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Hourglass
     

Hourglass

by Danilo Kis
 

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Of all Danilo Kis's books, Hourglass, the account of the final months in one man's life before he is sent to a concentration camp, is generally considered his masterpiece.

Overview

Of all Danilo Kis's books, Hourglass, the account of the final months in one man's life before he is sent to a concentration camp, is generally considered his masterpiece.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Particularly fascinating in this difficult and demanding novel, regarded by many as the late author's finest, is Kis's agile re-creation of the multi-ethnic culture of the border territory between Hungary and Yugoslavia. Set in 1942, the novel describes in rich, Kafka-esque terms the external and internal worlds of a railway clerk called E.S. whose quotidian concerns include antagonism toward his well-to-do sister Netty, quarrels with her son George about a piece of jointly owned property, and futile, indignant inquiries to the authorities about why his pension has been reduced. But Kis uses this "life'' of a victim as a counterpoint to his second story line, which matter of factly reveals an exploding, horrific world in which Jews are murdered in countless mundane or outlandish ways, commit suicide, or simply disappear while the general population goes mad. The novel is fleshed out by a series of questions and answers elicited by an ominous, unseen person who interrogates E.S. A final "letter'' reveals that the preceding text is a manuscript, written by E.S., meant to be "a bourgeois horror story,'' a telling summation of this ultimately rewarding novel.
Library Journal
Volume after tantalizing volume, the works of the Serbo-Croation Kis are slowly making their way into English. This wonderfully translated work is the fourth to reach us, following by a year The Encyclopedia of the Dead (Farrar), an important collection of disturbing short stories that extends the genre's boundaries. Equally disturbing and innovative, this book echoes Kafka. The "hero,'' known only as E.S., is an insignificant railroad worker whose pension is mysteriously reduced. We watch in horror as he struggles to learn his fate. We shudder as we discover he represents European Jews destined for extermination. A brilliant stylist, Kis takes us deep into history's darkness. A major achievement.
— Vincent D. Balitas, Allentown College, Center Valley, PA
Book World Washington Post
A finely sustained, complex fictional performance. It is full of pain and rage and gusto and joy of living, at once side-splitting and a heartbreaker.
From the Publisher

"What distinguishes Kiš's novel is its authorial independence. A conventional narrative structure is ignored; it is the author's musings and diversions that magically build suspense. That he succeeds is a rare achievement." --Herbert Mitgang, New York Times

"Probably no other novelist has succeeded better than Kiš in making a densely stylistic pattern out of such a nightmare, conveying with gruesome but also aesthetically beautiful effect the interrelation in such a life at such a time of the quotidian and the apocalyptic, the combination of the sense of trivia with the sense of doom." --John Bayley, New York Review of Books

"A finely sustained, complex fictional performance. It is full of pain and rage and gusto and joy of living, at once side-splitting and a heartbreaker." --John Simon, Washington Post Book World

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780571132935
Publisher:
Texas Bookman, The
Publication date:
06/15/1993

What People are Saying About This

Danilo Kis
Danilo Kis on Hourglass:

"While working on Hourglass, I tried to replace the monotony of a given style — the sort of thing a writer settles into after a long quest — with polyphony, a formal polyphony. Hence the use of the most varied literary devices — sometimes lyrical and sometimes essayistic, sometimes ironic and sometimes tragiserious, sometimes philosophical and sometimes parodical." (Danilo Kis, from Homo Poeticus)

Meet the Author


Danilo Kiš (February 22, 1935–October 15, 1989) was a Yugoslavian novelist, short story writer and poet who wrote in Serbo-Croatian. Kiš was influenced by Bruno Schulz, Vladimir Nabokov, Jorge Luis Borges and Ivo Andric, among other authors. His most famous works include A Tomb for Boris Davidovich and The Encyclopedia of the Dead.

Ralph Manheim has translated several works by Günthre Grass and Bertolt Brecht.

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