Larry at OF Blog of the Fallen has some nice and insightful things to say about Twelve Collections and The Teashop:
In a day and age where it seems that even speculative fiction writers aim to pack as much descriptive verbiage into their stories as possible (often with deleterious consequences), it is refreshing to read stories written by authors who go in the opposite direction; their stories place a premium on the readers’ imaginative abilities to unpack meaning from just a few scant words.
Serbian author Zoran Zivkovic is one of those blessed few authors. Ever since I read his first novel released in the US, The Fourth Circle, back in 2004, I have marveled over how much depth there is to be found in stories that rarely go past 20 pages. In Twelve Collections and the Teashop, a 2007 limited-edition UK release (no known US release date), Zivkovic has written perhaps one of his best “story suites” to date.
In the introduction, Michael Moorcock discusses how Zivkovic’s writing reflects an older European fabulist tradition, one that was lost in the West with the rise of the Naturalists/Modernists and their (over)emphasis on verisimilitude. Moorcock posits that Eastern European authors such as Zivkovic, who came of age during the police state mentality of the Iron Curtain years, learned that being too specific was a risky matter and that much could be done with everywhere cities and such-and-such people. While this deliberate vagueness might annoy those who prefer focusing on the facts and not the vision behind the story plots, others have found the dreamlike qualities of such tales to be intoxicating, sucking one into reading and then considering what might be transpiring rather than just what really is happening there.