One thing that I enjoy about this year’s reading challenge (to read books from non-American, preferable non-white authors) is the many new discoveries I’ve made. This book was bought on a whim at a used bookstore, mostly because I could not pronounce the author’s name. Also, the back cover mentions the Balkans, and I realized that I had no idea where that region was or what life might be like there.
This book was delightful. It’s told from the perspective of a young woman, whose grandfather has died in somewhat mysterious circumstances, and she is remembering times with him and stories he told of his life while journeying to find more details about his death. The stories-within-a-story device can be distracting sometimes, but the author made strong connections that kept me engaged. And I loved the justification for the stories – explained by the narrator’s grandfather, who connects most of these stories – this idea that some moments in our lives are so spectacular and unbelievable that we don’t share them because the act of sharing would diminish their power.
I also loved the sense of wonder, or magic, or perhaps even possibility, that floated just below the surface in the whole book. The line between myth and reality was blurred in such an appealing way.
Death keeps showing up
he has a recurring role
and is quite charming.