• Historical fiction

      Unterstadt

      by Ivana Šojat-Kuči

      The novel Unterstadt tells the story of an urban family of German origin living in Osijek from the end of the nineteenth till the end of the twentieth century. It is narrated through the portrayal of the destinies of four generations of women – a great grandmother, a grandmother, mother, and a daughter – their shattered illusions, the education of their children, the historical events that brutally lash out at them. Ivana Šojat-Kuči creates a world rich in detail and nuance, all her characters, both major and minor, are expressive and suggestive, abundant in virtues and flaws, complex and multidimensional, as life itself is. By depicting a clash of generations through the female characters of a family, the author creates a world in which, often due to bizarre strokes of fate or wrongly selected life-cards, both horrible and beautiful events occur. Yet the central theme, running through all the generations and all the characters, is that of hiding away from the past, fleeing from it, concealing it, which sooner or later leads to traumas and misunderstandings. Unterstadt is a book about a family and a town, written in the manner of the best and greatest modernist novels. Through the history of one family, it speaks of the twentieth century in a multiethnic town, of dictatorships, of wrongly selected sides, of fate which one can hardly defy. Unterstadt reveals the richness of Ivana Šojat-Kuči’s narrative talent, and it is thus not surprising that she has emerged as one of the most interesting writers of contemporary Croatian prose.

    • Historical fiction

      Life Without a Name

      by Vladimir Stojsavljević

      Vladimir Stojsavljević's Život bez imena (Life Without a Name) is one of those novels bound to cause a commotion in the public life. This novel written in an uncompromising manner speaks about the life of Mary Magdalene, about Jesus, Međugorje, Sarajevo… In an entirely original manner, the novel Life Without a Name narrates about the eternal topics of truth and lies, love and hate, good and evil. By means of parallel stories, Vladimir Stojsavljević creates an image of human past and present, and his writing out a magnificent love novel is enabled by the characters such as Mary Magdalene, Jesus, Mary, Pontius Pilate, Marija and Varja who had visions of the Virgin Mary in Međugorje, their parents, members of the Yugoslav State Security Service, as well as the citizens of Sarajevo, from Zuhra, a psychologist, to Estera, an old historian. Life Without a Name narrates about women during difficult times when, going through the wringer of politics, religion, and love, they always choose an emotion, the emotion they are willing to make every sacrifice for.

    • Literary Fiction

      Ovdje neće biti čuda/There Would Not Be Any Miracles Here

      by Goran Ferčec

      Waste land, void, the return to no-man's-land, disintegration and the departure from history represent only some of the large topics encompassed by There Would Not Be Any Miracles Here (Ovdje neće biti čuda), the first novel written by Goran Ferčec, one of the most talented playwrights of the younger generation. Bender, the protagonist, is a young intellectual facing an identity crisis in the western metropolis the name of which the reader does not learn, where he has settled down during the wars in these parts of the world. An escapist running away from not only the past but everyday life as well, he is loaded with self-doubt. While being in such an entirely damaged position, an unexpected call from his father prompts him to return to his home country, to the village he has originated from, where after the ravages of war almost no one lives any more. The return from the urban anti-utopian reality to the rural waste land does not take place only on the realistic, physical level of the journey, but also, in an even more evident manner, in the protagonist's consciousness. His conflict with himself, his own demons, and his father, as well as the inability to escape his own fate, lead him towards the utter negation of reality. Ovdje neće biti čuda is one of those novels posing real questions, although not providing any answers because they do not even exist. Ferčec’s protagonist Bender is an emblematic contemporary intellectual who can only search, and in this search completely disappear because the consequences of wars, transition and contemporary life are such that they leave a contemplating individual with no perspective save the sheer void, which may be, but not necessarily, the starting point of the creation of the new.

