Kin is a family epic from one of Croatia’s most prized writers. In this sprawling narrative which spans the entire twentieth century, Miljenko Jergović peers into the dusty corners of his family’s past, illuminating them with a tender, poetic precision. Ordinary, forgotten objects – a grandfather’s beekeeping journals, a rusty benzene lighter, an army issued raincoat – become the lenses through which Jergović investigates the joys and sorrows of a family living through a century of war. The work is ultimately an ode to Yugoslavia – Jergović sees his country through the devastation of the First World War, the Second, the Cold, then the Bosnian war of the 90s; through its changing street names and borders, shifting seasons, through its social rituals at graveyards, operas, weddings, markets – rendering it all in loving, vivid detail.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
“Kin” is a broad family novel and a historical novel, both in its volume and its content. It is innovative in its form and has shaped several literary seasons in the region of former Yugoslavia. In the heart of the story is the family of Karl Stubler, a railroad clerk, a German from the Romanian part of Banat, and his wife Regina, who has Slovenian-German-Italian roots. As a young married couple, they go via Dubrovnik to Bosnia, where they and their descendants live through the whole of the 20th century. They live through the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, the Second World War, communism and then the dissolution of Yugoslavia through the wars of the ’90s. “Kin” manages to intertwine small, personal tales with the great history, that crushes and destroys them. “Kin” is a novel with an intercultural reach, that captures the whole former Yugoslavia and its different cultures and peoples. Although most of the novel takes part in Sarajevo, and it was first published in Zagreb followed by Belgrade, “Kin” deals with the greater area of south-east Europe. It is a great European novel, written from the perspective of Europeans on its margins. That is the reason why Belgrade City Library nominates “Kin” for this award.
Belgrade City Library, Serbia