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The Man in the High Castle

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A novel begun under the dictatorship, written during the collapse of Sovietism, and finished and published under the new democracy, Parallel Stories is a protean beast, a machine of change—built in a way that seems to mimic the globalism into which its author has arrived: “Globalization in no way means we are living in the greatest possible harmony on Earth, or happily possess the best possible truths and thus can bring about the greatest possible harmony on Earth,” says Nádas, who has been translated into a dozen languages. “We can distribute around the world only goods, methods, technology, and financial artifacts; the colorful juxtaposition of the most various cultures, religions, and forms of life remains. The globalization of the world means we can only accept parallel worlds when we recognize and understand their histories.”

It is this catholic concern that ultimately recommends Nádas’s teeming cathedral of a book, written with such devotional care that every one of his dozens of characters—each gay and Jew, German and Hungarian—is both saved, with a novelist’s grace, and sentenced, with a historian’s impartiality. Nádas is less impartial outside that cathedral, sentenced himself by happier circumstances—an improbable partisan of the global present, and of that eminently unfinishable secular heap called the Internet. “During the course of writing,” he tells me, “I suddenly discovered that I, with the structure of my novel, was following the same laws, the same design, so to speak, that people I didn’t know, very far away from me, were using to create computers and later the Internet. It was a powerful confirmation,” he says, ecstatic. “That’s what people mean by the Zeitgeist.”

Parallel Stories
By Péter Nádas.
FSG, Nov.


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