In this masterful final work, Daša Drndić’s combative, probing voice reaches new heights. In her relentless search for truth she delves into the darkest corners of our lives. And as she chastises, she atones. Andreas Ban failed in his suicide attempt. Even as his body falters and his lungs constrict, he taps on the glass of history—an impenetrable case filled with silent figures—and tries to summon those imprisoned within. Mercilessly, fearlessly, he continues to dissect society and his environment, shunning all favors as he goes after evil and the hidden secrets of others. History remembers the names of perpetrators, not of the victims. Ban travels from Rijeka to Rovinj in nearby Istria, from Belgrade to Toronto to Tirana, from Parisian avenues to Italian palazzi. Ghosts follow him wherever he goes: chess grandmasters who disappeared during WWII; the lost inhabitants of Latvia; war criminals who found work in the CIA and died peacefully in their beds. Ban’s family is with him too: those he has lost and those with one foot in the grave. As if left with only a few pieces in a chess game, Andreas Ban plays a stunning last match against Death.
Drndić cultivates a visionary art of memory. She rescues the names, and the lives, of the lost. Her writing glows with an incendiary bleakness worthy of Beckett.
—Boyd Tonkin, The Arts Desk
Wry and kindly, funny, angry, informed and intent on the truth, no voice is quite as blisteringly beautiful as that of Drndic. Ban is the witness, the seeker of truth. Drndic, a tenacious collector of personal histories and the names of victims lost in the Holocaust, wrote about many things; for all the darkness, her concerns are life and justice.
Daša Drndić was incapable of writing a sentence that was not forceful, fierce or funny–or all three simultaneously.
Drndić has in her own way composed an astonishment that extracts light from darkness.
—The Jewish Daily Forward
Reading Daša Drndić is not for the fainthearted. Anger radiates from Drndić’s pages, and perhaps the book’s greatest strength is the way in which it gives a voice to those people who are unable to tell their own stories.
—Shaun Walker, The Guardian
A pensive, provocative novel of history, memory, and our endlessly blood-soaked times by one of the foremost writers to have emerged from the former Yugoslavia.
The formidable Daša Drndić has created something like a modern-day Homeric narrative of wars that are anything but glorious. In Celia Hawkesworth, she has a translator of genius who shares her vision. It is difficult to suggest a contemporary English-language novel with which to compare it, or one that might even approach its eloquence and daring.