THE MAYA CALENDAR

ZORAN FERIĆ

Profil International, 2011, 603 pages
• 40 pages excerpts in English
• complete translation in German

Translation rights sold: Germany (Folio Verlag)

Considered by many to be Ferić’s best work. A novel of wider scope which incorporates a novel about growing up in Zagreb in the fifties and sixties of the last century, a story about the love between Senka and Tihomir that almost lasts a lifetime and a novel about the sexual revolution in the sixties and the seventies. Ferić covers all aspects of life – happiness, love, sorrow, old age and mortality.

The former class of a high school in Zagreb will meet after many years to go on a graduation anniversary trip. The “Tramuntana” motor boat is now taking these men and women in their midsixties to the Dalmatian coast for a second time. The main character is Tihomir Romar, a gynaecologist who describes his story in numerous flashbacks. It focuses on his fatal love affair with his former classmate Senka, which takes on almost destructive dimensions and creates hell on earth for three people. With biting irony and black humour, Zoran Ferić draws a picture of the golden youth in Tito’s Yugoslavia; descendants of a new privileged class, more influenced by the new sexual mores of a social revolution. This second trip will reanimate a network of old and oppressed relationships – the forgotten behaviour patterns of adolescence will be coupled with a burgeoning senility. With lightness of touch and piercing wit, Ferić covers all aspects of life – happiness, love, sorrow, old age and mortality.

This novel was honoured with four of the most prestigious Croatian literary awards: the Jutarnji List Award for best work of prose fiction, the Vladimir Nazor Award for literature, the Zagreb City Award and Kiklop Award for best work of prose fiction.

The more you read this book, the more the words are transformed into images from a beautifully eerie film by a late Nouvelle Vague director, a Chabrol or a Truffaut, with an aged Michel Piccoli or a Jeanne Moreau in the leading roles. The scenery is indeed film-ready, although we are not on the Côte d’Azur or in Paris, but in Zagreb and on the Croatian Adriatic. […] On a warm September day, former students of a Zagreb secondary school set sail from the port of Opatija, where the faded splendor of the imperial bath combines with the equivocal charm of a socialist health resort, on a cruise along the Dalmatian coast. They were once Socialist Yugoslavia’s youth, children of partisans or Ustasha sympathizers, made a career as the new elite, becoming doctors, scientists, architects or teachers, and as such seeing the disintegration of Tito’s empire and the Balkan Wars.

Sabine Berking

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

A novel about growing up (…) a novel about love and its demons (…) a novel about sex, the desire that fulfils and consumes us. A novel of transience, of time that shapes the present and changes the past. A novel of old age and frailty. A novel of Zagreb from the mid-20th century until today. This novel also has its seaside story, where Goli otok, Zrće and Vir get a completely new color.

Moderna vremena

Throughout the carefully arranged chapters, where the past and the present take turns with nostalgic memory and surgical analytical approach, quantity finds its reason in ambition to fixate the values of a generation and an era.

Zdravko Zima