Jakov Lind Essay - Lind, Jakov (Vol. 1)

Heinz Landwirth

Lind, Jakov (Vol. 1)

Lind, Jakov 1927–

Viennese writer, now living in England, Lind is best known for his short story collection, Soul of Wood. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 11-12.)

Landscape in Concrete is not just another existential novel about an anti-hero…. Lind teases us, distracts us, and mixes solemnity with raucous laughter. A comparison with American black humor is also apt; like that of Kafka, Grass, and Böll, his keen sense of the macabre expresses itself in a peculiarly German sort of comedy—often called Galgenhumor or gallows humor…. Using discontinuity and reversal to describe how grievously our century has lost its way, Lind challenges all normal expectations…. Blending the casual and the horrid, Lind's canny verbal irony also demolishes conventional categories of logic and morals….

Enriched by symbol, fantasy, and irony, Landscape in Concrete is more of a vision or an evocation than a direct statement. Its world is baffling and complex…. Life staggers on at a tremendous cost in human suffering. But Lind makes us marvel that it can continue at all.

Peter Wolfe, "End of the World Gestapo Style" (© 1966 by University of Nebraska Press; reprinted by permission from Prairie Schooner), in Prairie Schooner, Winter, 1966–67, pp. 317-72.

Lind's initial fiction, Soul of Wood & Other Stories (1964), was characterized by extraordinary inventiveness, startling irony, bizarre characters, surrealistic sequences, and nearly perverse humor. Without sentiment or compassion, Lind recorded abnormalities and horrors as matter-of-factly as if he were cataloguing slight social indiscretions. Clearly the products of a newly released imagination, his stories were untutored, sometimes directionless, but provocative enough to make his initial readers anticipate the publication of his first novel, Landscape in Concrete….

Landscape in Concrete is essentially a terrifying attempt to test possible clues which will guide man through the contemporary maze…. What makes Lind's novel a far more significant piece of fiction than his earlier collection of stories is his attempt to shape his startling materials into a coherent pattern.

Daniel P. Deneau, "Jakov Lind's Landscape in Concrete," in Critique: Studies in Modern Fiction, Vol. IX, No. 2, 1967, pp. 89-92.