladimir Nabokov, Stefan Zweig, Gregor von Rezzori, Gyorgy Faludy, Witold Gombrowicz and Stanislaw Lem come to mind and I.B. Singer joins the club.
So, let's talk about what Isaac Bashevis chose to tell us. Yes, let's talk about 'Love and Exile' which is a very carefully chosen title indeed.
First comes love. You might not know or suspect this but young I.B. was no short than a womanizer. If you can picture a penniless, skinny, poorly dressed, red haired proofreader playing the Don Juan in Warsaw in the late 1920s this is what Mr Singer was. Some of his conquests were women who could have been his mother, others were communist tomboys, and others were nevrotic and opinionated beauties who were just looking for a cultivated lover. By reading about this women, I could recognise the hectic behaviors and sexual perversions of many a female character narrated by I.B Singer in novels such as 'Enemies', 'The Slave', 'Shadows On the Hudson' and - alas! - even from that awful 'The King of the Fields'. True, Isaac Bashevis Singer wasn't only going from a bed to another one in those turbulent years for him and for Warsaw alike. He was also talented a writer for his young age, but in the Yiddish-Polish circles of his time there were dozens of authors who had published more than him gaining money and reputation.
One of the shining stars of Yiddish literature in Warsaw was another Singer, Israel Joshua (I.J.) who happened to be Isaac Bashevis' elder brother. It was I.J. who brought home novels by Hamsun, Turgenev and Dostoyevsky along with scientific publications, newspapers. It was I.J. who contested the status quo of the Singer's household engaging in theological arguments with his father, a pious rabbi portrayed by Isaac Bashevis as a holy man twice removed from modernity. It was I.J. who introduced his younger brother in the Warsaw literary scene finding him the post of proofreader in the magazine where he was editor in chief. And again, it was I.J. who became the Polish correspondent for an American-Yiddish newspaper while Isaac Bashevis soon found out that he wasn't made for journalism.
The respect, admiration and awe that the future Nobel Prize for Literature felt for his elder brother are expressed umpteen times thorough 'Love and Exile'. Young Isaac Bashevis knew very well that he lived in the shadow of Israel Joshua's success to the point he was often confused with him and yet in this book one can only find words of gratitude for this brother.
Second comes exile. The exile from a country, Poland, that both the Singer brothers loved in a way, but that they couldn't fully perceive as their homecountry. Isaac Bashevis explains that he could read books in four or five languages (including Polish), but that Yiddish was the only language he spoke well admitting that 'women in Warsaw were constantly correcting my Polish'. Now I can certainly relate with such a statement myself, but I'm a foreigner while I.B. was born and bred in Poland. Well, bred to some extent as he spoke Yiddish at home, attended cheder instead of Polish school and later never went to university. The author here makes crystal clear that he's at the same time proud of his Jewish heritage and ashamed for having not had the possibility of learning Polish well which I've found touching.
Anyways. Let's go back to the exile. Guess what? It was Israel Joshua who moved first to the US and it was I.J. who sent his brother an affidavit to come and join him in New York City. Isaac Bashevis arrives in the United States with only one published book in his portfolio - 'Satan in Goray' - and out of fear for what he feels will happen to the Jews in Poland. As far as we know, he never looked at the US with keen or curious eyes before. Among the novelists he read the most, the future Nobel laureate mentions Aleichem, Peretz, Hamsun, Mann, Rolland, Turgenev, Dostoyevsky, not a single American one, save Twain.
And yet, because Israel Joshua migrated to the US - not before having his novel 'Yoshe Kalb' translated into Polish: quite an accomplishment - Isaac Bashevis goes with the flow and leaves Europe behind. The chapters regarding the trip to the US by ship are among the most interesting ones in this book. The sense of claustrophoby and discomfort felt by Mr Singer on board is described very well. He only pines for loneliness and gets discriminated for his asking to eat alone and for being a vegetarian. These pages are poignant and disturbing at the same time. One cannot help but asking themselves what I.B. Singer did for being treated so badly by the crew and the injustice of this treatment hurts.
The final part of the 'trilogy' depicts the arrival and the first years of the novelist in the US being hosted by (I bet you know by whom)...his brother Israel Joshua. Once more, it's I.J. who finds Isaac Bashevis a job in the newspaper he has been writing for and buys him an Yiddish typewriter. And later on I.J. will even rescue his younger brother from a writer's block crisis by helping him to put an order and give a sense to the drafts Isaac Bashevis is working on.
