“While writing the novel, I had no deep messages or morals on my mind. If I were pressed to come up with some, I could say that Susjed allows us to see that mistaken assumptions about other people can lead us astray, or that it can happen that we participate, very intensively, in someone else’s life without ever being aware of it, or that loneliness can metastasize into bizarre states and moods.”

Marina Vujcic about her novel The Neighbor

Short synopsis:

Just as ordinary middle-aged woman, living in an ordinary rented apartment in an ordinary building outside the city’s center, with just an ordinary job at state administration and just ordinary hopes and aspirations falls in love with her neighbor whom she meets in the building’s stairway every morning. Besides the conventional “Good morning”, they do not exchange any other words. With this love story, which takes place only inside her mind, this ordinary woman will step out of her ordinariness and transform into a completely different person, and the plot of the novel will turn into a gripping psychological drama.

This is a novel about loneliness, invisibility and estrangement that take place not only in huge apartment blocks where no one actually knows anyone, but also within one’s own family and among friends. At the same time, this is also a novel about paranoia and madness. And how does a person go mad? In most cases – gradually.

The writer’s safe and humorous hand will take us from the irrational conclusion that the chance encounters of the narrator and her neighbor in the building’s stairway are not an accident, to very serious delusions on her end. Many places in this novel will make us laugh out loud, while others will leave us with a lump of unease in our throats. When the story is told by a mad person, it can be comical, or horrifying, but this also often implies one embarrassing conclusion: that mad person is sometimes dangerously similar to ourselves.

Praise for The Neighbor:

Marina Vujčić managed to use an easy-going story from our neighborhood and fuse it with a colorful register of generic patterns whose elements she employs and betrays – from chicklit in the fashion of Bridget Jones’s Diary in which some New Year’s resolutions, typical of women, have to be made, to social and love novel, from an existentialist novel to a mystery novel with hints of horror, which make themselves visible at the moment when it seems everything has crossed the line of what’s normal and neighborly.

V.B.Z. and Tisak Media Jury Citation

In this novel that takes place mostly in the stairway and behind the half-drawn blinds of Katarina’s apartment, the reader is drawn into the dynamic and dramatic plot that is simultaneously gripping, tragic, but also incredibly funny. And the humor, ranging from self-referential to dark humor, is one of the more important aspects of the novel, which, pedantically but at the same time offering some other, almost filmic perspective, touches upon numerous topics of typical urban paranoia.

Jagna Pogačnik, Jutarnji list

Be prepared for all kinds of things… Marina Vujčić is awfully good at scaring people, but you should also remember that Katarina Bauković is so good at manipulating with your feelings. Nothing is as it seems.

Tanja Tolić, najboljeknjige.com

The Neighbor is a novel whose scenes will make you laugh out loud because of the dark humor or the heroine’s actions, but at the same time, it will also make you stop and think because of the embarrassing feeling that Katarina is very reminiscent – of ourselves!

Denis Vukosav, citajme.com

This is a narrative that, at the more engaged levels of reading, offers a serious analysis of social and psychological side of modern urban life. The eye on the novel’s cover is at the same time curious and horrified, it peeps into the social reality, but it also gazes deep inside, it scratches the surface of universal unease we so often tend to repress.

Vanja Kulaš, mvinfo.hr

The lightness of narration reached in The Neighbor, as well as the lightness with which the author recognizes life patterns and experiences and depicts them in the novel are not the consequence of this novel being an example of light fiction, as if may seem at first sight. They are the result of the author’s constant development in this métier.

Strahimir Primorac, Vijenac

About the author:

Marina Vujčić was born in 1966 in Trogir. In 1989, she graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb with a degree in Croatian language and literature and she has worked as the teacher of Croatian language and literature and language editor. She worked as the spokesperson for the Ulysses Theatre, founded in 2000 at the Brijuni Islands by Borislav Vujčić and Rade Šerbedžija. She currently works as the editor at Hena.com, and dedicates her free time to writing fiction and plays.

Other works: Bijeg uz brijeg (An Escape up the Hill), a book for children, Hum Naklada, 1998; Kućica u krošnji (Treetop House), a screenplay, 2005; Tuđi život (Someone Else’s Life), a novel, Profil, 2010; Umri ženski, (Die a Woman), a collection of plays, Hena.com, 2014; A onda je Božo krenuo ispočetka (And Then Božo Started All Over Again), a novel, Hena.com, 2014; Mogla sam to biti ja (It Could’ve Been Me), a novel, Hena.com, 2015; Susjed (The Neighbor), a novel, V.B.Z., 2015; Otpusno pismo (The Discharge Letter), coauthored with Ivica Ivanišević, Hena.com, 2016

Awards, selection: Kućica u krošnji, the animated film based on Marina Vujčić’s screenplay, won the Special Jury Award at Animafest 2006 and it won the Best Screenplay Award, in the animated film category, at International Film and Video Festival.
In 2014, Umri ženski won the third prize at Marin Držić Playwrights Competition.
In 2015, A onda je Božo krenuo ispočetka was shortlisted as one of four Croatian titles nominated for European Union Prize for Literature.
In 2015, Susjed won the first prize at V.B.Z. and Tisak Media Competition for the Best Unpublished Novel in the Region.

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