Humor that hurts instead of laughs

Review of "Meetings with the Devil" by Sashko Nasev

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"Meetings with the Devil" by Sashko Nasev is correctly qualified as a postmodern, Balkan version of Bulgakov's great work "The Master and Margarita", but also of Goethe's Faust, primarily because of the motive - selling the soul to the devil. Critics of the postmodern in the third book of the story about Bozilak Nikogov may find postmodernist connections with another of Bulgakov's masterpieces, "The Dog’s Heart", and with other reference points in world art (not just literaure), but such a reading of this brilliant Nasev's work would focus more on the literary process, and less on the fact that the author created a true satire classic through the stories written in different epochs (even in different centuries - XX and XXI), not only in the context of the Balkans, but also worldwide.

A satire that both laughs and hurts (more hurts then laught), and that skillfully oscillates between the tragic and the comic, the real and the fantastic, the dream and the reality, the sublime love and the sexual pleasures… In the timeless story of the "merchant with his soul" Bozilak Nikogov, but also in the four newer short stories with images of today’s life, Nasev masters with the irony of his own, characteristic style, recognizable by the specific way in which he uses the mechanisms of (tragi)comedy, as well as the themes he deals with. Sashko Nasev's humor is lavish, dynamic and ruthless, characterized by exceptional ingenuity and self-irony.

While satire is often described as a tool of moral condemnation and criticism of human stupidity, moral depravity, debauchery, etc., the social, intellectual, and even sexual functions are also attributed to it, although less frequently. In this work of Nasev, all of these functions of the satirical narration are intertwined. The moral depravity of man as a starting point. Bozilak Nikogov is sitting in the City Park, seemingly an ordinary day, seemingly an everyday situation. The tension (in this case sexual) rises when an attractive girl sits on the bench opposite him. The man begins to trade with himself (in his thoughts, of course), he begins to wonder what he would be able to give in replace to find out "what color are the panties" of the girl who aroused him. And according to the popular saying "not to hear the Devil", a dramatic turn point occurs that raises the story forward – Devil is listening to the Bozilak’s thoughts and the Mephistopheles offer is immediately delivered to him, but not by Satan himself, but by his nephew. This is the universal premise on which the narrative lies, but it then develops in its own way, in accordance with the "curious and ingenious nature" of the grotesquely entertaining character Bozilak Nikogov.

Both t

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