Orly Castel-Bloom turns her scalpel upon that most holy of institutions, the myth of motherhood and its implications in the work of a nation: gruesome
Orly Castel-Bloom, Dolly City, Translated by Dalya Bilu, dalkey Archive Press, 2010.
"Dolly City—a city without a base, without a past, without an infrastructure. The most demented city in the world." In the midst of a futuristic-primitive metropolis, the accumulation of all our urban nightmares, Doctor Dolly (certified by the University of Katmandu) finds a newborn baby in a black plastic bag, and decides to become a mother. Overcome by unfamiliar maternal urges, Dolly dispenses with her private lab of rare diseases and turns all her surgical passion onto her son, who she names "Son." Ceaselessly cutting and sewing, Dolly is the scalpel-wielding version of the all-too-familiar Jewish Mother, forever operating upon her son with destructive, invasive love. In this grotesque satire of war and the defensive measures taken to survive it, Orly Castel-Bloom, one of Israel's most provocative and original writers, turns her own scalpel upon that most holy of institutions, the myth of motherhood—and its implications in the work of a nation. Gruesome, irreverent, and hilarious, Dolly City is widely recognized as one of the most disconcerting—and brilliant—works ever written in Hebrew."
"Dolly City is an irreverent, witty satire, an original and timely tour de force about the Yiddish-mama complex. Drifting and alienated in a hostile city, Mother Dolly (Israel) doctors her son with a love that destroys, until she learns the meaning of compassion. Jacqueline Rose writes:'In Dolly City' , the most famous novel of new generation writer Orly-Castel-Bloom, the crazed protagonist carves a map of Israel on an abandoned baby's back, the borders enlarging as he grows... She is a writer sounding the warnings, fearful of the deadly legacy of conquest...' Dolly City' is part of the canon - predominantly male ib which she made inroads.'
"Dolly City is an irreverent and witty satire, an original and timely tour de force about the Yiddishe-mama complex. Drifting and alienated in a hostile city, Mother Dolly (Israel) doctors her adopted son with a love that destroys, until she learns the meaning of compassion." - Times Literary Supplement
"From the first pages, Dolly City asserts itself as an important text . . . Kafka has finally arrived in Tel Aviv." - Le Monde
"This is a very accessible way of telling the Holocaust story to today's teenagers. It focuses on young people doing what they always do whatever the circumstance: flirting, bending the rules, helping each other out, smuggling in illicit objects (in this case a collection of puppets that they can express their underlying anxieties with) though they are experiencing one of the twentieth century's most inhumane events. The black and white pencil drawings are beautifully done and very sensitive, yet with a cool edge deriving from today's best comic book illustration, and there are a number of touches of humour as well." - Amazon review
"A novel of Joycean insolence... A beautiful book whose non-conformism is a delight.’ - La Marsellaise
"Dolly City, the influential novel by Israeli author Orly Castel-Bloom—originally published in 1992 and released this month in a superb English translation by Dalya Bilu—begins with a cocker spaniel. The dog, aged and ill, is put to sleep, and its corpse is driven to the dunes outside town where it is stabbed and beheaded by a demented gravedigger. It is, by far, the book’s most tender moment.
What follows, largely unencumbered by the burdens of plot, is the story of Dolly, a psychotic doctor who finds an abandoned baby and then—driven by love, guilt, anxiety and all the other emotional foundations on which the mythical figure of the Jewish mother proudly stands—proceeds to torture him and others in hilarious and heartbreaking ways.
Such villainy, naturally, requires its own lair, which Dolly has in Dolly City, her apartment in an impossibly tall high-rise in the center of a barely recognizable Israel. A lick of language is enough to ascertain that by entering Dolly City, one has left behind all that is safe and familiar. Consider the following stretch, in which Dolly wonders what to name her newfound toddler: “I lay down on my giant bed and watched the TV shows picked up by the satellite dishes on the roof, smoking like a chimney as I did so. For a moment I caught myself whistling for the dog, and a string snapped in my body, C sharp, then I closed my eyes, and decided to call him Son, so that if anyone ever called him a son of a bitch, he’d take it personally and beat them up for the both of us.” In one breathless muttering, Castel-Bloom welds together the banal (those satellite dishes on the roof), the clichéd (smoking like a chimney), the deeply personal (the specific notation of the sentimental string that is snapped at the memory of the departed dog), the absurd (a son named Son), and the profane (Son being called a son of a bitch).
