Slovenia is guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Six reading tips from Slovenia from six literary experts.
The novel of the century
Tip from writer Aleš Šteger: “For readers from Switzerland, I recommend the autobiographical novel trilogy “The Newcomers” by our great prose author Lojze Kovačič, who died in 2004, as an introduction to Slovenian literature. He is considered the Slovenian Marcel Proust. His native language was Swiss German, he came from Basel and came to Slovenia during the Second World War, where he grew up with great difficulties. ‘The Newcomers’ is absolutely captivating – a work of the century.”
Lojze Kovačič: The newcomers, 3 volumes, from the Slovenian by Klaus Detlef Olof, Drava 2006.
Explorations of the Slovenian mentality
Tip from translator Amalija Maček: «If you want to understand the Slovenian soul, it is best to turn to authors from the Slovenian minority in Austrian Carinthia. The works of Florjan Lipuš are particularly recommended, such as ‘Boštjan’s Flight’ about a childhood marked by loss in Slovenia and the healing power of love. Lipuš’s unobstructed view from across the border vividly shows what is going on inside Slovenes.”
Florjan Lipuš: Boštjan’s Flight, from the Slovenian by Johann Strutz, Suhrkamp 2005.
The insider tip
Tip from literary critic Tanja Petrič: «For me, Mojca Kumerdej is one of the best contemporary Slovenian authors. In her collection of stories ‘Under the Surface’, she penetrates deep into the inner world of her characters with a fine psychological sense. Mojca Kumerdej also depicts frightening things in a shockingly vivid way, often with irony and black humor. The stories impress with their dramaturgically cleverly heightened arcs of tension and surprising twists.”
Mojca Kumerdej: Below the surface, translated from Slovenian by Erwin Köstler et al., Wallstein 2023.
Slovenian minorities abroad
Tip from writer Miljana Cunta: «My recommendation is the novel “Angel of Forgetting” by the Carinthian-Slovenian Maja Haderlap, who writes in German and Slovenian. The book focuses on the fate of the Slovenian minority in Austria, which is exposed to ongoing hostility there after the Second World War. Maja Haderlap partly processes her Slovenian family history. I am fascinated by the linguistic clarity with which the author makes tangible an emotionally charged piece of history that is closely linked to Slovenia.»
Maja Haderlap: Angel of Forgetting, Wallstein 2011.
The slightly different travel guide
Tip from book fair director Juergen Boos: «If you want to know more about the culture, country and people of Slovenia and want to combine this with literary enjoyment, read the “Instructions for Slovenia” by Aleš Šteger. The book is a different kind of travel guide: full of humor and attention to detail. For example, did you know that Slovenians do not swear in Slovenian, but prefer to do so using borrowed words from Serbo-Croatian or English?”
Aleš Šteger with Matthias Göritz: Instructions for use for Slovenia, Piper 2022.
The picture book pearl
Tip from the Slovenian literary promoter Katja Stergar: «If you love children’s books, like me, you should pick up “The Visit” by the two Slovenians Gaja Kos and Ana Zavadlav. With lots of humor and colorful illustrations, the book tells the story of a friendship between a sloth and a tapir, which is actually not possible, but which can come true if both want it. There is hardly anything typically Slovenian in this refreshing picture book, but all the more about the feelings that move children around the globe.»
Gaja Kos and Ana Zavadlav: The Visit, translated from Slovenian by Alexandra Natalie Zaleznik, Schenk 2023.
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