HARMATTAN

IVAN SRŠEN

Durieux, 2013, 176 pages
•30-pages excerpt available in English

Frustration of helpless “illegals”, faced with state repression on the one side and a criminal milieu on the other, is a difficult subject on which little, if at all, is spoken in the contemporary Croatian prose, which makes this novel an exceptionally welcome guest.

Jutarnji list

(…) what we have is a novel particularly bound to the female, to the destinies of the female sex, but those that are somewhat different, doubly displaced: first – by their geographical background, second – by the fact they are happening in prison, from which they have very limited insight into the current functioning of the outside world. There, the plot doesn’t happen because of some real or hideous crime, but because some people want to reach better life by any means, and because the legal paths are simply not available.

Neven Vulić | Moderna vremena

Harmatan is a novel about a young Nigerian emigrant Uhunoma who, after a couple of years spent strayed across the Old Continent in search of a better life, ends up in a German prison somewhere in Bavaria for not having valid documents required for staying in the territory of the EU. In prison, she meets women from around the world, each carrying their own burden of remorse, bitterness and frustration with being imprisoned.

Third book, and first novel by the young Croatian author Ivan Sršen brings an elaborate story about destinies of emigrant and immigrant women in contemporary Europe. The novel got its title, Harmattan, from a very dry wind that blows in West Africa by winter and brings large amounts of sand from Sahara. In the Bavarian prison, the protagonist Uhunoma meets a number of imprisoned women, each of them having a dramatic story to tell.