Unfortunately, 'Love and Exile' ends up before two crucial events in the life of I.B. Singer: the sudden death of his elder brother at the age of 50 and the publication of 'The Family Moskat' a masterpiece that will be dedicated to Israel Joshua, mentor and model for Isaac Bashevis. ...more
This review will be a hard one to write for two reasons. First of all, I'm a great fan of Isaac Bashevis Singer to the point I own some of his books iThis review will be a hard one to write for two reasons. First of all, I'm a great fan of Isaac Bashevis Singer to the point I own some of his books in both Italian and English translation. Secondly, I'm not prudish, puritan, Victorian or whatsoever, but still it hurts me to find plenty of gratuitous, nasty and badly written sex in a novel where it's not supposed to be the core of the story.
Alas, as much as I like I.B Singer, I cannot be that biased to give this late novel of his more than a weak pass mark. True, Singer wrote 'The King of the Fields' when he was already 84 year old which is remarkable, but was writing this novel necessary? I'd daresay not.
Let's start by saying that even though Singer spent 56 years in the US, he kept writing books in Yiddish explaining his choice by stating that English couldn't compete with the multilayered richness of his native language. Fair enough, but another reason why the Nobel Prize winning author didn't switch to English is that he was aware that he didn't master that language very well. That's why all the major works by Singer aren't translated into English by himself, but by close friends and relatives of his with the author's supervision. I've always found Singer's choice to stick to the Yiddish language in writing and to leave the English translations to people with a better knowledge of the subtleties of that language quite honest and fitting to a man who kept a modesty and a sobriety unknown to other Nobel laureates. However, as far as I remember, this is the only novel by I.B. Singer that he himself translated from its original Yiddish to English and unfortunately it shows. The language you'll find in this novel is miles away from the sophisticated and engaging narrative of the best works by his author.
The chief problem with 'The King of the Fields' is that it reads like a young adult novel in terms of writing style and that didn't work for me. I mean, there are plenty of dull dialogues and let-down descriptions. And yet, unlike a historical novel for young adults, history is surprisingly blurry here so much that it's never clear what's the period Singer is writing about. On the one hand, we have uncouth heathen hunters living in caves like Cro-Magnon men, on the other hand there is a description of an unnamed town ('Miasto' means town in Polish) which is portrayed like it might have looked like in the 14th-15th century. We have an anachronistic Jewish character estabilishing a sort of cheder school teaching how to read to folks living in a hamlet where people walk barefoot and don't have a clue on how to farm the fields. We have Polish 'kings' looking and behaving like tribal chiefs and German merchants bartering weapons for furs while peasant townfolks buy meat by using groszen coins. Mmmh, all this sounds rather messy. Doesn't it?
What's worse, Singer enjoyed peppering these pages with some of the most disgusting sex scenes I've ever read. I mean something that would make even accomplished mysoginists such as Philip Roth or Michel Houellebecq blush. I understand, I do understand that I.B. Singer wanted to take the reader into those obscure times where shattered tribes of pagan hunters ruled over nowadays Poland so that you couldn't expect fair treatment to women as well as equal opportunities. Nevertheless, there are so many rapes here and so many women falling in love with their rapists calling them 'my god' that I guess how Singer's point on sexual savagery is more than accomplished after the first 50 pages.
Together with rapes, incest, threesomes, pregnant 13 year old girls, choreographic coitus interruptus techniques and cheeky homosexuality (in pre-medieval Poland!), I couldn't bear some of the hyper-sexualized characters. Let's take the awful and cheesy submissive statements of one of the main characters here - Kora - who is countlessly called a miserable whore and a harlot such as: 'I want to wash your feet and drink the water after ward' (sic!) or 'I enjoyed other men as long as I could go from them to you' or the following dialogue: 'He spat at you and you kissed him?' 'Yes' 'It gave you pleasure?' 'Great pleasure'. Marquis de Sade in pre-medieval Poland? But of course!
I don't know what old Isaac Bashevis was thinking about when he wrote this, but he certainly was into a perverted satyrish period of his long life. There are some redeeming and even interesting moments in 'The King of the Fields', but I'm afraid they cannot balance all the needless and overexposed sexual frenzy you get all over the place. I appreciate that a very old Isaac Bashevis Singer wished to detach himself from his usual milieu writing a story which probably meant to celebrate - in its own way - the birth of the Polish nation, but I cannot deny that this is the worst book by Singer I've ever read. ...more
This book begs for patient readers and plenty of spare time. True, I have much of the latter at the moment, but lately I'm not focused enough on my reThis book begs for patient readers and plenty of spare time. True, I have much of the latter at the moment, but lately I'm not focused enough on my reading to appreciate such a complex and in-depth narration of the Chechen wars.
