“Of course we all write for someone to read, I also wrote for others to read. However I wrote this novel primarily for my own personal reasons. I wanted to know more about what happened to me, so I wrote the book in the third person. I think my character is more me than I am myself.”

Predrag Crnković about his novel Belgrade for the Departed

Short synopsis:

Belgrade for the Departed is a picture of the dark side of Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia, following the breakup of Yugoslavia, a “painful remainder of the years that slowed us down, made us tired and depressed”. Political turmoil, international actions and sanctions, the war of which no one speaks, but the war whose consequences Belgrade feels through lack of bare living necessities is a sketched frame of the novel which follows the main character Peđa – the departed from the title.

These circumstances affect Peđa who becomes frustrated, depressed with a feeling of helplessness, “a hungry man in the grey city”, writer and lonely intellectual. Without the support of his friends or family, without money or a job, he is obsessed with food. One could say that his hunger is the expression of misery and the signal of a crumbling society, a central motive of the novel. The strongest pages of this narrative are those on which we read about the depressive atmosphere of the city, the edge of starvation and despair, old, lonely people, nonprofessional medical service and finally lost illusions and hope.

Praise for Belgrade for the Departed:

Crnković, the translator of Scandinavian languages, “gourmet and dreamer from Belgrade” and “owner of tokens from two Sex Pistols” concerts definitely “read a lot”, as evidenced by a series of literary and film references intertwined in the novel. His Peđa, as an intelligent and educated young man who’s never felt like he belongs, truly “drew the short straw” living in Belgrade and surviving the post-war period and transition, sanctions and bombing, general poverty and the creation of the “turbo-folk aristocracy”.
In addition to describing the atmosphere of the Serbian metropolis in the last two decades, the atmosphere of depression and misery through the viewpoint of a young intellectual, Crnković grappled with some of the major literary issues of our time. The relationship of reality and fiction, the potential of literature to document life, external (lived) or inner experience of the narrator, and the position of a postmodernist that is afraid of life, are only some of the raised questions that this novel tries to answer.

Jagna Pogačnik, Jutarnji list

Crnković is educated, well read, well-informed and a theoretically smart writer, curious and willing to go outside the paved trail.

Strahimir Primorac, Večernji list

Behind this dispirited title lies a very well written novel about a grim post-war period in Serbia, in which the main character Peđa goes through a permanent existential crisis… Its greatest value is in the observations, images and diagnosis of post-war Belgrade “fauna”.

Zoran Ferić, e-novine.com

There is a broader concept in Belgrade for the Departed (introduction and conclusion of the novel), which Crnković uses to honestly and directly discuss the interrelationship between postmodernism and autobiographical realistic prose.

Božidar Pavlović, booksa.hr

Crnković’s Belgrade is a guide for living to those that are soon to be departed, a detailed study filled with black humour detailing the fall of one individual in a city/state that is also falling – like it doesn’t care at all.

Zoran Janković, popboks.com

About the author:

Predrag Crnković, writer and translator, has published more than ten books of short stories, essays, reviews and poetry and translated 30 books from Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. Numerous works, both fiction and translation, have been published in literary magazines all over the Balkans.

Other works: Čarapanke sa Zvezdare, 2008; Good Morning, Mr S. / Dobro jutro, gospodine S., 2010; Very Likely Stories / Vrlo moguće priče, 2010; Zita: A Romance Novel for Men / Zita: muški herc roman, 2013; Columnist from the Shadows / Kolumnist iz sjene, 2014

Awards, selection: The Second Prize of Radio Belgrade for the radio drama Make me a coffee, dear / Kafu mi draga ispeci, 2007; shortlisted for the Best Short Story Award, Večernji list 2007 for the story Writer, theoretician and a supporting role player / Pisac, teoretičar i epizodist; Second Prize of Radio Belgrade for the radio drama Spiderman of Belgrade / Spajdermen beogradski, 2010; shortlisted for the Ranko Marinković Best Short Story Award, organized by Večernji list for the story Authentic / Autentično, 2010

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