Birth Certificate: The Story of Danilo Kiš
2016 Prize in the Humanities
by Mark Thompson
Publisher: Cornell University Press (2013)
Mark Thompson’s Birth Certificate is an eloquent biography of a major Yugoslav writer too little-known in the Anglophone world. Impressive, eccentric, at times controversial, Danilo Kiš (1935-1989) belonged to many cultures and traditions. He is best-known for his playfulness with literary form. Thompson traces his career with an eye toward Kiš’s literary significance. What is remarkable about this biography is how skillfully it relates literary significance to shifts in the history of central Europe. The biography is itself a formal tour de force, combining journal fragments, photographs, and interviews with Thompson’s own beautifully-written prose. Richly informative, Birth Certificate is a brilliant case for Kiš’s importance in cultural history. As Thompson concludes: “From Kosovo’s ethnic tyranny to Diderot’s enlightenment and beyond—to Joyce, Borges, and a reunited Europe—is almost too far to measure; but it is there, along that spectrum, that Kiš’s writing shines most brightly.” This book illuminates that brightness, and we hope that this imaginatively-printed volume will introduce more readers to this complex figure.
About the Author
Mark Thompson is Reader in Modern History at the University of East Anglia (U.K.). His career has included various positions with United Nations missions, with civil society organizations, and in journalism.
McMahon-Hank Professor of Philosophy
College of Arts and Letters, University of Notre Dame
John E. Hare
Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology
Yale Divinity School, Yale University
Anne Lake Prescott
Senior Scholar and Emerita Helen Goodhart Altschul Professor of English
Barnard College, Columbia University
Professor of Architecture, University of Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway
School of Architecture, University of Notre Dame
Senior Fellow, Ethics & Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.