The second book of Silvija Mitevska Dante’s Whisper (Шепотот на Данте, Или-или, 2018) contains nine short stories which are quite different from each other. They are different from their narrative aspect, and the position of the narrating subject in some of them is more intimate, in first person singular, while in some of them the story is told by an omniscient, yet undefined third person singular. Some of these stories are almost pure realism, a copied sketch of our everyday, such as Soul Eaters, where the premature and unexpected death of a man shows the real faces of everybody who used to gravitate around him while he had been alive. Some of the stories, on the other hand, are abundantly grotesque, such as Pleasure, where the main female character is hopelessly possessed with the cleanness of her home. Some of the stories, such as Divine Dance, where the voices of the many lovers of the husband start to appear from his clothes, also walk along the thin line between postmodernism and fantastic genre. The latter one, also freely comes to the surface and completely takes over The Crossing, a chilling story about the parallel existence of two worlds — our own and the other, told not from the aspect of our world, but rather from the aspect of the other world.
When one looks at this diversity, one can not help but ask the question: what unites these stories in this, one and single collection? What is the glue under the surface, what are the foundations for the basis of this mosaic prose? When I spoke with Silvia about my impressions about the book and about what I could say on it, women’s writing was somehow inevitably mentioned. It was brought up by my, maybe because (or maybe first of all because) for a while, women’s writing has been a constant footnote of my experiences as a reader and as a critic. I also have to say that I mentioned it somehow hesitantly, because of two reasons: First, because on one hand the term women’s writing immediately brings to the minds of the broader audience a simplified and limited meaning: a book written by a woman. Second, exactly because women’s writing immediately implies yet another book written by a woman, which should be placed in the company of all other books written by women, somewhere at the periphery of the big literary writing, in a separate, maybe lower category. A bit later, when I gave it a second, third and fourth thought, I realized that there is no room for hesitance and there should not be one. Therefore, I will say it loud and clear now: these short stories are without any doubt women’s writing. They are women’s writing because in all of them (except in one) the main characters (regardless whether they speak for themselves, in first person singular, or are being precisely observed by the eye of the omniscient narrator) are strong and impressive women, women who have decided to establish control over their lives. Regardless whether it concerns the mathematician from the provincial town who almost artistically experiences the world around her in the story Nonsense, the caring and persistent sister of the anorexic patient in the story Our Happiness, or the sexual predator and exhibitionist in the story The Witch, the female characters of Silvija build her stories and these stories are about them and by them.