Sadness and Beauty
Somewhere in the beginning I said that this is a novel about sadness as an essential element, as the essence of human beings. The density of emotion conveyed by these seemingly banal, petty stories about the lives of immigrants, the “little” people, is one of the key features of the book. Similar to Sebald (who, among other things, is known for having a nine-page sentence in his novel Austerlitz), in Snowflakes too “the novel’s long, twisted, complex sentences, often long as as entire paragraph, give the narrative a feeling of breathlessness, as if the story is so pressing urgent that it must be told” (Anagnostou, 20-21). In that manner, somehow out of breath, I, too, read the novel in a few days, mostly on a plane, on the way from Skopje to Sarajevo and back. On the way back to a city I had not been to for decades and on the way back home, I experienced this book not only as a great novel, but above all as a deeply emotional, melancholic read. The story (or rather the stories) is by no means absent from this prose, but it is, above all, precisely because of this melancholic tone, lyrical, emotional, sad, even nostalgic. Nostalgic as the song of Marika Papagika, one of the first Greek singers whose voice was recorded in the United States exactly one hundred years ago: “If you love me and if this is a dream, let me never wake up.” Nostalgic as the words of Nicolas Anthony Virglio, when thirty years ago Nickafonick Nick from the radio set of our childhood said: “I try to make my life worth something. We all have some tragic experiences, and life is basically tragic, no one lives happily ever after. So I hope I can lift it up and bring it into the realm of beauty” (Nick Virgilio). This book is exactly that: a space in which every life has meaning, a space in which beauty is found in both memories and sorrow.