Blesok, Skopje, 2014, 180 pages (first edition)
IlI-IlI, Skopje, 2015, 130 pages (second edition)
Translations of stories also available in English, Croatian, Serbian and French.
It has been some time since a collection such as My Husband has appeared in Macedonian literature – compact, complex, coherent, and with brilliantly resolved narrative complications. It follows clearly defined footprints through the sand dunes of pain, through the hills of silence of what remains unsaid, through the dark everyday features of contemporary real and fictional life.Olivera Kjorve Ziroska | Sloboden Pechat
Fear and lies (illusions/blindness) are the basis on which the characters are constructed. Sometimes these characters tell small lies (don’t tell anyone, my husband can’t find out; don’t tell anyone, the neighbors could find out), unaware of the consequences of these apparently harmless lies. At other times they tell huge lies, they deceive, they ridicule their closest ones behind their backs, acting like hypocrites. New problems arise from these issues, and in this way domestic violence, nationalism, kitsch and unpalatable
art are dramatized.
Translation rights sold: Bosnia and Herzegovina (Buybook), Croatia (V.B.Z.), Serbia (Booka), Slovenia (Modrijan), USA (Dalkey Archive Press)
Bold and gutsy, the 11 first-person narratives relate tales of self-deception, vanity and hypocrisy, set in Macedonia with its own idiosyncratic problems and the post-communist, transitional reality of the patriarchal tradition of the Balkans.
Rumena Bužarovska’s short story collection bears the deceptive title: My Husband. Although husbands feature in every story, in fact it is the lives of the women who narrate them – wives, mistresses, mothers, widows – about which the collection is chiefly concerned.
Reminiscent of the stylistic straightforwardness of Raymond Carver, the playfulness of Lorrie Moore, the ambiguities and subtleties characteristic of Alice Munro, and of the grotesque characters and violent epiphanies of Flannery O’Connor, these stories move the reader to both tears of compassion and hilarity. Although the subtly presented political and cultural contexts affect the characters’ personal choices and actions, the dilemmas and frustrations they face are universal.
The uncompromising first-person narratives in My Husband focus on women who appear to be telling stories about their husbands: a bad poet; a doting father; a husband who blames his son’s ignoble behavior on his wife’s genes; a deceitful spouse; an impotent partner who procures lovers for the fulfillment of his wife’s needs; a deceased husband… Yet through the storytelling these women reveal more about themselves, the environment they live in, as well as the specific social norms that determine their oppressed – and frequently limited – frame of mind. Due to the highly subjective narration of the unreliable storytellers, readers play an active role in evaluating ‘the truth’ behind the characters’ actions and thoughts. What propels further interest in the reader is actively witnessing the painful process throughout which the characters put themselves in absurd, humiliating or disturbing situations.