A stunning drama of love and intrigue set against the backdrop of war in Yugoslavia, where power is used to manipulate and break people.
I saw what the mural was all about. The entire war was portrayed on it from the asylum's point of view. The tanks with predatory smiles, the civilians naked with zippers up their middles so the soldiers could open them up and remove or implant whatever they wished, battle scenes that showed soldiers with wheels instead of feet, as if they were Trojan horses or children's pull-toys.
"Who painted the wall?" I asked.
"We all did."
Dictatorship, politics and forbidden love -- welcome to Belgrade during the break-up of Yugoslavia, where anything can happen. That's why clinical psychologist Aleksandar Jovic is not overly surprised to find a government gorilla in a vinyl bomber jacket waiting in his study.
The ominous messenger brings momentous news. Jovic, who is ferociously opposed to the war, is being requisitioned to oversee a state-run clinic that has been set up to treat traumatized soldiers who have fought on the front lines. What he learns from his patients -- including Soldier 13, the pro-Muslim commando, and Tania, the mysterious forensics expert whose services have also been hijacked by the Milosevic regime -- turns Jovic's world upside down.
How war destroys and brutalizes its victims and its perpetrators, and how everyday people find normalcy in the midst of chaos, is the background for this thrilling story. But The Speaking Cure also reaches behind this shadowy place of conflict -- where the political and the personal constantly collide, and nothing is as it seems - to reveal essential truths about the nature of power and the mutability of reality.
About the author
David Homel has translated over 30 books, many by Quebec authors. He won the Governor General's Literary Award in translation in 1995 for Why Must a Black Writer Write About Sex? by Dany Laferrière; his translation of Laferrière's How to Make Love to a Negro was nominated in 1988; and he won the prize in 2001 with fellow translator Fred A. Reed for Fairy Wing. His novels, which include Sonya & Jack, Electrical Storms, and The Speaking Cure have been published in several languages. Homel lives in Montreal, Quebec.