Song of Kosovo
Some days, it doesn't pay to be a lapsed pretend Buddhist... particularly when you're charged with a lengthy list of war crimes. Vida Zanković has done many things to stay alive. A wily young man caught in the insanity of the Balkan wars, Vida has dealt drugs, been forced to join the army, and then deserted when he tried to save a young boy trapped beneath a mountain of corpses. Being accused of genocide, however, forces Vida into a whole new level of surrealism.
In Song of Kosovo, Chris Gudgeon exposes the universal human experience like never before, fashioning a satirical world where one earns a following as a levitating holy man while the US Air Force drops "bombs" of condoms, candy, and Ikea pillows to subvert the populace.
Weaving strands of Balkan mythology and history, threading them through the life of a man who only wnats to live out his days with the woman he loves, Gudgeon crafts a tanscendent tale at once grotesque and absurd, satiric and tragic, touching and real. As much Catch-22 as De Niro's Game, Song of Kosovo is a unique examination of how ideas may rise above reality to drive world events and how a nation caught in the grip of conflict may ultimately earn a sense of itself.
"Song of Kosovo is a remarkable first novel. ... Chris Gudgeon has written a fever dream of a book ... It is exhilarating to see a new Canadian novelist attempt a work this ambitious. ... He has uncannily captured the tone of a European novel in translation. The nearest Canadian parallel might be Jack Hodgins' rollicking magic realism in The Invention of the World. There are also echoes of that great 18th-century picaresque, Tristram Shandy." — canada.com
"A sly, frequently amusing and penetrating distillation of estrangement and social chaos set during the Balkan wars of the late 1990s ... This is not an attempt to reproduce the tragedy of war with documentary zeal; rather it is a literary journey emboldened by wit and artifice, a perfectly executed literary conceit." — BC Bookworld
"Riotously funny." — Winnipeg Review
"What the author has created is not a work of documentary realism, but rather a collection of sense impressions of a country and a people undergoing catastrophic suffering. But Song of Kosovo is not a nihilistic book. By rejecting the dictates of strict reportage and producing instead an impressionistic work that combines history, myth, and legend. Gudgeon has written something that cleaves closer to emotional reality than naturalism ever could. The novel is tough, mordantly funny, but, above all, honest." — stevenbeattie.com
"Wow! I had no idea that Gudgeon was a Serbian name, but after reading Song of Kosovo, I almost believe it is. Zavida Zanković is a character you'll never forget. Chris Gudgeon skilfully brings his voice to life, singing the funny but sad "Song of Kosovo" to his elusive muse Nexhmije Gjinushi. Now there's a name that will trip most tongues." — Lee Gowan
"A richly layered story of memory and its myths, of love and loss, with a vein of dark humour running through it. Soaked in history and deeply ironic. Splendid!" — Will Ferguson
Pub date: September 28, 2012