prose, Uncategorized

I highly recommend Leila Samarrai’s novel “Sleeping Mathilde” for publication

I highly recommend Leila Samarrai’s novel “Sleeping Mathilde” for publication.

This work is inspired by gothic fiction and it possesses elements of horror as well as science fiction. Considering we know how popular and trendy both genres are with a subset of the general readership audience, regardless whether it’s foreign authors or domestic ones I believe that “Sleeping Mathilde” will also find its place in our publishing line. The last sentence was not based merely on the genre itself but also on the fact that Samarrai, who graduated from the Faculty of Philology, is well versed in literature and has also been present on our literary scene for a good while and in this piece, as in her previous works, the best of her qualities as a writer come to fruition: a vivid imagination, an original, somewhat baroque expression and authentic characters lead by their passions and their hatreds. All of the above constitutes the most important ingredients for a good novel.

This medieval intrigue, that can with its eeriness and multiple plotlines compare to George R. R. Martin’s “A Game of Thrones” is set in the Nordic Europe. The curse of an aristocratic house which, derelict as it is, reminds the reader of “The Fall of the House of Usher” by Edgar Allan Poe, the shifting interests and master-vassal relations reminiscent of “cloak and dagger” drama, all of this gives a special flavor to this work of fiction which, fortunately, has a universal character therefore it need not necessarily take place in the North of Europe but anywhere where people believed (or still believe) in kings, mages, ghosts, and fantastic creatures.

Leila Samarrai is an author capable of transforming her expression, of moving between satire, humor and eeriness. This is a rare capability clearly illustrated in this novel which should not be retold but read. I would note one very interesting novel “The Adventures of Boris K.” (published by “Everest Media”) which, I hope, will see a reprint soon. This piece of satire, set in a dystopian state is, it seems, on the opposite side of the planet “Sleeping Mathilde” is on but it possesses the same trait – the quality of an author who is worth your attention.

dr Aleksandar Novaković, author and playwright

Aleksandar Novakovic Wikipedia

proza, Uncategorized

“The Adventures of Boris K by Leila Samarrai”, LOOK BACK IN LAUGHTER, Aleksandar Novaković

“The Adventures of Boris K by Leila Samarrai”, LOOK BACK IN LAUGHTER, Aleksandar Novaković


This collection of thematically and temporally interconnected stories (which would make some readers hastily declare it a novel), published two years ago by „Everest Media“, represents a piece which, due to many of its features, stands out from the contemporary Serbian literary production. There is something, at its core, surprising in the author Leila Samarrai’s approach. While most Serbian authors, be they genre authors or not, tend to follow the „treaded paths“, with the aforementioned authoress you have to, quite literally, “machete” through the jungle of meaning, historical, cultural and pop-cultural references, citations, transrational twists reminiscent of the Monty Python-esque brand of humor and the long-ago relevant bebop jokes which are insistent on nonsense and complete absence of catharsis. Ultimately, comedy, like satire, opposite to tragedy, is turned to anti-catharsis. The authoress’ style also contains traces of Daniil Kharms’ “Incidences”, as well as, obviously (nomenestomen(tion)), a Kafka-esque paranoia, where Boris K. is, just as Josef K., a man stuck in a trial (Victor Pelevin would call it a transition from nothing to nothing), as well as a postmodern coquetting with stereotypes, twisting them, with metatextuality. At times one gets the impression that the average reader, whoever or whatever they might be, needs footnotes to understand some of the authoress’ stories fully. But, is that really necessary and are we, actually, indulging this imaginary reader too much?


If she wanted to, the authoress could have gone the easier route: “premasticate” the prologue, shorten the stories, simplify the characters to the level of stickmen, halve the book and sell it at the stand of, as our Croatian neighbors adequately put it, a pimped-out publisher. But that was not the case. What’s more, had this been done it would have been rather predictable and mediocre. This way, we have a layered tale before us of a man who, at his core, “is similar to us, but better than us” (the definition of a tragic hero) and is cast in this hodgepodge of a world which is falling to pieces. Situated, not by accident, in Phenomenonpublic, a pseudo-country and a pseudo-democracy, Boris K. is a man whose life, identity, life circumstances, the world around him, all change faster than the statuses on social networks. Boris K. is “a 21st century boy – everybody’s toy”, but, as the English would say, “nobody’s fool as well”. Speaking of dystopias, we must mention Winston Smith from Orwell’s “1984”. Paranoia and societal pressure exist, Oceania where Smith lives is nothing else but a microcosm in the same manner that Phenomenonpublic is. But, unlike Smith, Boris K. has places to go. Nobody is stopping him. His freedom of choice is, at first glance, absolute. But every so often a self-appointed tribune of the plebs a la Megaimportanceshire can appear who will ruin his good fortune. Let’s not forget: there is a strong satirical lining within these stories, predominantly taking aim against liberal capitalism, kleptarchy, corporations, xenophobia, and prejudices of all kinds. And, of course, what the Phenomenonpublicans love most is to wail for their deceased to whom they attribute traits which, during their lifetime, they had not seen. The living are friable – the dead are indestructible. Sound familiar? It should.


