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politics, blindness – physical and figurative, political elite, bureaucracy, power plays, egomania, disability, social inclusion, satire
by Mitja Čander
We all have our battles to fight; we all have something we need to overcome or at least find a way to manage. This is true also for the main character, and narrator, in Blind Man: he is a successful book editor and critic who since birth has had problems with his eyesight, although he has never had much to do with the visually impaired community and doesn’t really feel like he is one of them. But when he is offered a chance to enter the world of politics, he is “blinded” by the lure of power, and this easy-going, level-headed husband and soon-to-be father gradually turns into a self-absorbed careerist.
Author Mitja Čander, without pontificating and with a measured dose of humour, paints a critical, unsparing portrait of a small European country and through it a convincing satire on the psychological state of contemporary European society. What, or who, do we still believe in today, and who should we trust? Politicians, apparatchiks, the media? The bureaucratic system? Greater and lesser luminaries? Empty pledges, absurd situations?
Speeches laden with buzzwords and grandiose promises break down the flimsy façade, as the protagonist’s own insecurity suggests that things are not always what they seem. In the end, social blindness is worse than any physical impairment, and worst of all is to be blinded by your own ego.
Blind Man is a superb Gogolian novel about the current state of Slovenian – and European – society.
A work that slices into the issues of contemporary society, its guiding principles and dominant trends.
Čander has written an excellent story while treating the issue of blindness on the personal and social levels, and seasoned the whole thing with a witty mirroring of the social reality.
The novel is witty and entertaining, while the political speeches and thoughts, which correlate to reality, are often trenchant and even brutal. Blind Man is not merely a story of blindness; it is an explicitly political text.
To have power, to have influence, to rule – what goes on in the minds of our policymakers, functionaries, and politicians? In Blind Man Slovenia has its first full-blooded political novel, which takes us behind the scenes of politics with its dialogues, conversations, reflections, and self-delusions. Five years in the making, Mitja Čander’s novel is – ironically – clear-sighted: the author has foreseen the financial crisis and described our politicians almost to perfection.
The characters in the book are the sort in which many people might recognise themselves, but they remain unnamed and allow for various interpretations. Along with the personal dilemmas and the description of society, the novel also stands out for its robust language and dialogue, which gives the book an extraordinary, striking immediacy.
Čander clears the way for the all-out political novel, while through the hero’s visual impairment he addresses with sensitivity the position of vulnerable social groups.