A Book Cube in Belgrade

At the Belgrade Book Fair (23–30 October 2022), Zoran Živković’s Serbian publisher, Zavod, is exhibiting at their stand a huge (and heavy!) cube constructed of nearly 500 copies of various editions of his books.


Starred review of Impossible Stories II in Publishers Weekly

Impossible Stories II (which consists of Compartments, Four Stories till the End and Amarcord, as well as two stand-alone stories, “The Square” and “First Photograph”) has received a starred review from Publishers Weekly:

Zivkovic (The Writer/The Book/The Reader) masterfully filters memory and art through absurdism in this limited edition collection. “Compartments” follows an unnamed man as he is escorted through six rooms on a train, encountering odd travelers who tell him about a mysterious muse-like woman. “Four Stories Till the End,” the pinnacle of both storytelling and strangeness, features four people, each interrupted in turn by guests who tell art-themed stories with delightful digressions on the horrible crimes prevented by circus detectives and the need for any top hotel to have a weapons factory. “Amarcord,” named for Fellini’s 1973 film, comprises 10 short stories wherein various people buy, sell and lose their memories. Two shorter pieces round out the collection, which neither has nor needs mainstream appeal; fans of Zivkovic’s unclassifiable quirkiness will quickly snap up all 500 copies.

Impossible Stories II will be released in September by PS Publishing in the UK.

Krimiblog.de review of The Last Book

The Last Book, DTVAnother excellent review of the German (DTV) edition of my novel The Last Book just appeared. Here is an excerpt for those of you who happen to be fluent in German.

Das Lesen von Romanen ist eine verdammt gefährliche Tätigkeit. Mal schweben die Figuren des Romans in Lebensgefahr und sind abhängig von der Geschicklichkeit des Lesers, wie etwa in Giwi Margwelaschwilis letztem Roman “Officer Pembry”. Mal ist es der Autor, der von seinen Figuren an den Abgrund des Todes geführt wird, wie im jüngsten Kriminalroman “Und dann gab’s keinen mehr” des Briten Gilbert Adair, der auf wunderbar versponnene Weise die Hassliebe zwischen Autor und Figur thematisiert. Dritter in diesem – sehr lockeren – postmodernen Bunde ist der Serbe Zoran Živković, der hierzulande ein ähnliches Geheimtipp-Schicksal führt wie die beiden anderen Autoren. “Das letzte Buch” ist sein kurzer Roman betitelt, der in diesem Herbst in deutscher Übersetzung erschienen ist und in dem es um die tödliche Macht des Lesens geht. Im Falle von Živković sind es die Leser selbst, die durch ihre Lektüre in Gefahr geraten, denn hier wird Lesen zu einer absolut todbringenden Angelegenheit.

Link to the full review here.

Echoes of an Empty Mind on Steps Through the Mist

Steps Through the MistPushpak Karnick at Echoes of an Empty Mind reviews Steps Through the Mist:

As the novel glides from one dream to the next connected dream, we realize that the story is not just about dreams or fateful connections. A much darker (depending on how you look at it) subplot runs through the entire novel, focusing on a much drearier topic than idle dreams – Death. Zivkovic seems to suggest that death is also a dream (or waking up from a lifetime of dreaming?). Fate-Death-Life seem to be three forces that work as One. Death acts as the cause de transformation, turning animate into inanimate, and then something beyond. It need not be the end of life, it could also be the end of life-as-we-know-it, a process of rebirth that needs but the unfurling of wings, and flight into the heart of the Mist.

Link to the full review.

Two Reviews of Seven Touches of Music

In Issue 6 (Summer 2007) of The Pacific Rim Review of Books, Bernard Gastel reviews Seven Touches of Music:

The central conceit seems to be that God is a violinist, a composer whose composition is suggestive of the entire world in its historical and future complexity. Characters are given glimpses of alternate or apparently lost parts of that composition, but, just as music described is no longer music, they do not have the means to share that glimpse with anyone else. Their impossible experiences would be considered signs of instability and nothing more. In the first story a teacher of autistic children finds that instead of filling a sheet of paper with nothing but the letter ‘O’ as he normally does, one of his students – apparently under the influence of music – writes a series of numbers. This series, it turns out, is a physical constant, one of the “fundamental values of nature.” There is nothing the teacher can do with this information, because there is no recurrance of this anomaly. All the characters in the book are confronted with a moment of divine clarity, and their choice, when possible, is invariably to return to the comfort or banality of everyday things.

