A mysterious visitor comes
to see three desperate human beings: an astronomer in his prison cell the
night before his execution for the ultimate heresy; a paleolinguist with a
wasted life behind her who has been forgotten by everybody in her dusty
basement office; an old watchmaker with a dark, painful spot in his past
that has haunted him for decades. The visitor has a unique but ambiguous
time-gift for each one of them. His true identity is only known by an
insane artist locked up in her asylum atelier. But who would believe an
artist in this world, even if she were not insane?
"Admittedly a slim volume, Zivkovic
concisely yet densely packs this short narrative with more than one
might expect from a far lengthier novel. Provocative and compelling,
these are stories that will tease you long after the pages are
completed, the questions raised eluding any definitive answer. An
impressive work, and deserving of a larger and thoughtful audience."
"This slim novel questions the
relationship of reality to fiction. In the end, everything is called
into question: the identity of the characters, the mysterious visitor,
the doctor, and the author. The borders between reality and fiction are
blurred, and the reader remains uncertain whether he is facing a fiction
within a fiction. This unusual book, a hybrid of postmodernism and
science fiction, raises some critical questions about human existence.
It is open to many interpretations, both literary and philosophical, and
can be read at different levels."
World Literature Today,
The runner-up for the
Yugoslav literary "Oscar", "NIN" award, in 1998.
Published in the USA by Northwestern University
Press, 2000, in Croatia by Izvori, 2000, in the Czech
Republic by Mlada Fronta, 2001, in Spain by Minotauro,
2004, in the UK by PS Publishing, 2006, as a part of the
mega-collection Impossible Stories, and in Turkey by Istiklal,
Stories from the book published in
the the UK (magazine Interzone, June 1999), and in Hungary
(magazine Atjaro, August 2002).