Sandorf, 2016, 132 pages
•30-pages excerpt available in English
The voice of Damir Karakaš reaches us sharp and clear, like a howl of an eastern wolf that has travelled a long way back to the Alps. And it’s welcome’.Paolo Cognetti, author of The Eight Mountains
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.