Read Garden, Ashes by Danilo Kiš William J. Hannaher İlknur Özdemir Aleksandar Hemon Online


In Yugoslavia during the Second World War, young Andi Scham and his beleaguered family are constantly moving, searching for refuge. Yet the physical hardships of the world do not intrude on Andi's adolescent world of vivid observation and imaginative withdrawals. From his memories emerges the wondrous story of his father, Eduard Scham--the Wandering Jew, Don Quixote, red-eIn Yugoslavia during the Second World War, young Andi Scham and his beleaguered family are constantly moving, searching for refuge. Yet the physical hardships of the world do not intrude on Andi's adolescent world of vivid observation and imaginative withdrawals. From his memories emerges the wondrous story of his father, Eduard Scham--the Wandering Jew, Don Quixote, red-eyed, crazed, drunk, bellicose, a man who recedes from life and then disappears in the Holocaust.Andi's search for his father is a poetic, lyrical remembrance of things past. The celebrated Serbian writer Danilo Kis has blended bits of realism, snatches of dreams, and echoes of his own consciousness as a child to shape this magical and memorable novel....

Title : Garden, Ashes
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781564783264
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 170 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Garden, Ashes Reviews

  • Geoff
    2019-03-14 23:52

    I don’t know if I am totally comfortable with liking a book such as Garden, Ashes as much as I do. The historical facts behind it’s necessity of being are too terrible, and it brings up the question, at least in my mind, as to why I enjoy these particular types of books so much. The type of books I mean are early to mid-twentieth century literary memoirs from Eastern Europe and Russia; and if they are memoirs of a childhood, or a gulag, or the front, it is all the more strangely alluring, and I’m not sure if the reasons behind my fascination with this genre are pure. But is “enjoy” even the right word to use here? Maybe it’s more like I am comforted by them (but how does a deluge bring about comfort?), or that they give me the hopeful thought that art often embodies the better nature of humanity, the ability to sustain itself through tragedy, that it is works of art (books, films, discussions, monuments) that are the truly lasting echoes of a disaster- they resound a bit longer than the disaster itself and perhaps better inform the future. Regardless, one only can wish that these books never had to come into being.The world did not end with the Holocaust, but it surely made it a lot tougher to forgive humanity its sins, to see us as something possessing an inherent good. Danilo Kiš’s father vanished, presumably into Auschwitz, sometime in the middle of World War II, when the writer was 9 years old. He was a Jew, Kiš’s mother was Christian, so she and Danilo were spared that specific fate; they were dealt a grim one nonetheless. Garden, Ashes is a fictional account of a parallel event, though the Holocaust is never directly mentioned. Through the perspective of a child growing into an adolescent, World War II in Eastern Europe takes on the qualities of a Biblical epic, or a mythical fantasia, or a series of morbid absurdities and caricatures, constant motion, hunger, and destitution. Garden, Ashes always inhabits the perspective of Andi Scham, but is also a portrait of his eccentric, messianic, disturbed father Eduard Scham (really the most unforgettable character I’ve encountered in literature in a long time), also of his sister and his mother, relatives and coevals caught in the flood of events that subsumed the Jewish population of Eastern Europe in the middle of the last century. However, a reader going into this book looking for a Holocaust memoir, or a WWII epic, or even a literal historical perspective on the time period will be confounded. The world of Garden, Ashes is Andi Scham’s world; personalized, rendered, mythologized, fragmented as memories of childhood are. The reader is disoriented when Andi is disoriented, the reader sees the events of pogroms and intermittent fleeing and poverty and war with the naivete and narrow discernment of someone not yet quite acclimated to his perceptions. Another way to say it is that Andi Scham’s perceptions are not yet prejudiced, his interpretations not yet made logical and sterile by the clockwork mechanisms of adulthood. The war to him is the doldrums, but a spectacle, and his quixotic visions and memories comprise the book.Kiš focuses on objects, magnifying them in his descriptions, revitalizing their interaction with their world. A Singer sewing machine, a dirty tray, a painting of an angel, a dog, a book, more than inhabit a living space; they have consequences of their own. Their dissolution is also the dissolution of their world:”...a spool from which the thread unwinds, as thick as a cord, magnified and therefore difficult to recognize, like the letter S, giving the illusion of spider legs. The emblem is painted a golden yellow, like a nobleman’s coat of arms, and so are the arabesques on the lacquered head of the machine. They are peeling here and there and the gilt drops off in thin, delicate flakes. The wooden base has also begun to peel, especially along the edges. First it blisters from temperature changes and dampness, then it begins to wrinkle and split like diseased fingernails. A small brass emblem, elliptical like a medallion, yellow and shiny, is attached to the slender neck of the machine with two toothed screws. The same spider-spool is on the emblem, but much clearer because of its reduced dimensions. The words “The Singer Manfg. Co.- Trade Mark” appear in bas-relief on all sides, as though the machine were a coin. When I pressed the treadle, the machine hummed like a lyre.”Notice the qualities of degradation of the sewing machine- temperature changes, dampness, age- evidence of poverty. It is a lyre covered in spiders and webs, with teeth, a machine of wonder and danger, and a symbol- later you realize the Singer is what the children’s only clothes are made on, altered throwaways, and that after Eduard Scham disappears, sewing is the activity that occupies the desperate widow. A particularly heartbreaking scene unfolds when the family, after one of their numerous “trips” (flights from the war, from pogroms), returns to their former dwelling to find the objects, so wonderfully described earlier by Andi’s wandering thoughts, in ruin and decay and abandon. One of the imminent devices of this novel is the use of object description as scene setting, as narrative. Things are reduced to the immediate, as they often are in a child’s eyes. Andi’s first sexual and religious experiences are told in a kind of fairy tale style, a Garden of Eden encounter and the vengeful God, and everything luminous and positive (as in the description of the sewing machine) is entwined with something dangerous and dark, something eating away at the stability of each object and moment.At the center of all of this is the portrait of Andi’s father- monomaniacal, prophetic, apocalyptic Eduard Scham. A book is at the center of his madness. What began with a simple question “How can one travel to Nicaragua?”, develops into an obsession. His Bus, Ship, Rail, and Air Travel Guide, a massive “timetable” of arrivals and departures into and out of every city in the world, by every means of transportation, began as an honest attempt at something like a travel guide, but becomes a historical-philosophical jeremiad, as well as the continuing evidence of Eduard Scham’s disconnection with reality. In its third edition it has become a treatise on Eduard’s personal pantheism, world-philosophy, and theosophical rantings overflowing with inserts, digressions, and rambling, endless end notes. He is hounded and persecuted wherever he goes, thought a madman and a spy by the inhabitants of the towns they settle in (mainly due to his days-long wanderings through the countryside, subsisting on eggs found in bird’s nests, grass, nettles and water from creeks; his filthy, soiled clothing; his messianic, vitriolic rants in local pubs), and ostracized by his relatives. Yet there is a sweetness in Eduard, like a multi-colored eggshell contained in the bramble of a nest, and in the end one has to admit that his apocalyptic prophesies were proven true.“There are people,” my father continued, “who are born to be unhappy and to make others unhappy, who are the victims of celestial intrigues incomprehensible to us, guinea pigs for the celestial machinery, rebels allotted the part of a rebel yet born- by the cruel logic of the celestial comedy- with their wings clipped. They are titans without the power of titans, dwarf-titans whose only greatness was given them in the form of a rigid dose of sensitivity that dissolves their trifling strength like alcohol. They follow their star, their sick sensibility, borne along by titanic plans and intentions, but then break like waves against the rocky banks of triviality. The height of the cruelty allotted them in lucidity, that awareness of their own limitations, that sick capacity for dissociation. I look at myself in the role forced on me by the heavens and by fate, conscious of my role at all times yet at the same time unable to resist it with the force of logic or will... Fortunately, as I said, this role is coming to an end...”It is very easy to read into Eduard the fate of the entire Jewish population of Europe in WWII- pursued, vilified, accosted, criminalized, and finally vanished. And all of his titanic plans of unifying the motion and philosophies of the world in a single “timetable” vanish too.The family lives on, hungry, desperate, alone, wandering. But the luminosity of Andi’s perceptions is maintained. His particularly sensitive nature reacts. He writes his first poem. Thus art is born from tragedy, as a coping mechanism, as a retreat, as a kind of redemption for the world of the survivors, as an ark to maintain and restore meaning after a deluge.

