Fiction by Daša Drndić
Translated from the Croatian by S.D. Curtis Celia Hawkesworth
Longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize 2019, a swift, biting novel from the late Croatian master, Daša Drndić.
Two elderly people, Artur and Isabella, meet and have a passionate sexual encounter on New Year’s Eve. Details of the lives of Artur, a retired Yugoslav army captain, and Isabella, a Holocaust survivor, are listed in police dossiers. As they fight loneliness and aging, they take comfort in small things: for Artur, a collection of 274 hats; for Isabella, a family of garden gnomes who live in her apartment. Later, we meet the ill-fated Pupi, who dreamed of becoming a sculptor but instead became a chemist and then a spy. As Eileen Battersby wrote, “As he stands, in the zoo, gazing at a pair of rhinos, in a city most likely present-day Belgrade, this battered Everyman feels very alone: ‘I would like to tell someone, anyone, I’d like to tell someone: I buried Mother today.’” Pupi sets out to correct his family’s crimes by returning silverware to its original Jewish owner through the help of an unlikely friend, a pawnbroker.
Described by Daša Drndić as “my ugly little book,” Doppelgänger was her personal favorite.