    • Biography & True Stories

      Ruski kompjuter/Russian computer

      by Semezdin Mehmedinović

      Russian Computer (Ruski kompjuter), written by Semezdin Mehmedinović, a poet, is one of those books which grow on you from the first lines. The book, a sort of an emotion-laden migration diary, had been created somewhat unintentionally and subsequently re-found and saved in an even more unintentional manner. Russian Computer narrates about the fate not only of an intellectual but also every person in times of war and exile, as well as about the search for safety. It was created from August 1995 to August 1996, during the period when Semezdin Mehmedinović had left Sarajevo and decided to start his life anew. He seeks a place of that new beginning form Prague to Zagreb, via Phoenix and New York, all the way to Washington, where he still lives. Eloquently and concisely, Russian Computer narrates about Sarajevo, about the siege and consequences of the war, and due to its potent poetic language it becomes one of the key books for the understanding of the 1990s. The fate of this remarkable text - poetic, dramatic, and emotion-laden - proves that manuscripts, in Bulgakov's words, don't burn, and this manuscript once again confirms that Semezdin Mehmedinović is one of the most vital and the best contemporary authors from these parts of the world.

    • Biography & True Stories

      Autoportret s torbom/Self-portrait With a Bag

      by Semezdin Mehmedinović

      With each new book, Semezdin Mehmedinović creates a new space, eludes the usual judgements and moves away from acquired definitions. His prose contains both the real and the imagined, and the author gives a whole new view not only of autobiographical writing, but also of our experience of literature. Sketches in which he registers everyday life, describes the people he sees or remembers, with people close or unfamiliar to the author, match harmoniously the drawings made on knees, or while driving on a subway, or on iPad. Those incredibly precise and surprisingly beautiful drawings give the book a new dimension. Self-portrait With A Bag (Autoportret s torbom) is a book which evokes bottled-up emotions and joy of life. More than anything else, this book is Semezedin's self-portrait, disclosing him heart and soul, sharing with the reader his everyday rituals, his reading, films, and thoughts about his friends.

    • Literary Fiction

      April u Berlinu/April in Berlin

      by Daša Drndić

      In her book April in Berlin (April u Berlinu), Daša Drndić uncompromisingly towards herself, towards her characters and readers, towards history, researches the destinies of emigrants and immigrants that have marked the twentieth century. Through personal stories, her own as well as those of her interlocutors, of noted and well-known people but also of so-called ordinary, “insignificant”, individuals, Drndić creates a big story. April in Berlin explores and dissects the history of Middle Europe, that imaginary yet existing area that has, more than by its geographical facts, been defined by its inhabitants and their destinies, their migrations determined both by economy and politics. The people whose lives have been moulded by politics and history, who have for generations been moving throughout Europe, but also throughout the world, thus turn Middle Europe into much more than a geographic point of reference they transform it into a human map. Precisely that human map which marked the twentieth century and is making an imprint on the twenty-first, that code inscribed into human fates, is what Daša Drndić reveals and offers through her book, whether it be by narrating her own story, that of the fate of her family, or the stories of real and fictional characters she directly communicates with. As if through a kaleidoscope, the author enters the intimate world of every reader, making him start a personal quest of his own and his family’s past.

    • Literary Fiction

      Sonnenschein

      by Daša Drndić

      Lebensborn-children, deportations of Jews, concentration camps, questions surrounding Switzerland’s neutrality in the Second World War, SS command troops and the history of Gorizia, they all meet together in the novel Sonnenschein. Daša Drndić has written a magnificent novel about important, painful and elided themes from the Second World War, about children abducted from their parents and raised to become Arians. Through the history of one Jewish family from Gorizia, and the fate of a young woman, Haya Tedeschi, Drndić reveals misconceptions, individual failures and tragedies in which the darkest demons of the human condition are mirrored, and which have emerged repeatedly throughout the twentieth century. In her best novel to date, Sonnenschein, Daša Drndić illuminates deeply hidden parts of a personal and national history, and does so in a direct, matter-offact style, aided by the exceptionally skillful use of authentic documents, photographs, lists, witness testimonials and a great story about the search for the lost child.

    • Literary Fiction

      Belladonna

      by Daša Drndić

      Andreas Ban is a writer and a psychologist, an intellectual proper, full of empathy, but his world has been falling apart for years. When he retires with a miserable pension and finds out that he is ill, he gains a new perspective on the debris of his life and the life of his friends. In defying illness and old age, Andreas Ban is cynical and powerful, and in his investigations into his own past, he learns stories told by the disempowered, hunted down and helpless, stories that uncompromisingly lay bare a gamut of taboos.In Belladonna, Daša Drndić pushes to the limit the issues about illness and the (im)possibility of living (and dying) in contemporary, utterly dehumanised world where old age and illness are the scarlet letters of shame thrown in the face of the advertised eternal youth and beauty. Belladonna brings together fiction and reality, and Andreas Ban stands for a true hero of our times; he is a castaway intellectual of a society which subdues every critical thought under the disguise of political correctness.

