August 01 , 2009



Building can be seen as a master metaphor for modernity, which some great irresistible force, be it fascism or communism or capitalism, is always busy building anew, and Houses is a book about a man, Arseniev Negoyan, who has devoted his life and his dreams to building.
Bon vivant, Francophile, visionary, Negoyan spent the first half of his life building houses he loved and even gave names to—Juliana, Christina, Agatha—making his hometown of Belgrade into a modern city to be proud of. The second half of his life, after World War II and the Nazi occupation, he has spent in one of those houses, being looked after by his wife and a nurse, in hiding. Now, on the last day of his life, Negoyan has decided to go out at last to see what he has wrought.
Negoyan is one of the great characters in modern fiction, a charming monster of selfishness and self-delusion. And for all his failings, his life poses a question for the rest of us: Where in the modern world is there a home except in illusion?

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