Jolita Skablauskaitė (1950-2018) was herself as mysterious as her six novels. Her background was history of arts, and she even dreamed of becoming a painter, but then chose writing instead. However, it was not so hard to spot the painter under the disguise of the writer. She was a bit of a recluse, not someone you could expect to meet at a literary event socializing with other writers. She divided her time between a tiny apartment in Vilnius (where writing was impossible) and a house with a garden in a village in the north of Lithuania (where creativity overflowws). Her writing was heavily magical, surreal, mythical or archetypal. There was something witch-like about her and her characters.
Sado sindromas (De Sade’s Syndrome). Vilnius: Lithuanian Writers’ Union Publishers, 2010. – 472 p.
This is Skablauskaitė’s most popular novel, as it received plenty of publicity when it was shortlisted for the Book of the Year award. In an interview she has said that only two of her novels are written “out of horror”, as opposed to “out of inspiration”, and this is one of them. Fashion designer Albanas (or sometimes Bernardas or Benas) is both the narrator and the main character. He has many roles – he seduces, creates, cares and experiences mystical events. However, the main question is, how evil – how debased – is he? The procession of different women feels almost archetypal, and also somewhat circus-like. There’s alchemy and occultism. There’s plenty of alcohol and even more sex. Most of the book apparently consists of hallucinations. The reading mesmerizingly fascinates to the point of sublimation.