Synopses & Reviews
In formerly communist Eastern Europe, there are many empty houses. Inhabited in turn by very different families -- Jews, fascists, communists -- the houses now stand empty, decaying, the objects of countless lawsuits.
Richard Swartz's quirky and marvelous first novel revolves around one such house and the Western European man obsessed with it. Narrated by his wife, the action takes place over just seven blazing hot days in Istria, formerly Yugoslavia. His obsession drags his poor wife, a native of Istria, into long burlesque conversations with lawyers and owners; her out-of-control husband (who doesn't speak the language) involves them in surreal scenes with nearly insane characters. Since everything the husband knows (and everything the reader knows) must be channeled through the wife, we enter a world in which nothing is directly intelligible and everything is skewed. The unusual, antic, hilarious style calls Capek, Gogol, and Kafka all to mind.
Swartz employes a tragic-comedic approach, a Kafkaesque perspective...wryly humorous but deadly serious narration. (Multicultural Review, Ed Ifkovic, 1 June 2003)