  • Szplug
    2019-03-11 18:47

    There are spoilers endemic to what follows.How would a child have dealt with the horror of something as regimentally and encompassingly evil as the Holocaust? We are all armed, to some degree, with an imagination that can help us deflect, ignore, transform, subsume select trials and tribulations within immiserating life; but the Shoah is an atrocity at an entirely overwhelming level—so that Andreas Scham, the child's narrative voice relating the events of Garden, Ashes, manages to not only enflesh his own tale within the candied concoctions and selenian spells dispensed from his inventive fount, but, in parallel, that of the mythological meandering of historic time and prophetic passage of Old Testament Blues makes for something truly special. Being born of a Jewish father, the raggedly brilliant and eclectic Eduard Scham, means that his male parent will fall under the classification consigning one to the hell of the Nazi death camps, and that enduring poverty will be the lot for his Catholic mother, older sister, and own self as the Second World War consumes Yugoslavia with a ravening hunger, leaving but table scraps and eked crumbs for those allowed the opportunity to survive.Yet it begins not with that horror, but in the kindled warmth of the hearth and arboreal shelter of the forest—a primal magic, matriarchal and earthen, golden and honeyed, potently daubed with feminine traces as young Andi, but a boy, exists within the meticulously described and domiciled closeness of his mother, with quiet elder sister and cat-ghosted Miss Edith nestling at the sides. In a certain light, it proceeds almost in Edenic form, all beautiful chestnut trees and embraces and tanned traces—though the serpent intrudes with such abrupt announcements as that Andi's uncle has died, ere the child knew him. A Jewish uncle, though, at this primordially idyllic stage, that awareness does not fully encroach itself—just hisses forth and slithers immediately away. The serpent is a Semitic spirit, an intrusion into the Singer'ed realm of women's talk and nurturing and feats, ever gazing backward with rapture and harbingering immortality. Indeed, when Andi is set in competition with, and eventual victory over, his classmate Julia, there are hints of a pagan queen having been challenged by the first strains of a stormy, power-wielding patriarchal energy bruiting forth from the harshness of the desert; the intimations of the arrival of sin, of fear, of retribution for having fallen from this verdantly veiled state of grace, most of all in the wrinkled awareness with which Andi is struck that even his beloved mother will die.Enter the father: Eduard Scham, the Wandering Jew, a gifted man harrowed, tormented, even defeated beneath his pride, bowler wearing and deftly wielding an iron-tipped cane, engorged with philosophies and wracked with prophecies, seeking knowledge and solitude with the same thirst he evinces for drink, restless in spirit and body, consuming everything inside as he compiles the variegated lore textually ensconced within the pages of his seminal work, the Bus, Ship, Rail, and Air Travel Guide, save for the musical words his loquaciousness inspires in his son. A fantastic creation, once Eduard has impressed his gaunt self upon the pages the demiurgical dreams of his son take a Judaic turn, delivering him unto the care of Pharaoh's daughter in Egypt and revealing the terrifying and blanketing aerial darkness of the Angel of Death—a reaping spirit unleashed by God when one's eyes are closed, the Germans when waking life has anew staked its claim. Is the real world leaking into Andi's inner world, or has the latter been worked upon the outer reality? Always, there figures his father: in one of the most sublime scenes (and with countless competition), Eduard emerges, hat-first, from the rustling, golden flames of a wheat field like a spirit of darkness all his own—an apocalyptic messiah from another plane encased in bodily form, pure fire imprisoned within a lean and haggardly proud materiality: the pantheistic anima of an actor of polymorphic gestures and postures, ever masked and hidden in performing angles. This oft-absent familial patriarch, who fascinates and beguiles his Slavic neighbors through his eloquent speech and lithe, cane-propped stance, with its aural strains of mythic desert magic from yore, is being thrust—perhaps against his will, and with his kin—into the straitened theater of the modern world. At one point, when his son has been following him, trying to find a way into and through the malestrom of eccentricity that rages within the parent, Eduard delivers an elocution of blistering acumen:“There are people,” my father continued, “who are born to be unhappy and to make others unhappy, who are the victims of celestial intrigues incomprehensible to us, guinea pigs for the celestial machinery, rebels allotted the part of a rebel yet born- by the cruel logic of the celestial comedy- with their wings clipped. They are titans without the power of titans, dwarf-titans whose only greatness was given them in the form of a rigid dose of sensitivity that dissolves their trifling strength like alcohol. They follow their star, their sick sensibility, borne along by titanic plans and intentions, but then break like waves against the rocky banks of triviality. The height of the cruelty allotted them in lucidity, that awareness of their own limitations, that sick capacity for dissociation. I look at myself in the role forced on me by the heavens and by fate, conscious of my role at all times yet at the same time unable to