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Seeing People Off

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  167 ratings  ·  33 reviews
There is a liveliness and effervescence to Jana Benová’s prose that is magnetic. Whether addressing the loneliness of relationships or the effectiveness of rat poison, her voice and observations call to mind the verve and sophistication of Renata Adler or Jenny Offill, while remaining utterly singular.

Seeing People Off follows Elza and Ian, a young couple living in a humon
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Paperback, 142 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Two Dollar Radio (first published 2008)
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3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  167 ratings  ·  33 reviews


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Jenny (Reading Envy)
"Petržalka. An advent calendar full of chocolates. Window after window, with a common backstage. Common spaces, a common, never-silent choir."


This is a quick read, with what some people call minimalist prose. The story follows Elza and Ian, a couple who live in Petržalka, Slovakia. The place itself is very important - modern Slovakian life in close quarters with others. The stories go off on tangents with mixed feelings of reality. The fragmented prose was easy to get through but sometimes a bit
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Michael
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Seeing People Off is an unconventional, compelling narrative. The minimalist structure allows the poetics and meditations of the prose to give so much to the reader. I felt like I was in the room with the Benova.

There's a playful repetition throughout of themes--the achievement is in its seamless quality. You never feel like you're reading a novel of ideas with no blood.

There's also a lovely part that references Ginsberg's Howl--my favorite poem growing up.

What I like most about the book is h
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Lolly K Dandeneau
Apr 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
via my blog https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/
“Voices are so bewitching. They bore into the body. Gradually uncover all the paths. Some of them shut gates forever, burn bridges. Close openings.”

The voices in this novel are wonderful. I hated to hold off reviewing this book until closer to it’s release date, because it’s incredibly unique. Living packed in with your neighbors, where I know I’d go mad, it’s impossible to be private. “The neighbor is an emphasized character.” The novel centers
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Bronislava Sencakova
Minulý rok som čítala Beňovej básnické prvotiny a bola som nadšená. Toto je oveľa mladší kus, takže ho písala ako staršia, ale výpoveď sa mi zdá byť stále rovnaká i rovnako vyzretá (bez irónie, tie prvotiny sú skvelé): dobrá, pekná, bláznivá, smutná, rozbitá a mne ako čitateľke nerozkľúčovateľná. Pri poézii s istou mierou neuchopiteľnosti počítam, ale pri románe ma to se*ie a stráca sa mi záujem, takže som Plán prečítala len ako sled epizód a pocitov a odprevadila ho zo svojich spomienok.

Dojmy z
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Alan
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
lovely playful book about a quartet of artists/writers who meet at a Bratislava café. One of them works (they take it in turns with jobs like tennis line judges) and keeps the other three in coffee and booze etc. Charming. Will add some quotes (book not with me)..
Petra
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kniha určená na pomalé čítanie. Na postupné vstrebávanie a vychutnávanie všetkých skrytých a neskrytých metafor, postrehov, symbolov, prirovnaní. Bravúrnych hier s jazykom. O samote a vzťahoch na ceste petržalským bludiskom. Ktoré sú však dávkované s takou rýchlosťou a intenzitou ako rútiaci sa vlak. Niekedy je ťažké zastavovať. A čítať pomaly.

Losille
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3, reviewed
Elfman tvrdí, že genius loci Petržalky spočívá v tom, že každý se tu po nějaké době začne cítit jako kokot, co to nedovedl v životě nikam dotáhnout. Nedokázal se postarat o sebe a o rodinu. Neprosadil se, nebyl schopen vyšplhat nahoru do domů vypínajících se na kopcích a vrších města. Na svazích Palisád, na Kolibě. Tam, kde je jeho skutečné místo, domof.
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Předem je třeba říci, že neznám Petržalku. Po dočtení mi ale připadá, že ji lze přirovnat ke knize samotné. Tajuplná, svérázná, spletitá. P
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Ivana
Touto knihou sa dá odprevádzať letom, jeseňou a zimou. Po viac rokov a v prípade núdze aj na jar, ktorá v nej nijak zachytená nie je. Vždy zo zákrut vystúpia iné dôležité príbehy. (Pre mňa tentokrát hľadanie správnych významov slov so svojím rodičom - hotovo verzus hovädo.)
Dlhšie rozmýšľam nad tým, čo vystihuje scéna s polohou novorodenca. Čakania a očakávania vo vzťahoch sú občas ako zablúdenie v Petržalke.
"Keď sa Elza spýtala Iana, prečo jej je už tri dni stále do plaču, povedal, že je dospel
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Bookish
I’ll be returning to this slim, hilarious, acutely perceptive novel my whole life—it’s that good. Slovak novelist and poet Jana Beňová, winner of the European Union Prize for Literature, writes of four bohemian types—two couples—living a café- and apartment-anchored, coffee- and wine-fueled life in contemporary Bratislava. Plotless and postmodern, the book turns its unconventionality into as brilliant a meditation on life, place, culture, relationships, and love as I’ve read. Though there’s some ...more
Emily
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a deeply strange book. I'd never read Slovakian literature before, but at least now I can say I have!

In this slim little volume, the prose style is experimental, and there are many nice turns of phrase that catch your eye and ear. A few things make you think. But for the most part, the city is overwhelmingly bleak, the characters don't do anything other than walk around and drink, and the random elements of unreality and magical realism are more perplexing than charming.

This book lost
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Will
Jan 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"Hlasy petržalských muezínov v meste nepočuť. V ceste im stojí rieka. Nenesie ich výkriky. Pohlcuje volanie svojím vlastným tichom. Tichom bez konkurencie.

Muezíni sú pod hladinou bezmocní. Voda pohlcuje slová, príbehy, výkriky. Pozemský hluk, význam aj intenzitu. Cúvnu pred ňou. Pár krokov späť - domof - do Petržalky. Zaspätkujú ako potkany.

