Divine Child

Tatjana Gromač
a, trans. from the Croatian by Will Firth. Sandorf Passage, $18.95 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-9-5335-1323-2
In Gromača’s trenchant and philosophical English-language debut, a woman battles with her mental health while her daughter, the narrator, offers a disquisition on the casualties of a time after the Balkan Wars, when “all reality and all truth became different.” The 30-something narrator, her mother’s oldest daughter and “certified interpreter,” recounts her mother’s hospitalizations for “a strange illness” that “sometimes... made her overly happy, other times endlessly sad.” Because of her mother’s “Eastern origin,” after the wars began she went from being a well-known singer and dancer in her Croatian town to being called a “Serb dogface” by Croats. But while staying in a psych ward at a hospital, she “felt like a hero.” Most of the other women patients had problems with their husbands, but the mother’s stemmed from childhood and a father who “drove fear into her bones.” Interlaced throughout are the narrator’s incisive reflections on Croatia’s role in the Balkan Wars and their continued fallout 20 years later. Redolent of Havel’s The Power of the Powerless, Gromača’s work takes on the hatred that was manufactured, mythologized, and manipulated to feed, justify, and rationalize violence. Quick but substantial, this packs a powerful punch. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/26/2021
Release date: 10/01/2021
Genre: Fiction
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