We Trade Our Night for Someone Else's Day
The city of Vukovar, situated on Croatia's easternmost periphery, across the Danube River from Serbia, was the site of some of the worst violence in the wars that rocked ex-Yugoslavia in the early '90s. It is referred to only as "the city" throughout this taut political thriller from one of Europe's most celebrated young writers. In this city without a name, fences in schoolyards separate the children of Serbs from those of Croats, and city leaders still fight to free themselves from violent crimes they committed––or permitted––during the war a generation ago. Now, it is left to a new generation––the children, now grown up––to extricate themselves from this tragic place, innocents who are nonetheless connected in different ways to the crimes of the past.
Nora is a journalist assigned to do a puff piece on the perpetrator of a crime of passion––a Croatian high school teacher who fell in love with one of her students, a Serb, and is now in prison for having murdered her husband. But Nora herself is the daughter of a man who was murdered years earlier under mysterious circumstances. And she wants, if not to avenge her father, at least to bring to justice whoever committed the crime. There's a hothouse intensity to this extraordinary noir page-turner because of how closely the author sets the novel within the historical record. This city is unnamed, the story is fictional, so it can show us what actually happened there.
"Bodrozic, mediated by Ellen Elias-Bursac’s assured translation, chronicles what a country chooses to remember, and what it consciously forgets, with confidence and grace."—Sarah Weinman, New York Times Book Review
“A novel that, as translated, is plainly written but immensely powerful in its portrayal of a damaged society.”– Declan O’Driscoll, The Irish Times