Nahrung für die Seele. LESEPROBE

Autoren aus dem ehemalige Jugoslawien finden nur schwer eine internationale Bühne. Auf die Autorinnen aus der Region trifft das umso mehr zu. Das soll ein Band mit Kurzgeschichten ändern, dessen Veröffentlichung soeben vorbereitet wird. Übersetzt von Will Firth geben in diesem Band die Werke von 16 Autorinnen aus Serbien und Montenegro Nahrung für die Seele.

So spannend und reichhaltig das Schaffen der Literaturszene im ehemaligen Jugoslawien auch sein mag – leben kann vom Schreiben kaum jemand.

Das trifft auf Schriftstellerinnen noch mehr zu als auf Schriftsteller.

Die ökonomischen Rahmenbedingungen und der patriachale Rollback seit dem Ende Jugoslawiens machen es für literaturschaffende Frauen noch um etliches härter als das in wohlhabenderen Ländern der Fall ist – und dort sind die Bedingungen für Schriftstellerinnen schon härter als für Schriftsteller.

So muss sich auch jede der 16 Schriftstellerinnen, die Will Firth übersetzt hat, mit anderer Arbeit über Wasser halten.

Das trifft sogar auf Marija Ratković zu, deren Kurzgeschichte „Abgrund“ (Ambis) immerhin verfilmt wurde und für die sie einen regionalen Literaturpreis gewonnen hat.

Oder auf Marijana Čanak. Ihre Kurzgeschichte Awakened (Probuđena) stellt sie in der Übersetzung von Will Firth auf Balkan Stories erstmals einem internationalen Publikum als Leseprobe zur Verfügung.

Der geplante Sammelband aus 16 Kurzgeschichten von Autorinnen aus Serbien und Montenegro soll die Werke dieser Frauen erstmals einer Öffentlichkeit außerhalb ihrer Heimatregion zugänglich machen.

Initiator des Projekts ist der australische Übersetzer (und Wahlberliner) Will Firth. Mehr über ihn und seine Arbeit könnt ihr im Archiv von Balkan Stories nachlesen.

Will ist einer der bekanntesten Übersetzer von Literatur aus dem ehemaligen Jugoslawien ins Englische und trägt maßgeblich bei, dass zeitgenössische Autorinnen und Autoren aus der Region Zugang zu einer internationalen Leserschaft erhalten.

„Abgesehen davon, dass diese Kurzgeschichten sehr unterhaltsam sind, bieten sie sehr reichhaltige Einblicke in das Leben im turbulenten und oftmals patriachalen ehemaligen Jugoslawiens – das eben auch sehr starke Frauen hervorbringt“, beschreibt Will. „Die Beiträge sind sehr unterschiedlich in ihren Themen, im Stil und in der Länge. Aber zusammengenommen bieten sie einen guten Überblick über die pulsierende weibliche Literaturszene in Beograd im Besonderen und Serbien und Montenegro im Allgemeinen.“

Mit einem serbischen Verlag laufen bereits Verhandlungen, den Kurzgeschichten-Band herauszubringen. Wann das geschehen kann, hängt vor allem davon ab, ob und welche Förderungen es gibt.

Mehr über die dort vorgestellten Autorinnen erfahrt ihr unten.

Der Einfachheit und der Authenzität halber übernimmt Balkan Stories die Kurzbiografien der Autorinnen direkt aus dem Sammelband.

Marijana Čanaks Awakened findet ihr hier.

Das sind die Autorinnen

Ivana Bulatović, born in 1975 in Cetinje (Montenegro), lives in Belgrade. Her story “Maybe
he did fuck me” (Možda mene jeste jebo) is an excerpt from her 2021 novel Great-
Granddaughter (Praćerka). A young American woman of Serbian extraction has suffered a
head injury, lost her memory and starts raving about wanting to go and join the jihad – a
passing phase. We sense the overwhelming task of her trying to learn the language and
discover her Serbian roots.

Marijana Čanak, born in 1982 in Subotica (Serbia), lives in Novi Žednik and Novi Sad
(Serbia). Her short story “Awakened” (Probuđena) follows the early years of a girl from a
very simple background, who discovers she has extrasensory powers. A gruesome fascination
with biology allows her to attend high school, where she ends up sewing a voodoo doll to take revenge on a molesting teacher.

Marijana Dolić was born in 1990 in Teslić (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and moved to Serbia with her family during the post-Yugoslav wars. She lives in Belgrade. Her “Notes from the attic” (Zapisi iz potkrovlja), originally diary entries, are intense mediatations on faith, love and hope – poignant testimony to a struggle to cope in difficult times.

