Nominated by:

St Clement of Ohrid, National and University Library, Skopje, Macedonia

Publisher of nominated edition:

St. Clement of Ohrid, National and University Library, Skopje, Macedonia

The Mark

Blazhe Minevski    

Translated from the original Macedonian by Milan Damjanovski

Longlist 2013

This is the story of one sniper who becomes aware that he is held in the sights of another. This happens to be a woman, moreover one who is extremely beautiful and though he is caught in between the cross hairs she does not fire! Why doesn’t  she execute the victim? How does a victim live to fire at another? As in a chess match they look at each other, carefully studying their faces through the gun sight. He`s the narrator and she ‘listens’ to his story.

Our narrator tells the story, and Doruntina ( our figure names her fictively as Doruntina, in order to establish an act of a communication, the axis ‘I-you’) listens intoxicated. She hears a life story of anonymous victim whose life is placed in her hands. A pacifists story of a man who nurtured many high ideals ( he wanted to become a writer, he even took part in a creative writing workshop in Iowa, where he acquired a lot of literary friends).

This story demonstrates the senselessness of every war which possesses the power to cut off already drawn life paths and to make a farce of everything that looked stable; it casts overnight the idealistic writer in the army trenches. Like a blind destiny, war erases all previous existence, as if they were letter on the sand; that blind power, the war, brings back all the questions about the sense of life: what the exalted ideals mean when a moment comes in which the sergeant stands behind their backs and can shoot them just because they hesitate to pull the sniper’s trigger and show mercy to each other, standing on the opposite sides of the ‘conflict’.

The Mark  is a novel with the highest literary values. The novel is a literary work of a skilled master of words, obviously lavishly gifted with inspiration and craft. Together they make postmodern magic realism. We find in the story two types of discourse: the one which is a rich, modernist, magical realism discourse, as well as the discourse of multiple intertextual indexation and references to other preceding text from the canon of Great Literature. Telling the love story of the protagonist and his high school teacher, Minevski uses fragments and slivers of literature from his world-renowned predecessors, to show to what extent reality may be considered fiction, as well as to what extent fiction can be considered reality. These numerous intertexts point to the fact that our reality is fiction in the most beautiful artistic sense of the word; that there is a thin line separating life from fiction; we read life solely against the background of the books, novels and histories we have read.

About the Author

Blazhe Minevski is the author of the novels Me, Lenin and Mickey Mouse, We Should Have Taken a Photo before We Started Hating Each Other, A Story about a Third Party, The Mark and The Performers.

Librarian’s Comments

It is an opportunity for a Macedonian author to be nominated for the first time for one of the most prestigious awards in the world, and also, an opportunity for the world literary publicity to learn about one European novel, winner of all literary awards for 2008 in the Republic of Macedonia.

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