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This is an entrancing, otherworldly collection of short stories from one of Serbia's most accomplished 20th century writers, new to Penguin Modern Classics. A counter-prophet attempts the impossible to prove his power; a girl sees the hideous fate of her sister and father in a mirror bought from a gypsy; the death of a prostitute causes an unanticipated uprising; and the lives of every ordinary person since 1789 are brought to life in the almighty Encyclopaedia of the Dead. In this wide-ranging collection of stories about humanity, society and relationships, Kis plays with the distinction between fact and fiction, horro and comedy, drawing on key influences such as James Joyce and Franz Kafka. This was Kis' final work, published in Serbo-Croatian in 1983. "Kis is one of the great European writers of the post-war period". (Guardian). "Compulsively readable". (Daily Telegraph). "Fantasy chases reality and reality chases fantasy. Pirandello and Borges are not far away. But these names are intended as approximate references. Kis is a new, original writer". (Times Literary Supplement). "Intense and exotic, his mysteries hint at unspeakable secrets that remain forever beyond the story-teller's grasp". (Boyd Tonkin). Danilo Kis was born in the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1935. After an unsettled childhood during the Second World War, in which several of his family members were killed, Kis studied literature at the University of Belgrade where he lived for most of his adult life. He wrote novels, short stories and poetry and went on to receive the prestigious NIN Award for his novel Pescanik. He died in Paris in 1989. Mark Thompson is a British historian. His published work includes Birth Certificate: The Story of Danilo Kis.