Atop a hill, deep in the forest, an army unit is dropped off to guard a checkpoint. The commander doesn’t know where they are, what border they’re protecting, or why. Their map is useless. The radio crackles with a language no one can recognize. A soldier is found dead in a latrine and the unit vows vengeance—but the killer, like the enemy, is unknown. Amid orgies and massacres, the commander struggles to maintain order and keep his soldiers alive, but he can’t be sure whether they’re fighting a war or caught in some bizarre military experiment.
Equal parts Waiting for Godot and Catch-22, David Albahari’s Checkpoint is a haunting and hysterical confrontation with the absurdity of war.
Praise for Checkpoint:
"A satirical take on war in the vein of Catch-22 and Slaughterhouse Five, Serbian author David Albahari’s Checkpointis shocking and comic in equal turns, skillfully pulled together by the force of Albahari’s wit.... Visceral, wild, and often hilarious, Checkpoint is a dark delight."
—Ho Lin, Foreword Reviews, Starred Review
“A worthy descendant of The Good Soldier Svejk and Catch-22.”
“Checkpoint is a tornado of a book. David Albahari, a noted Serbian author who lives in Canada, muscles this Kafkaesque short novel into the war-is-absurd literary tradition in one tremendous 183-page paragraph…. Stylistically, JP Donleavy and Gary Shteyngart come to mind at times, while imagistically one might think of Goya, Picasso, or the Surrealists. But Albahari has a distinctive voice, and it comes through vividly in Ellen Elias-Bursać’s able translation from the Serbian.”
—Jon Sobel, Blogcritics
“Between adventure and apocalypse... Kafka and Kubrick...combining in grotesque-comical manner all the ridiculousness, beauty, horror, subtlety and extravagance that literature can hold.“
—Neue Zürcher Zeitung
“A Kafka for our times” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung), David Albahari was born 1948 in Péc, Serbia. He studied English language and literature in Belgrade. In 1994 he moved to Calgary, Canada with his wife and their two children where he still lives today. He mainly writes novels and short stories and is also an established translator from English into Serbian. He is member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. His collection of short stories Description of Death won the Ivo Andric Award for the best collection of short stories published in Yugoslavia in 1982 and his novel BAIT the NIN Award for the best novel published in Yugoslavia in 1996. His latest collection of stories, Every Night in Another Town, has won the important Vital Award, one of the most significant literary awards in Serbia. His books have been translated into sixteen languages by the most prestigious international publishers, among them Harcourt, Harvill, Eichborn, Gallimard, Cossee and Einaudi. English translations include a selection of short stories, entitled Words Are Something Else, as well as four novels Tsing, Bait, Snow Man, and Götz and Meyer. He has translated into Serbian many books by authors such as S. Bellow, I.B. Singer, T. Pynchon, M. Atwood, V.S. Naipaul and V. Nabokov as well as plays by Sam Shepard, Sarah Kane, Caryl Churchill and Jason Sherman. He was a participant in the International Writing Program in Iowa (1986) and International Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary, under the auspices of Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writers Program (1994-95). Between 1991 and 1994 he was president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia.
About the Translator:
Ellen Elias-Bursać has been translating fiction and non-fiction by Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian writers since the 1980s. The AATSEEL translation award was given to her translation of David Albahari’s short-story collection Words Are Something Else, ALTA's National Translation Award was given to her translation of Albahari's novel Götz and Meyer in 2006. Her book Translating Evidence and Interpreting Testimony at a War Crimes Tribunal: Working in a Tug-of-War was given the Mary Zirin Prize in 2015.
Chuck Palahniuk showed himself to be his generation’s most visionary satirist in this, his first book. Fight Club’s estranged narrator leaves his lackluster job when he comes under the thrall of Tyler Durden, an enigmatic young man who holds secret after-hours boxing matches in the basement of bars. There, two men fight "as long as they have to." This is a gloriously original work that exposes the darkness at the core of our modern world.