Globetrotter David Albahari, Ellen Elias-Bursac

The Margellos World Republic of Letters
Publication date:
09 Oct 2014
Yale University Press
216 pages: 197 x 152 x 14mm
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One of the most prominent writers to emerge from the former Yugoslavia addresses such universal themes as exile, disorientation, and obsession

Displaced from his home more than twenty years ago as Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia descended into war, Serbian author David Albahari found safety in Canada, where this novel was written. In Globetrotter, Albahari deals with the bewilderments of exile and lost identity, themes he has investigated in earlier works. But in this unsettling experimental book he also enters new arenas, where sexual identity and the nature of blame and guilt attract his scrutiny.
Narrated in a single uninterrupted paragraph, the novel takes place in the late 1990s at the Banff Art Centre in the Canadian Rockies. Three men—a painter from Saskatchewan and the narrator of the tale, a writer from Serbia, and a man whose traveling Croatian grandfather long ago jotted his name in a local museum’s guest book—become acquainted, then attached, then fatally entangled. On a climactic mountain hike that seethes with jealousy, desire, shame, and guilt, each man must engage in a final struggle. Albahari seizes his reader’s attention and never yields it in this remarkable, gripping tale.

David Albahari, a Serbian writer and translator, has published eleven short-story collections and thirteen novels in Serbian, garnering the Ivo Andric Award for best book of short stories published in Yugloslavia (1982), the NIN Prize for best novel published in Yugoslavia (1996), the Balcanica Award, and the Berlin Bridge Prize, among others. He also has translated into Serbian the works of a host of English-language writers, from Saul Bellow to Isaac Bashevis Singer, Vladimir Nabokov to Sam Shepard. He lives in Alberta, Canada. Ellen Elias-Bursac is a translator of Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian writers. For her translation of Albahari’s novel Götz and Meyer, she received ALTA’s National Translation Award.

“In Globetrotter, David Albahari explores the consciousness of emigres from the former Yugoslavia, Croatia and Serbia, showing that while abroad, many of us are even more intensely preoccupied with our histories than we were while living in Yugoslavia. His narrative structured out of realistic details and perceptions with self-conscious meditation blending history, civilization and its discontents, and personal experience reaches a density and intensity akin to Krasznahorkai’s and Thomas Bernhard’s.  An intensely idiosyncratic narrative, enjoyable and thoughtful.”
–Josip Novakovich, author of Shopping for a Better Country, a Man Booker International Prize finalist

“Each of Albahari's stories is a literary experiment. After reading them, one is left with a lingering effect and a wish to go back and reread the tales in order to ponder further the mystery of the creative process of writing.”
--World Literature Today

“Easily one of the finest writers of fiction today.”—Bill Marx, Arts Fuse

“Albahari maintains masterful control of the narrative . . . [and] a thriller-like energy.”—Daniel Goldman, Words Without Borders

“Ellen Elias-Bursac’s translation . . . delightfully renders in English the astonishingly precise words Albahari chose in Serbian . . . Globetrotter encapsulates its author and his countries, and it swallows the reader whole.”—Jeffrey Zuckerman, Music and Literature

“[A] beautiful translation”—Scott Abbott, The Goalie’s Anxiety

“Stripped of Bernhard’s vitriol and Sebald’s world-weariness, Albahari breathes fresh, funny life into the almost-genre of the European historical thinkpiece.”—Walter Gordon, Full Stop