Dictionary of the Khazars
Dictionary of the Khazars: A lexicon novel in 100,000 words is fantasy, historical fiction, a collection of short stories, a puzzle, an enigma, a riddle. It contains references and events listed in alphabetical order in three different books: one Christian, one Muslim, and one Jewish. They all revolve around the religious conversion of an entire people who then vanished from history: The Khazars. Which religion did they finally choose? Well according to the Christians, Christianity; the Muslims, Islam; and the Jewish community, Judaism. The novel also comes in two different version: a female edition and a male edition.
This, ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere, is my favorite book of all time. And it's structure made me think it would make it a perfect topic to use for the A to Z Challenge. And while it doesn't use all the letters of the alphabet it does follow a similar idea.
I acquired this book almost six years ago in Mexico (I have the Spanish translation) and the other day when I picked it up I wondered if it was still my favorite. I opened the first page, looked at the dedication to the reader who would never read the book, and I smiled and had to continue. I wasn't two pages into the prologue when I remembered exactly why I love this book so much.
I love books that challenge and intereact with the reader and that is exactly what Milorad Pavic, the author of the book, did. He didn't just write a book(originaly in Serbian and then translated to many other languages), he created an experience and an adventure.
There is no right way to read this book. Every time you read it you will read it differently and different people will take away different things from it. I've gotten sticky notes to help in my re-reading of this book because there is no way I can read it from the first page to the last. You can if you want to, but I tend to jump around.
But it isn't just the structure and rules of the book that I love. The writing style is what wins me over. Pavic is a poet writing a novel. The descriptions that he uses and the imagination involved in the creation of the stories are breath taking. Even the fact that there is a female and male version of the book is so quirky and original that you have to give the guy props for thinking up something that's never been done.
If there was only one book I could recommend to anyone, it would be this one. Because it isn't just one book. You could spend years studying it and analyzing it or take a few days just to read it through. The experience is what you make it, which transforms it into a different book for every person who reads it.
Have you read the Dictionary of the Khazars? What is your favorite book of all time? If you could only recommend one book to anyone, what would it be and why?