Mesto, ktorým tečie rieka, má oproti mestu bez rieky výhodu. Nemusí sa deratizovať celé na jedenkrát. Mesto bez rieky musia deratizovať celé v jeden deň. Aby
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Caroline
Interesting. I liked how a sentence relevant to telling the story was echoed later as an image or observation about a wider sphere of life, or turned a bit ironic in its repetition.
Deborah
As soon as I finished reading Seeing People Off today, I turned to Google to search for any reviews by book critics which might explain what I had missed. This book won the European Union Prize for Literature, yet I rated it as average. My timing was fortuitous because NPR had just posted Michael Schaub's review, in which he described Seeing People Off as a "slim novel told in a series of brief vignettes," in which "the transitions can seem jarring, although that may well be the point." Yes, the ...more
Jim
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you’re looking for a story with a beginning, an absorbing middle, a tidy ending and maybe a bit of a moral tossed in for good measure this one probably won’t be for you. It’s basically a slice of life, a couple of years (or thereabout) in the life of a quartet or artists, Ian, Rebeka, Elfman and, predominately, Elza. One in the quartet works at a time and divvies up their salary so the other three can get on with their projects uninterrupted. They live in Petržalka, the largest borough of Bra ...more
Harriet Springbett
Poetic, philosophical, surprising, playful - Jana Benova's EU Literature Prize-winning novel is a thought-provoking journey through the Slovakian town of Bratislava and its suburb of high-rise flats called Petrzalka. It takes a few pages to get used to the disjointed style, which shows glimpses of life in Petrzalka without following them through. Don't let this put you off! You'll soon understand what's going on. It's the kind of book you can read and re-read, and still find something new inside ...more
Dana
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tie časti, ktoré boli zrozumiteľné, sa mi zdali skvelé.
Jill
Jan 15, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish this book. If I had continued, I might have honestly given it zero stars. I am angry I even stuck with it as long as I did. It was a chore to even get through 1/2 of this little book. I don't understand the middling and high ratings for this book by other users. I guess Benova's writing style is meant to be rebellious and cool, but I just found it to be irritating. The idea of well-developed characters and a strong plot eludes Benova. I put this book down last night and can barel ...more
qark
Better 3 stars. The composition was interesting, but bit too fragmentized to my liking, and I'm pretty sure I won't remember the story for long. Yet the author undoubtedly is talented, she captured different sorts of atmospheres with convincing and remarkable ease; I felt the bleakness of Petržalka bear down on me heavily - won't ever go to the place voluntarily, now. As for characters, there are four of them, each distinctive enough from the other 3 for readers to recognize them without trouble ...more
Elizabeth
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With prose that reads like memory, Jana Benova's "Seeing People Off" explores the tension between the individual and the whole, control and surrender.

In rebellion against the mundanity of city life in Bratislava, four young writers pool their money so that each may devote less time to office jobs, and more time to their craft. The writers - Ian, Elza, Rebeka, and Lucas - meet daily at Cafe Hyena to drink wine and tell stories, share feedback and advice.

Although a seemingly idyllic arrangement,
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Jo Wilcox
I can't decide if I liked this book or not it maybe a 4 star but I am not getting feel-good-vibes. It is a pretty grim view of Slovakia, more specifically Bratislava, more specifically Petržalka, and not an advert for relationships or life really. I am an expat teacher living in Slovakia and want to read as much slovak fiction as I can but with no mastery of the language so having to search for translations (quite a challenge I can tell you). So far much I have read is bleak. The style takes som ...more
Ryan
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jana Benova reveals moments of unique beauty and dry comedy in the enduring of everyday traumas of modern life--caring for an elderly mother or a childhood with alcoholic parents. It's rooted in a contemporary Central European time and place, in Bratislava, the largest city in a small country, and for the characters feels like a turgid backwater. You should read it, because it's short and says something true about modern life in a voice that is fresh and original.
Andrew Miller
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I appreciated the experimentation in this novel, and so many of the vignettes are beautiful. That said, I finished reading it and wasn't entirely sure what I'd read. At only ~120pp it's a very fast read and worth giving a shot in support of experimental literature; but also, because the striking vignettes may well be just what you need to read.
Maria Jančová
Zvláštny text, ktorý akoby nie je román, ale ani fiktívne útržovité memoáre, občas zabalené v zbytočne veľkom množstve papiera a nevkusných slov občas zasahuje s presnosťou. A nakoniec, po prečítaní, v sebe človek nájde také mále prázdno.
Andrea
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have no idea what this was, but am delighted to see a Slovak author gaining recognition!
Hattas Martin
May 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Výstižná sídlisková charakteristika, výborné metafory.
Giulia
Jul 17, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, bookclub, fiction
2.5
Brian McCabe
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fast-pace, clean, fun.
Steven Felicelli
starts strong, stylistically rich, but never coalesces or gets anywhere imo
kasia
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is something incredibly charming and pleasant about the odd, acerbic voice.
FremsleytheSparrow
This was so strange but extremely engaging and a very fast read. I would recommend.
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Jana Beňová (born 1974) is a Slovakian poet and novelist. She studied at the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Bratislava, graduating with a degree in dramaturgy in 1998. She wrote for a number of local publications, including Dotyky, Fragment and Slovenské Pohľady. She also worked for the daily newspaper SME under a pseudonym. At present, she works at the Theatre Institute in Bratislava.

Her f
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“What should I do if I love two men?" a young woman asked her girlfriend helplessly at the next table. "Write a novel," said Elza, turning toward her. "Make it a story where there's little talk and a lot of sorrow.” 0 likes
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