    • Literary Fiction

      Grad u zrcalu/City in the Mirror

      by Mirko Kovač

      City in the mirror (Grad u zrcalu) is a majestic crescendo of Mirko Kovač’s former prose. A contemporary classic, it explores the harsh and beautiful lands of his native region and the destinies of its inhabitants at the crossroads of the Mediterrean and the Balkans. In City in the mirror, the lead character is a writer who describes his growing up, his family and the landscapes of his childhood. Like the heroes in Kovač’s earlier novels, the narrator is both gentle and at the same time cruel, as are the people of his region.In City in the mirror, Kovač slowly reveals the story of one family, and in so doing creates a magnificent dedication to a forgotten time in which miracles were still possible. Principally, this is a novel about a father, and the fathers who can no longer be found. The City in the mirror as dreamt by the hero of this book is Dubrovnik, a perfect city, at once close and distant, an eternal place of longing and craving.City in the mirror is Mirko Kovač’s greatest work to date, the crown jewel amongst his works, a novel worth waiting for, for in it – the idea that life is what we remember, not what we lived – is brought to the fore.

    • Literary Fiction

      Ruganje s dušom/Mocking with Soul

      by Mirko Kovač

      A strange family of newcomers arrives to a small town in Herzegovina. This time the setting in Trebinje, which, as it is often the case with Kovač, is stripped off all folkloristic and local markings. That same atmosphere of the Mediterranean, of Karst, of drought, thirst and heat, occasionally somnambular, somehow twisted, viewed from “askance”, bent out of shape, loaded with fluids that stir up passions and bare instincts, where almost nothing happens, yet something fatal and threatening has just happened or is about to happen. A failed merchant, Josif Biriš, and his wife, a descendant of the Meštrević family, whom we know from before, and their four children, the offspring of orthodox-catholic family lines, sensual Elida and another sister Ruža, both given to sexual pleasures, their brothers Jakov, a rebel, and Goja, a retard, their uncle Donato Meštrević, who here plays a magnificent part of grave stone mason, we’d call him the master of death… Some strange creatures walk into the picture from somewhere on a side: such as a gendarme, priests of both religions, a jailor, a doctor and a pharmacist, the weird and spiritual doctor named Gustav Gaj and his devil’s apprentice, and finally the devil himself who has a whole chapter dedicated to him. And all of this is told by a narrator who is constantly involved with the flow and the source of the story, Anđul, some sort of a chronicler or witness… If the statement that today’s fantasy is some sort of erudition is true, Kovač is truly one of the greatest erudites of what we could call fantastic or mythic realism.

    • Literary Fiction

      Uvod u drugi život/The Introduction to Other Life

      by Mirko Kovač

      Childhood memories, reminiscing parents, encounters with various famous, public persons, some of whom are mentioned by their name, running into friends, as well as anonymous passers-by; dreams and phantasmagoric images, conversations in taverns and rented rooms, hotels and motels, at voyages and times of repose; quotes from literature and correspondences with friends; extensive thoughts from the moments of anxiety; notes from everyday life and sketches for stories; tales of other people’s lives, bared completely; most personal and intimate moments revealed without shame; shifts of time planes; stories of morbidity and love, scandals and travels… all in all, Kovač “draws from everything,” more than anything from his own life. But this diversity of discursive planes - ranging from stories to essays, from philosophy to poetry, from factographic diary notes to completely fictional autobiography - does not seem as a forced blend. On the contrary. From all this we could easily conclude that, if we didn’t know that similar avant-garde techniques had already been enacted, for example in a prototype such as Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Lauridis Brigg, Kovač invents his own type of a novel. Strong individuality which in every discursive type imposes “a unique tone of poetic narration” releases enough energy to draw all these, seemingly dispersed, elements to a single core. As we compare it with the above mentioned great example and a role-model, it must be emphasized that The Introduction to Other Life (Uvod u drugi život) is worthy of this comparison, especially as it represents one of the most original and most memorable novelistic creations produced in the past few years.