These are fine ingredients for literature, but Castel-Bloom’s aims are far above the merely aesthetic: Her Dolly City looks nothing like Israel, and yet it is probably the most emotionally honest portrait of the Jewish state produced in the past four decades. Just compare Dolly City to, say, Amos Oz’s Jerusalem: The eminence grise of Hebrew letters helped solidify his status with somber novels such as My Michael, in which the heroine, Hannah Gonen, fantasizes about being ravished by a pair of Arab twins with whom she played as a child. Oz’s landscape is all internal, psychic space, and his imaginary sex scene reads like softcore porn directed by Ingmar Bergman—tortured, overwrought, and ridiculous.
Castel-Bloom, on the other hand, has no need for grand psychological devices. On the subject of Arabs, as on any other subject, she gets straight to the point. “I discovered a new type of phobia in Dolly City—Arabophobia, fear of Arabs,” she writes. “I once read somewhere that you should tackle fear head-on. Fuck Arabs, if you’re afraid of them. You fuck them—and you see that the devil’s not as black as he’s painted, they’re just like everybody else.”
Such deceptively simple riffs do more than just shatter Israeli literature’s penchant for the metaphorical—all those family quibbles serving as the national drama writ small. It also takes a simple and courageous stand in support of normal life: If only you saw them without their clothes on, you’d understand that Arabs, just like anyone else, are ordinary people, not some symbolic stand-in for otherness and the complexity of life in a conflict zone.
This may sound like an obvious proclamation; in the ideologically charged vista that is Israel’s literary landscape, it is not. While in America narratives of romantic relationships between whites and Indians were common throughout the 18th and 19th centuries—the literary historian Werner Sollors called it the “red-white fusion”—Israeli literature had scrupulously avoided any mention of the possibility of real romance between Jews and Arabs. There could never be a Palestinian Pocahontas; whatever interactions the two peoples had were confined to fighting, fucking, or other forms of dominance. In one tart paragraph, Castel-Bloom presents a real alternative, filthy and sexy and inspired and eminently human. Life, she proposes daringly, could be just life again.
The same is true for nearly every word in this short and magical book. Even as the plot spirals from one horror to another—here’s Dolly using a rope and a rat to slowly drain the life out of an airline executive, and there she is with a scalpel and rampant bloodlust in some run-down German orphanage—the novel’s overall spirit is one of deep-seated humanism. In a society so heavily encumbered by the weight of war and remembrance, Castel-Bloom insists, the only decent form of exorcism is shamanic, absurdist, disturbing, but, ultimately, cleansing. Whether we read the book as a meditation on motherhood—and it is, I believe, one of the most inspired explorations of the topic ever written—as an excavation of the roots of the collective Israeli psyche, or as a bit of both, we’re bound to feel immensely relieved when setting free our gnawing fears and howling anxieties; seeing the beasts run wild makes them less scary.
In her particular style—melding the concrete and the absurd, the terrible and the funny, the hopeful and the grim—Castel-Bloom recalls another masterful bard of modernity and its complexities, the French writer Boris Vian. Now largely forgotten, Vian wrote works that were at once real and surreal; his stories, rooted in seemingly senseless settings, unfurled to reveal a hard ground of empathy and compassion in which human relationships could blossom even in the most inclement conditions. Castel-Bloom has mastered the same difficult trick.
Of course, anything that’s truly profound and radical is likely to stir up its share of resentment, and Castel-Bloom is no exception. When she first emerged as a new voice in the hushed halls of Israeli literature, she was slapped with the derogatory label of being a practitioner of “thin language;” in Castel-Bloom’s apoplectic prose, in her humor and her warmth, the dons of culture saw little of merit. I myself was temporarily ejected from my perch as a counselor in a youth movement when, at 16, I shared with my peers the scene in which Dolly slices open a few dozen German orphans to find a suitable kidney for her kid. Here’s how the scene ends: Returning home to Dolly City, Dolly realizes that her child never needed the kidney to begin with. Melancholy, she stares out of her apartment’s window.
“I looked out the window,” Castel-Bloom writes, “but how long can you go on looking out of the window at rushing trains? Especially when they’re rushing to where these trains were rushing. All the trains in Dolly City rushed to Dachau and back again. Not that Dachau, just some old plank with the name Dachau written on it, a kind of memorial.”
