Photo: Hassan Abdelghani
Ivana Sajko (*1975). Writer, director, performer. Co-founder of theatre group BAD co. Editorial board member of performing arts magazine Frakcija. Focus on interdisciplinary approaches to the problems of drama writing and performing. Among her numerous prizes are the medal Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et Lettres. Publications: Executed Faces (Collection of plays, 2001), trilogy of monologues Woman-bomb (2004; Verlag der Autoren 2008.) and Trilogy on Disobedience (2012; Verlag der Autoren 2012), novels Rio bar (2005; Matthes & Seitz 2008), History of my family since 1941 until 1991, and beyond (2010) and_Love nove_l (2015), theory book Towards Madness (and Revolution) (200; Matthes & Seitz 2014).
Ljubavni Roman - A love novel
Ljubavni Roman, Meandar, Zagreb, 2015
A Love Novel, Ivana Sajko’s third novel, depicting an intimate relationship´s disintegration against the wall of economic improbability, can be read as part of a loose trilogy about the historical continuity from the 1940s till the present date. Whereas Rio Bar, her first novel, covers war and alcoholism, The History of My Family From 1941 till 1991, and Beyond deals with ideological turmoil and madness.
“With hardly bearable marriages and civil wars fought between the kitchen and bedroom, relationships like this are typical for post-transitional and impoverished societies but it is very hard to write about them because the main characters fall out of the category of precisely defined motivations.”
A Love Novel leads the reader through of a young married couple´s financial and emotional dissolution: An unemployed humanist trying to write a romance novel and an actress quitting her theatre job to have a baby, typical actors living in precarious conditions, deeply marked with fear, permanently panicking, in a state of constant frustration. This seemingly dysfunctional love story is staffed with anxious wives, intoxicated husbands, bed-wetting children, neighbours clerico-fascists, armchair revolutionaries, bouncers suffering from PTSD, unemployed actresses, college graduates working as waitresses. After the bills have piled up too high, the young family decides to seek refuge at the seashore. During the trip they run out of gas. After pushing the car to the gas station and picking up breakfast they decide to dine and dash. Their escape is described not only as a paradoxically optimistic social act but also as the couple´s intimate turnaround to restore their long-lost love.
Liebesroman_Auszug (Übersetzung: Alida Bremer)
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History of My Family From 1941 till 1991 and beyond
Meandar, Zagreb, 2009 (146 pages)
A novel about disillusioned utopias, ideals destroyed by ideologies, a novel about historical fiction as a genre. At the same time, a touching and painful story about ordinary people involved in huge narratives, paralleled by the history of the city: the occupation of Zagreb in 1941, the great flood of Zagreb in 1968, the hijacking of an American airplane organized by Croatian nationalists in 1976, Tito’s death in 1980 and the beginning of the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
A great grandmother scrubbing floors in Zagreb’s bourgeois apartments while her own house sinks into the ground as every new regime backfills the road only to eventually get flooded by the Sava River again. A drafted great grandfather disappearing in the wastelands of WW II building bunkers for the enemy army. A grandmother running away from home to join the partisans, later teaching children about the things in which she stopped believing. A grandfather awaiting the end of the war with bells ringing inside his head, dying after a schizophrenic attack convinced to be fighting mice. A daughter attempting to leave for western consumerism being stopped by the man she loves to wait until after Tito’s death. Their children welcoming their father after the war fought in the 1990s as a disabled person, having lost his arm throwing a bomb on a house full of frightened people. Or, did he throw it away from the house? He does not remember…
One of the basic issues raised throughout the book concerns the objectivity of facts constructing any historical narrative. Every document, every testimony and every news report is a result of a subjective interpretation and a certain perception and, therefore, the attempt to write a family history taking place throughout those pregnant 1950s – from the first hints of the Second World War, struggle against an ideology and introduction of another one wearing a utopian mask and dissolution of a state which supported it until the construction of a brand new state in the midst of the civil war chaos – is actually a painstaking negotiation between diverse viewpoints, forces and interests.
The radical point which alters war images described by Sajko is linked to the fact that in all those wars children have to fight against children: barefaced young men inside Hitler’s tanks grind the streets of Zagreb, terrified children in partisan rags press one against the other in the Balkan mountains, adolescents from the resistance movement are tortured by collaborationists in investigatory jails and kids from war-torn provinces exchange the opposition to Tito’s dictatorship in the 1960s for glorification of Croatian nationalism.
Ivana Sajko novel is actually an anti-history: Confrontation of different versions of history as well as fiction with history provides the reader with another perspective leading to a situation where it is impossible to answer: what actually happened?
Ivana Sajko: Die Geschichte meiner Familie von 1941 bis 1991 und darüber hinaus (Auszug)
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