resist it with the force of logic or will... Fortunately, as I said, this role is coming to an end...”Oddly fitting words from a disillusioned messiah; ones that might have ever-pressed behind the lips of Jesus—another Jew entranced by new modes of thinking and believing whilst yet unable (even unwilling) to abscond from all identification with established and eldritch covenants—ever-demanding their utterance, that the charade, whose grim end he'd evidently entirely foreseen, might at least be honestly acknowledged.And so it is, at all times, difficult to discern what part of the father is of this peripatetic genius so unforgettably evoked through the reminiscent verse of Andi, and how much such glamours veiled a worn and weary man, broken at the end by one indignity after another, not least of which was his need to drink. In yet another marvelous passage, Eduard stands singly for an attempted pogrom against Serbian Jews, staving it off through the combinatory potency of his form of address and his fetishistic cane. In another, Andi and his sister come across bits of newspaper wrapped about their father's viscous spittle after he has fully disappeared and they realize, with incredulous melancholy, that such bedaubed treasures are all that they have left of this mesmerizing man. In yet one more, they are forced to watch as Jewish goods are confiscated by German-surnamed overseers; the relocating tension cannot be masked by the politeness and bemused perches under which it is carried out. And most touching of all is the dressed banality of the final note delivered by Eduard to his long-suffering and -admiring family. It took several sentences subsequent to its unremarkable unfolding ere I drew up with a start and returned to the words with which it had been revealed, only to espy the full penetration of Kiš' stiletto thrust on this second try:A month or so later he sent us a letter. He had tossed this letter, or rather a fragment of an envelope, from a sealed cattle car with a note asking the finder to to send it on to the marked address.There's more casually but carefully imparted brutality in this one unshielded glance than were the reality of that ghastly final transport portrayed in its entirety. Afterwards, when Andi puzzles over the interminably perduring absence of his father—deeming he was perhaps lost within his pursuit of book-finalizing knowledge, traipsing the continent and unwilling to be hampered by the quotidian demands of familial responsibility—the reader understands that the father, a ghostly visitor teasingly keeping just beyond sight from the seeking eyes of his dream-rheumy son, has become such a ghost in actuality: a figure, long dead, whose spirit, embalmed in the pretense of fully-committing to his wandering ways, will haunt his son to the end of his days. It's exquisitely, perfectly portrayed; and if the reader's heart isn't broken by the sustained sadness underlying both fact and fiction, said reader simply doesn't have one to be so fractured. It is in such subtle, supernal, sorcerous ways that Danilo Kiš performs his artist's craft.After Eduard's disappearance, the remaining Schams are hard put to it: shuffled into ever-more degraded living conditions (perhaps ghettoized due to the war's demands and/or their condemnatory links to a camp-sent Jew?) and desperately lacking in food, the bronze burnish and cinnamon scents with which we opened the book have been fully bleached to gray, drained of life, reduced to soot. The remainder of Andi's paternal relatives are removed. The air is timbered with fear, marked by the resurgence of the viscously enshrouded Angel of Death in Andi's recurring nightmares, a spectral terror sufficient to render sleep a dread visitation. Yet it also draws mother and child into an approximation of their closeness back when the world was golden and feminine lips held spells, and Andi finds escape within the romanticism, heroism, and adventurism of the novels he has come to devour; finds himself so moved by the engined potency of the ingested word that, in a breaching of his interior surface, its apogean instantiation within poetry inflames him, giving his life both a new meaning and a means by which he might come to honor that which, and those whom, he dearly loved and lost—in particular, the abscessed space which his wondrous father once filled with voluminous words and limbered presence and a pantheistic communion with a world far less hostile when shed of its human miscreants.Escape through the written word. Solace in its versed expression. Purpose in seeking it to imbibe, penning it to share. All of this, fueled by the fantasies and illusions which we not only graft upon the real world, but ofttimes elevate such that reality, with its dehumanizing strains, is fully subsumed. It's the invocation of this, as an answer to history and encomium to family, that Kiš primarily—and beautifully—serves with Garden, Ashes. It begins with the former, ends regrettably with the latter: but through the ashes life is reborn, carries on, rebuilds, learns lessons, perdures. That such a harvest of wondrous resonances and lovely images could be wrought from a tale whose spine is a localized linkage with the measured and professionalized mass murder of millions of fellow human beings—and have it all so aptly conjoined with myth and history—is endlessly impressive. It's also necessary, both tonic to and potent reminder of what must never be allowed to happen again. Ever. We don't have differing grades of human beings—only those who can write like Danilo Kiš, and a vast remainder who can choose to read their words.

