THERE ARE NO ELEPHANTS IN MEXICO

ZORAN PILIĆ

Fraktura, 2014, 176 pages
• four stories available in English

Pilić certainly is portrayed as a witty writer, and he actually is one, but that humour of his, which is often dark, doesn’t stem from some banalities but rather from deeply contemplated and often tragic life situations. Pilić is a master of dark but not depressing stories, and he is aware that reality should not be transcribed but that it should be condensed to its best parts which should then be underlined with original, literary solutions. Add to it excellent dialogues, a fast narrative pace and skilful editing of various plot branches (especially in longer prose, such as in the excellent story Mojo) and this new book by Pilić is then best described by one of its own sentences: Improvisation, relaxation, realization – just like playing hoops. Everything is very casual, but behind all of it there is still a clear, albeit not too loud of a concept. All in all – a truly excellent book!

Jagna Pogačnik | Jutarnji list

The stories from the book There Are No Elephants in Mexico are not a sombre, defeatist melody with which we mourn all the horrors of our lives in a valley of impossibilities. On the contrary, these stories have a very strong ironic and humorous undertone able to balance out the feelings of universal failure, emptiness and being lost. This undertone also infuses into this fictional world, which has a very peculiar atmosphere, vibrancy and a need for life. Đorđe Krajišnik | Oslobođenje

In the nine stories gathered in the book There Are No Elephants in Mexico we may not go far geographically, but we will dive into the depths of addicted, lonely and enamoured individuals through delicate introspectively connected sentences that, in a lax and common way, offer the reader exactly what he needs. A persuasive style, almost minimalistic, draws the reader into what Pilić calls in one of his stories, something like a thought that comes to you while you walk. In other words, something authentic and recognizable. Neven Vulić | Moderna vremena

There Are No Elephants in Mexico is a collection of short stories with beguiling dialogues and brilliantly weird characters that once again confirms Zoran Pilić is one of Croatia’s wittiest authors. Without a doubt, these stories will make us laugh but they’ll also subtly lead us to the other, dark side which can’t be seen from Earth and where we rarely dare to set our foot on.

From up there, from the Moon, one cannot see Mexico.

To be more precise, one cannot see the elephants there (even if there were any), nor can one see old people babbling with their angels in abandoned Croatian villages, nor the couples who love each other peculiarly in Zagreb apartments, nor teenagers who jump over war torn borders leaving behind themselves a sparkling trail of legendary NBA stars. Luckily, everything one cannot see from the Moon is exactly what the narrator preys upon.

The net which the narrator Zoran Pilić spreads across the world catches what is big and small in our lives, and in it there’ll be war and peace, love and fear, blonde Slovenian poetesses and lonely monsters from old Slavic legends and, just for us, it will be pulled out into the surface, with its entire plentiful catch, by Pilić’s protagonists – heroes and anti-heroes of the oddest shapes and sizes.

The End of Summer is a story about a boy who early on in his life experiences a traumatic event when his favourite animal, a pig named Lucky, gets slaughtered. As the years go by, the boy tries to compensate what he lacks in height with fanatical training sessions which distort him into an over muscular dwarf. Secretly, he adores Emilia, the girl next door, and when she falls in love with his best friend, the boy goes on a revenge rampage-

In the story The Wolfgoat we follow five writers on a field trip that will turn into a nightmare. A not so famous Croatian writer who dislikes the outdoors reluctantly accepts an invitation from his colleague Tanja to go on a field trip along with her, the Israeli writer Etgar Keret and two other foreign writers. Their goal is to visit Blaž Perković, a Croatian writer who has been living on Velebit mountain. On the way to his cabin, the Slovenian poetess Maruša gets kidnapped by the terrifying Wolfgoat – a lonely monster from ancient legends that now lives in the real world. Though they rather wouldn’t, the feeling of responsibility pushes our writers in search for their unfortunate colleague.

No Harm from Them is a story dedicated to the last generation of immigrants from ex-Yugoslavian countries. A refugee from Bosnia and a former soldier lost everything he could and so he abandons his shattered country and goes to Germany. Upon arriving in the Promised Land he recalls the memory of his father who, approximately thirty years ago, also came to Germany on temporary labour and stayed there until his death. Since then the world has changed but the history of the people from the Balkans repeats itself from generation to generation.