Can a book be historical and dystopian at the same time? Yes, it can. Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov (trans. by Angela Rodel) is nothing short of mind-boggling, recreating twentieth century history, alongside an imagined future, where we have the capacity to choose which decade from the past we live in.
The premise of Time Shelter is relatively simple – an ‘enigmatic flâneur’ named Gaustine opens a ‘clinic for the past’ as a way of treating Alzheimer’s – each floor of the clinic reproduces a decade in minute detail, transporting patients back in time to a period that felt safe and familiar.
…for us the past is the past, and even when we step into it, we know that the exit to the present is open, we can come back with ease. For those who have lost their memories, this door has slammed shut once and for all. For them, the present is a foreign country, while the past is their homeland. The only thing we can do is create a space that is in sync with their internal time. Continue reading