Starred review of Impossible Stories II in Publishers Weekly

Impossible Stories IIImpossible Stories II (which consists of Compartments, Four Stories till the End and Amarcord, as well as two stand-alone stories, “The Square” and “First Photograph”) has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly:

Zivkovic (The Writer/The Book/The Reader) masterfully filters memory and art through absurdism in this limited edition collection. “Compartments” follows an unnamed man as he is escorted through six rooms on a train, encountering odd travelers who tell him about a mysterious muse-like woman. “Four Stories Till the End,” the pinnacle of both storytelling and strangeness, features four people, each interrupted in turn by guests who tell art-themed stories with delightful digressions on the horrible crimes prevented by circus detectives and the need for any top hotel to have a weapons factory. “Amarcord,” named for Fellini’s 1973 film, comprises 10 short stories wherein various people buy, sell and lose their memories. Two shorter pieces round out the collection, which neither has nor needs mainstream appeal; fans of Zivkovic’s unclassifiable quirkiness will quickly snap up all 500 copies.

Impossible Stories II will be released in September by PS Publishing in the UK.

Silence Without review of The Fourth Circle

An entirely fascinating view of my novel The Fourth Circle:

The story is comprised of individual streams which, at first, appear to have nothing in common. An individual walking on an empty planet. An AI in a remote temple in a wild jungle. Echoes of historical figures; Archimedes, Nikolas Tesla, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A species of spheres. A giant ring of living electricity in space. Poor frightened painter’s assistant. Some streams uncurl for the length of the book, others surfacing only briefly to counterpoint those coming before and following after. There are familiar things unfurled, exotic things, exciting things, whimsical things, ordinary things, odd things, and for some time each of these fragments appear unrelated to the others. They are in different times and different places with no hope of ever crossing, so how then do the threads tie together?

Each vignette is a masterpiece on its own, however. At the end of each chapter, I was equal parts joy at returning to a stream, and irritation at departing from the last. They are all of them utterly fascinating, beautifully crafted and with such diversity that there is no chance for the reader to get tired, or become glutted on the book. With the constant contrast and variety, every chapter is something new and refreshing.

Click for the full review.

New reviews roundup

Reviews for several of Zoran’s books have been rolling in over the past two months. Apologies for the lack of updates; my day job as a schoolteacher took over my life for a while. Postings should be more regular from now on. –JEL, webmaster

The Last Book:
FOCUS Online (German)
Funkhaus Europa (German)*
Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Swiss)
Main-Echo (German)
Die Rheinpfalz (German)
Nahaufnahmen (German)
Nordwest Zeitung (German)

The Writer / The Book / The Reader:
Bibliophile Stalker
Público (Spanish)

The Bridge:
Bibliophile Stalker

Escher’s Loops and The Ghostwriter:
SF Site

Seven Touches of Music:
Acrisalves (Portuguese)

The Fourth Circle:
Acrisalves (Portuguese)

Hidden Camera:
Reading the Leaves

* This review mistakenly identifies the author as the former Prime Minister of Serbia, who has the same name. As Zoran says, “Sooner or later, it was bound to happen.”

Blesok review of Escher’s Loops

Escher's LoopsMy latest book, Escher’s Loops, has been reviewed in the Macedonian-based Blesok:

The four large threads are woven on more than three hundred pages, each with its own characters who, not by accident, are characters from the previous thread, characters and events that had been mentioned and are interconnected. In the first thread the connection is via an unusual memory, so where one starts, the second continues, the latter being part of the third and so on until it comes back to the first one, and in the second there is telling of stories which are also connected, each story being a story within a story, and so on until the next thread. The third thread is directly connected with suicides, more specifically the stories on suicides and the old lady in green, who, together with the gentleman in white would be the key to resolving the riddle, which would be hinted in the fourth thread, fully led by dreams. Taking into consideration all of these four elements – memory, stories, suicides, dreams, and the characters of the lady in green and the gentleman in white, we have the opportunity to only start the weaving, because somewhere at the end of the novel Zoran Živković returns us to the beginning again, without giving us the chance to make sure if we had undid ourselves in the proper way or not. Or maybe it does not matter how and if we had undid. Maybe it is more important to accept the game, and similarly to Escher’s graphics, one thread leads to another, and the latter leads to a new and unknown one.

Link to the full review.

