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Found 3 results

  1. Review of Hair Everywhere by Tea Tulic, translated by Coral Petkovich Hair Everywhere is about 3 generations of women in the one family, grandmother, mother and daughter, told in short vignettes, many taking up with just a paragraph from the perspective of the daughter. The mother is sick with cancer in hospital while there is a sadness in the grandmother at the illness of her own daughter. Throughout the novel as the illness progresses in the mother, we also see a maturing in the daughter as she grows. This could be both classified as family drama and a coming of age tale. Coral Petkovich's translation is a clear keeping the text tidy and short to the point prose. Not one word is wasted in it as there isn't many words to the novel but this I thought was a really well laid out and told story. Kudos to both TUlic and Petkovich for making this really readable and likeable despite dealing with illness. They fitted the vignettes into a well made novel, concise but very good. I liked this book a lot. A really tender story about illness and coming of age * * * *
  2. Review of Belladonna by Dasa Drndic, translated by Celia Hawkesworth The novel's protagonist Andreas Ban is recently retired from the univeristy where he lectured in psychology. Ban is unwell and living on the meagre Croatian state pension (and waiting for another stipend on it as art of his service working in Yugoslavia when it existed but Ban is not holding out for it). While dealing with his own decline, Ban was also a witness to the grotesqueness that entrapped Europe in the 20th century with World War II, not just the Nazi war crimes but their Croatian puppets of Ustasche' Independent State of Croatia (This hadn't been entirely new information for me as Ustashe had been featured in the book Yugoslavia, My Fatherland by Goran Vojnovic). This book is as much about remembering the past of Europe and Croatia in particular as a man remembering his own life. The book when reading it did make me feel angry, particularly the amnista (as was termed by Giles Tremlett in the book Ghosts of Spain where he looked at the recent history of Spain under Franco and how there is a consious amnesia towards their crimes). Similarly with this book, Ban is haunted by the ghosts of WWII, twice listing those murdered by the nazis and their accomplices. A compelling catalogue of the inhumanity of humanity. Ban's writing to me conveys an urgency and a need for Europe not to repeat the same misstakes we made in the 1930s and 1940s. This urgency might be brought on by Ban's own health problems. Hawkesworth superbly translates Drndic, both the anger, sadness but sprinkled with bitterly humorous observations here and there. Through the photos and text and lists of people, Drndic and Hawkesworth bring the horrors of the 20th century as a grave reminder to people to not forget and not to let the same happen again. A read that I really felt was excellent and will be one of my books of 2018, though not one for the faint hearted. * * * * * on a side note: the flap of the book states that Ban is a "castaway intellectual of a society which subdues every critical thought under the guise of political correctness", I expected some different type of text in the book, usually when a statement similar to that is made, it usually takes aim at liberalism but this didn't.
  3. review of Farewell, Cowboy by Olja Savicevic Farewell, Goodbye sees the main character Dada return to her family home in Croatia to see her sister and her mother and on a search for the truth of why her brother had died. Also returning to the village is the vet who lived next door to which her brother Daniel had died. The cowboy in the detail being a reference to her brothers like of western movies along with their predeceased father who died at a young age, a film lover who worked first in the cinema then at a video shop. As a crossover to this, the old western star Ned Montgomery is in Croatia to direct a new movie with some filming on location close to the town. There is a shadow of the wars that had gripped the Balkans and affected, Dada reminisces about the time her sister and her were interviewed for a radio project by German students. There is also families that had fled the town at the outbreak of the war. A memory that comes to mind is that they'd play cowboys and indians because if they played Croatian and Serbians, no one would want to be the Serbians in that game, not even the children with Serbian identity. In some ways, the vet reminds of Doc in Sweet Thursday and Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. I think it may be the mix of the very educated person (something the vet acknowledges that he is over educated). The other characters in this like Angelo The Giggolo and Maria are of an eccentric nature and add more substance to the portrait of the poor area to which Dada has returned. Savicevic's prose is captivating, at times I felt I needed to stop, sit back and absorb the beauty of her writing. It is exquisite in the descriptions verging on lyrical. There is also a humour to her. Savicevic in this novel shows herself to be a fine writer, a novel that while the main theme may not be enjoyable, is itself a novel to sit back and enjoy. A particular credit for this is the superb translation by Celia Hawkesworth, who just captured the novel marvellously. A beautiful novel. *****
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