One could almost draw paralleles, with fate of Danilo Kis and his novel, in former Yugoslavia, with every "free thinker" troughout the known history. Nobody, especially totalitarian regime, likes "the voice that yells in the desert". So it became that this book was putted on a certain kind of "index librorum prohibitorum". What makes it tragic, is the fact that that was happening in the upper half of twentieth century.
What was so incriminating in that book, that communist party simply had to make that move? When one starts to question revollution, when one starts to question necessity of one voice-one peolpe doctrine, when one sees in "fight of the oppressed" just a certain kind of tragedy, human misery that has been manifesting repeatedly through human existene, one must become "enemy of the state". And that has not changed up until today, nor it will. But that is the story for some other place and time.
There is much of J.L. Borges influence in this work, especially in the short stoy called "Dogs and books", but you mustn't think that this is Borgesian "collection" of stories. These work are much less artistic (whatever that means) and much more they resemble reality, life itself, than Borges work does.
By telling the story of seven individuals, the lived their life in a countries rich with political struggles, Danilo Kis draws excellent portrait oh human ability to endure, and even so, to somehow fail miserably and be forever gone from this world.
Why the four stars? I was hearing so much of this book, and when I finally read it, it somehow dissapointed me, probably was expecting to much, or maybe is just that, taht I have failed to grasp entire meaning of the novel. So, better to read it again :) If you looked for great writer from, Mid-Southern Europe, Kis is the one you could deffinitely start with.