Albahari's narrator relates a harrowing episode during 1942 in German-occupied Yugoslavia. Gotz and Meyer, two faceless cogs in the Nazi machinery of death, are charged daily with driving into the woods a truck filled with inmates from a concentration camp near Belgrade. During the journey, Gotz (or is it Meyer?) stops and attaches the exhaust pipe to the inside of the truck, asphyxiating the occupants. After the war, the narrator-who survived one such journey by a quirk of fate-tries to reconstruct his family tree, denuded by the Germans. He muses interminably on what Meyer and Gotz were actually like and as a teacher determines to "sow the seeds of remembering" in his students so that "someone will look at the real faces of Gotz and Meyer" and assure that they do not "return and repeat the meaninglessness of history [and] of our lives." Founder and former editor of Pismo, a magazine of world literature, the Yugoslav-born Albahari (Words Are Something Else) now lives in Canada. He has written an impressive commentary on the banality of evil. Highly recommended, particularly for collections on the Holocaust and World War II.-Edward Cone, New York Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Embodiments of the banality of evil, Gotz and Meyer are two German SS noncommissioned officers who drive a truck in which, over a period of weeks, they gas to death 5,000 Jewish inmates of a Belgrade concentration camp. "They are conscientious, they always arrive on time, they are calm and cheerful... their uniforms tidy, their step light," and they even hand out chocolates to cheer up the children they are about to kill. The nameless narrator of this haunting Holocaust story, a Jewish teacher in post-Cold War Belgrade, fixates on the two men to get a handle on the murder of his parents' families by the Nazis. Serbian novelist Albahari (Bait) imagines the mundane circumstances of their lives as their obscene task dulls into everyday routine, and delves into the history of those who died in the camp. He elaborates the details of the Nazi extermination apparatus, how the carbon monoxide gas acts, the hopeless stabs at normality by the imprisoned Jews. Eventually, the narrator's flat, prosaic recitation of facts merges with hallucinatory reveries in which both his relatives and their murderers come to life. Even as his attempts to extract meaning through a historical recreation of the catastrophe grow increasingly futile, they yield in the end a numbed but moving elegy. (Dec.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"At once a novel, fictional biography, history and meta-fictional
commentary, Go?=TZ AND MEYER, composed in a single hallucinatory
paragraph . . . [is] a masterful addition to the literature of the
Holocaust and a fascinating philosophical meditation on that
PRAISE FOR "GOETZ AND MEYER" ""Goetz and Meyer" has a resonance beyond its own times."Â Richard Eder, "The Boston Globe
""Albahari gives us a dazzling meditation on history, memory, identity and the nature of evil and on the hearts and minds of two ordinary men who cared more about their truck than about the lives of thousands of innocent human beings." Â Francine Prose, "People"
PRAISE FOR "GOTZ AND MEYER" ""Gotz and Meyer" has a resonance beyond its own times."--Richard Eder, "The Boston Globe
""Albahari gives us a dazzling meditation on history, memory, identity and the nature of evil and on the hearts and minds of two ordinary men who cared more about their truck than about the lives of thousands of innocent human beings." --Francine Prose, "People"