Fata Morgana

Svetislav Basara, trans. from the Serbian by Randall A. Major. Dalkey Archive (Columbia Univ., dist.), $16 trade paper (210p) ISBN 978-1-62897-113-2
Serbian author Basara's sardonic, thoughtful, and playful voice shines forth in each story of this collection. A narrator tries to explain to his father that he has as much of an authentic existence as Donald Duck; another protagonist is existentially aware that he is being written on the page. Each fragmented narrative focuses on the precarious and outright impossibility of existence—as one narrator says, "One day you die and you see that you never even existed, that there were no traditions, that nothing was worth all the effort invested." But these stories aren't nihilistic. Instead they encourage the reader to seek out what truly exists and has meaning. One of the highlights of the collection, the novella "Civil War Within," narrates a series of deaths that happen in an apartment over the course of a single day. Basara touches on the sources and ends of ideology, the meaning of life and death, and how a nation can consume itself simply because it believes in its own existence. Though sometimes challenging, Basara's stories have a payoff in the thoughtfulness they excite and in the playful pleasure of their many absurdities. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/07/2015
Release date: 11/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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