New reviews of The Last Book

The Last Book has been receiving some nice attention recently. It seems my “meta-fictional thriller” is making quite an impact.

Here are four reviews of the German edition of the book, published by DTV in November 2008:

Here is a Finnish review of the book:

And Larry at OF Blog of the Fallen mentioned The Last Book in his 2008 roundup of translated fiction:

Serbian author Zoran Živković has been a favorite of mine ever since I read the 2004 English translation of his The Fourth Circle. Although most of his stories that I’ve read have been short, thematically-connected “story suites,” The Last Book is a suspense novel about why people are dying after they open a particular book. As is fitting for his tales, Živković’s tale is in turns surreal and poignant, with a twist ending that, while not surprising for those familiar with his writing, is a fitting conclusion to a playful mystery.

Michael Dirda on Zoran Zivkovic

Michael Dirda of The Washington Post recently provided a write-up of independent publishers of fantastic fiction, and had some very nice things to say about The Last Book:

As one who can never resist a bookish mystery, especially one with supernatural elements, I was deeply grateful when a friend sent me a copy of The Last Book, by Zoran Zivkovic (translated from the Serbian by Alice Copple-Tosic). Zivkovic is one of the most attractive new writers to enter fantasy recently, and he’s been mightily prolific, with much of his work brought out by PS, including his fat collection Impossible Stories. In general, the erudite Zivkovic may be likened to a more playful Borges, touched with a bit of Calvino and Kafka.

Link to the full article.

In addition to PS Publishing, which released The Last Book in the UK, Dirda also mentions several other small specialty presses that are certainly worth your attention.

The Last Book selected as Book of the Day

It seems my novel The Last Book is making quite an impact worldwide. It was just selected as “The Book of the Day” atthe very prestigious Literary Portal Lemeus. And here is the accompanying review — a rather favorable one (if you happen not to be able to read German).

Es gibt sie in jeder Stadt: die charmanten kleinen Buchhandlungen – Tummelplatz für Individualisten und Intellektuelle, Oasen für jene, die den Konsumwahnsinn meiden und eine persönliche, kompetente Beratung zu schätzen wissen. In jedem Fall ein in sich geschlossener Kosmos, den die einen verunsichert meiden, die anderen dafür umso mehr genießen. Doch kaum versieht man sich, kann aus jenem Idyll schnell ein Schauplatz des Unerklärlichen werden, zumindest wenn man Zoran Zivkovic, dem Meister des Schwarzen Humors und der serbischen Postmoderne, Glauben schenken darf.

Link to the full review.

Strange Horizons review of The Last Book

A very insightful, in-depth review by Matt Denault of The Last Book has just appeared at Strange Horizons:

Seeming, we are reminded in Zoran Zivkovic’s The Last Book, is not being: seeming is a story we impose based on surfaces. Zivkovic’s new metafictional mystery seems, for much of its length, designed to convey an appreciation for serious literature over and above any attempt to itself be serious literature. Allusions to Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and exhortations to judge books by their content, not their genre, abound; meanwhile Zivkovic’s own story marches in lock-step with the most clichéd of mystery and thriller tropes. Yet by the novel’s end it has become clear that the convivial evocations of Eco’s work and of genre mystery signifiers must be read more as instructions to the reader than a description of content. This is a novel that requires detective work, and ultimately its strength lies in its very un-genre acknowledgement that there is a world beyond its covers.

Link to the full review. review of The Last Book

The Last Book, DTVAnother excellent review of the German (DTV) edition of my novel The Last Book just appeared. Here is an excerpt for those of you who happen to be fluent in German.

Das Lesen von Romanen ist eine verdammt gefährliche Tätigkeit. Mal schweben die Figuren des Romans in Lebensgefahr und sind abhängig von der Geschicklichkeit des Lesers, wie etwa in Giwi Margwelaschwilis letztem Roman “Officer Pembry”. Mal ist es der Autor, der von seinen Figuren an den Abgrund des Todes geführt wird, wie im jüngsten Kriminalroman “Und dann gab’s keinen mehr” des Briten Gilbert Adair, der auf wunderbar versponnene Weise die Hassliebe zwischen Autor und Figur thematisiert. Dritter in diesem – sehr lockeren – postmodernen Bunde ist der Serbe Zoran Živković, der hierzulande ein ähnliches Geheimtipp-Schicksal führt wie die beiden anderen Autoren. “Das letzte Buch” ist sein kurzer Roman betitelt, der in diesem Herbst in deutscher Übersetzung erschienen ist und in dem es um die tödliche Macht des Lesens geht. Im Falle von Živković sind es die Leser selbst, die durch ihre Lektüre in Gefahr geraten, denn hier wird Lesen zu einer absolut todbringenden Angelegenheit.