Zvonka Gazivoda, born in 1970 in Belgrade, where she also lives, has contributed a very
atmospheric short story, “Something, at least” (Barem nešto). A footloose young woman
hangs out with some chance acquaintances in a half-completed house on the edge of town. It
is cold and rainy. When one of the men makes unwelcome advances and pursues her through
the house, she finds herself trapped.

Ana Marija Grbić, born in 1987 in Belgrade, where she also lives, is well established as a
poet. A cycle of five sketches from her 2021 debut novel Chocolate cake (Srneća leđa)
describes the stark everyday lives of ordinary people in rural Serbia and Montenegro. An
earthy lyricism enlivens the portrayals of their poverty and loneliness.

Slađana Kavarić was born in 1991 in Podgorica (Montenegro), where she also lives. In her
short story “The day with the head” (Dan sa glavom), a minor disagreement between a
woman and her man at the breakfast table leads into reflections about the meaning of love and life, and the narrator is taken back to a suicide on the railway track near her childhood home.

Andrea Popov Miletić, born in 1985 in Novi Sad (Serbia), where she also lives, has written a
well-received novel Young pioneers, we are seaweed (Pioniri maleni, mi smo morska trava;
2019). This stand-alone excerpt is a poetic flashback to her childhood in the province of
Vojvodina in the Yugoslav era, to holidays by the Mediterranean, and to feelings of belonging
and home.

Ana Miloš was born in 1992 in Belgrade, where she also lives. Her short story “Peace” (Mir)
portrays a woman struggling with disparate feelings after her only child dies. She has long
since broken up with the child’s father. She enjoys finally having time for herself, but she has
to confront accusations of people around her that she is heartless. Once a mother, always a

Katarina Mitrović, born in 1991 in Belgrade, where she also lives, has written a short story
titled “Small death” (Mala smrt). We are introduced to a fearful young woman who is far
from happy with life, and we follow her on a summer holiday by the Adriatic, where a half-
hearted romantic adventure takes a scary turn.

Dragana Mokan was born in 1981 in Zrenjanin (Serbia) and lives in Belgrade. Four fragments
from her novel 33 dreams (33 sna; 2021) immerse the reader in a dreamworld full of
evocative and unusual associations – leanly poetic and unburdened by too many details of
others’ dreams. Quite ethereal!

Milica Rašić was born in 1989 in Niš (Serbia), where she also lives. She translates and
teaches. Her short story “Smell” (Miris), published in 2020, relates an unexpected bond
between three generations of women: a lavender-scented piece of clothing accompanies them
when they flee during the Yugoslav wars, and later it is passed down once more. Beautiful
and moving.

Marija Ratković, born in 1982 in Šabac (Serbia), lives in Belgrade. Her short story “Abyss”
(Ambis) won a regional literary prize in 2020 and has been made into a short film. It is a tale
of love and friendship between two girls who meet on an Adriatic island in the summer
holidays each year. Their bond frays and finally breaks over issues of trust and
communication – an exploration of spoken and unspoken facets of intimacy.

Lena Ruth Stefanović was born in 1970 in Belgrade. She studied Russian literature and diplomacy in Belgrade, Sofia and Moscow. She lives in Podgorica (Montenegro), works as a translator/interpreter and is an active poet and prosaist. “Zhenya”, a fragment from her 2016 novel Daughter of the Childless Man (Šćer onoga bez đece), is an entertaining meta-story about an ordinary woman in the late Soviet Union, whom the author decides to grant a new lease of life, so Zhenya studies languages, becomes a mondain writer and moves with her new husband to Montenegro, where the author loses track of her.

Ana Vučković Denčić was born in 1984 in Belgrade, where she also lives. Her short story
“The Run” (Trka), written in 2021, tells of how an obese girl overcomes low self-esteem by
jogging in conditions that suit her (not with the “Lycra crowd”), and she gets so carried away
that she develops unusual attributes. A well-constructed story with an unexpected ending.

Milica Vučković was born in 1989 in Belgrade, where she lives and works. Her short story
“People without legs eat too” (Jedu ljudi i bez nogu) is a clever look at the period of war and
sanctions in the 1990s through the eyes of a child. Cooped up in a flat with refugee relatives
and little to eat, the “big picture” of the time is alluded to through references to food and
relatives’ pronunciation.

Tijana Živaljević was born in 1985 in Cetinje (Montenegro), where she also lives. A macro-
economist by training, well travelled and well read, her “Private libraries” (Kućne biblioteke)
bring together sixteen sketches of people’s often quirky and inconsistent relationship to books
– treasures, heirlooms, ballast when moving house or hotly contested when a couple splits up.

Titelfoto: (c) Antal Szilárd

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