The point is that Wojciech Jagielski turned out to be very demanding with his readers here. You cannot simply leaf through 'Towers of Stone' casually with your pencil underlining selected passages as if you're reading your average good Polish reportage. Unlike most of the Polish reporters I read so far, Mr Jagielski doesn't just provide short but significant episodes written in a sparse but brilliant language. No. He deals with a complex and ever detailed narration which gives you no time at all to take a breather. Don't even think to read this book taking long intervals inbetween (as I did) for you will soon lose your track.
Let's examine the structure of 'Towers of Stone'. Three-hundred and ten pages subdivided into merely four chapters (plus a short epilogue) each one named after a season. This means that each proper chapter is around 75 pages long. In my humble opinion, it would be hard to read your way safely through such a bundle in a novel. Not to mention facing chapters of 75 pages each in a reportage book due to its readers being accustomed to the nifty format provided by journalistic accounts on websites and magazines.
All this preamble to say that - to be completely honest with you - I struggled to finish 'Towers of Stone'. Suffice is to say that it took me nearly one month. True, I reckon how Wojciech Jagielski did his reporting job quite well never leaving the reader in the dark and explaining all that needed to be clarified. Nonetheless, now that I'm done with this book I cannot really say that the whole Chechen mess is much clearer into my mind than it previously was.
You'll find great and insightful interviews with Chechen leaders whose beliefs and behaviors are masterly portrayed by the author. But instead of being given the precious room of their own they deserve, these gems are all semi-hidden here and there in the monster-sized chapters and thick narrative of this book. And that's a pity.
The fact that the American publisher Seven Stories Press which translated 'Wieże z kamienia' into English - to their merit - left out any relevant maps or timeline to contextualize this book didn't help either. All that you'll find to guide you through is just a tiny glossary with a few dozen brief bios of the main characters and a page which seems ripped off from an old school atlas. But Mr Jagielski writes about so many events, places, people, political and military leaders - often related with one another - that I challenge you not to lose your compass more than once.
I admit my defeat here. I should have read 'Towers of Stone' with less superficiality and less distractions around me. Now that I know what to expect from Mr Jagielski, I will give his book on Uganda a chance only when I'm confident I can read it all in one go. ...more
This was an excellent, engaging and quite informative read which happened just when I needed it. I've been interested in the 1956 Hungarian Uprising/ReThis was an excellent, engaging and quite informative read which happened just when I needed it. I've been interested in the 1956 Hungarian Uprising/Revolution for quite a long time, but - by sheer coincidence - one week upon finishing 'Twelve Days' I finally visited Budapest for the very first time.
I guess it might have been rather annoying for my partner (she has just confirmed that it was) being led through the Hungarian capital by me unawaringly lecturing her on events and anecdotes from October '56. And I reckon how more than once I juxtaposed the monumental main streets and squares we were navigating through with the black and white pictures depicting Soviet tanks, urban guerrilla, rubble and destruction dating back to the uprising. Sorry for that, Paulina! And blame on you, Victor Sebestyen.
For reading 'Twelve Days' brought me straight into a Budapest that is no more. I got sucked into a time vortex blowing me away from A.D. 2014 Poland and leaving me stranded but not confused in 1956 Hungary. It took Mr Sebestyen's wizardry only a few pages to captivate me and - much to his merit - once I get into the history whirlwind I was reluctant to get out of it. I'll tell you why.
'Twelve Days' is one of those rare history books where the context is introduced and explained thoroughly, the chronology is always clear and the narration manages to be enthralling, coherent and consistent. It reads like a well-plotted political spy story with a Machiavellian cast of characters, but it deals with one of the darkest pages in recent European history. Despite of the title he chose, the author doesn't rush to the brave and bloody twelve days of the 1956 uprising/revolution. At the contrary, Mr Sebestyen takes his time to explain what happened to Budapest and Hungary during and after World War II. By doing so the Anglo-Hungarian historian skilfully introduces the readers to a place and time they might not be familiar with and gradually builds up the book to its climax.
