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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Wooden Village

Peter Pišt'anek

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To purchase The Wooden Village

Title: The Wooden Village
Author: Peter Pišt'anek
Genre: Novel
Written: 1994 (Eng. 2008)
Length: 205 pages
Original in: Slovakian
Availability: The Wooden Village - US
The Wooden Village - UK
The Wooden Village - Canada
  • Rivers of Babylon 2
  • Slovak title: Drevená dedina
  • Translated by Peter Petro

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Our Assessment:

B+ : good fun

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Telegraph . 30/12/2008 Julian Evans

  From the Reviews:
  • "Some may say Pišťanek's work deserves a health warning with its view of humanity in which men inevitably become pimps and women whores, matched by a descriptive gusto for sex. The trouble is, most of the time, it is irresistibly funny." - Julian Evans, The Telegraph

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       The Wooden Village is the second volume in Peter Pišt'anek's trilogy of Slovakia in the 1990s, Rivers of Babylon. Rather than focus on one success story, as in the first volume, in which the unlikely rise to top -- from the boiler room to hotel-owner and tycoon -- of one character, Rácz, is chronicled, The Wooden Village follows several (generally somewhat less successful) fates in newly independent Slovakia. (Rácz also plays a small role in the novel -- including an amusing episode to get things started about the methods employed in his debt-recovery business -- , but for the most part he remains in the background.)
       These characters are an odd bunch, and they go to some extremes to get by. One couple makes their money by charging for the use of the public toilet they watch over -- and where they sleep at night. Another is a sex worker who has been saving up money working at a brothel called the Perverts' Club in Austria so she can open up her own bordello catering to those same more unusual tastes. Another becomes a fake but much admired and very successful healer.
       But readers, too, should:

     "Get used to it ," says the healer, "nothing's too odd for Slovakia."
       Or Pišt'anek.
       Among the side stories is that of a woman who stumbles into the public toilet, finds herself incredibly aroused by the smells there, and lets herself get pimped out by the couple there. Needless to say, it doesn't work out particularly well (for anyone concerned, actually -- except most of the johns), but seems typical for the sordid fall from grace of so much of Slovakian life (and its relatively quick and sad demise).
       It's all oddly charming -- even despite the brutality and the bizarre sex practises. The sad fates don't wind up that sad after all, even if things don't go exactly as planned or hoped, and if parts of that are not entirely realistic -- a baby gets sold off to some passing foreigners with hardly an afterthought, a man is flung out a sixth-floor window but has a guardian angel to soften the landing -- Pišt'anek's aplomb carries most everything off. Indeed, Pišt'anek displays a remarkable charm and good cheer in relating his stories, and though The Wooden Village feels more like a pass-time collection than its stronger predecessor and successor, it is very good fun.

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The Wooden Village: Reviews: Peter Pišt'anek: Other books by Peter Pišt'anek under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Slovakian author Peter Pišt'anek was born in 1960 and died in 2015.

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