A mesmerising meditation on memory, madness and the lesser known horrors of Nazi Germany.
This is like a fairy tale, all this.
A woman meets a stranger who tells her her identity is a lie. 772 (or 789) children's brains rest silently in jars. A traveller comes to a quotidian city, unknowingly approaching her past.
From the author of Trieste (shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize) comes this bedazzling kaleidoscopic novel, stitching together fact and fiction, history and memory, words and images into a heart-breaking collage that manages to look askance at the blinding horror of history.
Ranging across themes of memory, loss, inheritance and storytelling, Drndic borrows from every tradition of writing to weave together a fragmented narrative of love and disease, in a novel that's very format raises penetrating and unanswerable questions about history, and the processes by which we describe and remember it.
Drndic combines several registers, from crisp to saccharine, humorous to coldly official - well captured by Celia Hawkesworth's translation — Tadzio Koelb, Times Literary Supplement