Before the Feast by Saša Stanišić (translated by Anthea Bell)

Before the Feast Cover Galley.indd

Before the Feast reminds me of the feeling you get when you are in a dream that keeps shifting. You’re seeing snippets of things that make sense and then your in another story and your dizzy because you aren’t sure what is going on or where you are or if you’re talking to yourself or if someone else is talking to you. This style isn’t for everyone- literary fiction with a bend. The characters are strange, the stories are bizarre, there is a ‘folktale’ feel, particularly when we are given snippets of the village through the past. The villagers themselves ARE the fables, and I felt like I was sitting with the villagers getting drunk on their stories and homemade hooch.
The stories they have to tell escape the readers grasp, and at the end I shook myself out of my stupor and knew I had to read something grounded, solid and not at all strange. The stories may not have a point or maybe you are missing it. That is for the reader to decide. If you are the sort of reader that wants to be led from beginning to end through a sensible story, skip this. It will just frustrate you. For those of you that love to get lost and feel you didn’t just fall down the rabbits hole but may be shacking up with said rabbit- this is it! I felt like someone was holding my hand through a giant maze and let go- where am I?
Reads like a dream you’re having on a night of restless sleep, half-awake, half- dead…
Why is Anna being burned? Will Herr Schramm kill himself before the night is through? Why is the ferryman dead? How can you protect chickens from a ravenous fox? Why is mama so overweight, heavier with her worries?
Strange tales on a strange night in any old village.

Tin House Books
Pub Date: Jun 13 2016

 

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