Friday, 3 February 2012

All the way from California

. . . now plunge in!

I'm talking about a book I ordered. It has now arrived here in Austria. It's a second-hand copy of Milorad Pavic's Dictionary of the Khazars (Alfred Knopf, New York 1988).

I'd never heard of the book until a few days ago when a young Rumanian student of my acquaintance happened to mention it. I was so intrigued by the description of the thing that I was soon ordering my own copy. And, as I say, here it is! And all the way from California.

A few words from the jacket sleeve will explain the reason for my excitement:

"It is a novel about a whole world and a great lost people. It is a book of knowledge. It is all about the present and sometimes about the future, which is why it begins eleven hundred years ago. It is about three great (and unruly) wise men - one Christian, one Jewish, one Moslem - whose disputes about the way the world should be are never done. It's a mystery wrapped in bedazzling philosophy. It's an Arabian Nights romance wrapped in a mystery. It's several murder stories wrapped in a romance. It's an illumination wrapped in secrets. It's a wickedly teasing intellectual game and an astonishing adventure . . ." and so I shall now proceed to read it, or more correctly "plunge in."

I plunge.

Milorad Pavic was born in Belgrade in 1929. He is one of Yugoslavia's most acclaimed poets. The Dictionary of the Khazars is his first full-length novel. It is translated from the Serbo-Croatian by Christina Pribicevic-Zoric.

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