“We Do Not Have Time For the Past: Keep Silent With Your Mouth Open”, Snezana Mladenovska Andjelkov (Ili-ili, 2019)

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“We Do Not Have Time For the Past: Keep Silent With Your Mouth Open”, Snezana Mladenovska Andjelkov (Ili-ili, 2019)

Without retelling the family dramas that follow later in the book, I would like to say that although the author says that she undertook to retell the silent things, it seems that she herself keeps many things silent in this book. As I said before, the novel is written with certain hastiness, even a flurry of characters and events, the lives of entire three generations are packed into these hundred pages. At times it even resembles a sketch, a draft for a novel, putting the reader in a state of constant anticipation of something else, some elaboration, a description of some inner, intimate state. Or, perhaps, this novel is just a scenario in which the reader, as a director, has to fill in what the author has left out, what she has only hinted at: the atmosphere, the emotions, the improvisation, the interpretation. One of those hints is the tragedy, not that of the particular Goli Otok case of Kiro Mladenovski, but that of the doom, of the loss of a transgenerational idealism before the inexplicable power, before the devastating force of the system and the surrounding, before the “combination of provincial rubbernecking and ideological confusion” (Koteska, “13 Anesthesia”). For us, “communist topics are still traumatic… they are not as naive as they seem to be” (Koteska, On the Emotions). The disintegration of this idealism begins with the grandfather about whom the author, disappointedly reading his police file, says that that he only “expressed his own opinion, did not even impose it” (Mladenovska Andjelkov, 105). It is also present in the father whose Yugoslavia no longer exists (neither in reality nor in his earlier romanticized notions of it). “If the state is ruined, let me be ruined too!” (Mladenovska Andjelkov, 56), he says previously, with the confidence of a systematically treated child who has become estranged from his disobedient, ideologically ineligible parent. Finally, it’s also present in her, when she says: “Now only money matter. Nothing must stand in the way of money. Capitalism. The perfect time to give birth to dictators!” (Ibid, 113).

“In Macedonia there is an idea that we do not have time for the past, we have more pressing issues” (Koteska, “13 Anesthesia”). Certainly, the focus on the future, the need for understanding personal and national development as a constant move forward, without turning, without returning to what was (was and is past!) has its own noble and rational roots. But many would also say that facing the past, accepting it, and finally understanding it (or trying to understand it) are equally important, if not more important, components of that personal and national development. On the one hand, this book is special because it reopens or returns to the Goli Otok topic in Macedonian literature, ten years after the publication of Venko Markovski’s letters entitled Goli Otok The Island of Death (Makavej, 2009). On the other hand, on the cover of this book there are three gerung forms: suffering, confronting, maturing, as a kind of sublimation of the essential (developmental) processes that the author went through when writing and therefore the book is special on an intimate level, as a healing process. “We know the truth. Not completely, in part. But, at least it will calm us down a little… possibly make the living and the dying easier for us” (Mladenovska Andjelkov, 114), says the author at the end of the novel, recently, in the present in which she has realized the past and matured enough to rewrite her youth notes.


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Котеска, Јасна. „13. Анестезија“. Окно (26.5.2009). https://okno.mk/node/873 (accessed on 25.11.2019).

Котеска, Јасна. „Голи Оток (Или, зошто Југославија не падна под власта на Сталин?). Окно (18.6.2009). https://okno.mk/node/1178 (accessed on 24.11.2019).

Котеска, Јасна. „За емоциите што останаа во еден автобус“. Окно (16.3.2009). https://okno.mk/node/129 (accessed on  25.11.2019).

Младеновска Анѓелков, Снежана. Молчи со отворена уста. Скопје: Или-или, 2019.

„Роман поттикнат од премолчената семејна историја“ (Sloboden pechat interview, Saturday-Sunday, 16-17 November 2019, p. 18).

AuthorElizabeta Bakovska
2021-03-11T15:12:54+00:00 December 22nd, 2020|Categories: Reviews, Literature, Blesok no. 133 - 135|0 Comments