Read Seeing People Off by Jana Beňová Online

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Winner of the European Union Prize for Literature"One of the most important works of new Slovak prose."—SME"Benová's short, fast novels are a revolution against normality. Unlike so many others, her novels not only claim to be a revolution but actually achieve this feat through their minimalist narratives that go against all conventions; in fact, Benová manages to subtly aWinner of the European Union Prize for Literature"One of the most important works of new Slovak prose."—SME"Benová's short, fast novels are a revolution against normality. Unlike so many others, her novels not only claim to be a revolution but actually achieve this feat through their minimalist narratives that go against all conventions; in fact, Benová manages to subtly and intelligently poke fun at conventional categorizations."—Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, ORFThere is a liveliness and effervescence to Jana Benová's prose that is magnetic. Whether addressing the loneliness of relationships or the effectiveness of rat poison, her voice and observations call to mind the verve and sophistication of Renata Adler or Rosalyn Drexler, while remaining utterly singular.Seeing People Off follows Elza and Ian, a young couple living in a humongous apartment complex outside Bratislava where the walls play music and talk, and time is immaterial.Drawing on her memories, everyday interactions, observations of post-socialist realities, and Elza's attraction to actor, Kalisto Tanzi, Seeing People Off is a kaleidoscopic, poetic, and deeply funny portrait of a relationship.Jana Benová is one of the most acclaimed Slovakian writers, and winner of the European Union Prize for Literature. She writes poetry and fiction, and is the author of the novels Seeing People Off, Get Off! Get Off!, Parker, and Honeymoon (forthcoming from Two Dollar Radio), as well as three collections of poems. Though her work has been widely translated throughout Europe, Seeing People Off is her English-language debut....

Title : Seeing People Off
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781937512521
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 142 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Seeing People Off Reviews

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    2019-03-05 08:44

    "Petržalka. An advent calendar full of chocolates. Window after window, with a common backstage. Common spaces, a common, never-silent choir."This is a quick read, with what some people call minimalist prose. The story follows Elza and Ian, a couple who live in Petržalka, Slovakia. The place itself is very important - modern Slovakian life in close quarters with others. The stories go off on tangents with mixed feelings of reality. The fragmented prose was easy to get through but sometimes a bit choppy for me. Still, how many novels from Slovakia do I get a chance to read?"It surprised her how quickly a girl can turn into an institution.This novel is a 2012 winner of European Union Prize for Literature, and you can see a five minute video with the author winning the prize, followed by her discussion of the novel, here.It is just now published in an English translation, which is part of the benefit of winning the prize. I was able to read it from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review, but the book came out officially on March 14.

  • Michael
    2019-02-26 04:45

    Seeing People Off is an unconventional, compelling narrative. The minimalist structure allows the poetics and meditations of the prose to give so much to the reader. I felt like I was in the room with the Benova. There's a playful repetition throughout of themes--the achievement is in its seamless quality. You never feel like you're reading a novel of ideas with no blood. There's also a lovely part that references Ginsberg's Howl--my favorite poem growing up. What I like most about the book is how it is unapologetic in its unique view of the world. I'm happy that Two Dollar Radio has translated and published jana Benova's English-language debut. Highly recommended if you want to travel to a different world for a weekend. It's short and sweet and sparky.

  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    2019-02-18 09:53

    via my blog https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/“Voices are so bewitching. They bore into the body. Gradually uncover all the paths. Some of them shut gates forever, burn bridges. Close openings.”The voices in this novel are wonderful. I hated to hold off reviewing this book until closer to it’s release date, because it’s incredibly unique. Living packed in with your neighbors, where I know I’d go mad, it’s impossible to be private. “The neighbor is an emphasized character.” The novel centers around Elza and Ian living in an apartment complex outside of Bratislava. Why are the walls so talkative and musical, awwww the people… the people. The reader is a bit of a voyeur peeking at their neighbors, where Szegedin goulash can move a person firing off memories of their family, and rats have tasters assuring the survival of their “mischief” (group), some feel like they “stink of loneliness”, and some are spiritual hitchhikers. Through the walls, Elza hears the “agitated voices, political commentary..” within the already small space, Ian makes a smaller one for himself and so it goes.Somehow the author slips in Carl Solomon, through her visits with Rebecca, “Ginsberg’s first born lunatic”, whom by the way helped Solomon gain his fame. These characters are ‘swallowed up by sadness’, terrible swimmers, filled with terror, marching on, bearing too much noise and closeness, stuck in old age homes or sick of old wartime memories, “The war ended a long time ago, today we can’t get anymore mileage out of it.” The best quote of the novel, “Youth camp for some people started again in old age. Elza’s aunt lived in an old age home in Budapest.” Just the idea of such homes, of living your last days stuck in such places, youth camps indeed!This review is all over the place, and the novel bounces around beautifully. I wonder, as I always mention when I read translations, how different the novel reads in it’s native tongue. Two Dollar Radio publishes some of the most unique literature, so I am more than happy to review anything I can get my hands on. There is a dreamy quality to it, and the writing is humorous even when it seems the subject would be heavy. It’s different, and I welcome different. I am a hunter of novels from other countries, God Bless translators, I mean that. In a perfect world I would be a polyglot, but sadly I am not, I sit and grieve all the books that are out in the world I will never read, sigh…Publication Date: May 16, 2017Two Dollar Radio

