The titular Painter of Battles is a(n ex-) war photographer dealing with his experiences. He's given up photography and turns to painting, working on creating a huge mural that encapsulates war. Self-confessedly not a great painter, he's dedicated to this project as therapy or expiation. He's then confronted by a former subject, a Croat involved in the Yugoslavian wars, who tells the photographer about the disastrous effect the photo had on his life and that of his family. The man then vows to kill the photographer. But since this happens pretty quickly, and it's not a short story, no killing occurs immediately, and they smoke and drink and talk together over the next few days. There's definitely some good stuff, and it no doubt draws on the author's own experiences as a war journalist before he became a novelist. But I found it somewhat -- I don't know -- over-serious. It jumps in from the very beginning with some very heavy themes and soaks in them the whole time.