  • knig
    2019-03-15 18:01

    Semi-autobiographical memoir tremolo-ed with essay, lithograph, phantasmagoria and confessional to name but a few: a medley of style and temporal, reads like a collection of self contained story pieces loosely threaded together.Kis was Yugoslavian, or, to be even more imprecise, half Austro-Hungarian Jew and half Montenegrin Christian. Finding this out helps contextualise the dichotomy of constantly referring to his father as the Wandering Jew whilst indulging in protracted biblical escapism (granted, the old testament). Sadly, his father perished in Nazi concentration camp during the war, which may have prompted the idealised, poignant focus on his pater -and -familias in the novel; a near obsession, really, but duly justified given the circumstances. Otherwise the war remains firmly on the periphery in this childhood recollection of the 1940s.Lurking in the background are the sceptres of hunger and Singer machines being carted off to concentration camps, but always centre stage is the redemptive salvation of the flight of imagination: the creation of a spiritual and alternate reality of biblical battles, esoteric philosophies and the occasional ‘grope’ with Julia, which actually pissed me off a treat because Kis manages to get that prize by basically demoralising and humiliating her into submission through superior mental prowess. (Not a recommended seduction technique from where I’m standing). Julia is a very minor gripe. The rest is beautiful, mellow tones of rich prose buoyed with understated humour and a marvellous homage to dad: in a style vaguely reminiscent of Rikki Ducornet’s ‘Jade Cabinet’, although she wrote that later, of course. And interestingly, extremely accessible: kis sems to have abandoned mittelEuropa for the cultural harvest of the West: references are plucked from Western lore with erudition and finesse. Baba Yaga, conversely, never makes an appearance.

  • Mariel
    2019-03-07 23:07

    The realization that I was able to control my dreams, channel them in a particular direction by my choice of reading matter or by thinking certain thoughts before going to sleep, resulted in an explosion of my darkest impulses. In fact, I was living two lives (not a trace of bookishness in that), one in reality and the other in my dreams, which produced in me an extraordinary and sinful joy.I am dreaming this. I am dreaming this. I want this. I loved Garden, Ashes and I am on my third reading. I want to keep on reading it until I learn its terrible power of thrilling happiness edged with the ache you can already feel behind it to head it off too early, waking up too early. Well, it is just power, maybe, of the now and the future and past don't exist in its wake. If you can keep on pretending, if you have the juice. I could paint it on my eyeballs or put it in my pocket. If I have the juice... It could be called up whenever you need it like a dark demon with a name to be said three times. Stage, unreality, dreams. The autobiographical cloud grounded sister would sob her heart out when something she loved was over (I know the feeling. I don't really love something unless I prematurely mourn its passing) until she learns to no longer notice what she cannot change. Andi doesn't have that. Andi and his father have costumes and walking one foot before the other in a double dream world. This happened, this won't happen, this will happen. Eduard Scham is the father figure tethered to the front of the horse cart. Dragged behind all the kinds of shit and mud, the Wandering Jew persona to the world and the head of the family for as long as he can disappear behind it. If you could willingly hide behind someone's illusion for as long as you wanted it to last. Oh, their times were hard. Dream or perish. Taste the food in your mouth or starve. What kind of a position are any of those? The victim, the martyr, kicked under. It's not my fault. I could see him moving forever to meet new people to trot out the old sob stories once the old audience has lost the fresh horror (or is that sympathy?) in their eyes. The new, the show, the surprise. It's the knowing your place. How long can you kick yourself under? Andi could freeze frame a moment between the acts to get a glimpse of the real father. If it could have lasted as a deliberate together act. If you could walk inside your own memory and light every thing to see if anything changes you could change the past. Relive, rejoice, revive. Too late. There's another word I was looking for. Oh yeah, it is read. Andi's living this way pulled at every vessel in my body. You know, if you think with your heart. If you could imagine the others you could taste it on your mouth. Maybe it was every cell of my body or something. It hurt. When you're sick sometimes you're vital organs hurt when there is something else wrong with you. It's sort of a way of telling you that something is wrong. Eduard puts on a show. What's wrong? Migrate with the birds in the depression season. Return to sender all letters. Did he use morse code of the animals in the great wide wood? I could see every leaf on every tree. Or was it really every tear drop and not rain drops on the leaves? Dreams are the brain's way of teling you something is important, right? A tiny cell in a ghetto. Kicked under isn't like giving in to the current when you're held under. Strings trailing behind and the sign doesn't say just married it says I'm migrating with the wildebeasts and you know they say those are probably extinct. Someone let go. He could still be in other books, though, if you could dream it hard enough. Heads of family on other heads. Was it all really about the father, anyway? Funny how you start talking about things when you meant to talk about something else. I was having a really good dream and I tried to get back to it. Geoff's review is one of my favorites I've ever (re)read on goodreads. It was one of the few times I had to thank someone on goodreads for writing their review after I finished reading a book that absolutely did me in. Geoff says he tells everyone he knows to read Garden, Ashes and they don't take him up on it. I know there are a lot of other wonderful books in the world. But this one is really special and if you need a special book about what it feels like to write history and your speck of life dust in it through will of dreams and grief and passion and lust for making every thing count and how doing both rips you in two and you don't even want to stop because it can feel like in Garden, Ashes... You could make it last forever, you could pretend it to be real. Read Garden, Ashes. I'm no good at this so please go listen to Geoff.