  • Bronislava Sencakova
    2019-03-03 07:59

    Minulý rok som čítala Beňovej básnické prvotiny a bola som nadšená. Toto je oveľa mladší kus, takže ho písala ako staršia, ale výpoveď sa mi zdá byť stále rovnaká i rovnako vyzretá (bez irónie, tie prvotiny sú skvelé): dobrá, pekná, bláznivá, smutná, rozbitá a mne ako čitateľke nerozkľúčovateľná. Pri poézii s istou mierou neuchopiteľnosti počítam, ale pri románe ma to se*ie a stráca sa mi záujem, takže som Plán prečítala len ako sled epizód a pocitov a odprevadila ho zo svojich spomienok.Dojmy z Petržalky, v ktorej bývam teraz a bývala som ako malá, mám iné. Sídliská asi inak pôsobia, keď v nich vyrastáte, ako keď sa do nich presťahujete v dospelosti z historických/historickejších štvrtí a zažijete kultúrno-urbánny šok :)Prvá (troj)veta:[I / Petržalka - Galapágy]Živá petarda. Sused, ktorý býva v byte vedľa Iana a Elzy, je starší pán. Už roky si myslí, že Elza je Ianov syn.Posledná (troj)veta:[XV / V spätných zrkadlách]Elzu zobudil nástojčivý škrabot na dvere. Ian spal. Popod prah bytu nepozorovane vkĺzne veľmi malý a rýchly psík. PIK... PIK... PIKPIK...Goodreads výzva 2018:12. dočítaná kniha

  • Alan
    2019-03-09 09:38

    lovely playful book about a quartet of artists/writers who meet at a Bratislava café. One of them works (they take it in turns with jobs like tennis line judges) and keeps the other three in coffee and booze etc. Charming. Will add some quotes (book not with me)..

  • Petra
    2019-03-16 11:49

    Kniha určená na pomalé čítanie. Na postupné vstrebávanie a vychutnávanie všetkých skrytých a neskrytých metafor, postrehov, symbolov, prirovnaní. Bravúrnych hier s jazykom. O samote a vzťahoch na ceste petržalským bludiskom. Ktoré sú však dávkované s takou rýchlosťou a intenzitou ako rútiaci sa vlak. Niekedy je ťažké zastavovať. A čítať pomaly.

  • Losille
    2019-03-11 04:45

    Elfman tvrdí, že genius loci Petržalky spočívá v tom, že každý se tu po nějaké době začne cítit jako kokot, co to nedovedl v životě nikam dotáhnout. Nedokázal se postarat o sebe a o rodinu. Neprosadil se, nebyl schopen vyšplhat nahoru do domů vypínajících se na kopcích a vrších města. Na svazích Palisád, na Kolibě. Tam, kde je jeho skutečné místo, domof.– – –Předem je třeba říci, že neznám Petržalku. Po dočtení mi ale připadá, že ji lze přirovnat ke knize samotné. Tajuplná, svérázná, spletitá. Pro leckoho cizí, nepřitažlivá, nepochopitelná. Pro jiné kouzelná a fascinující. Občas ji zbožňujeme, jindy zas máme pocit, že jsme ve snu, psychedelickém jako barvy přebalu. Mrzí mě, že jí nejde přidat půlhvězdičku navíc.