This, Castel-Bloom cheerfully reminds us, is what happens when mythology is abused, when icons turn hollow, when the politics of fear rots the meaning out of life. When that happens, the only sane solution is to grab that knife, move to the 37th floor of a skyscraper, and reinvent the world as a more uninhibited, madder, better place." - Liel Leibovitz
"Dolly City is a hyperkinetic surreal fiction narrated by a very driven woman. She studied medicine in Katmandu ("study medicine in Katmandu for all I care, as long as you study" her dying father had carelessly said, and the literal-minded Dolly immediately fastened on the idea), but she can't (officially) practice in Israel -- though that doesn't stop her from her experimentation and the occasional unlicensed practice of her craft. Typically, though, for example, for a while: "I earned my living exclusively from enemas. I became a real expert in the field". Yes, Dolly City often gets literally visceral, and wallows in a lot more than just excrement.
Doctor Dolly, as she styles herself, lives in Dolly City, a surreal stand-in for contemporary Israel. She lives in a four-hundred-story tower, everyone seems to be on anti-depressants, and for a while the French regularly bomb the city ("for no apparent reason"): it's an unreal nightmarish place that obviously affects every aspect of her life and mind: Doctor Dolly is a product of Dolly City.
Dolly's frenzy begins to reach its fevered pitch when she becomes a mother -- of sorts. Her efforts to get her dog properly and quickly buried go awry and she finds herself with an infant on her hands (this is a fiction full of this kind of seemingly random cause-and-effect). She becomes all maternal -- but Dolly is of the (insanely) overprotective and worrying sort -- and her background in medicine and animal experimentation do not help: she can't keep from 'treating' and examining him, beginning a vicious cycle:
'But even though the child was a hundred percent healthy, I decided to cut him open. I succumbed to the chronic doubt from which I suffer. I wanted to check and see with my own eyes that everything was really in order, and then to check on my checkup, and then to make sure there hadn't been any slip ups in the re-examination, and so on and so forth.'
And so she keeps cutting the poor little kid open, and doing all sorts of medical procedures. Worried that he only has one kidney she gets him an additional one -- though "a few dozen babies had kicked the bucket" in the messy process -- only then to realize that he had two all along (leading her, of course, to perform yet another operation, to remove one of the excess kidneys).
Yes, Dolly City is not for the squeamish (or, I'd (strongly) suggest, parents of infants); there's actually quite a bit of humor to this too, but it's definitely of the macabre sort.
Castel-Bloom's narrative moves with pinball randomness, speed, and sudden shifts. The narrator recognizes the insanity of some of her actions:
'My concern for his health knew no bounds. It was voracious, it was grotesque. In the middle of an operation on his leg I would discover problems in the groin. So I would close up the place I'd opened, and open the place that was still closed, and so on and so forth, for hours on end. Until I reached a stage where every inch of his body was open. And then I would pass out.
It was an impossible life, but I lived it nonetheless.'
Among her solutions ?
'I figured out the way to fight my insanity: ignore it.'
But denial isn't much of a solution for her, not here, where she's constantly confronted with so much - and: "I knew that there were no limits to reality's imagination, no limits at all."
Castel-Bloom pushes at those limits, at a frenetic pace. Dolly City presents a warped picture of contemporary Israel, but the distortion is only one of grotesque magnification, the narrator the personification of the guilt-ridden, terribly defensive, over-protective, self-destructive, self-sure, near schizophrenic state that seems to tear itself in all different directions even as it also curls in completely on itself.
The narrative covers years, but the stunted narrator is limited in any growth while the boy's escape from his mother's clutches only gets so far: real progress seems near impossible, and the best the characters can do is stagger (or hurtle) about, driven to acts of desperation.
Littered with (often seemingly random) observations and thoughts - whatever occurs to the narrator, at the time - there's a good deal of very clever stuff here, some almost too easily lost among all these asides:
'All the trains in Dolly City rushed to Dachau and back again. Not that Dachau, just some old plank with the name Dachau written on it, a kind of memorial.'
Both messy jumble - Castel-Bloom piles it on thick and fast - and clinical dissection, Dolly City conveys the modern condition - and especially that in Israel - remarkably well. It seems haphazard, and it's often obscenely raw, but Castel-Bloom stays true to what is a quite inspired vision.
