cover image No-Signal Area

No-Signal Area

Robert Perisic, trans. from the Croatian Ellen Elias-Bursac. Seven Stories, $22.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-60980-970-6

Two men arrive in a rural Eastern European town to arrange for the reopening of a local factory in this sharp portrayal of modern capitalism from Perisic (Our Man in Iraq). Upon arriving in “N,” Oleg and Nikola plan to reopen the factory, which has been shut for many years after the break-up of the Soviet Union, with the help of the locals in order to manufacture two industrial turbines to fulfil a contract Oleg has arranged with “the Colonel,” the leader of a Middle Eastern country. Once the factory is running, Perisic broadens the story’s focus, moving back in time to give Nikola and Oleg’s backstories, exploring the lives of villagers and those who have left or been forced from the village, and circling back to a crashing grand finale. Impressively blending the absurd, dire, and comic, Perisic relates often tragic events, but his characters somehow manage to persevere. This clever, ambitious take on the influences of capitalism on Eastern Europe will be perfect for fans of Umberto Eco. [em](Apr.) [/em]