This novel is the sequel to Balkan Farewells, which is again the
sequel to Half-way to Heaven, so that this is basically the third
part of the same story dealing with the lives of mostly the same
characters in different periods of time in this region. As I have
already said once before, the previous novel Balkan Farewells
can work as a separate unit, so that it is not necessary to read
the one written before, Half-way to Heaven, which was never even
published till now. Since a relatively long period of time stands
between these two novels, they can be treated as separate units.
On the other hand, the novel Love as Punishment (in its working
title Return to Peace) is the continuation of Balkan Farewells
and it would be good to read it before.
With this novel, which describes the period from 1995 to the beginning
of 1997, ends a part of our lives and with that also any writing
about it; writing about our little, simple people whose lives
have forcibly been affected by ugly but nevertheless historical
events which happened and are still happening in this area, with
a considerable amount of uncertainty regarding their final outcome.
This novel, as well as the previous one, simply deals with the
destinies of the simple people. I've left the deep, pretentious,
philosophical and other questions on the destinies of nations
in this area to others who have, as it is by now obvious, already
thought it out very "successfully", from certain domestic
to numerous international extremely well "informed"
thinkers whose ideas drag never ending bloody trails over mountains
and valleys of the beautiful landscapes in the Balkans. Those
trails shall resist for a long time until washed away by some
new, cleaner and less acid rains than those so abundantly raining
in the previous years. If such rains ever even start raining here!
These last years they have now and then wet this thirsty soil
but it is not enough, it only raises the dust but does not wash
away the accumulated evil.
Hope dies last, and if the rest of the world can live by this
saying, why couldn't I do it in the Balkans, it doesn't cost anything.
Except another couple of lost nights which no one counts here
any more. Since a long time ago.
I would also like to use this opportunity to answer again to those
who ask me about the reasons for writing such a thing. Among other
reasons, because a time comes when you must say what you have
to say - to remain a man. This was not written for those who think
that it is too soon to write about such events (it will always
be too soon for them anyway), it was written for those who think
that it is still not too late. And luckily, there are such people.
How many? I don't know, we'll see when the wheel of history turns
back on these areas again, and it will, sooner or later. I can
only hope that I will also be among the lucky ones here who have
only gone through this once.
In the end, I want to thank all those people who have inspired
me in creating the characters for this novel. A special thanks
goes to a wonderful woman, a friend, who shared her emotions with
me and made he character of Tatjana in this novel alive.