2.08.2014

The Coming, by Andrej Nikolaidis

I received a free copy of this novella to review from NetGalley, on behalf of the publishers.

The Coming
It's a quirk of the human brain to look for patterns, even where none actually exist. We can find causes and justifications for just about everything. This happens because of that. That happened because of something someone said, etc., etc. Andrej Nikolaidis plays with that idea in his novella, The Coming.

The world has gone strange in Nikolaidis story. Though it's the middle of summer, there's snow everywhere. Cities are drowning. Earthquakes plague California. In the Montenegrin city of Ulcinj, life bumbles along as it usually does in the Balkans--roughly and periodically violent. One of our narrators, a private detective, is trying to work out who killed the Vutkovic family. The detective specializes in comforting his clients rather than seeking justice. The other narrator, Emmanuel, writes to the detective from his room at a mental institution.

The detective uses his knowledge of Ulcinj and its people to find the culprit. Emmanuel, though he is far away, is full of trivia about the history of the town. Ulcinj used to be a lightning rod for people who claimed to be messiahs. Emmanuel has a strange theory that everything is connected to the Vutkovic murders. As Nikolaidis wove his story, I started to wonder if Emmanuel might not be right after all. People have long memories in the Balkans, after all, and coincidence can be found everywhere if you're looking for it.

It takes a few chapters to get your bearings in The Coming, and the complex narrative required concentration. It's been a while since I had an opportunity to exercise the skills I learned as a young English major. There are motifs and symbols repeated in The Coming that add depth to the brief story. There is plenty of ambiguity to serve as fodder for explication and reader theories.

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