Zoran Zivkovic: The Library


The Library

Zoran Živković
translated by Alice Copple-Tošić

A cycle of six thematically linked stories, droll renditions of the nightmares ensuing upon misplaced, or (of course) excessive, bibliophilia. A writer encounters a website where all his possible future books are on display; a lonely man faces an infinite flow of hardback books through his mailbox; an ordinary library turns by night into an archive of souls; the Devil sets about raising standards of infernal literacy; one book houses all books; a connoisseur of hardcovers strives to expel a lone paperback from his collection.

  • Winner of the 2003 World Fantasy Award
  • Longlisted for 2004 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award


  • Through each story, the reader witnesses a man brought into subtle conflict with the bizarre, the uncanny, the unthinkable, the imponderable. The reader, as a third-person perspective witness of the events, understands the surreal aspects of each story, but the man always takes these matters in stride, applying a cold logic to the illogical with varying results.
    Some stories [...] could very well have been written by Kafka though in different pose and on a more upbeat note. Yet throughout the collection of stories here, there's a keen sense of humor, albeit the narrator's offered humor rather than the conscious humor of the victim-cum-protagonist. [...] They're delightful!
    —Michael Dalke, Tongues of Speculation
  • Živković understands that language as unadorned and stripped down as possible provides a better backdrop for outrageous imaginings than would a more baroque style... Those who like their fantasy rigorous will relish the fiction of Zoran Živković.—David Cozy, Review of Contemporary Fiction, Vol. XXX, No. 3
  • His stories are akin to those of Borges insofar as he takes a metaphysical rather than a magical approach in his writing. His stories are almost hyper-realistic in their attention to detail, and the elements of the fantastic insinuate themselves silently into the story rather than irrupting noisily and unexpectedly. It's a quiet form of storytelling, but extremely effective and, slim as this volume is; it repays careful re-reading, because so much is going on below the surface. —Maureen Kincaid Speller, The Zone
    Read the complete review <here>.
  • "...concept-driven sf, written in the classic spare yet graceful Eastern European style, and structured as cycles of linked short stories that focus on a single theme. [It has] a very specific emotional density—for me almost the defining characteristic of Živković's work, [and is] less focused on speculative wizardry than Borges and more focused on the human element. There is a whimsical quality to the writing. [...]Živković's characters are exiles in their own country, looking over their shoulders and trying to fly beneath the radar of an invisible yet subtly coercive state. [...] It is indeed excellent. —Chris Moriarty, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
    Read the complete review <here>.
  • "Though it is too soon to crown [Zoran Živković] the new Borges, [he is] a leading candidate."—Chris Moriarty, The New York Times Book Review, USA
  • "Once again the author has shown his control and mastery over his spare prose, a style entirely appropriate to the quietude of his subject and themes, where silence is as much an element as melody."—Sfsite.com, USA
  • "Živković is, as ever, polished, and frighteningly intelligent; book-lovers will recognize intimately the frissons and frustrations he evokes."—Nicholas Gevers, Locus, USA
  • "Živković's unnerving gems cast the rest... into the shade."—Washington Post, USA


  • 120 pages
  • Trade paperback 5" x 8" (127mm x 203mm)
  • ISBN 978-4-902075-33-5
  • List Price: U$7.50

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About the author

Zoran Živković

was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, in 1948. Currently a professor of creative writing at the University of Belgrade, he is the author of 18 books of fiction and five books of nonfiction. His writing belongs to the middle European fantastika tradition, exploring themes shared with such masters as Franz Kafka, Stanislaw Lem and Abe Kōbō. He has won the World Fantasy Award, Miloš Crnjanski Award, Isidora Sekulić Award and Stefan Mitrov Ljubiša Award for lifetime achievement in literature, as well as being a runner-up for honors including the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (multiple times), the Shirley Jackson Award and the NIN Award.


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