Wartime story named Slovenian novel of the year
Lado Kralj, a literary and theatre critic who died in December, has been posthumously awarded the Kresnik Prize for Slovenian novel of the year for a story taking place in Ljubljana between the Italian occupation in the early 1940s and the post-war period in the 1950s.
A mix of fiction and fact, Ne Bom Se Več Drsal na Bajerju (I'm Not Skating on the Pond Anymore) is the second novel by Kralj and was published by Beletrina just before he died.
It focuses on events in the Šiška borough of Ljubljana, home to the small yet popular pond known as Koseški Bajer, where a young man who works for the Communists falls in love with a student in a convent school, a woman who is also the love interest of an Italian officer.
The Second World War is one of the most often fictionalised periods and therefore one of the most demanding topics. Kralj does not attempt to tell a big story, he focuses on a specific local level, gliding along a thin line between fact and fiction, the jury said as it handed out the award on 23 June.
"The novel is the embodiment of the maxim that to get to the universal, one must start with the particular," said jury chair Igor Bratož, a culture writer for Delo newspaper.
Kralj was the only male author shortlished for the EUR 7,000 prize, which is considered the most prestigious prize for novels in Slovenia. The other shortlisted authors were Katja Gorečan, Katarina Marinčič, Dijana Matković and Tina Vrščaj.
The Kresnik Prize is named after a pagan mythological being that appears when the Sun shines the strongest.
"The traditional bonfire flame has always and from the very start burnt in honour of the Slovenian novel, its media impact, its authors, but most fervently illuminating the path to the book for readers," Delo has said about the prize introduced in 1991.
The Kresnik was first handed out on 23 June 1991, and last year it went to Roman Rozina for Sto Let Slepote (Hundred Years of Blindness), a 20th-century historical novel focussing on a coal mining family.