  • Daniel Leverquin
    2019-03-01 22:06

    Fragmenti sećanja koji su mučili Danila Kiša - tako bih ukratko opisao ovu knjigu.Ovaj bildungsroman je drugi deo trilogije Porodični ciklus kojim autor sprovodi potragu za sopstvenim identitetom u mračnim hodnicima memorije. Opčinjenost smrću i večnošću protagoniste Andreas Sama daju knjizi posebnu, somnambulnu atmosferu, negde između jave i sna.Figura Eduarda oca protagoniste dominira celom knjigom kao lajt motiv, kao želja da ga ne zaboravi, i zapamti i romantizuje. Od blatnjave odiseje preko vojvođanskih polja bežeći od zle kobi vremena u kojem su živeli do filozofko - boemskih avantura Eduarda, sve upućuje na pokušaj da se osvetle mračne slike prošlosti.Lirski efekat je posebno zastupljen u poslednjem delu romana, gde asonanca dolazi do izražaja, dajući nežnu, poetsku boju ne baš lepim događajima.

  • Lee
    2019-03-20 01:49

    I've read it at least four times, once aloud while the passenger in a car from NYC to Iowa. Easily the finest semi-erotic epileptic fit ever. Like Bruno Schulz more than anyone else (nothing like Marquez, per a review on here), but maybe a bit better than Schulz since it's written well after WWII but is set before it. Not to hype it too much but maybe it should be required reading for all human beings who read for everything other than plot, like lists that go on for six or seven pages . . .

  • J.M. Hushour
    2019-03-11 00:06

    One of Kiš' early novels and one of his most autobiographical, much is made of this in the introduction (end elsewhere) about the position of this book in relation to the Holocaust. Well, sure, it takes place against the backdrop of the Holocaust, but the Holocaust is sort of a murky endgame lurking around in the background. The best way I could describe this novel, told from the point of view of little Andi Scham, would be to compare to another tale of well-meaning if insipd quixotic fathers, National Lampoon's Vacation. Eduard Scham, the erratic father, or Clark, on a voyage to his personal hell/Wally World, namely, the concentration camp where he would die. The novel covers this journey, much like the film does, with eerie and disturbing hints of the father's descent into madness, his hatred of dogs, and the family's clutching panic in the face of the patriarch's obsession.

  • Nesrazmerni
    2019-03-20 00:57

    Iako se čitanje ove knjige igrom životnih situacija odužilo na veoma dug period, nikako nisam mogao da se oslobodim utiska detinje spokojnosti svaki put kada bih je uzeo u ruke. Vrlo često želeo sam da se zatvorim između korica ove savršene priče. Bašta pepo je defitivno crno-beli film, sa hrapavim naratorskim glasom, onakvim kakav je i sam Kiš imao. Pregršt bolnih, jasnih, čudnih i maštovitih sećanja, koja kao da su napisana iz jednog daha, rukom jednog jednog dvadesetogodišnjaga u čijim grudima i dalje kuca srce deteta.Definitivno najemotivnija i najlakša Kišova knjiga.

  • Imi
    2019-02-22 17:58

    Since childhood, I was afflicted with a sick hypersensitivity, and my imagination quickly turned everything into a memory, too quickly: sometimes one day was enough, or an interval of a few hours, or a routine change of place, for an everyday event with a lyrical value that I did not sense at the time, to become suddenly adorned with a radiant echo, the echo ordinarily reserved only for those memories which have been standing for many years in the powerful fixative of lyrical oblivion.I'm going to be re-reading portions of this for a bit, because I'm certain parts went right over my head. It's rather murky, indistinct, lyrical, with very little by the way of plot. Yes, it's more of novel than Early Sorrows: For Children and Sensitive Readers, but only just. The language is gloriously poetic (honestly, bravo to the translator!), but I'm rather glad I didn't attempt to read the original first, because even in translation I struggled to connect several of the narrator's observations and glimpses into anything concrete. The early chapters were exquisite, but somewhere in the middle I began to lose the thread, what was trying to be said, although I'm pretty certain this disorientation was intentional ((view spoiler)["Ever since my father vanished from the story, from the novel everything has come loose, fallen apart. His mighty figure, his authority, even his very name, were sufficient to hold the plot within fixed limits... (hide spoiler)]) and I will need to re-read these parts to making any sense of them. I found it easier to follow the moments later in the book where the narrator returned to observations and ideas from earlier in the novel, everything else failed to speak to me. So those are my initial thoughts; a little bit of awe, a little bit of confusion. I'm told the final book in the trilogy, Hourglass is the most experimental, so wish me luck...

  • Sam
    2019-03-14 19:04

    A 4.5, I think - if only to differentiate it from A Tomb for Boris Davidovich, which I liked slightly more - a view which I recognize is in the minority on this site, as well as with the general literary scene, and therefore requires a bit of explanation. On the level of prose, Garden, Ashes is never anything less than exemplary. Sentences often begin in a tersely descriptive mode, focused on one or more objects that are rendered in sharply physical terms - a Singer sewing machine, for example, is described so lovingly that the reader feels as if they're running their fingers over every tiny part - only to have the sentence continue unspooling, past the physical and into metaphorical or even metaphysical terrain; this technique broadens the family story at the heart of the novel, allowing it to connect with a larger spiritual/historical tradition (mysticism, the end of Pan-Europeanism and the "shadow" of the oncoming Holocaust) without sacrificing any of its (sometimes cruel) specificity. An object lesson in turning a well-defined prose sentence against itself, and forcing it to accomplish several goals at once.The story of the father which makes up the heart of the book is also unimpeachable. The story of his slow disintegration (or spiritual assumption?) from a freewheeling merchant to a drunken singer/prophet of doom is so engrossing I disturbed my bandmates on a bus ride to NYC with my constant appreciative murmurs. Despite the narrator's insistence that the father is really nothing more than a succession of masks, by the end of the book his character is indelible, partially because of the technique described above: the way his dirty celluloid collar comes to stand in for the failure of the entire European project, the way his iron-tipped cane takes on its own particular personality.But as I read the final parts, I began to wish for some of the iron structure and formal intelligence on display in Kis' shorter work. The final part is a little baggy - at one point the narrator even admits that without the father to unify things, their story comes apart at the seems, a sentiment I agree with - especially the extended digression concerning the family dog, although in all fairness the final five pages are almost unbearably beautiful, and quite painful: the last lines provoke the kind of soul-shiver that is the ultimate reward of novel reading. I will say, however, that during the family dog scene I began checking to see how many pages there were left - evidence of drag.If one were to invoke the heart/head divide, you could say that Garden, Ashes is the heartstrong and messy younger brother of the more assured, cerebral, and even somewhat chilly A Tomb for Boris Davidovich. The fact that I prefer it the latter might have more to say for my inability to feel without needing to intellectualize the shit out of it. But there you go.Read both of them, then make your own decision. You won't go wrong with either.

  • Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
    2019-03-19 17:52

    Even after past halfway through this novel you'll see nothing but the author's writing prowess. Very little goes by way of plot. As an example, though I cannot reproduce it here because it's too long and typing it could give me carpal tunnel, the very first paragraph is practically just a description by the narrator ( young boy of about nine) of his mother's TRAY and its usual contents (teaspoons, glasses, little jars...). From here, he goes to what a normal child notices and remembers: his mother, his sibling (an elder sister, likewise still a child), their house, their neighbors and his father. His chain-smoking, mysterious, crazed, funny, often-drunk genius of a father. Then, when you begin thinking that this novel would go on forever like this, as if foretelling an observation the reader inevitably would eventually make, a chapter starts with this sentence:"Quite unexpectedly and unpredictably, this account is becoming increasingly the story of my father, the story of the gifted Eduard Scham."What follows this sentence deserves to be quoted verbatim, the possibility of carpal tunnel notwithstanding, for it makes intelligible, by actual sampling, what I'll try to say in this review: that this novel is great, not so much because of its story, but because of the unique way language is used to tell it--"...His absence, his somnambulism, his messianism, all these concepts removed from any earthy--or, if you will, narrative--context, this subject is frail as dreams and notable above all for his primordial negative traits: his story becomes densely woven, heavy fabric, a material of entirely unknown specific weigth. In its wake the self-centered stories about my mother, my sister, and myself, the accounts of seasons and landscapes, fade into the background. All the stories stamped with earthly signs and framed within a specific historical context take on secondary significance, like historical facts bound up in a destiny that no longer concerns us: we shall record them without haste, when we can."What bothers us and keeps us from giving ourselves over to the blissful recording of facts is the muddy tale of my father, woven together from one unreality after another. The term should not be misunderstood: my father's memory is more real than any other memory of my childhood, but he is artfully hiding behind one of his numerous masks, changing roles with unprecedented agility, concealing his true face, resorting to the most perfidious simulation. No matter. Let's attempt to unmask him, to demystify him, since--in any case--my father's story is slowly and inexorably approaching its climax."From the mind of a boy, in the language of the author, the reader is then gently led to the horror of what happened to the Scham family. The mother was a Christian, the father a Jew. The latter left one day, "taken" together with his immediate Jewish relatives. The boy does not know where they went, or what happened to them. He just tells you, in the exact unique prose as the above quote, that they left and never came back; that for a long time even the family dog Dingo was looking for them; and that he, his mother and sister tried to conjure them up, especially his father, from their memory. Telling the reader again and again, in the same roundabout, whimsical way the mother's tray is described, that they love Eduard Scham and miss him.

  • мини тяло
    2019-03-07 20:01

    Данило Киш наистина пише като поет, както ще прочетете на анотацията на задната корица (ако четете какво пише там, понеже аз рядко го правя, почти като суеверие ми е). Размечтан, приласкаващ, плътен език (тук е нужно да отдадем заслуженото и на преводачката Людмила Миндова, чиито преводи винаги са ми особено на сърце). Наситен с образи и миризми разказ за детството, за раздялата с бащата – почти несъзателна, почти несъстоятелна: Съзнаваше пределно ясно окончателността на заминаването си, както и факта, че го посещаваме като далечен познат, комуто сме простили всичко и следователно идваме да го посетим, както се идва на гроб, веднъж годишно, на Вси светии.За доизмислянето на родителя, който си тръгва, за доизмисляне на живота, който трябва да се превърне в спомен (Защото аз още от дете страдах от някаква свръхчувствителност и мечтата ми превръщаше всичко в спомен (...)), в картичка на хладилника, в нещо отдавна забравено, от което следва само мълчание: (...) мълчанието, там, откъдето започва всичко.За разбирането, катарзиса и в крайна сметка, за прошката:Знам, знам, че не можеш да ми простиш егоизма, моята непримиримост към света. Може би имаш право, но сега вече е късно и за разкаяния, и за обяснения. Разбираш ли: сега вече е късно, младежо... Но позволи ми да ти кажа още някоя дума. Моята роля на жертва, която повече или по-малко съм играл цял живот – защото човек действително играе своя живот, своята съдба – тази роля, казвам ти пак, върви към своя край. Не може, младежо мой, и това го запомни веднъж завинаги, не може да играеш цял живот ролята на жертва и в края на краищата да не станеш жертва.

  • Chris
    2019-03-13 21:00

    Dull and uninteresting. Nothing much happens in this disappointing book. The young, hyper-sensitive Proustian narrator lives only in his muddled over-literary thoughts and dreams. Kiš devotes whole chapters diving into several of his awakening senses, thoroughly stirring up a linguistic mess, often suffused with the smell of urine. It's not delightful. Outside the narrator's fetid mind, his closest friend is his mother, with whom he is uncomfortably close. But his father is the actual main character of this tale, assuming great symbolic importance. He is offered up as the victim and moral center of the book, which would have worked if he was someone to whom we could relate. Unfortunately, his essential weirdness is too strange and not at all likable.The only real action in the book, which is otherwise surreal, happens in one chapter when the narrator experiences a brief moment of normal human biological behavior with his school friend Julia, but that's soon squashed by disapproving relatives and of course, Religion. An entire chapter is devoted to aligning the story of Genesis to the sins of his own teenage life. Ho hum, what a waste. Things do begin to look up later when "doubt" enters his young world. But this is not followed up and anyway seems overplayed to our modern ears. Essentially a coming-of-age memoir, with the horrible events of the Second World War ominously in the background, there are many far better accounts of this often-told tragic story.

