Zoran Zivkovic: Four Stories Till the End


Four Stories Till the End

Zoran Živković
translated by Alice Copple-Tošić

In what strange edifice of the imagination do you find a condemned cell, a hotel room and a hospital room? What kind of hotel offers a zinc mine, a meat-packing plant, a weapons factory and a cemetery of famous artists among its attractions? Why do four people commit suicide in the same bathroom and why does a literature professor cut up several of the greatest works of literature into a confetti of letters? In this wildly imaginative, wildly funny satire on Art and Death nothing is quite what it seems and the maze of symbols grows more complex with each encounter.


A profoundly strange, jaunty and satiric look at art, death and everything in between by the incomparable Zoran Živković. [...] One of Zoran Živković's strangest-ever works, making it, by extension, one of the strangest books of all time.—Adam Groves, fright.com

Živković understands that language as unadorned as 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

This is the most complex of all his story-suites, put together with the teasing intricacy of an Escher drawing. Structures and motifs repeat themselves, making the whole both elegantly symmetrical and highly allusive. In each of four settings—condemned cell, hospital room, hotel room and elevator—four stories are told to the protagonist, who himself then "disappears" into the narrative. (Živković is deeply conscious of the constructed nature of his characters: while the story alone is what lends them life, the end of the story is for them, quite literally, a form of death.) Again, the tales are enigmatic and ambiguous, with a sort of depthless symbolism which leaves one puzzling. The elusive and beautiful bird described in 'The Cell'—is it art or is it death? The two are dangerously twinned for Živković. The lawyer, prosecutor, judge and guard who visit the condemned man in turn, are like storytelling phantoms which haunt the mind of the artist, who exists with a constant awareness of his own mortality: imprisoned in life as if in a prison cell, with death his sole prospect and art his sole means of escape.—Tamar Yellin, Infinity Plus

"Though it is too soon to crown [Zoran Živković] the new Borges, [he is] a leading candidate."—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


  • 184 pages
  • Trade paperback 5" x 8" (127mm x 203mm)
  • ISBN 978-4-902075-34-2
  • List Price: U$10.00

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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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