The narrator has been with his partner for a long time now but it isn't clear what they see in each other.
'Balla (as an author he dispenses with his first name, Vladimír) is a more established writer in Slovakia. Perhaps because he holds on to a mundane office job while writing stories about lost male souls, he is often referred to as the Slovak Kafka. (In fact the most Kafkaesque of the two works reviewed here is Bellevue, in which Blanka in her madness sees a beetle on the wall and thinks, ‘is it you, Gregor?’) Andrič, the unheroic protagonist of Big Love, which is more a novella than a novel, is unhappy playing happy families for short periods with his very normal girlfriend, Laura, her daughter and her irritatingly trendy mother; he is equally unhappy with his mediocre beer-drinking colleagues. He takes no action to resolve this state of affairs, merely provoking Laura into putting her foot down. Resentful, argumentative and self-centred, Andrič evokes none of the sympathy that Kafka’s victims of family, fate and bureaucracy arouse. But he is witty in his observations. Many of the short chapters could easily be refashioned into five-minute scripts for stand-up comics. Why the novella is called Big Love is unclear: the Slovaks’ ‘Big Love’ has traditionally been for their country, which they have for centuries seen as an island of religious conviction and Slavic values, fighting against power-crazed Germans and maniacal Hungarians. Certainly this ‘Big Love’ has nothing erotic or interpersonal about it.What makes Big Love significant is the clarity of Balla’s writing and the eloquence with which the protagonist damns and belittles himself. But the key role in making Balla’s – and Dobrakovová’s – fiction so readable for a British audience is played by the translators, Julia and Peter Sherwood. With their linguistic skills and perfect pitch, they have done as much for the international reputation of Slovak prose as any single Slovak writer.'
- from Donald Rayfield's review in Literary Review
'I do worry about the people who like my writing' Becasue there's usually something wrong with them. Then again, I can't imagine life being even slightly agreeable without people who have something wrong with them'
- Balla on Big Love
'Big Love is primarily a critique of contemporary society, in which the triumph of liberal democracy has increased rather than diminished the Kafkaesque aspects of life'
- Charles Sabatos (from his introduction)
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