Each of the main domestic characters who played a major part in the events leading to 1956 and following it - Matyas Rakosi, Erno Gero, Laszlo Rajk, Imre Nagy, Janos Kadar - is carefully disclosed in an unbiased and quite objective way. True, when it comes to villains Mr Sebestyen stresses out Gero's 'sadistic smile' or Rakosi's 'overwhelming cynicism', but one must not forget that these men sent thousands of people to death and are justly remembered as criminals by Hungarians. What I've found interesting is that the author doesn't depict Imre Nagy - now considered a hero and a martyr by his compatriots - as an entirely positive character. In fact, Sebestyen does quite the opposite by showing us an often undecided politician, an excessively cautious man uncapable to cut the bounds tying him to the USSR and reluctant to accept the moral leadership the Budapest crowds granted him. In the same fashion, Janos Kadar - the man who took over the power after the uprising/revolution was crushed to bits by the Soviet tanks - could be included into the villains ranks as he was 'loathed as a Judas' by Hungarians. And yet, Sebestyen doesn't portray Kadar as merely a Muscovite puppet but reckons how in the years following the uprising he actually did something to soften things up leading to the so called 'goulash socialism'.
On a side note, my only criticism to the author is that he might have done a better job on the international stage. The role played in smashing the uprising by a deus ex machina such as Nikita Kruscev in Moscow is explained but not investigated as much as it could have been. Looking Westwards, Sebestyen expresses some mild criticism towards the lack of interest in Hungary from the US and the UN, but eventually justifies both Eisenhower and Hammarskjoeld for their giving priority to the Suez crisis unfolding in the very same days. This point of view is a tad too simplicistic to be accepted completely, but Sebestyen did such an excellent job overall that I can forgive him.
If you are interested in knowing more about the 1956 Hungarian uprising, revolution (or whatever you call it), 'Twelve Days' is a book to get and read soon. ...more
Pets and other animals talking about the bestialities of human communism in the former Eastern Bloc countries. A well-doWhat a great idea for a book!
Pets and other animals talking about the bestialities of human communism in the former Eastern Bloc countries. A well-documented and often entertaining approach to well known and less well known facts that truly happened from East Berlin to Moscow passing through Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Bucarest.
Giving voice to mice and cats, dogs and bears, ravens and parrots with each animal talking about its own country was indeed a work of genius. Most of those who reviewed this book mentioned either the 'Orwellian approach' or the ' Orwellian inspiration' of Mrs Drakulic, but I think otherwise. She's truly original and independent in her own work here so that the comparison with the author of 'Animal Farm' doesn't stand a chance. To me the closest this book gets to is rather 'The Life of Insects' by Victor Pelevin. But then again, unlike Pelevin, Drakulic doesn't insist on metaphors and camouflages: her animals are actual animals from the beginning to the end of their chapters (with one significant exception). Well done, Slavenka!
And yet 'A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism' (let me catch my breathe) falls short of what I expected. Whilst I did appreciate some of the episodes, others were just not at the same level and, in my humble opinion, out of place in the context.
I particularly liked the stories of the mole talking about people digging tunnels from East Berlin to West Berlin, the one about the rabid dogs issue in Bucarest seen from a canine perspective and the musings of General Jaruzelski's pussycat regarding her owner's controversial decisions. One of the reasons why these three 'fables' really work and stand out here is that they achieve a perfect balance between the human-animal narrative and their historical significance.
On the contrary I found unexplicable the choice to have a real woman, Magda, introducing herself as a 'Hungarian pig' in the chapter entitled - sic! - 'From Gulag to Goulash'*. Putting aside the non convincing story itself, why not giving voice to an actual sow? Was that too complicated? The contradiction here with this one and only episode not being narrated by an animal is so evident that I'm inclined to think that Mrs Drakulic did that on purpose. But for what purpose, I wonder? Who knows.
The human-animal denouement is not broken anywhere else, but a couple of stories are just too long a monologue to be consistent (Tito's parrot, the chaperoning mouse in Prague) with the final result of putting their interesting animal perspective at risk with the author's voice popping up.
That being said, I reckon how Slavenka Drakulic did a good job here. I got hooked to this thin but important book and overall enjoyed it. The fables I read taught me some episodes I was not aware of and reinforced my knowledge of other topics I had already heard about.
*The tragedy is that back on 1996 the uncouth leader of the Northern League Party in Italy did call the gulags 'goulash' in a public speech....more