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Song of Kosovo by Chris Gudgeon

Song of Kosovo (edition 2012)

by Chris Gudgeon

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621,268,033 (3.67)3
Title:Song of Kosovo
Authors:Chris Gudgeon
Info:Goose Lane Editions (2012), Hardcover, 328 pages
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Song of Kosovo by Chris Gudgeon

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An enjoyable read, which started off strong, and although I had some issues with it, it is one I'd recommend to lot of other readers out there.

There was a fantastic story and character development, and I really enjoyed the self-journey the main character went on, and his retelling of it. There were multiple times I had trouble putting down the book, because I wanted to know how the character got to the end result, which the reader knows from the start, and I was immersed in the back-story and history of the main character and the setting. For the most part I did enjoy the book, but, there were parts of it that didn't seem to flow well with the rest of the story. While they were interesting, I felt there were a lot of plot threads and complexities to the book, that didn't completely come together in the end.

The writing style was also were the book lost me a bit, I found it somewhat hard to follow at times, while I do think this is part of the eccentric, and perhaps a slightly mentally unwell character, his thought process seemed odd at times, and following the story through his eyes, didn't exactly work for me all the time. It definitely added something to the reading experience and the character, but it didn't always work well to carry the story forward.

Overall, it was a good read.

Also found on my book review blog Jules' Book Reviews - Song of Kosovo ( )
  bookwormjules | Apr 1, 2013 |
Chris Gudgeon's novel Song of Kosovo is a close examination of the absurdity of war told from the point of view of a reluctant combatant named Zavida Zanković. Serbian by birth, Zanković is forced to serve in the paramilitary, and during the 1999 NATO bombings witnesses his comrades performing atrocities in the name of Serbian autonomy. After deserting, and following a series of rollicking misadventures, he is captured by the Albanians and imprisoned on a variety of charges (“conspiracy to conspire, impersonating a prisoner of war, crimes against humanity, etc”). The novel is framed as a manuscript written by Zanković while he is incarcerated and awaiting trial, produced at the request of his Albanian lawyer, who goes by the unpronounceable name of Nexhmije Gjinushi. Gudgeon’s profoundly ironic narrative presents war as an utterly irrational and hopeless exercise, one in which there are no moral absolutes, where right and wrong are subjective and truth is on the side of whoever is holding the gun. Zavida is not seeking to justify his actions. In his account, he sets out to describe where he comes from and how he was drawn into a conflict that he hardly understands. He readily admits that modern Balkan politics and the region’s history are inextricably interconnected, that acts perpetrated in the late 20th century have their roots in conflicts that occurred centuries earlier, and that the whole messy business is impenetrable to an outsider. Along the way we meet memorable characters such as his brilliant, shape-shifting, bi-polar father Dobroslav Zanković, and his girlfriend Tristina (who helps him steal the stuffed remnants of Pavlov’s dogs from a Russian museum). Throughout his adventures Zavida is harrassed by visions of the Serbian folk hero Miloš Obilić, who appears to him at inconvenient times but who also on occasion delivers him from real danger. Song of Kosovo relies on magic and implausible coincidence to get to where it’s going. Occasionally confusing, it is also wildly entertaining. But despite his comic absurdist tendencies Gudgeon never loses sight of the fact that he is writing a searing indictment of war. That’s what this book is all about. ( )
  icolford | Nov 23, 2012 |
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