This novel in triptych unfolds through interconnected narrative threads pulled taut by linked crimes in the lives of an American forensic sculptor, an accent coach whose girlfriend died in 1970s Buenos Aires and a Vienna brothel-owner who gives shelter to three displaced women from Istanbul after World War II's last battle between the Austrians and Turks. Part political thriller, part comic noir, Siege of Comedians reflects on aspects of the current refugee crisis, human trafficking and identity.
Historical reconstruction takes both figurative and literal forms in Susan Daitch’s ingenious contrapuntal novel ... [a] brutal motif, as well as the novel’s mangled chronology and open-ended, fragmentary sections, makes Siege of Comedians sound something like Roberto Bolaño’s gothic 2666. Yet for all its latent darkness, the novel is inquisitive rather than morbid, exhibiting a boundless curiosity in its characters’ unusual professions, a delight in the uncanny ways that history connects and repeats itself and a quixotic sense of hope that whatever has been lost to time might, one day, be found and restored.
It’s a particular joy to find oneself immersed in the minutiae of complicated, highly specialized work, and Daitch excels at zooming in and making us feel like experts ... three novellas, each of which could easily stand on its own...can be read as a meditation on the nature of storytelling, Siege of Comedians drills down one level further, to the building blocks of communication itself ... Some readers will surely find Siege of Comedians a bit dizzying. Indeed, it can be a challenge to keep track of the many names, places, timelines, and histories without feeling under siege yourself. But the experience of thinking about Siege of Comedians in the days and weeks after consuming it is your reward for the effort that a close reading of this novel requires.