By Svetislav Basara
Translated by Randall Major
Publication Date: 6/10/2025
Publication and translation of this book was supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia.
Exploring sanity and insanity, truth and untruth, The Rise and Fall of Parkinson’s Disease is Svetislav Basara’s unblinking and unforgettable deconstruction of the Soviet psyche.
Told as an eclectic collection of appropriated testimonies, treatises, missives, and police files, The Rise and Fall of Parkinson’s Disease follows the progression of the contagion’s patient zero, a Soviet citizen (sometimes) named Demyan Lavrentyevich Parkinson, as he ascends from hellish health to the sacred illness.
Hailed as one of Serbia’s most influential living writers, Svetislav Basara’s scathing, irreverent critiques of authoritarianism have twice won him Serbia’s prestigious NIN Award. In The Rise and Fall of Parkinson’s Disease, Basara lives up to this reputation with a book as formally ambitious as it is intellectually sophisticated. His blend of grotesque absurdism and wry humor evokes the paranoid, vexing worlds of Franz Kafka’s novels and the meta-textual assemblages of Paul Auster. Told from a colorful range of perspectives, the novel is a multifaceted, crystalline account of truth, lies, and history, a sprawling case study of humans in an inhuman society.
Praise for Chinese Letter
“Basara has here defined the most fundamental and powerful of fictional engines – the self-observing observer, riddled by doubt.” – Daniel Soar, LARB
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.