Bodor’s novel takes place in a village in the Carpathian Mountains. Situated in the centre of Europe, this godforsaken village is surrounded by piles of garbage that give off a sickening stench. In the middle of the village, there is a penal colony for real and alleged consumptive patients – a reservation within a reservation where acts of senseless cruelty and tender love are committed, reported by the narrator in the same matter-of-fact tone. It seems that the village has recently undergone a change of regime: the feared overlords of Bogdanski Dolina, the mountain riflemen have been replaced by priests – though rumour has it that those are in fact colonels and army officers in disguise. In any case, the locals are now waiting for the visit of the archbishop.
Bodor’s districts are comparable to the Zone in Tarkovsky’s Stalker, although they are reservations rather than sacred spots for purification and salvation. By virtue of being isolated, they are places where the primordial aspirations of power are enacted, where human solidarity takes the shape of mutual dependence and where the only adequate response is flight.” (Lajos Jánossy)
“For me, practically all areas of life were determined by being convicted as a political prisoner and having spent two years in prison… I am happy that it happened. To be sure, mine has been the life of a person bearing an existential stigma, but in the background it was charged not with the clinging shadow of frustration but with the richness of the pleasures of life.” (Ádám Bodor)
ISBN 978 963 14 2588 8
2007, hard cover with jacket
128 pages, 120 × 190 mm
French, Robert Laffont
Italian, Il Saggiatore