by Daša Drndić
translated from Croatian by SD Curtis and Celia Hawkesworth
This was my Croatia choice for the EU Reading Challenge. It’s a novella formed of two stories linked by major themes and minor details. There were nice moments but overall I didn’t love this.
In the first story “Artur and Isabella” the eponymous heroes are old and think their days of romance are behind them, until they meet. Drndić doesn’t skimp on the grotesque aspects of ageing, to the point of making me quite uncomfortable. The third person narrative alternates with brief police reports on the two lead characters, the reason for which becomes clear at the end. There’s also a tendency to include lists, which in a longer story can provide nice change of pace, but in something so short it was disruptive. I’m pretty sure this is meant to be a sad tale but I wasn’t at all emotionally involved.