David Albahari and Ellen Elias-Bursac (translator); CHECKPOINT; Restless Books (Fiction: Translations) 16.99 ISBN: 9781632061928
Byline: Ho Lin
A satirical take on war in the vein of Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five, Serbian author David Albahari's Checkpoint is shocking and comic in equal turns, skillfully pulled together by the force of Albahari's wit.
At an isolated guard post in the wilderness during an unnamed war, three dozen soldiers and their harried commander stand sentry -- but what is there to do at a checkpoint that no one passes through? More to the point, is the war even still going on? No one can tell, as communications with the outside world have been cut off, and no one has the faintest idea how to get home -- not that leaving is an option. The surrounding forest is inhabited by enemy combatants and possibly other malevolent forces, ready to pick off the soldiers one by one. As the ragtag unit's numbers dwindle and all attempts at escape lead to more bizarre calamities, it becomes clear that the only certainty in these soldiers' lives is that the senseless violence of war has no objectives or victors, just casualties.
The gritty, nightmarish storytelling pulls no punches; the atrocities that take place throughout the story are...