authors’ map > bosnia
A Drop of Happiness (Kap veselja, 2018)
Miran returns to his post-war town following an earthquake and a great flood. He attempts to lead a quiet life in the shabby block of flats, alongside his vivid memories and colourful neighbours. He starts a love affair with Verena, ex-wife to the Banana King who, alongside Honda, an angel in a leather jacket, makes for a mere fragment of the powerful mosaic of idiosyncratic characters that make Avdić’s A Drop of Happiness.
Miran’s first-person narrative develops alongside the omniscient voice of Hotel Metalurg’s maître d’, in a town which is the ‘cradle of the proletariat’. The two men tell countless stories – stories about darkness, about the open gates of the hellish underworld which has found its way into people’s heads, about the evil which grows and threatens, about the fall of civilisation, anxiety and paranoia, about humanity’s fear of uncertainty, masked as an apocalypse or a dark future.
A meeting point between a dazed mind with the refined aesthetics of David Lynch, a mix of personal memories and a pinch of nostalgia for the progress and optimism of the socialist period.
A Drop of Joy is a nest of symbols and signifiers, Selvedin Avdic has once again composed a novel which exceeds expectations and genre definitions, as well as the boundaries of the language in which it was written.
116 Pages – Original language: Bosnian (Vrijeme, Bosnia-Herzegovina) – Foreign Editions: Croatian (Sandorf, 2018); Macedonia (Litera Makedonika, 2019)
Seven Terrors (Sedam strahova, 2009)
After nine months of self-imposed isolation following his wife’s departure, the hero of Seven Terrors finally decides to face his loneliness and join the world once more. However, when the daughter of his old friend Alex appears in his flat one morning with the news that her father has disappeared, he realises that his life is again about to change. As the two search for clues in Alex’s war diary, they come upon tales of unspeakable horror and mystery: meetings with ghosts, a town under siege, demonic brothers who ride on the wings of war, and many more things so dangerous and so precious that they can only be discussed by the dead. As investigation into Alex’s disappearance continues, readers are drawn further and further into a surreal world where rationality has vanished, evil spreads like a virus and not even love can offer an escape. While Charon, Hades mythical ferryman, can be found behind the wheel of a taxi and dead horses are seen flying across the sky, cracks begin to erode reality and people start to go missing. Here, amidst such chaos, our hero endeavours to cling to his sanity, doing his best to solve the riddle of Alex’s disappearance while attempting to save his own soul and bring love back into his life.
152 Pages – Rights Sold: Spanish (Sajalin, 2020); English (Istros Books, 2012); Danish (Jensen & Dalgaard, 2016); Slovenian (V.B.Z., 2020); Macedonian (Makedonska reč, 2012); Turkish (Dedalus Kitap); Arabic (Al- Arabi Publishing, Cairo, 2012) – Original language: Bosnian. First published 2009 by Algoritam (Croatia) and Algoritam (Serbia). Also published in 2010 by Vrijeme (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
Kintsugi is the Japanese craft of mending broken ceramic with gold and platinum, thus emphasising the cracks and suggesting how our scars add to our physical beauty because they map out our histories and trajectories of life. In the centre of the novel is a body. A body of a young girl who is trying to understand what being a woman means, a body of a woman trying to keep herself whole despite being broken into fragments by illness. A body as a battlefield for life and death.
Three main threads explore womanhood: the main narrative tells the story of breast cancer, chronologically, from diagnosis, via numerous surgeries, until full recovery two years later. In the centre of this narrative is the body, the way it is treated in the medical environment, the way it loses its privacy and intimacy when it is dealt with as a mere object. The second thread is made up of fragments of childhood memories, of a girl coming of age, where the seeds of future unhappiness are sown. A deconstruction of the moments in time when the young girl is gender casted and starts to see herself as the Other. The third narrative is populated by female archetypes (Medea, Medusa, etc…), long lost mothers who visit the protagonist in dreamlike episodes, counterpoints of female power.
What femininity is and how it is perceived in the physical and emotional world is the novel’s greatest theme. Does the female body remain female once the feminine organs (or the reproductive system) are no longer there? While talking about illness and contemplating death, Marić’s tells a defiant story about love of life, and the ability to overcome fear.
Written in the second person, and in a lyrical to sparse tone, with the poetic elements beautifully measured and simple, Body Kintsugi is an optimistic story of survival and rebirth, and a journey into the historically complex perceptions of femininity and its relationships with sexual and worldly power.
122 pages – Original Language: Bosnian (Buybook, 2019). Rights Sold: Russian (Phoca Books, 2021), Hungarian (Metropolis Media Group, 2021), Slovenian (Sanje, 2020), Croatian (Buybook, 2019), Serbian (Kontrast, 2019)
The Giraffe in the Waiting Room
A family flees Bosnia before the outbreak of the war and the siege of Sarajevo. Their journey leads them to a refugee camp in the North-East of Italy, and from there to an apartment where they live for 7 years. The father is a wistful Marxist, the mother a strong woman behind a fragile attitude, the son has decided to travel the world with the sole ambition of making money. The daughter and narrative voice, Valentina, decides to go back to her family after a heartbreak.
Family relationships, fast-paced dialogues, the bond people feel with their language and their country of origin, the new setting in an unexpected and astounding world.
360 Pages – Original Language: Bosnian (Ultimatum, Serbia, 2018); Translations/Foreign Editions: Italian (Bottega Errante, 2018)