  • Melissa
    2019-03-07 18:05

    A beautiful, strange, surreal book."'There are people,' my father continued, 'who are born to be unhappy and to make others unhappy, who are the victims of celestial intrigues incomprehensible to us, guinea pigs for the celestial machinery, rebels allotted the part of a rebel yet born -- by the cruel logic of the celestial comedy -- with their wings clipped. They are titans without the power of titans, dwarf-titans whose only greatness was given to them in the form of a rigid dose of sensitivity that dissolves their trifling strength like alcohol. They follow their star, their sick sensibility, borne along by titanic plans and intentions, but then break like waves against the rocky banks of triviality.'"

  • Marc
    2019-02-22 17:56

    Intriguing book. The central character is the strange Eduard Sam, genius-bombastic-embittered-depressive "wandering Jew", seen through the eyes of his hypersensitive son Andi. The story is divided into 12 pieces, with shifting perspectives and the styles. Kis begins with a delicious piece of proustian prose, including meandering sentences. But later his language becomes more poetic, dream like, reminding me of Bruno Schulz. But then my attention dropped a bit: Kis (like Schulz, by the way) loses focus and becomes a little bit too exuberant for my taste. In retrospect, it is perhaps more a kind of Bildungsroman, about the genesis of a young author (thus autobiographical)?

  • Justin Evans
    2019-02-28 23:55

    Many readers love this book, and it's worth knowing that I'm generally bored by holocaust art, and even worse, that I roll my eyes at the very idea. That's unfair to Kis, whose book is not at all another dull heart-string puller, but I can't help it. I'm just tired of attempts to capture, in art, that singular horror. I miss something, then, because this is interesting attempt. Leaving aside that whole question, though, Garden, Ashes is the kind of first novel that gets me very excited to read more by the same author. There's no unity here at all: some realistic depictions of a father figure, some surreal weirdness, some lavish (I mean that as a criticism) descriptive prose. The early chapters, and the last chapter, are glorious, and I'll be re-reading them in the future. But the first-novel feeling reaches its height after the first hundred pages, when Kis decides, for no particularly good reason (I know, I know, it's because of the holocaust) to make the father the focus of the book, and then the father disappears. The following chapter is a fine short piece with little connection to the preceding pages. And then it all goes downhill. Other reviewers have noted that without the father the whole thing heads off the rails. Sad but true. I would put the decline even earlier: after the first "father" chapter, the book probably could have ended, but for the return to the narrator's fear of death in the final chapter.

  • Jonfaith
    2019-03-01 23:52

    Tandem read w/ my own Mrs. What ensued were plumes of discussion concerning the idea of Jewish lit within Balkan letters. I enjoyed the discussion as much as I did this haunted novel.

  • Mirco
    2019-02-20 22:03

    Vaguely reminiscent of Bruno Schulz, it is a highly evocative book, where the magic of children's eyes is fully restored.

  • Snafu Warrior
    2019-03-21 00:47

    O detinjstvu. Ali postoji li šta čudesnije? Upravo to nam je Kiš predstavio ovde, ono magično prepoznavanje sitnica koje su u tom dobu nama značajne, svakako se treba staviti u poziciju deteta, što verujem da je Kiš i uradio... ali s obzirom da je semi-autobiografska nije mu bilo teško da uz to ubaci i elemente svoje prošlosti, naše drage dame, Nostalgije.Knjiga nema specifičan plot, što je još jedna od dobrih stvari koje ja smatram za originalnim. Likovi su svedeni na minimum, upravo onaj koji može da ima jedno dete, odnosno broj likova na koje ono obraća pažnju i koji utiče na njega, što je ovde izvanredno predstavljeno kod Eduarda Sama, oca naratora.U trenucima sam poželeo da uporedim njegov stil sa Markesovim, ali bih tako na taj način poništio njegovu originalnost i Markesov čist prikaz magičnog realizma, što se ovde pomalo nazire ali uglavnom više teži ka nekom oniričkom stilu, nalik na veoma vididnom sanjarenju.Dao sam ovoj knjizi 4 zvezdice jer je previše kratka, ili nedovoljno dugačka da zasiti moj apetit.

  • Patrick Robitaille
    2019-03-12 22:14

    ** 1/2This novel was meant to describe, as a sort of autobiographical memoir, the escape from the Nazis of a Serb Jewish family. Some of their wanderings brought them to Hungary, where they were relatively safe(r). The narrator is a child in his early teens who has a very developed imagination and a tendency to lyrically romanticize. While there are beautiful poetical moments, the whole remains hard to read and to remain engaged; it also contains some confusing aspects. For example, while this is a Jewish family, the narrator kept making references to his attending the church (never was there a reference to a synagogue): was that meant to imply that church attendance would lead the authorities to believe that they were Christians and not Jews? This was never clarified. Anyway, I struggled through this one, but maybe a re-read at some point might be in order.

  • Ben
    2019-02-26 19:09

    Aleksandar Hemon, in the introduction, calls this "one of the best books about the Holocaust", but it is really striking how this topic is never addressed directly. The narration is distant, the pain is displaced elsewhere -- for example, in the howling of the dog who misses his master, and the unnatural silence of the house magnified as a threatening, unknown presence in his nightmares.The book is quite short (< 200 pgs) but demands to be read slowly. The writing is excellent and full of poetry, as in this description of a puppy: This tiny life, this moist snout, these trembling paws that open and close like a thorny blossom....

