by Svetislav Basara
Translated by Ana Lucic
Publication Date: 12/01/2004
Ordered by two mysterious men to write a statement of about 100 pages, the narrator of Chinese Letter--who's not sure of his name, but calls himself Fritz--faithfully records the bizarre occurrences of his daily life: his absurd conversations with his mother who is abducted by slave traders, his visits to his friend who works in the hospital's autopsy room, and his sister's tumultuous marriage to the butcher's son, to name a few. Widely respected in Serbia, the term "Basarian" has been coined to refer to his unique writing style, reminiscent of the best of Samuel Beckett for its directness, existential pondering, and odd sense of humor.
Born in 1953, Svetislav Basara is a major figure in Serbian and Eastern European literature. The author of more than twenty novels, essay and short story collections, he is also the winner of numerous awards and honors, including the NIN Prize in 2008. Between 2001 and 2005 Basara served as Serbia and Montenegro's ambassador to Cyprus.