Repetitions / Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary [2 vols.]
(translation of portions of Repetitions by Ivana Djordjević; translation of Vampires by Alice Copple-Tošić)
See Vol. 1: Repetitions HERE.
As a follow-up to their first collaboration Repetitions (published in Belgrade in 1994, and in English by punctum in 2013), in 2008 the authors published, also in Belgrade, Vampiri & Razumni recnik, published here by punctum as Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary. Vampires is Radaković’s fictionalized account of a Serb living in Cologne, Germany while his former country disintegrates. He travels in the American West, ostensibly looking for the vampires causing chaos in his own country, and then returns to Europe, having found no vampires. It is a dark text, a story of destruction told in a narrative that refuses all the solaces narrative has traditionally afforded. A Reasonable Dictionary is Abbott’s personally troubled account of his and Radaković’s trip up the Drina River between the civil wars, a journey made with the novelist Peter Handke, a trip during which some of Abbott’s specifically American stories lost their moral structure.
Both works examine generic distinctions and question storytelling in general, all in the context of travel in Yugoslavia, in the former Yugoslavia, and in western America. Two aspects make the books unique. First, they are written about experiences shared by two authors whose native languages are Serbian and English respectively (German is their only common language). The authors’ perspectives contrast with and supplement one another: Radaković grew up in Tito’s Yugoslavia and Abbott comes from the Mormon American West; Radaković is the translator of most of Peter Handke’s works into Serbo-Croatian and Abbott translated Handke’s provocative A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia for Viking Press and his play Voyage by Dugout: The Play of the Film of the War for PAJ (Performing Arts Journal); Radaković was a journalist for Deutsche Welle in Cologne and Abbott is a professor of German literature at Utah Valley University; Radaković is the author of several novels and Abbott has published mostly literary-critical work; and so on. Two sets of eyes. Two pens. Two visions of the world.
Further, the years 1994 and 2008 (publication dates for Repetitions and Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary in Belgrade, respectively) bracket a horrendous period in the history of Yugoslavia. The authors changed during that period as well — divorces, new partners, new jobs; and Peter Handke, while metamorphosing into the bête noir of the press after his attacks on media portrayals of the Yugoslav wars, became the authors’ friend and entered their second text as a fellow traveler.