In Seven Touches of Music ultimate truths have an ambiguous existence. It is exactly where those truths are revealed that loss is felt most profoundly. A short, beautiful book, it shows a world where the ideal, where it exists at all, is found in the world’s shadows as well as in its light.

And a very nice reader review on the Amazon.co.uk page for the book, by Mr. RB Fortune-Wood “Rowan”:

Nietzsche once claimed “Without music, life would be an error.” The nihilistic Romanian thinker Emil Cioran, heavily influenced by Nietzsche, said on God, “without Bach, God would be a complete second rate figure.” I cannot think of anything better than these two aphorisms to convey the impression the Serbian writer Zoran Zivkovic’s Seven Touches of Music made on me. Each narrative compliments the others forming a beautiful mosaic novel fittingly contained in an exquisite black cover. Seven Touches of Music is reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Music of Erich Zann,” which possesses a similar inexplicable pull.

Steps Through the Mist Wins Gold Award for Production

Steps Through the Mist, Aio PublishingThe Detroit Club of Printing House Craftsmen recently awarded its 2008 Gold Award to McNaughton & Gunn, the truly excellent US printing company that produces all of Aio Publishing’s books. The award was given “for superb craftsmanship in the production of Steps Through the Mist by Zoran Zivkovic,” which has been added to its Gallery of Superb Printing.

My other Aio-produced book, Seven Touches of Music, previously took top honors for design at the 55th Annual Chicago Book Clinic Book and Media Show.

It is wonderful to see that the time, effort, and artistry taken to produce such beautiful editions of my books are being recognized and awarded. My congratulations to McNaughton & Gunn!

Blogcritics Magazine on Steps and Seven Touches

Richard Marcus at Blogcritics Magazine has posted some insightful reviews of my two books from Aio Publishing.

On Steps Through the Mist:

Like all of Zivkovic’s stories, Steps Through The Mist will leave you scratching your head about the nature of dreams, and what effect we may or may not have on our fates. Does it really matter whether we make a concentrated effort to change our futures, or will what comes about comes about no matter what? Reality is not as far removed from the world of our dreams as we like to think, and the future is always waiting for us no matter what we do.

Link to the full review.

On Seven Touches of Music:

For a novel like Seven Touches Of Music to work we have to believe in the characters and their circumstances sufficiently that the impact the music has on their lives becomes as significant to us as it does to them. Zivkovic has not only made his characters utterly convincing, but his depiction of their lives, and the environment they live in, are detailed in such a manner that we can feel the shock to their systems when they are given their brief glimpses into the unknown.

Link to the full review.

The Barking Dog on Impossible Stories

Impossible EncountersLawrence Conquest recently reviewed my mega-collection Impossible Stories (PS Publishing, 2006) for The Barking Dog:

Zivkovic’s stories generally focus on the intrusion of the bizarre or fantastic into otherwise normal lives, often with characters facing moral dilemmas, with the results often reading like bizarre modern fairy tales or fables. Dreamlike, occasionally nightmarish, and loaded with symbolism, Zivkovic’s characters find themselves sliding through time, encountering God, the Devil, and even the author himself in several post-modern moments.

Link to the full review here.

Interview at Shirley Jackson Awards Blog

Filipino blogger and bibliophile Charles Tan has been conducting short interviews with a number of nominees of the inaugural Shirley Jackson Awards, including Lucius Shepard, Laird Barron, Carrie Laben, Barbara and Christopher Roden, Christopher Golden, Conrad Williams, and now my humble self. His interview with me was just recently posted:

What made you decide to use the format presented in 12 Collections?

Many prose books of mine share that format. Ursula LeGuin called it a “mosaic-novel”: A whole that is bigger than the mere sum of its constituent parts. An amalgam, not just a conglomerate. I find the term quite appropriate. The stones my literary mosaics are made of can be read and, hopefully, enjoyed, individually, but their true meaning emerges only when seen in entirety of the big picture. This is particularly evident in “Twelve Collections”: The final, twelfth collector collects collections, as if giving a frame to the picture…

Link to the interview.