Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Monkey House by John Fullerton

The Monkey HouseSUMMARY (by fantasticfiction): A dramatic story set in Sarajevo. Rosso is the detective inspector trying to find a murderer in a city at war, and Luka is the local crime boss exploiting the misery of the city's inhabitants. Tanja is a young woman who is loved by both men and facing an agonizing conflict of loyalties.


The Monkey House is about four days in the life of the chief police inspector Rosso in besieged Sarajevo during the Balkan wars. Fullerton literary throws the reader into the world of chaos, an inferno where a human life is worth nothing. He describes in detail the horror, the cold, the hunger and, above all, death. Death is everywhere. There is nobody to trust to; even a friend is an enemy.

Fullerton explains quite well the atmosphere of inevitability. He explains how injustice and pain pass over through centuries of human memory, how everything is intertwined in the Balkans, how revenge is sought and executed over and over again, which doesn’t allow the people to find a way out. The indifferent international community offers no solution either since there is nothing economically interesting in Bosnia. The fact that the international community doesn’t help, nor does it let people defend themselves, only emphasises the feeling of hopelessness.

In this environment it seems pointless to try to resolve a homicide. There is after all only one more dead body among so many. Not to mention that the deceased is a Serbian woman. These facts are pointed out several times to Rosso by people who want to convince him to stop investigating. Nevertheless, Rosso persists. Maybe he wants to redeem himself for the sins of his father, a WW II war criminal. Or, Rosso’s labour is just an attempt to retain the last bit of order, the last bit of morality and ethics.

Despite the chaos and the inferno, Fullerton shows the reader that not all goodness is lost. There are still people who try to help other people. There are people who are reliable, people who tell the truth, people who sacrifice themselves for other people. Even justice prevails, although only for a short period of time. These are the things which are still worth fighting for. This is why a spark of hope still remains.

RECOMMENDATION: The Monkey House offers a correct insight into one of the most terrible episodes in the recent history. Don’t be fooled thinking it is just a book. Remember: this was real; even more, the reality was worse than one can think. 

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