  • Lars K Jensen
    2019-02-28 22:53

    There's literature, Literature, LITERATURE - and then there's ***LITERATURE***.Danilo Kiš' 'Garden, Ashes' no doubt belongs to the latter group. There is a direct line from the great works of Bruno Schulz to 'Garden, Ashes', in more than one way.I discovered Mr Kiš, because this novel was mentioned in an essay about Schulz and his writings - and I was in no way disappointed.This is not your usual 'bring along on the holiday and read while on the beach' book -- while I'm not saying that that can't be done. It's a demanding book (as explained in the foreword), because great litterature sometimes is demanding. That's the way it has to be.

  • Barbara Glore
    2019-02-26 02:10

    A lyrical and detailed collection of memories,dreams, and fantasies from the point of view of a young boy growing up in Yugoslavia during WWII and whose Father is eccentric and sometimes bizarre. Kis's writing is seriously beautiful and this is a simple example: "The chestnut trees in front of the house, long since deprived of their fruits, were shedding in their lazy way. The leaves, yellow and smelling like tobacco, had started to fall indecisively from the branches" (8).

  • Eva Derzic
    2019-02-27 23:03

    Kis, Kis, Kis always and all the time! I believe this was one of the first works he published. He's discovering who he is as an author and growing into his style, so the metaphors get a bit tedious and overly expansive sometimes. Nonetheless, it's a good read. It's a semi-autobiographical story about his childhood. He describes his own experience of the Holocaust in the most impartial way possible. I simply adore this man as a writer.

  • Kevin
    2019-02-25 20:47

    I’m afraid this book passed me by. I can be a trifle naive at times: if a book is called a novel, I tend to treat it as one, rather than the series of vignettes that ‘Garden, Ashes’ instead comprised of. I also did this with Dubliners: thinking the chapters were more driven by plot rather than being instead linked by a mood or more abstract notion. Consequently, I think I missed a lot of the good of Garden, Ashes - a lot of reviews wax lyrical about how it skilfully portrays life during the holocaust through the eyes of the young boy, using his feelings and encounters to indirectly illuminate the sufferings of a people but I found it disjointed and hard to follow. The holocaust itself (the backdrop of the novel and the reason for the father’s ‘disappearance’) is also never directly spoken of, yet permeates each chapter through the way events and objects are described or play out. I guess I was expecting it all to be a lot more obvious/ of a story - sequential, plot-driven, more up front. Instead it was alluded to, suggestive and peripheral.Unfortunately I didn’t have the wherewithal to access the merits of ‘Garden, Ashes’. It left me frustrated and sadly not having enjoyed it - not because it wasn’t good but because I didn’t get it. It might be one I give another try at some point, I have his others novels to have a go at too; hopefully I shall sufficiently prepare myself to work a bit harder as a reader when I do! 2/5

  • Jeremy
    2019-03-12 19:13

    (3.5) At a point in the novel, Kis relates how Euterpe, the Muse of lyrical poetry, makes a grand entrance into his life, and it all makes sense: Kis' writing is the star of the show here, gorgeously detailed, evocative, imaginative, and Proustian. Yet, the second half of the novel flies off the rails and almost loses itself in its delirium, obsessed over the missing patriarch and a dog named Dingo. Perhaps I missed some profound significance of this section, but the book will hang around my bookshelf thanks to Euterpe's scintillation.

  • Skengrobot
    2019-02-28 19:01

    Great prose. Obliquely tells the story though minute details in a really effective way.

  • Ema Winter
    2019-03-08 00:49

    Personajele sunt construite foarte bine. Povestea e bine conceputa. Imaginea unui tata care decade, lupta unui copil sa il inteleaga.

  • Daniel Simmons
    2019-03-12 23:11

    The finest novel about the Holocaust that I've ever read. This is partly because I did not actually realize it was a Holocaust novel until very late in the game... that awareness crept up on me, with a gathering sense of dread, only halfway through, so lost was I in the impressionistic beauty of Kiš's writing. When his father, the central figure of his narrative, finally disappears (or is disappeared, rather), Kiš's young narrator is at a loss: "I find that everything has suddenly become confused, everything is in chaos. Ever since my father vanished from the story, from the novel, everything has come loose, fallen apart. His mighty figure, his authority, even his very name, were sufficient to hold the plot within fixed limits, the story that ferments like grapes in barrels, the story in which fruit slowly rots, trampled underfoot, crushed by the press of memories, weighted down by its own juices and by the sun. And now that the barrel has burst, the wine of the story has spilled out, the soul of the grape, and no divine skill can put it back inside the wineskin, compress it into a short tale, mold it into a glass of crystal. Oh, golden-link liquid, oh, fairy tale, oh, alcoholic vapor, oh, fate! I don't want to curse God, I don't want to complain about life. So I'll gather together all those picture postcards in a heap, this era full of old-fashioned splendor and romanticism, I'll shuffle my cards, deal them out in a game of solitaire for readers who are fond of solitaire and intoxicating fragrances, of bright colors and vertigo" (pp. 146-47). A harrowing and beautiful book.

  • Hyperliteratura
    2019-03-06 21:52

    Grădina, cenușa este autobiografia unui copil pe nume Andi, care descoperă lumea pe măsură ce crește, așa cum au făcut-o atâția copii înaintea lui și la fel cum o vor mai face mulți alții. Cu excepția limbajului de persoană matură, intelectuală, nimic nu este deosebit. Andi are un tată cu probleme mentale, dar oarecum geniu (nu se teme de regimul politic, scrie pentru a deconspira, dă lecții de viață în cele mai neașteptate momente, inventează religii), o soră mai mare de care nu se simte foarte legat și o mamă care, deși apare mult pe parcursul cărții, pare să nu fie niciodată complet implicată sau dedicată. Mama lui Andi este în permanență semi-absentă emoțional; nu cred că ar fi trebuit să fie așa, având în vedere rolul de mamă a unui copil destul de fragil, de soție a unui bărbat cu probleme care îl transformă, treptat, într-un element de decor, neplăcut și dorit doar atunci când dispare pentru prea mult timp.Citește continuarea pe Hyperliteratura: