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The Book of Blam

The Book of Blam

by Aleksandar Tišma, introduction by Charles Simic, translated from the Serbo-Croatian by Michael Henry Heim

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The Book of Blam, Aleksandar Tišma’s “extended kaddish . . . [his] masterpiece” (Kirkus Reviews), is a modern-day retelling of the book of Job. The war is over. Miroslav Blam walks along the former Jew Street, and he remembers. He remembers Aaron Grün, the hunchbacked watchmaker; and Eduard Fiker, a lamp merchant; and Jakob Mentele, a stove fitter; and Arthur Spitzer, a grocer, who played amateur soccer and had non-Jewish friends; and Sándor Vértes, a lawyer who was a Communist. All dead. As are his younger sister and his best friend, a Serb, both of whom joined the resistance movement; and his mother and father in the infamous Novi Sad raid in January 1942—when the Hungarian Arrow Cross executed 1,400 Jews and Serbs on the banks of the Danube and tossed them into the river.

Blam lives. The war he survived will never be over for him.
 by Aleksandar Tisma, introduction by Charles Simic, translated from the Serbo-Croatian by Michael Henry Heim

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781590179208
Pages: 248
Publication Date:


One of the most stirring novels to come from the Balkans.
—Larry Wolff, The New York Times

A startling, extraordinary creation.
The New Yorker

Tišma has made Novi Sad a microcosm for the most painful developments of 20th-century history. It is a city of tiers, one tier the actual city in which Miroslav survives, the other filled by the possible lives of those who perished. Yet life on the edge of the abyss is surprisingly normal… The intersection of this high intellectual refinement with the most brutal incidents in history gives the novel, which has been published to acclaim in France and Germany, its great, eccentric pathos.
Publishers Weekly

A Balkan bible presided over by an ironic vision of the imagination, capable of envisioning utter barbarity but not the expiation for sins.
The Boston Globe

Tišma is unrelenting in his quest for truth yet compassionate in his judgments of individuals.
The Wall Street Journal

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