Paperback review: The Son, By Andrej Nikolaidis (trs Will Firth)

 

This slim novel tells the story of one night in the life of a writer in the Montenegrin city of Ulcinj.

His wife has left him; his father's farm is burning, but he hates his father anyway; he walks into town and has a series of strange encounters, with a prostitute, an old school friend, a Muslim preacher and a group of leprous refugees. The book is suffused with a self-hatred and disgust with life, with lines such as "being alive is an unquestionably tragic fact which can induce nothing but tears"; "everyone becomes unbearable once we get to know them"; "only children and idiots can have friends"; "Art always lies"; "In the end I'll die, and when they've buried me everyone will hold me in contempt". It makes Samuel Beckett look positively cheery; yet the relentless pessimism has an oddly invigorating effect.

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