This book is hilarious but meaningful. I read this one for a class among a whole slough of other Eastern European novels translated to English, and this one stands out because it is crude, quirky, and interesting; and all of that is a good thing. This is a book that is perfect for class discussions. There is a whole lot of analysis to be done on the paradox between the author's claim that this book has a happy ending and the fact that very few of the characters seemed to end up reaching closure or being particularly happy in the end. The communication breakdowns and quirky thought processes of the characters will cause most psychologists to face-palm, but through their social ineptitude they cause many laughs.Malcolm
Populated by a diverse set of vaguely out-of-sorts middle aged people, I felt a little like I was reading someone who'd seen inside the not very inspiring lives most of the people of my generation live (except perhaps my circle of friends and associates drinks a little less). That said, it is also easy to read it as a political parable about a group of middle aged people who grew up during the Yugoslav communist era and whose lives changed irrevocably when they were in their early 30s – just too late to catch up with the changes, and just too early for them to be established and therefore to weather the changes. Popovic's story telling style is sparse, and efficient. There are not many wasted words, and he has the skill of encapsulating the general experience in a vignette. None of the characters is particularly likeable, but almost all are charming and engaging, the humour is wry, most of the interwoven tales sad, and many of the moments utterly absurd. A lovely reminder that we should be grateful to translators.