cover image Love Novel

Love Novel

Ivana Sajko, trans. from the Croatian by Mima Simić. Biblioasis, $15.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-77196-598-9

Sajko’s roiling whirlpool of a novel, her first to be translated into English, is a sharp and claustrophobic portrait of a fraying marriage. The husband and wife (an unemployed Dante scholar and a former actor, respectively) have one young child together and struggle to pay for their apartment (the characters and their city are unnamed). Neither are happy. She works a lousy job wearing costumes to promote movies at premieres and goes to an Easter party despite finding Jesus “annoying”; he resolves to leave her, only to stay and try to write a novel. The narrative is circular, always returning to the same unresolved arguments and unvoiced resentments—that is, until their money troubles finally catch up with them and their electricity is shut off. There are plenty of memorable lines (“that was yet another small problem with love, that it lies like a tombstone”) nestled in long paragraphs composed of extended, winding sentences that effectively drill down into the marriage’s corroded underbelly. Sajko never takes her foot off the gas in this potent and incendiary outing. (Feb.)