David Albahari's Bait (trans. from the Serbian by Peter Agnone) opens with the narrator's attempts to tape-record his mother's voice, her life story. We learn that she has since died and the young man is a Serbian exile living in Canada, listening to the tapes and trying to make sense of the events that have shaped his life. The book is essentially an extended meditation on history (both grand and intimate), family and loss. Alas, the pace is sluggish and the tone relentlessly somber; that the book is arranged in a continuous block of text without paragraphs doesn't help.