A timely parable on the perils of growing old and infirm in an unforgiving modern world - by the author of the acclaimed Trieste
"Belladonna is brutal, beautiful, and unforgettable . . . One of the truly outstanding novels of recent years" EILEEN BATTERSBY, Los Angeles Review of Books
** Winner of the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation 2018**
** Shortlisted for the inaugural E.B.R.D. Prize for Literature **
** Shortlisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize **
An excoriating work of fiction that references the twentieth century's darkest hours
Andreas Ban is a writer and a psychologist, an intellectual proper, but his world has been falling apart for years. When he retires with a miserable pension and finds out that he is ill, he gains a new perspective on the debris of his life and the lives of his friends. In defying illness and old age, Andreas Ban is cynical and powerful, and in his unravelling of his own past and the lives of others, he uncompromisingly lays bare a gamut of taboos.
Andreas Ban stands for a true hero of our times; a castaway intellectual of a society which subdues every critical thought under the guise of political correctness. Belladonna addresses some of the twentieth century's worst human atrocities in a powerful fusion of fiction and reality, the hallmark of one of Europe's finest contemporary writers.
Translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth
Dasa Drndic was a distinguished Croatian novelist and playwright. She was also been a translator, and a lecturer at the Faculty of Philosophy in Rijeka. Trieste (2012), her first novel to be translated into English, was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and has now been translated into many other languages. It was followed by Leica Format (2015) and Belladonna (2017). Belladonna has been shortlisted for both the inaugural EBRD prize and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize and received stunning reviews. Dasa Drndic died in June 2018.
You read this generous, angry, and candid novel of ideas in a continuing state of wondrous disquiet . . . Belladonna is brutal, beautiful, and unforgettable. Dasa Drndic achieves her mission, proving that silence cannot erase the past. Memory stalks us, and always triumphs — Eileen Battersby, Los Angeles Review of Books
Dasa Drndic, whose razor-edged wit and outspoken courage glints and slices across every page . . . cultivates a visionary art of memory . . . In Belladonna, her writing glows with an incendiary bleakness worthy of Beckett . . . But along with that asperity and melancholy comes a gallows humour that often swings into an uproarious mood of mischief and absurdity. — Boyd Tonkin, Arts Newspaper
This book is literature with a capital L and Drndic is a miracle maker conjuring some optimism from despair and charm amid the grisly — M. Bartley Seigal, Words Without Borders
Drndic stares directly into the inky sins of us all and doesn't blink. Belladonna is a thrilling book. Unforgettable in the seamless way the author combines the real world and the fictional until it no longer matters because, in the end, all of it is the truth. — Mark Haber, Quarterly Conversation
This panoramic work by Drndic is less a novel than a life's worth of reminiscences annotated with photographs and copious footnotes, reminiscent of the works of Aleksandar Hemon and W.G. Sebald . . . This work may well be the national novel of Croatia. — Publishers Weekly.
A very fine novel, wise and brave. Her fiction is very powerful statement fiction, and yet somehow the quality, the humanity, the playfulness actually counters the polemical intent. This is an extraordinary book. — Eileen Battersby, Irish Times
The novel is multi-faceted, sharp, surprising, darkly and grimly hilarious, relevant to our times, and possesses limitless depth. It also bristles with intelligence and defiance in every paragraph, like an exceptionally erudite and alert porcupine. Belladonna deserves major awards consideration — Jeff Vandermeer, The Millions
A pensive, provocative novel of history, memory, and our endlessly blood-soaked times by one of the foremost writers to have emerged from the former Yugoslavia . . . An elegant novel of ideas concerning decidedly inelegant topics, empathetic but unforgiving. — Kirkus Reviews
Its own language compelling, open-ended notwithstanding its apocalyptic images, Belladonna resembles a prose Waste Land, an X-ray of our culture, Ban's fragments, like Eliot's, shored against the ruins of our age. — Michele Levy, World Literature Today
Dasa Drndic interweaves fiction, reality, history, and memory to terrific effect . . . Drndic attacks history with a novelist's sensibility and has produced a poignant meditation on love and loss, the insanity of war and the legacy of human cruelty. — Lucy Popescu, Europe Now