“I think there must be an emotion, or some kind of excitement, at the source of writing, without which there is no movement or creative surplus – that is what we give to each other. That gives meaning to the act of writing that is usually, one could say, autistic. But after that, there must be perseverance, deep concentration, sometimes maniacal belief in one’s own project – which is for the world, in most cases, perfectly unnecessary.”

Marinko Koščec about writing

Short synopsis:

The main character of the novel is a university professor who makes up for the void in his life and his insecurities by fantasizing about almost everything in the world that surrounds him. His life, however, is not empty. A lot happens and there is potential for energetic and creative expression, both at work and at home; the potential of his university and scientific career are intertwined with his comfortably played role of a husband and a future parent.

Family relations and relations with his colleagues at work are very harmonious but still, it becomes clear very early in the book that something is wrong. That something is gradually built from little pieces of his everyday life, and as the novel progresses, those pieces depict more and more the times of alienation, shallowness, anti-intellectuality, non-culture, inhumanity and other gifts of our time. However, the character made by Koščec finds the world increasingly disgusting but he does not react to it violently, but by withdrawing into himself and building another world from his spirit, his imagination, not more human or more orderly but a world of his own, where he is his own boss. The final scene of idyllic fishing represents a full stop to the mental development of the main character through those few months in which Wonderland is set: while on the outside he is just one of many, within the troubled waters of his own self he has found peace.

Praise for Wonderland:

Wonderland is a literary refreshment of the year.

Robert Perišić, Globus

By interchangeable story-telling in the first and third person singular, by occasional usage of colloquialisms and functional styles, but above all by breaking down the whole mosaic through the ironic consciousness of the main character, Koščec managed to make the story dramatic and to write a relevant novel, above the mainstream of contemporary Croatian prose works. This, by all means, is his best book so far.

Strahimir Primorac, Večernji list

Koščec started out as a nice guy but has turned into the Woody Allen of Croatian prose.

Jagna Pogačnik, Jutarnji list

In the context of the Croatian prose production Wonderland is an extremely important book. Marinko Koščec is one of few Croatian writers who reads and writes literature which does not belong to the Croatian trendsetters’ recommendations, and who can in no way fit into something like local trends or fashions of the moment.

Gordana Crnković, Zarez

Imagination is skilfully interwoven with realistic situations which are characteristic for post-transition Croatia. Again Koščec tackles corruption, ruralisation, and tycoons, all in an ironic way, with distinctive sharp wit.

Ivan Crnjac, booksa.hr

About the author:

Marinko Koščec was born in Zagreb in 1967. A professional writer and a professor at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb, Koščec also translates the works of modern French writers, especially Michel Houellebecq, to whom literary critics have already compared his poetics. However, Wonderland by mere innuendo to Thomas Pynchon’s famous novel shows that his referential frame is not that simple. Besides, Koščec owes to Michael Houellebecq approximately the same as he owes to Ranko Marinković or Slobodan Novak, one the greatest Croatian writers.

Other works: Island under the Sea / Otok pod morem, 1999; Someone else / Netko drugi, 2001 Wonderland / Wonderland, 2003; Sketches for the Portrait of the Contemporary French Prose / Skice za portret suvremene francuske proze, 2003; Handful of Sand on the Palm / To malo pijeska na dlanu, 2005; Michel H. – Miracle Worker, Martyr, Manipulator? / Michel H. – mirakul, mučenik, manipulator?, 2007; A Centimeter from Happines / Centimetar od sreće, 2008; Fourth Man / Četvrti čovjek, 2011

Awards, selection: The Meša Selimović Award for best novel published in 2001 in Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian and Montenegrin language, 2002

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