  • Ivana
    2019-03-16 10:32

    Touto knihou sa dá odprevádzať letom, jeseňou a zimou. Po viac rokov a v prípade núdze aj na jar, ktorá v nej nijak zachytená nie je. Vždy zo zákrut vystúpia iné dôležité príbehy. (Pre mňa tentokrát hľadanie správnych významov slov so svojím rodičom - hotovo verzus hovädo.)Dlhšie rozmýšľam nad tým, čo vystihuje scéna s polohou novorodenca. Čakania a očakávania vo vzťahoch sú občas ako zablúdenie v Petržalke. "Keď sa Elza spýtala Iana, prečo jej je už tri dni stále do plaču, povedal, že je dospelá. Život nie je len na škerenie, usmial sa. Plač ustal."

  • Bookish
    2019-03-12 08:00

    I’ll be returning to this slim, hilarious, acutely perceptive novel my whole life—it’s that good. Slovak novelist and poet Jana Beňová, winner of the European Union Prize for Literature, writes of four bohemian types—two couples—living a café- and apartment-anchored, coffee- and wine-fueled life in contemporary Bratislava. Plotless and postmodern, the book turns its unconventionality into as brilliant a meditation on life, place, culture, relationships, and love as I’ve read. Though there’s something of a poet’s obliqueness in the scene construction—“Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” as Emily Dickinson counsels—the novel is wondrously grounded in the ingredients of daily life, the language is clear and simple (you couldn’t ask for a better translation), and Beňová’s voice is friendly, funny, accessible, real. The magic of Seeing People Off is that the subtly angled clairvoyance of her rendering of everything in life, no matter how small, manages to be surpassingly insightful, deliciously comedic, and pioneering, all at once. That’s why I’ll be returning to it—the wizard’s light Beňová shines on things I thought I knew. Without making absolute comparisons to other books and writers, I’ll just say, as I’ve been reading, I’ve thought, happily, of Joy Williams, Lorrie Moore, Lydia Davis, poet Charles Simic, and, yes, Emily D. —Phil (https://www.bookish.com/articles/staf...)

  • Will
    2019-03-08 05:40

    "Hlasy petržalských muezínov v meste nepočuť. V ceste im stojí rieka. Nenesie ich výkriky. Pohlcuje volanie svojím vlastným tichom. Tichom bez konkurencie.Muezíni sú pod hladinou bezmocní. Voda pohlcuje slová, príbehy, výkriky. Pozemský hluk, význam aj intenzitu. Cúvnu pred ňou. Pár krokov späť - domof - do Petržalky. Zaspätkujú ako potkany.Mesto, ktorým tečie rieka, má oproti mestu bez rieky výhodu. Nemusí sa deratizovať celé na jedenkrát. Mesto bez rieky musia deratizovať celé v jeden deň. Aby potkany nestihli prejsť z otrávenej časti do lokalít, ktoré ešte neboli ošetrené. Mesto, ktorým preteká rieka, stačí otráviť na dvakrát.Keď Elza ráno odchádzala z bytu, sedel Ian nahý na stoličke a písal. Večer sa vrátila, otvorila dvere na izbe a začudovala sa, že muž stále sedí nahý v nezmenenej pozícii a píše. Keď ho na to upozornila, poplieskal sa radostne po bruchu a stehnách, akoby ich videl prvýkrát. Potešilo ho, aký živý zvuk vydávajú.Tú jar začali Ian s Elzou žiť vo svojom meste ako na dovolenke. Ako v cudzine. Čitali si celé hodiny v Café Hyena.Počúvali a sledovali ľudí okolo seba. Udržiavali sa v stave bdelého hladu. Míňali veľa peňazí. Tak ako vždy tesne pred krachom. Mrhali nimi. Stále si niečo zapisovali.Stretávali sa v kaviarni dvakrát denne a pri stole sedávali s ďalším párom = Rebekou a Lukasom Elfmanom. Bolo zjavné, že túto Štvoricu tvoria samí umelci. Rebeka bola Elzinou priateľkou z destva, Elfman si ju vzal tesne pred jeho koncom.V Hyene boli všetci na štipendiu. Vtedy sa život spomalí ako počas cesty na lodi."

  • Caroline
    2019-02-26 08:32

    Interesting. I liked how a sentence relevant to telling the story was echoed later as an image or observation about a wider sphere of life, or turned a bit ironic in its repetition.

