REMEMBERING FOREST

DAMIR KARAKAŠ

Sandorf, 2016, 132 pages
•30-pages excerpt available in English

His realism is truly “Hamsunian”, mesmerizing. He uses realistic means to create something that stands beyond realism.

Miljenko Jergović, author of Sarajevo Marlboro and The Walnut Mansion | Jutarnji list

Remembering forest is a great novel that comes in a small package, just like The Damned Yard, or L’Étranger, or The Winter Summer Holiday, or… complete the list on your own, it certainly is not going to be too long.

Teofil Pančić, literary critic | Globus

Karakaš has always been known as a writer of minute strokes, as someone, let’s use footballing jargon, who needs little space to produce miracles, as a writer who above all cares about precision, which for him is more important that any kind of epic approach to his theme. He is perhaps the greatest Croatian writer of counter-epic direction: big ideas and big human formats, mostly coming out of the circumstances pumped up on political steroids and thievery, for Karakaš are completely passé: what everyone knows never moved this author.

Dario Grgić, literary critic | Radio Belgrade

Translation rights sold: Germany (Folio), Macedonia (Makedonska reč), Serbia (LOM), Slovenia (Beletrina)

Nominated for all major literary awards in the region of the former Yugoslavia, winning the most esteemed ones: Kočićevo pero and Fric, the highest financial award hailed “The Croatian Booker”

Remembering Forest is a novel comprised of thirty-three short chapters that follow the coming of age of the main character, a boy with a heart condition, in the deep province of the Balkans. This is a book about family and universal deprivation, expensive doctors and veterinarians, who, if need be, treat people too, about village beliefs and sorceries, mean grandfathers and mysterious old ladies, about the harsh life in the hills.

It is also a catalogue of unrealized ambitions: to become an army officer, a basketball player, a bodybuilder, to sell hazelnuts, to shoot a bear… Among the members of the household, there is no kindness. Emotions, of course, exist, but they are not shown. No matter what, they need to be hidden, suppressed, swallowed. Until they explode.

This is a short novel with a poetic tempo, a book about an unusual coming of age in the shadow of a mystery hidden in the body itself. While reading a story of a family, its relationships and interactions with other social elements – village, city and traces of the outer world slowly interferes with the woods and mountains, we can distinguish two worlds. One is the world Karakaš always returns to, the world of the Lika region which acts as an autoreferential intertext. The other one is found in some liminal space between past and myth, reality and symbol. Just like with Ursula K. Le Guin, Karakaš’s word for world is forest.