The main problem of this book is the banalization of evil.
At first I was impressed by the style used by Kosinski.
It was exactly what I was searching for when I decided to read this book.
No need to hide the disgusting actions human beings are able to do in many circumstances.
Then, chapter after chapter, I was trying to get a sense in the picaresque descending of the young protagonist from a hell to a worse one.
In fact, considering how we're talking about a fictional novel (albeit it has been often presented as a self-biographical one) I found particularly bad the choice of insisting just on evil aspects and revolting details. As for me, there is a kind of sadistic pleasure in this process. The purpose is impressing and disgusting the reader to get his/her attention in the worst tradtion of bestseller books.
And the final result is that without balancing evil characters and the constant, brutal humiliations the protagonist has to suffer with a single moment of helpful compassion or a shade of hope in humanity, "The Painted Bird" becomes nothing more than a macabre fairy-tale.
A macabre fairy-tale that I eventually found too heavy to bear notwithstanding my positive expectations and great curiosity for winning over my reading-inducted prejudices.