Tough to take, but incredibly rich." - M. A. Orthofer
"Dan Miron, one of Israel’s best-regarded literary critics, once said that he sees in Orly Castel-Bloom’s work “a shout of resistance, a scorn for social norms and public taste.” In Castel-Bloom’s novel “Dolly City” — first published in Israel in 1992 and translated into English for the British audience in 1997 by Dalya Bilu, whose translation is only now finding its way to the United States — that shout is a throat-shredding roar.
Dolly’s Strings: Orly Castel-Bloom exudes a nihilistic mania.Dolly City, which shares some street names and bears strong similarities to Tel Aviv, is “the most demented city in the world.” It’s a place of 400-story apartment towers and an “anti-anti-Semite quarter,” where Holocaust survivors crucify a goy each day. The city’s trains run to a place called Dachau that is only “some old plank with the name Dachau written on it.” There is little governance, no social order of any kind, and because of bureaucratic ineptitude, April lasts for three months. Later in the novel, Israel appears, without explanation, to be at war with France, whose bombers drop diseased animals and excrement in addition to traditional bombs.
In the midst of this phantasmagorical morass lives Dolly, a doctor educated at the University of Katmandu who finds a baby boy in the car of a man she has killed. (The man earned his punishment by doing a poor job disposing of Dolly’s dead dog.) She adopts the baby and is immediately consumed with overpowering feelings of maternal concern that cause her to worry incessantly that something is wrong with the boy. In response, she operates on him repeatedly and needlessly, at one point flying to Dusseldorf and flaying dozens of orphans in order to extract a working kidney. After she has placed this kidney in her son, she realizes that he already had two perfectly good ones. But such is the cost, in Dolly’s world, of attentive mothering.
By one definition, Castel-Bloom is mining a very dark vein of satire here. Labor Zionism, Holocaust mythmaking, military service and Jewish mothers are all targets of her withering voice. When Dolly cannot resist her compulsion to literally carve a map of biblical Israel into her son’s back, she indicates how onerous the weight of history and religion can be.
But Castel-Bloom’s novel also exudes an apocalyptic, almost nihilistic mania. This society rarely resembles contemporary Israel; instead, it is a diseased, surreal place, occupied by people like Dolly, who think everyone and everything, even inanimate objects, are afflicted with cancer.
How, then, to appreciate such a work, one in which its protagonist kills perhaps 100 people with an almost somnolent insouciance? Is “Dolly City” a cri de coeur that something is gravely wrong in Israel, or is it an extended shrug of the shoulders that says the traditional tools of social criticism are insufficient?
There are, to be sure, acidly funny moments, such as when Dolly grudgingly befriends a Labor Zionist named Gordon who preaches incessantly about returning to the land and injects himself with chlorophyll to get high: “‘It’s organic,’ he said. ‘It can only do you good.’”
But more often, Castel-Bloom indicates that this society is beyond repair. People have no control over their own lives, much less those of their children — a lack of agency viscerally expressed through Dolly’s terrifying relationship with her son.
In such a world, stories are practically useless as instruments for explication or understanding. And so it follows that besides an intermittent subplot in which Dolly searches for clues to solve the mystery of her father’s death, the novel is largely plotless, spinning outward with violent entropy. In worrying about everything that could go wrong with her son, Dolly suffers from “the disease of infinite possibilities, the determination of doubt.”
In order to reassert control, she guzzles antidepressants by the handful — at a market, “people [buy] them like peanuts” in brown paper bags — but they don’t work. She casually cuts into her son (“I held an organ roll call, I demanded to know if they were all present and correct”), but her wryness forms a veneer over a recurrent madness that several times lands her in asylums.
Dolly has some bursts of lucidity. She angrily demands “sovereignty over the defense of [her] son.” She later asks, “What kind of a thing is motherhood if you can’t take care of your child nonstop, one hundred percent?”
The solution to these problems is, according to a doctor who treats Dolly during one of her hospitalizations, to accept the status quo. But the archetypal groupings of Israeli society that would involve — including leftist, Labor Zionist, Likudnik, Hasid and so forth — are implied rather than named, and would require a kind of social order that is alien to Dolly City.
