WISDOM TOOTH

RUMENA BUŽAROVSKA

Blesok, Skopje, 2010, 140 pages

Translations of stories also available in German, English, and Serbian.

There is much left unsaid in these stories, but things are still clear. This act of narrating between the lines is a rare storytelling ability and skill. The stories from this collection are compact in the way that a good short story demands economy; they are simple and open-ended, dynamic and sometimes tense, showing how the everyday and what is seemingly ordinary (such as a toothache) can also be compelling, provided we can recognize it.

Jagna Pogačnik | Jutarnji List

These stories are a delicious discovery, essential even – if you take reading seriously.

Teofil Pancić | Jutarnji List

Translation rights sold to: Croatia (Algoritam)

Uncompromising in its dissection of the unfairness of the everyday reality of the vulnerable and disenfranchised, Buzarovska’s acutely observed stories are absurd, poignant and painfully funny. The coherent simplicity and psychological complexity of her writing has been compared to the style of Alice Munro, Raymond Carver and Lorrie Moore.

The stories in the collection Wisdom Tooth offer readers a kaleidoscope of experiences from the patriarchal, post-transitional society typical of the Balkans and other Eastern European countries. The protagonists usually lack power: social, economic, and even physical. Most are women and children, though also men who cannot adapt to the system of newly defined values. Their struggle to fit in puts them in dangerous, embarrassing, or simply painfully real situations. A woman must confront an embarrassing sexual problem in the deplorable and unfeeling conditions of a run-down state hospital; a wife and mother, keen to avoid attending such a facility, conceals money from her husband and son in order to seek treatment from a private dentist; a young girl reveals the trauma of having to bear the consequences of her parents’ criminal profiteering; a story told from a young girl’s perspective foregrounds the conflict between socially conscious parents and manipulated child – a conflict ultimately resolved through violence; and a husband and father fails to protect his family due to his physical and social inadequacy.