Magazine article World Literature Today

In the Name of the Father and Other Stories

Magazine article World Literature Today

In the Name of the Father and Other Stories

Article excerpt

Balla. In the Name of the Father and Other Stories. Trans. Julia & Peter Sherwood. London. Jantar. 2017. 129 pages.

I wanted to like Balla's In the Name of the Father, I really did. I was intrigued by the promise of a Slovak Kafka; I wanted to experience the Eastern European, post-Socialist take on magical realism. I wanted to celebrate the literature of a small nation. But, in the end, I was too distracted by Balla's careless misogyny to be swept away by his whimsy.

Part of the fun of reading Balla is not guessing what will happen next, but trying to figure out what's already happened and just exactly what he's talking about. There is something charming about all his non sequiturs and the chimerical world they construct. He has a wry take on nationalism, traditional values, and democracy-building; it's refreshing the way he is willing-excited, even-to take jabs at them.

But the thrust of the story is that the protagonist is mean to his sons and mean to his wife yet still feels sorry for himself for having to live in a world that doesn't understand him. …

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