In “The Authority of Authors – on the Gender (Dis)Balance of Literary Awards in Macedonia” Martinoska starts from the research presented in the works of Jasna Koteska (“Macedonian Women’s Writing”) and Elizabeta Bakovska (“Own Room, Own Ghetto: The Women’s Writing in Contemporary Macedonian Prose”) on the reasons for the insufficient presence of women literary writing in the Macedonian literary canon, and then focuses on the representation of the authors among the winners of the literary awards as one of the manifestations of the literary canon, panoramic referring to some of the worlds’ awards and giving a detailed overview of the locals: the award of “Nova Makedonija” for the best short story, the award “Novel of the Year” of Utrinski Vesnik, the annual awards of the Writers’ Association of Macedonia, as well as the awards “Miladinov Brothers” and “Golden Wreath” at the Struga Evenings of poetry and Racin’s Award.
“March 8th in Macedonian culture” is a text that explores the phenomenon of the celebration of Women’s Day in our country, through a historical perspective, from the former forms of celebration that promoted equality and gender emancipation, to degrading celebrations that prevail in recent decades. In the historical review, the author focuses on the role of women in Macedonia as active participants in the National Liberation War during the Second World War (the result of which is that after the First Session of ASNOM held on August 2, 1944, equality and equity of both sexes in terms of laws became a reality), as in the reconstruction and construction of the homeland. The text refers to the relevant research that locates the turning point in the character of Women’s Day in the 60s of the 20th century, when March 8th loses its political dimension and turns into a celebration with an official (unified) and spontaneous character. As a kind of illustration, perfectly translated into fiction, at this second type of celebration, Martinoska points out and analyzes the story “March 8th” by Rumena Buzharovska, from her book “My Husband”. At the end of her analysis of the significance of March 8th, Martinoska concludes that we are still far from gender equality, and hopes that, in the context of the changes that have yet to take place, the celebration of International Women’s Day “will be more than just a date to commemorate the achievements in the fight for gender equality, but also the opportunity to critically address current issues and warn of the need for feminist mobilization in the fight to improve the cultural, economic and social conditions in the Republic of Macedonia.”
The scientific paper “Archiving of female memory in Macedonia” is inspired by the author’s interest in the specifics of female culture and oral creativity, and, as she says, “this text focuses on the phenomena of a special, infrequent and subordinate relation of the oral word before the written as well as the female (insufficiently loud, unheard, often even tacit) versus the male (canonized, official, socially acceptable) side of the story, whether fiction or memory, hence the likeness of the double marginalization of female oral history and creativity. With her approach, Martinoska promotes authentic female voices, and their dominant contribution to oral history, in which through the prism of personal memory and interpretation, experiences gain documentation that is otherwise often erased, forgotten, or ignored in the wider preservation of classical history.
“In order not to be self-sufficient (Igor Isakovski and the European spaces of existence)” is a tribute to one of the most gifted Macedonian authors of the generation of the 1970s, a man who with his impressive translation, editing, prose, and poetry have earned such a wonderful word of praise. Martinoska’s text follows his rich activity that inspired and continues to inspire.
The second part of the book, “European Literary Worlds”, is composed of texts related to those of the first part: critiques, scientific texts, observations of certain literary phenomena. Among them is “Slavenka Drakulic in Macedonia”, which provides an overview of the reception of Drakulic’s works in Macedonia, her media presence here, among other things in the context of a campaign to raise awareness about organ donation and faster implementation of the Law on transplantation of cells, tissues, and organs in Macedonia, but also an analysis of her works “The Body of Her Body” and “Frida, or about the Pain”. Part of the work of two authors, who, like Drakulic, come from the former Yugoslavia, and who, like her, live outside their hometown, is the subject of interest in the text “The book heals better than doctors” (The search for identity in literature written by authors who emigrated from the former Yugoslavia)”. These are the novel “Museum of Unconditional Give up” and the essays “Forbidden Reading” by Dubravka Ugresic and the memoir book “Chernobyl Strawberries” by Vesna Goldsworth (born Bjelogrlic). Both authors, each in their way, through their writing are turned to their Self which faces the discontinuity of existence, with a specific kind of division caused by the existence between the physical presence in one place and the memories and projections of the reality of another place.
The last text in the book, “Domestic Violence as a Topic in the New Macedonian and Serbian Novel” is a comparative analysis of the novels “Countdown” by Frosina Parmakovska and “Scars” by Gjorgje Cirjanic, but also much more than that: emphasizing the importance of engaged literature, calling for raising awareness among authors about their social responsibility, an appeal for their participation, through creativity, in positive geopolitical changes and in resolving social crises.
It will be clear to everyone who reads this book that Ana Martinoska is consistent in her appeals for social awareness and engagement of those who deal with literature: her critique is engaged, with deep ethics and awareness of the social responsibility of the written word. Finally, I would like to return to the idea presented by Serge Dubrovsky, for critique as a dialogue, an idea that is certainly older than his work “Why a new critique”, because the same view has been given before by Roland Barthes in “Critique and Truth“.
This is exactly how I see the art of critique and the observing of literary and even social phenomena, through a critical view, realized in this book by Ana Martinoska: as her dialogue between herself and the authors and their works, but also as a dialogue with time in which we live in, with the social context; it is a dialogue we are present, we who read those critiques, a dialogue that is a call for us to open our dialogues with the books and the authors in which she found her interlocutors.