When “Dolly City” was originally published, it had a bracing effect on Israeli literary discourse. Old-guard literary icons like Gershon Shaked and S. Yizhar hailed the work, while Castel-Bloom’s iconoclastic use of literary Hebrew divided critics: Some derided her style as “thin language,” others appreciated it as an unconventional, pared-down idiom. And yet, despite the quality of Bilu’s translation, it’s difficult to receive the English-language “Dolly City” with the same sense of revelation. The work is daring and sometimes shocking, its humor the epitome of grotesque, but it lacks the connective empathy of the author’s more conventional novel, “Human Parts,” which was published in English in 2004 by David R. Godine and was lauded as the first Israeli novel to address the Al-Aqsa Intifada. Even so, this hand grenade of a book still provides its pleasures; like a feral animal, it requires that you keep your distance, but there is beauty in its ferocity." - Jacob Silverman
"Dolly, the narrator of Dolly City, opens with a matter-of-fact, detailed description of cutting up a goldfish and eating it. Dolly states, “I took a plastic cup and fished out the corpse. . . . I laid the fish on the black marble counter, took a dagger, and began cutting it up. The little shit kept slipping away from me on the counter, so I had to grip it by the tail and return it to the scene of the crime.” This brutal scene is rather mild compared to what follows in Orly Castel-Bloom’s dystopian, darkly satirical novel.
Published in Israel in 1992 and now skillfully translated into English, this postmodern novel takes place in the lawless, violent, Mad Max-like Dolly City, “a city without a base, without a past, without an infrastructure. The most demented city in the world,” in which Dolly, a doctor of sorts who studied at the University of Katmandu, finds a baby in a black plastic bag and decides to become its mother.
And what a mother she is. Obsessively examining and performing surgeries on her son, Dolly exemplifies the overbearing, nervous Jewish mother who is paradoxically overly concerned about her child’s health but also sadistic and controlling.
The flat tone of the narrative and the blunt, deliberately unlyrical language used by the narrator are effective in this angry postmodern novel. Dolly asserts, “I hid behind a hillock covered with yellow evening primroses, which didn’t remind me of anything, and settled down to watch.” Later, in describing the rain in the foul Dolly City, the narrator asserts, “Rain in Dolly City isn’t just bullshit, it comes down thick as spaghetti, but for five years it hasn’t rained a drop.”
Castel-Bloom’s language declares that this is an anti-novel by refusing to use figurative language or choosing particularly inelegant similes to describe an ugly world.
Castel-Bloom spares little as objects of her satire. Dolly, the narrator, wields her scalpel on just about everything, including motherhood, Zionism, war, the Holocaust, authorities, corporations, and modern medicine.
The love/hate relationship a mother has for her child is Castel-Bloom’s most pointed and developed object of attack. Not only does Dolly perform multiple surgeries on her child, Son, including a pointless kidney transplant to ensure that he’s healthy and free of any defects, but she eventually has him attached to her back so that, as she explains, “I would be able to incorporate him inside myself and forget all about him.”
Dolly both wants to protect her child from harm and “whatever diseases were out there” but also tries to drown him and kill him. As Dolly sums up her ambivalent relationship to motherhood and her child, “When I wasn’t rummaging in his insides, I didn’t pay attention to him at all.”
Son’s body is also the locus of Castel-Bloom’s critique of Zionism and Israeli nationalism. One of her many surgeries entails carving the map of Israel on his back. She states: “I took a knife and began cutting here and there. I drew a map of the land of Israel during the Biblical period on his back...” The language that Dolly uses to justify her overbearing mothering of her son is similar to that used to explain the defense of the state of Israel. She explains: “I only wanted to protect him from harm. I wanted him to live to a hundred and twenty, and what’s wrong with that? I wanted to be in command on all fronts, and what’s wrong with that?... I’m not entitled to demand sovereignty over the defense of my son?”
Dolly City even tackles such taboo subjects as the Holocaust and its role in the founding of the state of Israel. For example, Castel-Bloom mocks those who see all Germans as evil Nazis, when Dolly justifies obtaining a kidney for her son by removing the kidneys of and ultimately killing many children in a German orphanage. The kidney acquisition also touches on the novel’s critique of modern medicine. The novel refers to numerous examples of impersonal, compassionless, expedient forms of medicine practiced in Dolly City where Dolly, along with most of the other inhabitants, pops multiple anti-depressants at a time—pills that have no effect. While sharp, highly original, and even funny at times, Dolly City, after a while, feels like a joke that’s been repeated too many times. The anger and satire are relentless. Dolly City might be more effective as a short story in which the objects of satire were narrower and more focused. Castel-Bloom’s work is a thought-provoking, exciting reading experience that is oddly both a breath of fresh air but not a ray of sunshine." - Ariel Balter
"In Dolly City, “the most demented city in the world,” all the cars are Volkswagen Beetles, and all the trains lead to Dachau (“Not that Dachau, just some old plank with the name Dachau written on it, a kind of memorial”). It’s a city of “chaos and ugliness,” a hostile, filthy, friendless place. “Sometimes, even in Dolly City, I feel like a stranger,” Doctor Dolly, the protagonist of Orly Castel-Bloom’s 1992 novel reflects. “I want to go home—even though this is my home.”
