Bora Ćosić [ Serbia, Germany ]
Bora Ćosić was born in Zagreb in 1932. He moved to Belgrade in 1937, where he studied philosophy. In the fifties he worked as an editor for various magazines and translated from Russian (Mayakowsky, Khlebnikov). His first novel »Kuca lopova« (tr: The House of Thieves), released in 1956, is a surrealistic look at the reality of Yugoslavian society. His name was soon placed on the »Black List« of authors whose books the state cultural bureaucracy tried to prevent local publishing houses from publishing. The theatre version of his satirical novel »Uloga moje porodice u svetskoj revoluciji« (1969; tr. The Role my Family Played in World Revolution) was banned from publication for many years. In protest against the Serbian regime, Ćosić left Belgrade in 1992 and resettled in the Istrian city of Rovinj. During his exile in Croatia, officially Serbia’s enemy, he wrote his »Tagebuch eines Heimatlosen« (1993: tr. Diary of a Stateless Man), which is filled with reflections about Proust and the Franco-German war. A scholarship from DAAD brought him to Berlin in 1995 and he now alternates between here and Rovinj.
Bora Ćosić has written more than thirty books which have been translated into many European languages, including German, English, French and Hungarian. His satirical and polemic family chronicle »The Role my Family Played in World Revolution« takes place from the time of German occupation until the establishment of the Tito regime. It is told from the apparently naïve perspective of the childish first person narrator, and historical and day-to-day events that take place in the book merge blurrily into a grotesque whole. It became a cult book in Serbia. In it, Ćosić only implicitly makes use of the structural principle used in the »The Tin Drum« while the playful way he deals with Günter Grass and other role models such as Krleža, Musil, Dostoyevsky, Hamsun or Proust is, by comparison, in other cases programmatic. This is signalised by titles like »Musils Notizbuch« (tr. Musil’s Notebook), »Ein zweites Treffen in Telgte« (tr. A Second Meeting in Telgte), »Geschichte Myschkins« (tr. Myshkin’s Story) , »Bergottes Witwe« (tr. Bergotte’s Widow) or the fictitious autobiography »Miroslav Krleža« (1998). The »montage of discovered material« says critic Karl-Markus Gauss, is »a preferred aesthetic principle« with Ćosić. As such, he develops the character Suarda who is tied to a wheelchair in the monologue novel »Bel tempo« (1982) from the figure of his grandmother who was immortalised in »The Role my Family Played in World Revolution«. After the death of a friend, Ćosić also started writing poems and, in 2005, the collection »Irenas Zimmer« (tr. Irene’s Room) was released. He most recently published »Dorucak u Majesticu« (tr. »Breakfast at the Majestic. Belgrade Memories«, 2012), in which he brings back to life the Belgrade of his childhood around the dazzling Hotel Majestic.
Bora Ćosić has received the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding, the international Albatross Literature Prize and, in 2011, the International Stefan Heym Prize.