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Novella set in the BALKANS

1st April 2022

Love Novel by Ivana Sajko, translation by Mima Simić, novella set in the Balkans.

Novella set in the BALKANS

Winner of der HKW Internationale Literaturpreis

This is a short novel of around 100 pages that opens with a blast of powerful writing. A couple is in the middle of a frantic verbal exchange that captures the heat and power of stark words. It is one of the most powerful openers I have read.

The couple is incarcerated in what seems to be a small apartment. The female escapes to take on small acting roles and returns to the heated and visceral atmosphere of home. I imagine them living in a grey, dormitory suburb where the pleasures of life are diminished, incarcerated in Ostblock architecture.

Soon the author introduces a child bawling from its cot, affected by the combative parents, a tragedy for any child to witness.

This novel is lacerating in style, long sentences weave their way across the page, an incessant parade of words, clauses and subclauses, a roiling of paragraphs that reflect to the content. The translator, in the Translator’s Note at the end, says that it took her a year to translate, although it was a short read – every time she opened the book, it felt like a punch in the gut, a punch by someone I knew, a family member. This is the nub of the novel, the familiarity of two people confined within four walls, a fire just waiting to be lit at every turn, the wrecking ball of love in such close proximity to hate.

This is a short but intense read.

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  1. User: Yvonne@FictionBooks

    Posted on: 01/04/2022 at 7:58 am

    I don’t generally read novella’s, but if this writing is as powerful as you make it sound, then perhaps ‘less is more’ so to speak!

    Definitely one for my ‘wish list’, thanks for such a thoughtful analysis of the storyline 🙂