The plot of this novel begins with the female narrator’s arrival on an unnamed Mediterranean island. She has inherited a house in an almost abandoned village and comes to see it; it is a good reason to get away from her daily struggles for a while. The landscape around her is nostalgically idyllic: crumbling stone houses, wild capers, homemade cheese, sunshine and wind. Everything suggests that there, at a distance from people, precarious jobs and urban routine, she’ll find a space for introspection, for facing her past, her desires and hopes. Along with the house, however, the narrator inherited a dovecot with a flock of pigeons bred by her deceased cousin, Toni. When she decides to release them from their prison, she has no idea that these homing birds will soon return to her along with six peculiar guests – Toni’s old friends. They organize a memorial party for him, and during three consecutive evenings they relate fragments of their shared past. Were they an international theater troupe that wandered the Mediterranean small towns in the seventies, or active participants in the political turmoil of the age of lead – it is difficult for the heroine to decide. At the end of the party, before they go away, the strange guests explain the true nature of her newly acquired inheritance: along with the house, she gets the obligation to tell their story, a story she did not fully grasp. And that’s where the Mediterranean idyll comes to an end: it will be replaced by a research into international terrorism in the 1970s, a personal revolt against the clash of wealth and poverty at that time and in the present, growing compassion for non-human living world and growing anger provoked by deadly business practices, cyber-subversions, anger, fear and escape. To the fragments of her guests’ stories the heroine will react creating her own, a story that she will – when the storm she provoked subsides – almost unintentionally leave as a legacy to the new generation.
Shortlisted for the Predrag Matvejević Award 2021, longlisted for the Fric Award 2019 Sanja Lovrenčić’s books draw into her net a reader who is ready for adventure, for whom reading is not merely following a linear plot and a pastime, but recognition and acceptance of a game that, when joined, becomes infinitely meaningful, subtle and even fun. Her new novel, entitled Cabinet for Sentimental Trivial Literature, in which is its set, but which is also an indicative determinant of what will be told, is certainly one of the “more readable” of her novels, i.e. one in which there are no traps for readers, unless they themselves want to fall into them. Also, as is often the case with this author, its structure is built somewhat conceptually, by changing the epistolary form, which makes up the main flow of narration, with inserted stories that form a rounded and meaningful whole it. There has been a crisis in the Cabinet, which is a kind of small, private and non-profit museum that houses the legacy of “sentimental and trivial literature”. The curator, who writes letters to the late founder Rosa, realizes that not only does the Cabinet need a “cash injection”, but also a new guardian to replace him. Since this is not just an ordinary job but also has a specific emotional and, of course, sentimental value, neither is easy to perform, and a job advertisement that includes one of the key sentences of the novel: “Your story is more important to us than your qualifications”, will further complicate matters. (…) Ten candidates apply to the ad that had inadvertently implied that candidates should also be writers, and they bring with them stories about their professional and private lives, sometimes completely bizarre, but also stories that make up an integral part of the novel. While the curator, who is becoming more and more desperate and sceptical, fills letters to Rosa with fragments from his own and the Cabinet’s everyday life, as well as those concerning the past, origin and meaning of her and his museum, an unusual and “soft” legacy that seems to have been run-over by a time of different imperatives and priorities, the candidates succeed one another before him, with their experiences, but above all with the stories they enclose, enabling the novel to emerge from the closed space of the Cabinet into the outside, towards modernity and its peculiarities and problems. This “opening” – placed in stories within the story – subtly positions the novel towards recent reality, because it indirectly deals with the themes of art and artistic activism, social responsibility, commercialization and the entry of capital into unprofitable spheres of human activity, feminism. science and technology, but also love, which is one of the shared motives and concerns both interpersonal relationships and the preservation of some past values. (Jagna Pogačnik)
Mala zvona is proud to present the first Croatian translation of a selection of stories from Giambattista Basile’s famousTale of Tales (Lo cunto de li cunti or Il Pentamerone)
Basile’s collection, written in the 17th century in Neapolitan dialect, served as an inspiration to numerous fairy tale writers over the centuries; Basile’s motifs can be traced through many famous collections, such as those written by Perrault or the brothers Grimm.
In these grotesque stories – which are by no means intended for children – Basile teaches the reader about virtue, vice, deception and love while using a flamboyant Baroque rhetoric. Our selection includes the following stories: The Enchanted Doe, The Flea and The Old Woman Who Was Skinned who were also used as a pretext for Matteo Garrone’s multiple award-winning movie Il racconto dei racconti.
How would a dog perceive the Victorian era? What would be this dog’s attitude towards his mistress – the great poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning? What happens when a biographical content is treated from a purely fictional perspective? These are the questions posed, and answered, in the short novel Flush; a Biography. In this playful, seemingly frivolous but very lucid, stylistically flawless text, Virginia Woolf is dealing with the issues of history, society conventions and social justice, while exploring in the extreme the possibilities of rendering of the perceptual perspective of an animal.
The short novel Entrepreneurs by Mathias Nawrat, one of the most interesting voices of the new generation of German writers, can be situated into the dystopian tradition of the science-fiction genre with elements of social criticism. The story is happening in a well-known world, labeled by the geographical toponym Schwarzwald; however, this world underwent a certain kind of apocalypse – about which nothing is said explicitly, but we guess it had something to do with nuclear power – and the rules of an advanced technocratic society do not function any more, although they are not totally suspended. Through this fragmentary world, where nature, technology and waste interlace and form grotesque figures, roams the protagonist and narrator Lipa, a thirteen-year old girl. With her father and brother she collects different kinds of toxic leftovers while calling this activity entrepreneurship. The life of her family, in unstable balance on the edge of poverty and danger, is approaching the inevitable catastrophe.
In this book of stories – with a subtitle: a novel – the author is playing with the science fiction genre, but hanging sheep-stealers is not a genre literature in the narrower sense of the term. Each of twenty texts of the book has a different narrative structure and is related to some problem of contemporary world, pushing chosen topics to possible or impossible extremes. So the obsession with eternal youth leads to the production of GMO people with a gene of snake, who change their skin every year but lose part of their memories in the process; the sudden loss of rare earth elements causes a major technological drawback; a solution for the recycling of plastic waste is achieved by the creation of copyrighted plastic-eating mutants; the idea of general participation in political power (“five minutes of power to everybody”) manifests itself as a travelling parliament-carousel with eight politically correct entrances; in the defrosted Arctic there is a war going on for the resources made attainable by the global warming etc.
All the stories are connected by the environment, a single imaginary world of not-too-distant future, but each has its separate setting and characters, with their interests, perceptions and – what is especially important – voices. The stories are often told through monologues and dialogues, from a somewhat distorted subjective perspective that constantly leaves open possibilities of another interpretation of things.
Renowed Croatian poet and short story writer Dorta Jagić offers a series of highly original literary portraits of biblical heroines, drawing on material from the biblical narrative, but also from various other sources. The author gives her heroines imagined personal traits, poetic details of hair, face or gait, and more then an occasional hidden thought, connecting them boldly with contemporary world.