MILLENIUM IN BELGRADE – Vladimir Pištalo
Story starts with the funeral of the President of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito in 1980’s, surreal scene of hundreds of thousands of people passing in silence by Tito’s casket, displayed in the National Assembly in Yugoslavia. A bunch of young intellectuals watch the funeral, with the highest dignitaries from the entire world present, cracking jokes.
It ends with the hellish firework of the NATO – bombing of Belgrade, 2000. (Millenium is supposed to be the end of history.) Meanwhile the life of our main characters, Milan, a historian, Irina, a beauty and a secret junkie, Zora, a moral pillar of the story, Bane, a rock musician and Zuti, a judo champion, who turns a Mafioso, unravel.
A “high-brow war literature” and a must for anybody who wants to understand Serbia in the 1990’s. It was shortlisted for NIN Book of the Year Prize, the most prestigious literary price in Serbia. This novel also had a great success in France, where it was shortlisted for literary award Femina in the category of foreign novels translated into French. It was also well received by French critic.
Millennium in Belgrade is not written according to rules. It is not a chronicle about the years of war, it is a picture of human madness whose main victim is Belgrade. This novel has Slavic origins and it is full of surrealism. The author weaves everything he touches into a magnifficant epopee.
Reviews by French critics:
…a book will take your breath away with its beauty and poetry, a book whose main character is a Serbian capital city. – Le Magazine Literraire
This is a story about a nightmare – about History with capital H… A story that combines fresh, short chapters of bitter scenes from reality, hard, but also liric and tender. – La Nouvel Observateur
The author with rare literar talent succeeded to show the loss and helplessness of the residents of a country that had tumbled like a house of cards. – Le Figaro
A unique Serbian voice, melodic, urban and new … we were glad to find such a writer, educated, yet ironic, who with his special, often hallucinatory manner describes the last decade of 20th century in the city that he identifies with: Belgrade, that is me! – Le Monde
After hallucinatory inner and outer destruction of Belgrade… we can see how the city still succeeded to keep magical parts of its charm, rich specter of its colors. – Livre Hebdo