Friday, March 10, 2017

A Tomb for Boris Davidovich by Danilo Kiš

Author: Danilo Kiš
Original title: Grobnica za Borisa Davidoviča
Pages: 136
Edition Language: English
Series: no
Format: Paperback
Genres: Short Stories, Historical Fiction

        Composed of seven dark tales, A Tomb for Boris Davidovich presents variations on the theme of political and social self-destruction throughout Eastern Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. The characters in these stories are caught in a world of political hypocrisy, which ultimately leads to death, their common fate. Although the stories Kiš tells are based on historical events, the beauty and precision of his prose elevates these ostensibly true stories into works of literary art that transcend the politics of their time.

About the author: 
        Danilo Kiš was a Serbian novelist, short story writer and poet who wrote in Serbo-Croatian. A member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts,Kiš was influenced by Bruno Schulz, Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges, Ivo Andrić and Miroslav Krleža,among other authors. His most famous works include A Tomb for Boris Davidovich and The Encyclopedia of the Dead. 

My thoughts:
          It was quite a horrifying read for me. Little more than 100 pages of dark history and unnecessary cruelty. The seven stories do not have an apparent connection between main characters, but now and then someone from the previous story is vaguely mentioned to connect them all together is the endless victim chain of ideology.
          The narration seems to me intentionally simplified as well as the description of the characters. They are not flat, but it seems that you are reading one of those easy going articles from the newspaper. The second level of narration reveals, however, the darker side of the book, the unemotional mill that grinds its own disciples and true believers; the atmosphere of desperation and hopelessness. Each story is the background for a vaster picture of the creeping disquiet and the emerging horror.
        The culmination is probably the story called “A tomb for Boris Davidovich”. The character, Boris Davidovich Novsky, a noted revolutionary, is arrested with the intent to extract a confession from him in a show-trial. During his interrogation Novsky duels with his interrogator Fedukin over how he will be remembered in the future, fighting over the conclusion to his biography. This story is so full of absurd brutality, murdering of innocent people just to prove some point. It vividly portraits the cold cruelty to which lives are subjected and destroyed in the name of an ideology.
        The truly dark collection, which leave a hard and bitter aftertaste, but I highly recommend it anyway.

Stories list:
The knife with the rosewood handle
The sow that eats her farrow
The mechanical lions
The magic card dealing
A tomb for Boris Davidovich
Dogs and books
The short biography of A.A.Darmolatov

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