Creative, Review

Review: The Mongolian Travel Guide

0 82

By David Keyworth


I do not have any immediate plans to travel to Mongolia, but if I did, I would not refer to this fictional guide/novella.

This is not a criticism of Svetislav Basara’s book. It does not set out to be a conventional volume of any kind.  Instead, its 117 pages are concerned with the metaphysical ramblings and the “reality-dream dichotomy” of the punningly-named narrator, Ulan-Bator.

‘The Mongolian Travel Guide’ was first published in 1998 and it is dedicated to the victims of Sarajevo. Its absurdist style must in part be a response to the chaos of the breakup of Yugoslavia and the carnage of the Balkan Wars (1991 – 1999).

Despite its theological and philosophical preoccupations, the prose style is enjoyable. I cannot vouch for how it reads in the original Serbian, but in Randall A. Major’s translation, the sentences are short and sharp.

Humour comes in the form of bathos. A matter-of-fact pay off always undercuts the existential agonising. “Cupidity and video recorders have completely ruined the world,” comments Luke, a priest, in conversation with our narrator.

Despite the economy of the prose style, my attention often wandered. The intellectual ramblings are stimulating, but intriguing characters tend to come and go before we get to know them. In this sense, the book is perhaps too faithful to the transitory experience of being a tourist.

Overall, I was happy to follow the intoxicated narrator (“I mercilessly destroy myself with alcohol”), down the literary route he chose. But sometimes his lengthy detours tested my patience.

About the author / 

aAh!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More News Stories:

  • 17-Year-Old Stabbed on 142 Magic Bus on Rusholme’s Curry Mile

    By Shawna Healey A 17-year-old boy was stabbed on a 142 Magic Bus by a knifeman wearing a balaclava. It is reported that the event happened approximately around 4:00 pm on Tuesday 15th of October on Wilslow Road, near the junction of Claremont Road. Greater Manchester Police are treating it as an isolated incident, that they…

  • Cast of Riverdale pay heartfelt tribute to actor Luke Perry in new season

    By Shawna Healey The cast of Riverdale paid a heartfelt tribute to fellow actor Luke Perry’s untimely death in the first episode of season four, which aired last week. Perry, aged 52, also known for his role in 90210, died from a stroke in his LA home on the 4th of May this year. He was mourned by…

  • Manchester students call for Gandhi statue to be scrapped

    Manchester City Council have agreed to erect a statue of Mahatma Gandhi outside Manchester Cathedral Shrimad Rajchandra Mission have said the statue would “recognise Manchester’s compassion” after the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017 The statue is set to be be unveiled on the 25th November Students have published an open letter addressing Manchester City…