Author: Olja Savičević, Translated by Celia Hawkeworth
'Farewell, Cowboy' is a tough yet poetic novel by one of Croatia's best known writers. The story is rich in local colour and sentiment, following the main character, Dada, who returns to her home town on the Adriatic coast in order to unravel the mystery of her brother Daniel's death. Daniel, although young, smart and popular, threw himself under a train in mysterious circumstances a few years earlier. In her search for clues, Dada meets an array of eccentric characters and succumbs to the charms of the young gigolo Angelo, who is a part of a film crew shooting a Western on the nearby ‘prairie'. Slowly and painfully she discovers all there is to know about her brother's death, and how Angelo was caught up in it.
In her debut novel, Savičević playfully transposes the genre of a traditional Western drama onto the contemporary world, challenging the omnipotent heroes of childhood and questioning what constitutes heroism today. Her shabby seaside hometown provides the perfect backdrop for this tale of loss and redemption, redolent of transient glamour and unrealised small-town dreams.
Savičević’s prose, which is always relaxed and descriptive, and sustained with conversational ease, becomes increasingly beautiful in moments of high drama....The humour and sheer anarchy of the action combined with the comic exasperation, unforgettable characters and Dada’s wry acceptance of the way life happens to be, make this subversively appealing novel all the more profound; even, unexpectedly, beautiful.
Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times
Dazzling, funny and deadly serious, this perfectly pitched novel about the legacy of the Yugoslav war heralds the arrival of an exciting new European voice.....Savičević has a rare ability to speak of the deadly serious with a hedonistic lightness that lures you into a spirit of abandon, only to go on to deliver breathtaking blows of insight.
Kapka Kassabova, The Guardian
''Savičević continually surprises with the originality and energy of her prose, translated skillfully by Celia Hawkesworth. Images are revisited, lines repeated, like refrains, throughout the novel, creating a very dynamic and original flow. Tragedy lurks in these pages, but what could be a dismal heartbreaking tale is lifted with humour and thoughtful asides. And that is the sense that lingers.''
Review: A Little Radiance, Roughghosts Blog
Author Olja Savicevic is an award-winning poet, novelist and short-story writer, and one of Croatia’s best-known authors. In Celia Hawkesworth’s fine translation, her anarchic modern voice leaps off the page.
Alison Burns, Bookoxygen
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