26 Wednesday Nov 2014
The latest addition to my website is Petre M. Andreevski‘s Пиреј (Pirey), a novel about the brutalities of World War 1 in Macedonia. The novel tells the story of Ion and Velika, a Macedonian couple who get married and have five children. Life has not been easy for them but, when World War 1 comes, Ion is press-ganged into the Serbian army and has to go off and fight, leaving Velika to fend for herself and their children. Ion sees many brutalities, sees many of his fellow Macedonians killed and ends up wounded himself. He even captures a Bulgarian prisoner and finds out that it is his brother. Meanwhile, things are worse for Velika. She struggles to feed her children, not helped by the continual arrival of various armies, who loot the village. Her five children gradually die, mainly because of cholera. She is forced to work on building a road for the Bulgarians. The Komitadjis, the Bulgarian nationalists, threaten to kill her because her husband is in the Serbian army. The war finally ends but the village is now occupied by the hated Serbs, instead of the hated Bulgarians, so they are no better off. Ion comes home devastated by the deaths of all of his children and takes to drink, which ends up killing him. This novel is hailed as one of the classics of Macedonian literature and is still very much read in Macedonia. As a story of the brutalities and futility of war, it is very powerful.