Seeing People Off
a novel by
Translated by Janet Livingstone
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*Winner of the European Union Prize for Literature.
"Beňová is at her best when she's funny, and her sense of humor tends toward the dry and the dark. Seeing People Off is a fascinating novel. Fans of inward-looking postmodernists like Clarice Lispector will find much to admire."
There is a liveliness and effervescence to Jana Beňová’s prose that is magnetic. Whether addressing the loneliness of relationships or the effectiveness of rat poison, her voice and observations call to mind the verve and sophistication of Renata Adler or Rosalyn Drexler, while remaining utterly singular.
Seeing People Off follows Elza and Ian, a young couple living in a humongous apartment complex outside Bratislava where the walls play music and talk, and time is immaterial.
Drawing on her memories, everyday interactions, observations of post-socialist realities, and Elza’s attraction to actor, Kalisto Tanzi, Seeing People Off is a kaleidoscopic, poetic, and deeply funny portrait of a relationship.
Seeing People Off by Jana Beňová (approximately) =
* In most cases, none of these writers endorse this book. Our math formulas are supposed to be amusing anecdotes, similar to shelf-talkers in bookstores that say "If you like X, you might enjoy Y," or "This Book is like Cormac McCarthy writing an episode of Saved by the Bell with a soundtrack by Philip Glass."
Scroll to bottom for Goodreads reviews.
"Stunning... [Beňová] has created that unique and uniquely satisfying phenomenon of a page-turner that must yet be read slowly and precisely."
—Bronwyn Averett, Necessary Fiction
"Beňová is at her best when she's funny, and her sense of humor tends toward the dry and the dark. Seeing People Off is a fascinating novel. Fans of inward-looking postmodernists like Clarice Lispector will find much to admire here."
—Michael Schaub, NPR
"The setting of Jana Beňová’s first book in English, translated by Janet Livingstone and published by Two Dollar Radio, is mirrored in how the novel itself is built. The bursts of narration — as short as a few words and rarely longer than a page — are recurring contained units, and they provide a stabilizing uniformity to an otherwise eccentric set of characters and scenes."
—Nathan Scott McNamara, Electric Literature
"These stories explore death and other kinds of leaving in wry, fresh ways. The end of childhood, the end of an affair, the end of sanity—when I arrived at the end of this book, I found myself returning to the beginning. This is a merry-go-round one can hold on to."
—Paige Webb, Kenyon Review
"Beňová tugs at the strings that bind conventional narratives, testing the knots and exposing the weaknesses. In so doing, she reveals that sometimes the point of reading might be to lose the thread."
—Ann Morgan, A Year of Reading the World
"[Beňová] is in the first generation of post-Soviet writers for whom scarcity and censorship is a recent memory, and the political is always lurking just behind the breezy Aimee Bender–like prose."
"Beňová’s prose... bounces through a fragmented narrative in ways that are both unexpected and beautifully resonant. The many moments of profound sadness are wisely cut by a sardonic underbite that keeps the writing sharp, fresh, constantly renewed."
—Elizabeth DeMeo, The Arkansas International
"Beňová’s short, fast novels are a revolution against normality. Unlike so many others, her novels not only claim to be a revolution but actually achieve this feat through their minimalist narratives that go against all conventions; in fact, Beňová manages to subtly and intelligently poke fun at conventional categorizations."
—Austrian Broadcasting Corporation, ORF
"[Seeing People Off] must be read for a long time. It will be receiving awards, translated and made into a film, it will be put into anthologies. They will declare it as one of the most important works of new Slovak prose."
Jana Beňová is one of the most acclaimed Slovak authors, winner of the European Union Prize for Literature. She is a poet and novelist, author of the novels Seeing People Off, Away! Away! (Two Dollar Radio, 2018), Parker, and Honeymoon, as well as three collections of poems. Though her work has been widely translated throughout Europe, Seeing People Off is her first novel translated into English.
About the Translator
Janet Livingstone was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and ventured to Czechoslovakia just after the 1989 Velvet Revolution. Among her full-length book translations are Master your Stage Fright by Slovak master violinist, Bohdan Warchal and Piata loď (Boat Number Five) by novelist Monika Kompaníková, which was one of three finalists for the EBRD Literature Prize 2022, one of the few international literature prizes which recognizes both author and translator equallly. In addition to Jana Beňová, her current translation projects include the novels The Best of All Worlds by Slovak-Swiss author Irena Brežná and The Arab World—Another Planet? by Emire Khidayer. Janet lives in Seattle with her two children.
Enjoy a sneak peek of select pages from Seeing People Off! (Use the "full screen" option at bottom right to enlarge the pages):
LIST PRICE: $14.99
PRINT ISBN: 9781937512590
DIGITAL ISBN: 978-1-937512-60-6
RELEASE DATE: 5/9/2017
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"
Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Inside printed on Enviro 100% post-consumer EcoLogo certified paper, processed chlorine free and manufactured using biogas energy.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).