ON TOLERABILITY

ALEŠ ČAR

Beletrina, 2011, 257 pages
•30-pages excerpt available in English

The novel consists of inner elements that rotate and intertwine constantly. It is as a long poem in prose dealing with issues that we usually keep silent. Aleš Čar wrote a great novel.

Dario Grgić | Croatian Radio

A fearful, monumental work of Aleš Čar.

Gabriela Babnik | Airbeletrina

Stylistic charmingly written novel, straightforwardly, words stoning.

Grega Kališnik | Nedelo

Translation rights sold: Croatia (V.B.Z.), Serbia (Zavet)

A novel of complex structure that portrays one family’s extensive saga, following four generations through a period of hundred years, scattered throughout Europe.
Incest, sadism and masochism, adultery and attempted murder within the family, soldiers and  smugglers, bloody battles and political games, European aristocracy and escaped SS officers, cruel mothers and humiliated fathers, drugs, alcohol and extramarital children are parts of this novel’s complex storyline.
Following the fate of his characters, the author portraits how, behind the scenes of bloody wars, political upheaval and constant change of state names, national anthems and flags, much larger, more cruel and more painful family dramas are taking place.

Families have always been the best place for those small everyday hells that, behind a carefully preserved facade of the apparent normality and harmlessness, mercilessly and in all sorts of ways elixate their members down to nothing. In the novel the narrator – a member of the family but not in the center of happening – tries to pull together the pieces of several generations of his family history. This is triggered by an event that might seem harmless: the visit of an aunt with whom no one had been in touch for years; yet this visit makes the whole construction of the family go completely off the rails, especially the world of the grandfather and his daughter (the aunt). The main story centers on these two characters. The novel is a sort of a family album whereas its pictures show horrible things. It is also a chronicle of a family of three generations and as such delves into the historical context of the 20th century as well as it reflects various intimate relationships between the individuals within the family. The grandfather served in four different armies, flags and uniforms, and once the atrocities of the war come to an end he thinks a peaceful life waits ahead, but this is only the beginning of the whole array of problems, challenges and tribulations brought to the surface by love on the intimate family level, as the writer introduces in a very refined way Grandpa’s five daughters into the story. His first daughter proves that love can build you a house, but the ‘golden cage’ that was supposed to provide a roof over the heads of three generations, soon starts turning into a ,hellish trap’. Suddenly tolerability, so plain and so human in every respect, rather than shear luck, repeatedly shown to be an illusion, becomes the skill required to survive.