THE PIT

IVANA BODROŽIĆ

Naklada Ljevak, Balkan Noir edition, February 2016, 216 pages

The Pit is a masterful refection of one country’s reality, a septic pit in which crime, false war merits, actual profiteering, political menace cloaked in cheap patriotism, bloodstained secrets of recent past and hypocrisy coming from those offering a bright future, are being fermented and accumulated. It is a novel created from skillfully combining press clippings from crime chronicles with high politics in which, similarly to the Croatian reality, everything is mixed in the same blender producing a revolting spew that induces nausea. Ivana Bodrožić takes the bull by the horns, dealing with subjects considered taboo as well as “the untouchable sanctities”, by placing them in a familiar mundane setting, not only geographically, but also under those time coordinates that we usually call – our reality.”

Drago Hedl | writer

“The readers that keep up with Croatian society and politics will easily recognize bits and pieces of stories they already know. They will recognize politicians who were ordering murders during the war, majors who show their surgical wounds on television, councilors taping bribe offers, school scandals, sex scandals… But, don’t be fooled, Ivana Bodrožić’s novel The Pit is not yet another roman à clef in which the author leads us with a single allegory through the everyday political landscape to which we are already exposed. The Pit is much more. A cry of outrage. A darksome lament over one’s single space and homeland that rose to mythical proportions. Over a homeland that, despite all this, fades into oblivion and sinks in despair once the patriotic phrases are stripped off. A homeland in which everything perishes, except for rivaling nationalistic oligarchies who need one another to survive. The Pit is, simply said, a novel about Croatia and therefore it is a crime story.”

Jurica Pavičić | writer

Translation rights sold: World English rights (Seven Stories Press)

Ivana Bodrožić, a bestselling and award-winning poet and novelist, through the genre of political thriller, boldly engages to unmask a transitional society, deeply saturated with crime and corruption.

This intelligent, dramatic, powerful, tragic, menacing and dark, but above all brave novel, opens up with a prison scene. A journalist Nora Kirin arrives in an unnamed Croatian town chasing a story of a local high school teacher who, along with her underage lover, murdered her husband. An intriguing, agonizing and dark story about a family tragedy and a scorned woman leads into a series of parallel narratives that are entangled with the underground of this deeply divided city. One of the major narrative lines leads Nora on the path of her father’s murderer, who got killed around twenty years before, at the eve of the war, trying to mediate between enemy sides and warning them that the conflict might be intentionally provoked.

The plot takes place when bilingual boards were being placed on public institutions in a town that profits the most from the traffic of human victims. The controllers of all processes are the same people who participated in war crimes in the 90’s, corrupt politicians, surviving mobsters, warlords who, almost twenty years later, converted into being members of the local political and social elite.

This atmospheric novel, that tells the story of a nameless town is infused by lyrical parts and filled to the brim with diverse characters to whom the author skillfully brings both life and cogency, which takes her impressive prose to a level of a universal study of human nature.

The Pit was awarded Balkan Noir prize for best crime novel in the South-Eastern European region written in 2016.