He spent years working as a lifeguard on a river, living happily with his wife and son, with his greatest disappointment that he had never had to rescue anyone. When his chance finally comes, however, the drowning man turns out to be a high-ranking German officer, whose rescue doesn't endear Andrija to his neighbours at all. The result is separation from his family and a life in exile.
Andrija's account reveals him to be something of a simpleton, a man with a straightforward morality and a limited understanding of the world, whose tragedy is to be caught up in events beyond his comprehension. This perspective provides Pekic with a way of stripping issues of collaboration and retribution down to an elementary level — and with an opening for the dramatic irony that runs through his darkly comic tale. It also means that the more philosophical elements of his story are necessarily indirect, but that is probably a good thing.
At just over a hundred pages, The Apology and the Last Days is a slender work in comparison to Pekic's other novels, but it is a fine one.
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