SONS, DAUGHTERS

IVANA BODROŽIĆ

Corto Literary / Hermes, 2020, 264 pages
• 30-pages long excerpt in English

In this new novel, combining the familiar narrative procedure with a new, more intricate set of motives, Ivana Bodrožić tackles the issues addressed in her previous works, issues of Other and otherness, identity and gender, pain and guilt, injustice and violence. We gained so much with her new novel: great literature enforced by the justified social engagement, far from the fashionable activism devoided of substance. We also gained one of the most tender and wrenching love stories in the contemporary Croatian Literature. Vanja Kulaš | Moderna vremena

At the forbidden places, places we avoid, Ivana’s writing only begins and goes all the way to the most secret, most intimate corners, to the locked core of all things and does so with extraordinary ease and gravitas. Epic by proportions, lyrical, poetic, and polemical by style, Sons, Daughters is a novel about us, daughters and sons, a novel which will be read, written about, and discussed for a long time.  Olja Savičević Ivančević | Author

Translation rights sold: Orfelin (Serbia)

In the vein of majestic works such as Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides or Margaret Atwood’s prose, the power of this novel lies in the ability of genuine literature to reshape the suppressed using it as a vehicle of personal and collective change. Ivana Bodrožić’ new novel tells a story of being locked in: socially, domestically and intimately, told through three different perspectives.

A daughter that is paralyzed after a car crash, left without the possibility to speak, confined to a hospital bed and unable to move anything but her eyes vertically. Physically restrained but self-conscious, she is forced to reminiscence. Then a son trapped in the body which he doesn’t feel as his own, in a role assigned to him and different from the one he saw for himself, forced to endure misperception and the vile abuse of the community in order to become what he really is. In the end, a mother that carries the burden of the generations, distorted by the violent patriarchy, growing up oppressed and lectured, taught she is never good enough for the world which holds no place for the desires and choices of women. They intertwine in a story which gives each of them the right to their own truth, pain and drive for survival; children that long for their parents’ validation, sons and daughters that long for acceptance, parents shaped by the fear they will later inflict onto their children. This novel questions our matrilineal family legacies and points to the unbreakable bond between our personal freedoms, human dignity and social circumstances, and does so with empathy, its most powerful weapon, breaking the chains and unlocking lives, concealed family relations and forbidden love stories.

 

However, this novel does not speak solely of the transgenerational trauma and transgender issues; Ivana Bodrožić unlocks a subject which is yet to be raised in the Croatian literature, which is now overcast with taboo or stigma to say the least; we have yet to write courageously and openly of female violence, of the violence of the mothers towards their children, one that exists along with the male one, of how women perpetuate the force of malice and pain regardless of men, behind which stand their own traumas and issues. This novel also speaks up about what it means to be a woman in a man’s world, created by equal forces of both genders.  Tanja Tolić | Najbolje knjige