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Works of Radical Imagination

Book cover for Sons, Daughters
Book cover for Sons, Daughters

Ivana Bodrožić’s latest award-winning novel tells a story of being locked in: socially, domestically and intimately, told through three different perspectives, all deeply marked and wounded by the patriarchy in their own way.

Here the Croatian poet and writer depicts a wrenching love between a transgender man and a woman as well as a demanding love between a mother and a daughter in a narrative about breaking through and liberation of the mind, family, and society.


This is a story of hidden gay and trans relationships, the effects of a near-fatal accident, and an oppressed childhood, where Ivana Bodrožić tackles the issues addressed in her previous works—issues of otherness, identity and gender, pain and guilt, injustice and violence.

A daughter is paralyzed after a car crash, left without the ability to speak, trapped in a hospital bed, unable to move anything but her eyes. Although she is immobilized, her mind reels, moving through time, her memories a salve and a burden. A son is stuck in a body that he doesn’t feel is his own. He endures misperceptions and abuse on the way to becoming who he truly is. A mother who grew up being told she was never good enough, in a world with no place for the desires and choices of women. She carries with her the burden of generations.

These three stories run parallel and intertwine. Three voices deepen and give perspective to one another’s truth, pain, and struggle to survive.

Book cover for Sons, Daughters
Book cover for Sons, Daughters

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“In Ivana Bodrožić’s third novel, freedom often comes at the cost of forgetting—forgetting war and those lost to it, forgetting a life before transition, forgetting life itself for the simulacrum of it. Each character is locked into a body, to history, to a manner of living they would never choose, loosened only occasionally by their desperate attempts to escape these bonds. These characters twine together, giving us a fractured view of lives broken by violence and isolation, while reminding us of the cacophony of love, imperfect and brittle as it may be, that we leave in our wakes.”

“Ivana Bodrožić’s latest novel, Sons, Daughters, is an astounding work of empathy and a masterful depiction of the deepest inwardness”

blog — May 07

New Books in Translation from Croatia and Poland

Hailing from Croatia and Poland, our two latest literary fiction releases, in their own ways, explore isolation and captivity, memory and legacy. The first of the two, Sons, Daughters by Ivana Bodrožić, deftly translated into English by Ellen Elias-Bursać, is a novel about being locked in: socially, domestically, and intimately, told through three different perspectives, all affected by the patriarchy in their own way. In the second, Antona Lloyd-Jones' stunning translation of Dr. Josef’s Little Beauty by Zyta Rudzka, twin sisters, Leokadia and Helena, living together in a retirement home not far from Warsaw, reflect on their childhoods spent in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany.

Ivana Bodrožić’s latest award-winning novel tells a story of being locked in: socially, domestically and intimately, told through three different perspectives, all deeply marked and wounded by the patriarchy in their own way.

Here the Croatian poet and writer depicts a wrenching love between a trans man and a cis woman, as well as a demanding love between a mother and a daughter, in a narrative about breaking through and liberation of the mind, family, and society.
 
This is a story of hidden gay and trans relationships, the effects of a near-fatal accident, and an oppressed childhood, where Ivana Bodrožić tackles the issues addressed in her previous works—issues of otherness, identity and gender, pain and guilt, injustice and violence.

A daughter is paralyzed after a car crash, left without the ability to speak, trapped in a hospital bed, unable to move anything but her eyes. Although she is immobilized, her mind reels, moving through time, her memories a salve and a burden. A son is stuck in a body that he doesn’t feel is his own. He endures misperceptions and abuse on the way to becoming who he truly is. A mother who grew up being told she was never good enough, in a world with no place for the desires and choices of women. She carries with her the burden of generations.

These three stories run parallel and intertwine. Three voices deepen and give perspective to one another’s truth, pain, and struggle to survive.

A Holocaust story as fascinating and compelling as it is terrifying and puzzling — a book about aging and war crimes, pain, and pride.

In the middle of summer, omnipresent heat radiates as a group of elderly people are remembering their youth. The story focuses on two twin sisters, Leokadia and Helena, who live together in a retirement home not far from Warsaw. These are not ordinary stories they are sharing, because both of them spent time as children in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. At the center is Helena, who at the age of 12 was saved from extermination by the notorious doctor Josef Mengele, the real-life Nazi officer and physician who was known as the “angel of death” for the experiments he conducted on prisoners, including twins and siblings.

This is a story both provocative and disturbing about the fear that lingers in victims. Was the sisters’ relationship with the executioner a desperate attempt to save their lives, or perhaps they harbor a hideous pride and sense of superiority over other prisoners? Rudzka’s extraordinary writing turns unsettling questions about memory and survival into art.

Ivana Bodrožić

Ivana Bodrožić was born in Vukovar in 1982 where she lived until the Yugoslav wars started in 1991 when she then moved to Kumrovec where she stayed with her family at a hotel for displaced persons. She studied at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. In 2005, she published her first poetry collection, entitled Prvi korak u tamu (The First Step into Darkness). Her first novel Hotel Zagorje (Hotel Tito) was published in 2010, receiving high praise from both critics and audiences and becoming a Croatian bestseller. She has since published her second poetry collection Prijelaz za divlje životinje (A Crossing for Wild Animals) and a short story collection 100% pamuk (100% Cotton), which has also won a regional award. Her most recent novel, the political thriller We Trade Our Night For Someone Else's Day, has sparked controversy and curiosity among Croatian readers. 

Ellen Elias-Bursać

ELLEN ELIAS-BURSAĆ translates fiction and nonfiction from Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. She has taught in the Harvard University Slavic Department and is a contributing editor to Asymptote. She has translated both of Ivana Bodrožić’s previous books for Seven Stories along with Robert Perisic’s novel No-Signal Area. She lives in Boston.