  • Jim
    2019-02-21 12:57

    If you’re looking for a story with a beginning, an absorbing middle, a tidy ending and maybe a bit of a moral tossed in for good measure this one probably won’t be for you. It’s basically a slice of life, a couple of years (or thereabout) in the life of a quartet or artists, Ian, Rebeka, Elfman and, predominately, Elza. One in the quartet works at a time and divvies up their salary so the other three can get on with their projects uninterrupted. They live in Petržalka, the largest borough of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, and meet twice daily (the ones with stipends at least) in the Café Vienna (which the quartet insist on still calling by its old name, Café Hyena) to discuss art, read from each other’s works in progress, strategise and drink too much:They ate, drank, and smoked away all the money they earned. Like students. (Slogan: only genuinely wasted money is money truly saved) They joined that carefree class of people who buy only what they can pee, poop, and blow out—recycle in 24 hours.[…]Elfman claims that the genius loci of Petržalka is in the fact that, in time, everyone here starts to feel like an asshole who never amounted to anything in life. Certainly most of the people the quartet encounter are difficult or eccentric. It’s an ideal place for artists looking for inspiration. Assuming difficult and eccentric people are what inspire you, be it the “tall and beefy [young men] with shaved heads, and their faces look like pancakes.” the gypsies, the “child führers” or the two deaf old women whose “never-ending conversation start[s] before sunrise.”The thing is Elza, who’s our main character, still somehow finds a lot to love in Petržalka. She’s not a native but rather moved there to be with Ian but it doesn’t look as if she’ll ever leave:Petržalka. An advent calendar full of chocolates. Window after window, with a common backstage. Common spaces, a common, never-silent choir.In Petržalka apartments, all the walls play music and talk.There are shingled roofs of houses, smokestacks, tops of trees, electric power posts, roads, hills, concrete apartment buildings. Petržalka instead of Atlantis.History rushes through Petržalka. Ian and I live in the belly of Stalin just as Pinocchio did inside the whale. I hear every growl of the intestines.I’ll never get away from Petržalka. Petržalka is my yoga, my zen.I can only recommend Petržalka. There’s a line in Hayley Dead Stahl’s thesis ‘The Tension Between Modernity and Nostalgia: New York City Through the Black-Rimmed, Rose-Coloured Lenses of Woody Allen’ that jumped out at me: “Though a seemingly modern space, Allen captures the city in such a way as to characterize its timelessness,” and which reflects something Beňová says, “Petržalka is a place where time plays no role.” When Woody Allen’s Manhattan came out more than one reviewer talked about the city as being “a character in the movie.” That said Woody Allen’s New York is unrecognizable to real-life-city-dwellers and I suspect the same could be said of Beňová’s Petržalka. Take this scene:Today at the Hyena, Elza is reading aloud from Seeing People Off. The first ten pages. The air grows tense from the vulgar words and a pair of older women and two families with children rise from a table covered with desserts and leave. At the end, no one applauds. A lady in violet comes over to Elza. “I don’t easily go up to people and give them my opinion, but I have to tell you that Petržalka isn’t like that. I don’t know where you live—there are weirdoes everywhere, but this? Not like that! Once we realise this is an idealised/caricatured place it’s easier to see what we’re dealing with. A picture in built up from brief vignettes. And they don’t always flow neatly from one scene to the next. For example:        When Elza asked Ian why she had constantly felt like crying for three days, he said, because she’s grown up. Life isn’t only about putting on a smile, he smiled. The crying passed. The woman in the tram pulled a seated hood toward her. From it emerged the head of a black-haired boy.         “Excuse me, where is the police station in this city? I need to go to the police. I saw something,” said the woman.         “The police?” I don’t know. Really. I’m actually not from here,” stammered the boy.         “You either? This is weird! Is there anyone here who’s actually from here?” On Thursday, Ian and Elza received a Christmas card from Elfman. The envelope was covered with bells and stars. In the place where the return address should be was a stamp: Wolfgang’s Animals. And don’t call me!someone had written by hand.Ian’s tooth hurt. He paced up and down the apartment all night. Once in a while he would lie down next to Elza only to find that he couldn’t stay lying down. The pain didn’t allow him to change from a vertical position. It kept him upright with his feet on the ground, his head just below the ceiling (like a balloon full of gas). It can be a bit wearisome jumping all over the place but gradually the more important threads start to emerge. But to what point? A novel about pointlessness can’t really have one. I suppose that’s the point. As Bronwyn Averett puts it in her review for Necessary Fiction:Much of the narrative seems to drift just out of reach, and scenes of probing intensity continually evade taking shape. Rather than a story, it is a detailed portrait of a city, of human relationships, and of a deeply complex emotional landscape. I think that about hits the nail on the head but don’t let it put you off. There’s a lot to enjoy here and Beňová can be quite funny at times. And sad. And insightful. And even a bit silly. Reflective, too, even nostalgic, but rarely sentimental. As Paige Webb says in her review for Kenyon Review, “These stories, then, don’t culminate. They accrue, each in their own brilliance.”

