The Masterpiece

The Masterpiece

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by Ana Schnabl. Translated from the Slovene by David Limon

The golden 1980s in the Socialist Yugoslavia were a curious time, a time when the country undoubtedly already began its descent into disintegration, but when the bloody years that would follow seemed inconceivable. A time of until then unprecedented freedom of thought and travel, a time of dissident movements and heady music and literary scenes. But also a time when the state still very much had a tight grip on the lives of its citizens, not least through its security service and its web of informants.

It is 1985 and Adam is a professor of literature at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana who, after twenty years, tries his hand at writing again and Ana is the editor that receives his manuscript The Masterpiece. The protagonists soon cross the lines of their professional relationship and become entangled in an intense, adulterous affair. But Adam moves in the dissident circles and Ana owes her position as the youngest editor in the history of the biggest state publishing house to her cooperation with the dark side of the government.

Schnabl belongs to a canon of authors building on the legacy of great women writers and poets of the past and correcting age-old injustices that the system has inflicted upon women.