/, Literature, Blesok no. 149/WHO CARES ABOUT THE FAMILY TREE ANYMORE?


“Apropos of the family tree — women don’t really exist there, except as bearers of boys. That’s what I wanted to show you, said mom. Genealogy traces the family’s male line from the 17th century until the moment when no daughters were born to some failed Mediterranean or Dinaric subject. So for us, that book ends with Aunt Tonka and me as a reproductive failure. So, you are not on your family tree.” (131)

The bougainvillea tree planted by Marijola’s father is destroyed by hooligans, which coincides with the arrival of a new age in which the youngest Mara lives, who does not care about the family tree. It seems to us that this part gives us hope for the existence of a different picture of the family than the one lived by Marija-ancestors and that, in the end, it effectively completes this journey into the past. From Marija’s, who goes deep into prohibitions, crying women put on pedestals because they gave birth to children for the trenches and graves, the great-grandmother who was the first post-war president of the municipality, and who was buried in a common grave without a name, her sisters – the first poets in her town who are not signed under any of their songs, we reached a friend of Mara’s who, on the occasion of a school presentation on the topic of the family tree, says: “A family tree? Who still cares about this stuff?”

At the same time, the last statement should not be understood as a reflection of disrespect, but of defiance and a healthy departure from the negative influence of the dominant cultural ideal of women, which implied her negation within the genealogy. And that is what sets this novel apart from a large number of literary works in which the authors, in the last few years, have addressed matrilineality and the transgenerational female experience. “Summers with Marija” is a feminist thought-out novel in which, through the story of women, girls, mothers, and sisters in Dalmatia, the attitude towards women through time in the Balkans and their struggles for belonging in environments determined by historical and social circumstances is reflected, showing important advances in victory over the still present patriarchal restraint.

Readers who follow the literary works of Olja Savičević Ivančević will once again confirm the exceptionality of her poetics with this novel, and “Summers with Marija” will undoubtedly intrigue all others who reach for it. In conclusion, novels that problematize the transgenerational female experience did not appear yesterday, nor will they stop being written, only literary approaches to the topic and the relationship to language are what distinguish good from mediocre and bad literature. Although in this case the focus on the inner world of the heroines is intensified, all their stories should be viewed on a universal and strongly feminist-conscious level. Savičević Ivančević writes carefully and without reserve, and confirms that she is one of the authors whose literary creativity belongs to the top of current Croatian and regional literature.

AuthorIvana Golijanin
2023-03-17T04:56:41+00:00 March 12th, 2023|Categories: Reviews, Literature, Blesok no. 149|Comments Off on WHO CARES ABOUT THE FAMILY TREE ANYMORE?