    • Literary Fiction

      Malvina

      by Mirko Kovač

      One of the most controversial and most translated novels by Mirko Kovač written in 1971 follows Malvina Trifković's biography, composed of her memories, real and fake documents, and letters, and thus paints a picture of the time and society, false morality in a primitive, patriarchal society in which a woman who loves other women cannot fulfill her love and her ambitions. By using postmodernist patterns in the time when postmodernism was still a terra incognita, Mirko Kovač’s Malvina with its theme and style stirred the literary scene of former Yugoslavia. Although 1971, when the novel was written, seems like ancient history, the novel did not lose on its impact or actuality.

    • Historical fiction

      Elijahova stolica/Elijah’s Chair

      by Igor Štiks

      In his second novel, Elijah’s Chair (Elijahova stolica), Igor Štiks writes on the unusual destiny of Richard Richter, an Austrian writer reaching his fifties. In the spring of 1992 he returns from Paris to his hometown Vienna, where he discovers his late mother’s secret notebook. Its shocking contents, written in dramatic circumstances during 1941, turn Richter’s life upside-down. The writer decides to uncover his roots, and his quest brings him to wartime Sarajevo, where he arrives at the very beginning of the siege. During his short stay in Sarajevo, he experiences the most beautiful moments of his life - passionate love and true friendship. However, his life, together with the lives of all the characters in the novel, is determined by destiny which he, like a hero from a Greek tragedy, cannot escape or influence. Elijah’s Chair, tells the story of one man’s destiny and grand love, he speaks out not only about Richter’s personal tragedy, but about the tragedy of a city, of a nation, of a continent.

    • Historical fiction

      Dvorac u Romagni/A Castle In Romagna

      by Igor Štiks

      A Castle In Romagna (Dvorac u Romagni) by Igor Štiks is a novel that shifts in scene between Renaissance Italy and Tito’s Yugoslavia, telling parallel yet intertwined stories of love, deceit, and betrayal. History repeats itself, and the enduring nostalgia for the comforts of home pervades this emotional work of literature. A tale richly steeped in passion, and the burning desires that drive humans beyond their limits. (Midwest Book Review) In this compact, intricately structured novel, Štiks has constructed a marvelous hall of mirrors. The stories reflect and foil each other, and the fates of each of the characters connect across time and space. With its coolness and gravity, A Castle in Romagna confirms the novel form’s power to confront the nature of time and memory, and also presents us with a first book at its most mystical and tantalizing. (Vue Weekly)

    • Historical fiction

      Vrijeme laži/Time of Lies

      by Sibila Petlevski

      Time of Lies (Vrijeme laži), the first part of the trilogy entitled Taboo, is a novel about Viktor Tausk, one of the most interesting personalities of Croatian Literary Modernism. Through the destiny of that forgotten writer, lawyer and psychoanalyst, who was among other things a friend of Sigmund Freud and a lover of Lou Salomé, the femme fatale of Viennese fin de siècle, Sibila Petlevski will spin an exciting trilogy interlacing the present time and the beginning of the twentieth century, the First World War, spy secrets, sexuality and feminism issues, all the questions raised by Viennese Modernism which remain to be crucial for the understanding of the contemporary man. In an intriguing way, through the character of the authoress and her friend Tvrtko, who are interested in Tausk, Time of Lies introduces us into the trilogy and the dramatic twentieth century. In the first part of Taboo, Sibila Petlevski sets the coordinates, but she also brings to life all the dramatic quality and the unique gallery of both real and invented characters who strongly mark the tragedy of the intellectual Viktor Tausk. The trilogy Taboo is dedicated to the brave, to those who do not accept to live in the time of lies; to the people who are not afraid of freedom.

