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Milorad Pavić: Predeo slikan cajem (Landscape Painted with Tea)

Following on from Hazarski recnik. Roman-leksikon u 100.000 reci (Dictionary of the Khazars, a Novel-Lexicon in 100,000 Words), this novel is in the form of a crossword. Sort of. Pavić maintains that the crossword clues are the clues to the novel. I didn’t get it myself. It is all very clever, as we follow the story of the architect Atanas Silvar and his possible origins – two (biological) fathers and two (biological) mothers. We follow him to Mount Athos where the man whom he first thought was his father might have disappeared during the War, fighting for the Royal Yugoslav Army and then we follow his career as an architect (less than successful) and his possible real father and mother. It is full of parables, jokes and leg-pulls, tortuous plot twists and all sorts of games, leaving us hopelessly lost but highly amused but it really is too clever for its own good and does not have the same skill and beauty as its predecessor.

Publishing history

First published 1988 by Prosveta
First English translation Random House 1990
Translated by Christina Pribićević-Zorić