Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Small Courtyard

I wrote in about a Serbian writer Milan Jovanović.

His recent book, from 2012, "Malo dvorište" ("A small courtyard") is an interesting historical detective story. Located on the mountainous Balkans, Serbia proper, at 13th century. Story happens in a small monastery in which are placed, in fact detained, daughters, wives or widows of Serbian royal families, which are for some reason unconvenient or dangerous for the family or the kingdom.

Jovanovic tells of escape of some of the detainees, and unexpected plots around seemingly static places and situations.

In the narrative method Jovanovic returned to the method of his debut, the novel with the similar topic, "Monk". In both novels the story is told through relations of the participants, building the story that way. Very successful, probably because such a narrative corresponds to the historical context, and evokes something of the slowness with which the information was transmitted in the Medieval times.

In an anthology edition, which Jovanovic's works will surely once obtain, "Monk" and "A small courtyard" will form a couple that would not shame any literature.

One does not often find stories told with so much genuine feeling ... it seems as if the writer spent decades in Hilandar, Serbian monastery at the Greek Holy mountain, Atos, that he would be able to tell the story in such a way.

Shortness - both novels are only about 100 pages - adds brevity resembling rather the Zen Buddhism than Orthodox eloquence and lavishness - but wisdom is transmitted in a short, not overflowing form, and Jovanovic knows this very well.

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