    • Historical fiction

      Bilo nam je tako lijepo!/We Had Such A Nice Time!

      by Sibila Petlevski

      We Had Such A Nice Time! (Bilo nam je tako lijepo!) is the second part of the trilogy entitled Taboo, in which Sibila Petlevski speaks about Viktor Tausk, the emblematic figure of fin de siècle, from a totally different angle and in a totally different way.Written as a biographical novel and a family saga, We Had Such A Nice Time! is a story about a psychoanalyst whose life is actually the psychogram of the twentieth century. Skillfully balancing between facts and fiction and playing with them, writing about Tausk’s life, Sibila Petlevski deals with the themes which Tausk’s time brought up and which remain inevitable to this day - from the question of nation and religion, through sexuality and death, to all kinds of freedom. In the life of Viktor Tausk and his relatives, particularly of his sister Jelka, eroticism and politics, love and death, responsibility towards the other and the undying longing for all kinds of freedom constantly interweave. We Had Such A Nice Time! is an apologia of the search for happiness and the need to keep searching for it, while Viktor Tausk himself is one of those real, historical persons who were brave enough to set off for that search.

    • Historical fiction

      Karusel/Carousel

      by Ludwig Bauer

      At the very end of the twentieth century, Miroslav/Frederick comes from America to his native provincial town, the imaginary but very real Gradec, where, attending the funeral of his stepmother, he meets his old love, the unforgettable Gabrijela, whose running away with the circus has marked his whole life. The two old people try to flare up the flame of adolescent love in the world which disappears together with the century which reaches its end, melting behind them like sugar wool. Gabrijela and Miroslav led totally different lives and through their destinies that time gets distorted like in a mirror hall. Miroslav is a Jew, who was brought up without the knowledge of his Jewishness. He is a parlor leftist, skeptic, individualist, scientist who always has doubts and believes only in the ideals of a better and fairer society. Unlike him, Gabrijela has always readily accepted every religion, socialism, Catholicism and nationalism alike, and now she believes in the need for peace and living together. She gives herself completely and unquestioningly to all her religions, putting herself and her talent for fortune telling and curing diseases by old, almost witchlike methods into them. Through the destinies of these two unusual characters, Bauer has given a graphic picture of our provinces, their citizens and the prejudices that have burdened them from times immemorial. Carousel (Karusel) is a novel of strong personalities whose destinies have a universal value, and their efforts to survive in the mill-wheel of history acquire the characteristics of true heroism.

    • Historical fiction

      Zavičaj, zaborav/Homeland, Oblivion

      by Ludwig Bauer

      Ludwig Bauer’s large topics – the fate of the Danube-region Germans, an individual versus the system, as well as the relations between a man and a woman in history-burdened times – deeply infuse the novel Homeland, Oblivion (Zavičaj, zaborav). The protagonist is a genuine idealist, a man who has not been pampered by life. Growing up with foster parents, only later, as a young man, does he learn his real name and origins. In order to escape the narrowness of his homeland, he goes to a large city to study there, and leftist ideals lead him even further to czechoslovakia and East Germany. Through the search of an individual for his roots, Ludwig Bauer narrates about every person’s elusive wish to escape from themselves, and the need to confront their own past as well. Homeland, Oblivion is an extremely dynamic and filmic novel about nostalgia, childhood, and the unstoppable wheel of history, bursting with emotions and magnificent images.

    • Literary Fiction

      Ljetni dnevnik rata/Summer War Journal

      by Vladimir Stojsavljević

      Vladimir Stojsavljević’s novel Summer War Journal (Ljetni dnevnik rata) is the first prose about the war in Croatia. It was written during the air raids, when everything was so dramatic; when Vukovar was about to fall, when TV and journals newsflashed about the occupation and growing number of victims, and when harsh reality invaded the life of every single person. Yet it has preserved its exceptionally fresh, intriguing, bursting, life-like quality for over twenty years since the first edition. Looking at the world through the eyes of an adolescent, Vladimir Stojsavljević perfectly depicts the atmosphere of the 1991 Zagreb, when friends and lovers were falling apart and everyone showed what they were really made of.Summer War Journal clearly shows that what is crucial for a powerful portrayal of the contemporary world is not time, but another sort of detachment - the artistic one. His journal, written on the spot, in one breath, swiftly exchanging strong images and characters, still brings exceptionally impressive pages about the war and its consequences for the lives of all people. This is a novel about the year of no return.

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