  • Harriet Springbett
    2019-02-25 05:38

    Poetic, philosophical, surprising, playful - Jana Benova's EU Literature Prize-winning novel is a thought-provoking journey through the Slovakian town of Bratislava and its suburb of high-rise flats called Petrzalka. It takes a few pages to get used to the disjointed style, which shows glimpses of life in Petrzalka without following them through. Don't let this put you off! You'll soon understand what's going on. It's the kind of book you can read and re-read, and still find something new inside. I love the way it circles, coming back to key phrases, key ideas, key sounds. The bad news? It's only available in French (under the title 'Café Hyène: Un plan d'accompagnement'). The good news? It's due to be published in English (America) in May 2017 by Two Dollar Radio.

  • Dana
    2019-02-27 05:30

    Tie časti, ktoré boli zrozumiteľné, sa mi zdali skvelé.

  • Deborah
    2019-03-20 05:40

    As soon as I finished reading Seeing People Off today, I turned to Google to search for any reviews by book critics which might explain what I had missed. This book won the European Union Prize for Literature, yet I rated it as average. My timing was fortuitous because NPR had just posted Michael Schaub's review, in which he described Seeing People Off as a "slim novel told in a series of brief vignettes," in which "the transitions can seem jarring, although that may well be the point." Yes, the transitions were jarring, and if that was intended to be the point, that point was lost on me.There are some lovely turns of phrase in Seeing People Off, where, in a store's checkout line, the codes "jump[] onto the receipts with a crackling sound [l]ike a fire" and the snow resembles "gray bony faces full of holes and hollows." Like Schaub, I enjoyed the dark humor evident in a taxi driver's droll commentary on the events of 9/11:"It's really a bit too much, they've overdone it," commented the taxi driver who took us home from the Milan Rastislav Štefánik Airport. "If they blew up a bus or an embassy, I'd understand. That's OK. The Americans are up to their ears in it. Some two-story building or a train, that's one thing. But two skyscrapers, that's too much, they really went overboard."I also appreciated the chapters entitled "Winter," in which Elza records snatches of conversations overheard from neighboring tables in a café, and "Seeing People Off," in which she traces Ian's mother's slow decline toward death.In his 2010 review of Seeing People Off, Alexander Halvoník observed that "much will remain unread, the accent from some things will be transferred to others and many things will take on new dimensions." Although too much of Seeing People Off remained unread for my taste, its short length makes it easy for other readers to test the waters for themselves.This review was based on a free ARC provided by the publisher.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-16 12:50

    With prose that reads like memory, Jana Benova's "Seeing People Off" explores the tension between the individual and the whole, control and surrender.In rebellion against the mundanity of city life in Bratislava, four young writers pool their money so that each may devote less time to office jobs, and more time to their craft. The writers - Ian, Elza, Rebeka, and Lucas - meet daily at Cafe Hyena to drink wine and tell stories, share feedback and advice. Although a seemingly idyllic arrangement, the writers soon resent rather than welcome each other's influence on their own stories. But as each wrestles to assert the primacy of their own voice, they find that they only fold into each other more and more. Eventually the writers (along with the reader) lose all sense of time, place, or speaker. There isn't a traditional resolution to this novel...To offer resolution would be to relieve the tension, which is the whole point.

  • Andrew Miller
    2019-02-28 09:38

    I appreciated the experimentation in this novel, and so many of the vignettes are beautiful. That said, I finished reading it and wasn't entirely sure what I'd read. At only ~120pp it's a very fast read and worth giving a shot in support of experimental literature; but also, because the striking vignettes may well be just what you need to read.

  • Giulia
    2019-03-05 08:53

    2.5

  • Steven Felicelli
    2019-03-16 08:40

    starts strong, stylistically rich, but never coalesces or gets anywhere imo

  • Jozef Kuric
    2019-03-10 09:44

    Predtým ako to urobíte, prečítajte si novelu o novele Jany Beňovej Plán odprevádzania. Beňová píše o meste (mieste), kde ľudia sú len akýmisi živými potemkinovskými kulisami, ktoré dennodenne obchádzame. O ľuďoch, ktorých tváre sa menia na veľké biele lievance, bez známok života, avšak s o to väčšou schopnosťou nenávidieť toho druhého.http://www.sietovka.sk/?p=2850