Encyclopedia of the Dead

Danilo Kis, Author, Michael H. Heim, Translator Farrar Straus Giroux $17.95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-374-14826-3
Kis ( Garden, Ashes ) attempts to dazzle with his showmanship as he restlessly dons one stylistic mantle after another in this richly inventive collection of stories. The result is erratic. Some of these short narrativeswhich take death, literature and love as their themesare perfunctory academic exercises; others are brilliant as the author's heavy, opulent language produces a seductive, dreamlike atmosphere. In the surreal title story, a Yugoslav woman stumbles upon a massive encyclopedia compiled by a mysterious religious sect whose sole purpose is to record the lives of the dead in preparation for Judgment Day. In it, she finds her father's biography and her own antecedents. ``To Die for One's Country Is Glorious'' describes the last few hours of a nobleman sentenced to death for his involvement in a bloody uprising against the Austro-Hungarian empire. In ``The Legend of the Sleepers'' (inspired by a sura in the Koran), a Christian martyr awakens from the dead several centuries later and finds himself in a trancelike meditation about the past, present and future. Kis's philosophical musings should delight readers who enjoyed his countryman Milorad Pavic's Dictionary of the Khazars. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
Paperback - 201 pages - 978-0-8101-1514-9
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-14-013266-3
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