Link to the full review here.

The Last Book on WDR4

The Last Book, DTVThe DTV edition of my novel The Last Book was favorably reviewed December 2nd on the very prestigious German Radio Station WDR4.

You can listen the review at here.

And here is the textual version of the review:

WDR4 (02.12.2008)


von Sibylle Haseke

Noch nie ist jemand in ihrem Laden gestorben, und überhaupt noch nie im Leben hat sie einen Toten gesehen. Dementsprechend verstört ist Vera, die Inhaberin der Buchhandlung “Papyrus”, als sie den alten Mann leblos über ein Buch gebeugt in einem ihrer Lesesessel entdeckt. Der Arzt vermutet Herzversagen; Inspektor Dejan Lukic vermutet ebenfalls, dass er umsonst gerufen wurde, ein Verbrechen liegt hier mit Sicherheit nicht vor, aber über Veras Bekanntschaft ist er höchst erfreut.

Gleich am nächsten Tag sucht Dejan erneut ihre Nähe; immerhin hat er Literatur studiert und findet so genügend Gründe, um sich in der Buchhandlung herumzutreiben. Von Vera erfährt er, dass sie einige höchst eigentümliche Kunden hat, die sie insgeheim “Patienten” nennt. Zum einen gibt es diejenigen, die sich in der kalten Jahreszeit nur ein bisschen bei ihr aufwärmen wollen, zum anderen aber auch diejenigen, die einen handfesten Tick an den Tag legen: Da ist der komische Kauz, der jede Woche das gleiche Buch kauft – inzwischen dürfte er hundertfünfzig davon haben, dann die schrullige Dame, die jeden Donnerstag mit derselben Sammlung Liebesgedichte im Laden erscheint und dort Stunden mit Lesen verbringt, oder die Frau, die sämtliche Bücher in den Regalen heimlich umsortiert, und der Mann, der, statt Bücher zu kaufen, möglichst unbemerkt eigene Exemplare in die Buchhandlung hineinschmuggelt. Allesamt undurchschaubare Sonderlinge.

Völlig undurchschaubar sind auch die Vorfälle, zu denen Inspektor Dejan Lukic in den folgenden Tagen gerufen wird. Zwei weitere Menschen sterben, nachdem sie in Veras Laden in einem Buch geblättert haben, und das sind bei weitem noch nicht die letzten Mordopfer. Denn von Mord muss man mittlerweile ausgehen, selbst wenn sich keinerlei äußere Gewalteinwirkung nachweisen lässt. Vielleicht ist ein außergewöhnliches Gift die Ursache, über welches aber höchstens der Geheimdienst vom “Amt für Nationale Sicherheit” verfügt. Dessen Vertreter argwöhnen auch sogleich terroristische Hintergründe und mischen die Ermittlungen mit groß angelegten Spionageaktionen gehörig auf.

Inspektor Dejan Lukic allerdings ahnt andere, mysteriöse Zusammenhänge. Ihn beunruhigt sein immer wiederkehrendes Gefühl, dieses alles schon einmal erlebt oder irgendwo gelesen zu haben. Selbst die zunehmend vertraulichen und bald sogar verliebten Gespräche mit Vera gleichen Dialogen, die ihm bekannt vorkommen. Dejan fragt sich, welch tiefere Bedeutung womöglich seine Albträume haben? Und welche Rolle der düstere Teesalon spielt, in den er Vera regelmäßig begleitet und in dem sie ganz wunderbar stimulierende Tees entdecken? Ohne dass er weiß, wonach er sucht, gerät Dejan unvermittelt auf die Spur des Letzten Buches und damit in einen verworrenen Strudel aus Fiktion und Wirklichkeit.

“Das letzte Buch” ist ein spannender Roman, der mit einer ganz ungewöhnlichen Mischung aus Mystik und schwarzem Humor daherkommt. Er erzählt eine intelligente Geschichte, deren Figuren über Weisheit ebenso verfügen wie über Witz.