Dolly City follows the trials of Doctor Dolly, a perceptive but deranged graduate of Kathmandu University. She lives alone in a 400-story apartment building, where she conducts heartless experiments on animals in her home laboratory. She leads a cold-blooded existence but is nonetheless overcome with grief when her pet goldfish and dog die. Then, Doctor Dolly commits murder, a little more than a dozen pages into this dystopian novel. But on the same page that she puts out a life (bludgeoning her dog’s gravedigger in a fit of rage) she saves one: In a black plastic bag in the trunk of the gravedigger’s car, Doctor Dolly finds an infant.
What begins as grim compassion for the newborn (“I said to myself, with children it’s no joke, you don’t take risks”) soon blooms into a full-blown obsession. Dolly convinces herself her son will fall ill with a rare disease and so vaccinates the infant against tetanus, whooping cough, diphtheria, polio, measles, jaundice, scarlet fever, small pox and influenza– all at once. She gives him a fever; she brings down the fever; she sedates him; she operates on him. She operates on him again. And again. “My concern for his health knew no bounds,” she says. “It was voracious, it was grotesque.” Eventually, she sets her sights farther; “the metastases were taking over the world,” she decides. Doctor Dolly begins carrying a syringe of morphine and injecting passersby. She injects car tires, mops and pails, too. She knows she is succumbing to madness but carries on. Before long, Doctor Dolly finds herself in an insane asylum.
To call Dolly’s world macabre is an understatement. She tortures an airline employee in her apartment while her baby sleeps, murders a slew of infants in a German orphanage in order to give her child a (superfluous) kidney transplant, and castrates a psychiatrist whose diagnosis she dislikes. It’s shocking and gruesome, but, as captured in the sly, unadorned prose of Dalya Bilu’s translation, it’s all very cartoonish too; physical violence in Dolly City is an obvious vehicle for the book’s exploration of psychic trauma. It’s hard to put a fine point on the origin and parameters of that trauma, however. Whether the novel is primarily a story of motherhood or of mental illness rests on one’s definition of each. Is Doctor Dolly simply acting out a grossly distorted version of motherly concern, or does Castel-Bloom mean to suggest, through Dolly’s excesses, that maternal impulses themselves are diseased? Dolly may be the ultimate overbearing Jewish mother, but this seems to be a just a minor flourish. Her motherhood – which she comes into accidentally, even violently – is in so many ways just another symptom of the larger malaise of her geography. Who can give their son a happy childhood in a place like Dolly City?
It’s a political and philosophical question as much as a literary one; on top of everything else, Dolly City is rumination on Israeli history and Jewish identity. Central to the plot is Dolly’s shifting relationship with Pan-T, the Israeli national airlines which employed her father and which she sees alternately as her tormenter and benefactor. Even more explicitly, in one of Doctor Dolly’s early surgical fits, she carves a map of Israel onto her son’s back. The child grows into a strong sensible, teenager, despite his mother’s torments; as he enters manhood, the map is still visible on his back, “amazingly accurate and up to date”– but it has returned to the 1967 borders, without the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Dolly is astonished. “Yes, that’s the generation gap for you,” she thinks.
In the English edition’s afterword, Karen Grumberg notes that “the centrality of Dolly City in the world of Israeli letters is undisputed.” Even in translation, the novel’s force is undeniable. Dolly herself may be consumed with provincial concerns (“There were rare moments when I would try with all my might and main to feel part of a world far wider than Dolly City, but it was almost impossible. I was my own prisoner”) but this is much more than a regional work. In its lucid expression of confinement and estrangement, Dolly City is a searing, comic critique of modernity that, incredibly, manages to leave open the possibility of redemption." - Mythili G. Rao
Read it at Google Books