Andreas Ban’s suicide attempt has failed. Though very ill, he still finds the will to tap on the glass of history to summon those imprisoned within. Mercilessly, he dissects society and his environment, shunning all favors as he goes after the evils and hidden secrets of our times. As if left with only a few pieces in a chess game, Andreas Ban―and Daša Drndic―play a last match against Death.
...eloquently translated ... Wry and kindly, funny, angry, informed and intent on the truth, no voice is quite as blisteringly beautiful as that of Drndic ... E.E.G., referencing a brain scan that reflects the ways in which she excavates memory, offers a vital and concluding chapter to Belladonna.
None of Drndić’s five translated novels resembles anything that passes for political fiction today, at least not among English-language novels. To place her, we must look backward ... Part of the novel’s umbilical form lies in how Drndić imports entire episodes from her earlier novels into EEG, creating, within it, memories that are capable of simultaneously standing on their own and nesting into a larger literary space, like a set of Russian dolls ... EEG continues to refuse any form that absorbs the novel’s assorted parts—the long digressions into the history of chess in Nazi Germany, the files of psychiatric patients, the biographies of Latvian SS collaborators—into a complete and self-contained whole.
The complex narrative tapestry is a marvel. However, the fictional characters don’t come to life all that much: there are very few scenes with dialogue and anything resembling suspense. It’s the history so thoroughly researched, documented, and commented upon vitriolically and wittily that makes the most gripping pages here ... With Drndić, I am tempted to skim through the passages about the protagonist to get to the astonishing history, which reads like a collective noir ... I am impressed with how Celia Hawkesworth has managed to translate these long sentences with ease and grace ... she writes expertly about people who have a difficult and painful story ... We are reading an energetic mind, and partly the title fits here — it is an electric encephalogram of a mind at work, looking for enflamed spots in the brain, in memory, in time. Her writing is acerbic ... Sure, narratively EEG is imperfect, and it satisfies Henry James’s characterization of the novel as a large, loose, baggy monster. But reading it is as educational and exciting as a guided tour of hell, to borrow Francine Prose’s title.