5 Serbian Authors You Should Know

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Momo Kapor

Momo Kapor is one of the most popular Serbian writers, who easily attracted the attention of the public by writing his constant reflections on the reality of the current time – he truly and vividly described Belgrade and its spirit.

Kapor lost his mother very early, in very stressful circumstances – Dobrica Cosic, in his book Friends, on pages 276 and 277, describes the childhood and youth of Momo Kapor, based on the talks he had with him in November 2002.

“On the 13 of April 1941, The Germans bombed Sarajevo and hit the building below Trebenica in which the Kapor’s mother had hidden with her 4-year old son. In the collapsed house, everybody was dead. Moma’s mother saved her son with her own body. The boy somehow pulled out of the rubble, moaned and fell into silence from the speechless horror of not knowing what to do. He was found by a Russian, an immigrant, a doctor, who took pity on him and took him to his apartment, adopting him, as he had no children.”

Many times Momo said that he had written hundreds of pages to somehow get rid of that memory, but those attempts would always be unsuccessful.

He had published many titles, novels, and collections of stories, screenplays, tv shows and documentaries.  His most famous works are ” Una”,” Zoe”,” Ada”, “The Chronicle of a Lost City”…

Danilo Kiš

Serbian writer, best known for “Psalm 44”, “Early Sorrows”,” Anatomy Class”, “The Encyclopedia of the Dead”, “Night and Fog”, was born on 22 February 1935 in Subotica. He was a short story writer, a novelist, a poet, a correspondent for SANU, translator, lector and a playwritter for the “Atelje 212” theatre.

One of the most prominent figures of the literary world during the 60’s and 70’s, he had a rough childhood – his father being taken to Auschwitz in 1944, left a huge impact not only on his childhood but on his whole life and work as well.

His relentless desire to find out the identity of his father made an impact on his life and opus. What is interesting is that his works show continuity, but not progress.

And that is how a great contemporary saga of the quest for a father figure, for personal identity, and for the knowledge of the world and its history, was created. The saga in question is the Hourglass. Published in 1972, this masterpiece earned Kiš the NIN award, which he returned after a few years.

His book “The Lute and the Scars” never reached completion due to the author’s death.

Borislav Pekić

He was born on February the 4th, 1930, in Podgorica. He lived in Podgorica, Novi Bečej, Mrkonjić – Grad, Knin, Cetinje, and Bavanište in Banat. From 1945 he lived in Belgrade, where he attended the Third Male Gymnasium and graduated in 1948.

From 1948 to 1953 he was serving a sentence in the KPD Sremska Mitrovica and KPD Niš as a member of the SDSJ. He was sentenced to fifteen years of strict imprisonment, but in 1953 he was released.

The political activist and writer, Borislav Pekić is considered as one of the great literary figures of the 20th century, continually attracting the attention of scholars and the public at large. His thorough knowledge of the long tradition of European thought from Plato to Nietzsche, together with the artistic affiliation with his literary peers—Dostoyevsky, Mann, Joyce—has greatly helped reintegrate  Serbian literature into major European trends.

Throughout his life as a writer, Pekić often worked on several novels at a time but kept his commentaries well organized with bibliographical references pertaining to the work in question. Very seldom has this kind of documentation, recording the creative process of a writer, been preserved.

His most important acts are:  “The Time of Miracles”, “The Pilgrimage of Arsenij Njegovan”, “Rise and fall of Icarus Gubelkijan”, “How to Quiet a Vampire”, “The Golden Fleece”, “Rabies”…

Vuk Stefanović  Karadžić

He was born in the village of Tršić, near Loznica, which was in the Ottoman Empire (now in Serbia). Vuk was a Serbian philologist, linguist, and the major reformer of the Serbian language. He deserves, perhaps, for his collections of songs, fairy tales, and riddles, to be called the father of the study of Serbian folklore.

Vuk was also the author of the first Serbian dictionary in the new reformed language. In addition, he translated the New Testament into the reformed form of the Serbian spelling and language.

He was well known abroad and familiar to Jacob Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and historian Leopold von Ranke. Vuk was the primary source for Ranke’s Serbische Revoluzion (“Serbian Revolution”), written in 1829.

Karadžić reformed the Serbian literary language and standardized the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet by following strict phonemic principles on the Johann Christoph Adelung’ model and Jan Hus’ Czech alphabet.

Karadžić was, together with Đuro Daničić, the main Serbian signatory to the Vienna Literary Agreement of 1850 which, encouraged by Austrian authorities.

Ivo Andrić

The only local Nobel Prize-winning author, Ivo Andrić was a world-renowned writer whose nationality was a matter of dispute among three countries.  But Ivo considered himself a Serb and once said that he had spent a lifetime “trying to understand the mentality of a country where all the problems are unfixable, but everything will be fine in the end”.

Many people say that he understood the soul of the Balkans and the character of the local people. So, it is not surprising why he was the country’s ambassador in Berlin – at the beginning of the World War II, he was a representative of the kingdom of Yugoslavia in Germany, and he presented the credentials to Adolf Hitler.

People said that he was a reserved, quiet man, very generous as well as intelligent. Ivo believed that in the idea of the unification of all South Slavs nations in one unique country, and lived to see that happen. His writing was described as vivid and understandable, and his most important novels are – “The Bridge on the Drina”, “Bosnian Chronicle” and “The Woman from Sarajevo”.

Ivo Andrić was born in Bosnia, which was his great love and an endless inspiration for his whole life. He originated from a Croatian family but declared himself a Serb. He spent most of his life in Belgrade and wrote his works in Cyrillic script. He wrote that “sometimes there comes a time when the mind goes quiet, fools speak loud and the scum enriches”.

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