The Book of Revenge: A Blues for Yugoslavia
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A darkly comic recollection of a country that no longer exists, and a lyrical examination of the importance of taking a stand when it counts. Set against a backdrop of horrific world events, this is narrative non-fiction at its best.
To a young boy growing up poor but happy in an industrial town in Serbia, politics means many national holidays that result in parades, piglets roasting on a spit, and getting to see both his hard-working parents at the same time. An observant child, Dragan Todorovic quickly learns the power of words. Even before he can read or write, he is mesmerized by the squiggles made by the grownups around him and diligently recreates them in the notebooks he carries with him always. He also learns that reciting naughty limericks usually yields some chocolate.
This love of words eventually takes Dragan to Belgrade, as editor for a cultural magazine. He hopes to inspire and support the young and innovative artists of the time, but soon discovers that naughty articles do not yield the same results as limericks, and he finds himself constantly clashing with the system. His many questions get only one answer: he is drafted into the army.
Dragan survives his tour of duty, but his return to Belgrade is unsettling. Everything is changing, rapidly. Friendships are collapsing, conversations are guarded, nothing is as it seems. Bit by bit, the country he knows and loves is being torn apart.
Filled with great characters and poignant and often hilarious stories, The Book of Revenge is a superb duet of a citizen and his country, a universal exploration of just what it is that inoculates the human spirit from dangerous ideologies and toxic nationalism.
was strong and bitter, just the way I liked it. “So, what I am about to say is not related to my taste, in any way.” Oh, good: we will adhere to the rules. He is trying to make this non-personal. There is no wolf, there is only the public good. I took my pen and started playing absent-mindedly with it. “I’m sure you realize in what times we live. People are agitated, edgy, and understandably so. There is no work, the country is under sanctions, and it will only get worse. Not to mention the
mountain road and the lights in the small valley become dim, I finally remember what it was about Lead Town. For a long time after World War II, it was a secret. Not until the eighties did the first articles about the massacre in this village in 1945 appear in Yugoslav print. When the Red Army started defeating Nazi troops in the last months of war, all who fought the communists—Chetniks from Serbia, along with the Croatian Ustashas—started withdrawing towards the northwest, towards the Austrian
trusted no woman and I treated them all with cold detachment. I was never such a magnet to women as during that time. TITO’S DEATH We were still enjoying the big cake my mother baked for New Year’s, still chomping the last segments of a piglet my father had roasted on a spit, when the bad news came. Tito was ill. It was unthinkable: after so many years of watching him on TV smoking cigars, drinking whiskey and traveling all over the world, the image of Tito was the image of life itself.
alibi purposes only. Here was an opportunity to check that theory: indeed, I found a briefcase in the last drawer and a newspaper inside more than two weeks old. Then I found on another desk a postcard from the Adriatic coast, sent a week before by Slavko. So that was settled. He had gone for two weeks, which is what Irena had guessed. I also checked on some other theories: Julija did not shave her legs at work (nothing even remotely resembling a shaver in her desk), Janko did have hemorrhoids
had walnuts in it. My life started rewinding, slowly at first, but then faster and further. It didn’t feel the way they say it feels when dying; it seemed more like trying to hold on to something from my past to get me to the other side of night. No matter how hard I tried to grab at something, and keep that thought, everything was just too slippery, everything had just too much of that stinking oil on it. As the minutes passed, nobody in the room tried to talk. A quiet, sad fart would come now