Exaggeration, some would say, a baroque approach to the subject matter, others would say, neither should be viewed as a fault. Quite the contrary! Let us remember that one of the greatest satirists, the Irish author Jonathan Swift, had used precisely exaggeration, and even extremely vulgar and gallows humor elements, to adorn Lemuel Gulliver’s wanderings. And this is not odd because it is exactly the grotesque, the banal, the dislocated that remains etched in one’s memory. And it is exactly this quality which exists in Leila Samarrai’s writing and represents the best quality of this collection next to an almost childlike playfulness, humaneness and a parent-like relationship towards the main character. Tales of the travels and troubles of Boris K. present, to the aforementioned imaginary average reader, a sizable challenge. They will try to read it via spacing, to skip, as is their practice with domestic bestseller books, a sentence or two and find themselves in a tight corner. However, if they focus, their efforts will be rewarded. What’s more, they’ll go back and pay attention to a covert joke or quip. They will perceive it either as a part of a bigger story or a standalone tale which does not need to belong to a wider context. Be that as it may, reading this interesting, Hamvasian book will pay off for them, as much as the sequel to Boris’ adventures which, from what I’ve heard, the authoress is bringing to a close.

Aleksandar Novaković



“Avanture Borisa K. Leile Samarrai”, OSVRNI SE U SMEHU, Aleksandar Novaković

Avanture Borisa K. Leile Samarrai


Ova zbirka međusobno tematski i vremenski povezanih priča (zbog čega bi je neki olako proglasili romanom), objavljena pre dve godine u izdanju Everest Media, predstavlja delo koje, po mnogim svojim karakteristikama, odskače od aktuelne domaće književne produkcije. Postoji nešto, u svojoj suštini, iznenađujuće u pristupu autorke Leile Samarrai. Dok se velika većina domaćih autora, žanrovskih ili ne, trudi da ide „utabanim stazama” kod spomenute autorke se probijate, bukvalno, mačetom kroz džunglu značenja, istorijskih, kulturnih, subkulturnih referenci, citata, zaumnih zapleta na tragu montipajtonovskog humora i davnih bibap- viceva koji insistiraju na nonsensu i potpunom odsustvu katarze. Na kraju krajeva, komedija je, kao i satira, na kraju krajeva, kao suprotnost tragediji, okrenuta anti-katarzi. Oseti se u autorkinom stilu i ponešto od „Slučajeva” Danila Juvačeva Harmsa, kao i, očigledno(nomen est (p)omen) kafkijanske paranoje, Boris K. je, kao i Jozef K, čovek koji je zaglavio u procesu (Viktor Peljevin bi rekao u tranziciji iz ničega u ništa), kao i postmoderno koketiranje sa stereotipima, izvrtanjem istih, metatekstualnim. Ponegde se stiče utisak da su prosečnom čitaocu, ma šta i ko on bio, potrebne fusnote da bi razumeo neku od autorkinih priča do kraja. Ali, da li je to zaista nužno i da li, zapravo, previše povlađujemo tom imaginarnom čitaocu?


Mogla je autorka, da je htela, da ide lakšim putem: „sažvaće” prolog, sažme priče, pojednostavi karaktere na nivo skice Čika-Gliše, prepolovi knjigu i ponudi je na štandu jedne od, štono zapadne komšije lepo kažu, nabrijanih izdavačkih kuća. Ali, to nije bio slučaj. Štaviše, da je tako urađeno to bi bilo krajnje predvidivo i osrednje. Ovako, pred nama je slojevita storija o čoveku koji je, po svojoj suštini, „nama priličan ali bolji od nas” (definicija tragičkog junaka) i bačen u ovu papazjaniju od sveta koji se raspada. Layout 1Smešten, nimalo slučajno, u Fenomenopubliku, pseudo-državu i pseudo-demokratiju, Boris K. je čovek čiji se život, identitet, životne okolnosti, svet oko njega, menjaju brže nego statusi na društvenim mrežama. Boris K. je21st Century Boy – everybody’s toy ali, rekli bi Englezi, nobody’s fool as well. Kad smo kod distopija, ne možemo a da ne spomenemo Vinstona Smita iz Orvelove1984. godine. Paranoja i pritisak društva postoje, Okeanija u kojoj Smit živi je ništa drugo do svet u malom baš kao što je i Fenomenopublika svet u malom. Ali, za razliku od Smita, Boris K. ima gde da ode. Niko ga neće zaustaviti. Sloboda delanja mu je, na prvi pogled, neprikosnovena. Ali, svako malo pa može tu i tamo da se pojavi neki samozvani narodni tribun a la Megavažnić koji će da mu sreću kvari. Ne zaboravimo: u ovim pričama postoji snažna satirična linija, uperena pre svega protiv liberalnog kapitalizma, kleptokratije, korporacija, ksenofobije i predrasuda svih vrsta. I, naravno, Fenomenopubličani najviše vole da jadikuju za pokojnicima kojima pripisuju atribute koje za njihovih života, nisu videli. Živi su trošni – mrtvi su neuništivi. Zvuči poznato? I trebalo bi.


Preterivanje, rekli bi neki, barokni pristup tematici, rekli bi drugi, ne treba posmatrati kao minus. Naprotiv! Setimo se da je jedan od najvećih satiričara, Irac Džonatan Svift upravo preterivanjem, pa negde čak i ekstremno vulgarnim i crnohumornim rešenjima, nakitio lutanja Lemjuela Gulivera. I to nije ništa čudno jer, upravo groteskno, banalno, iščašeno, ostaje u sećanju. A to je upravo ono što postoji u pisanju Leile Samarrai i predstavlja najveći kvalitet zbirke pored neke skoro dečije razigranosti, humanosti i skoro pa roditeljskog odnosa prema glavnom junaku. Priče o putešestvijima i nezgodacijama Borisa K. predstavljaju, za onog imaginarnog prosečnog čitaoca, poveći izazov. On će pokušati da ih čita proredom, da preskoči, kao što to radi s domaćim bestselercima, rečenicu ili dve i naći će se u nebranom grožđu. No, ako se fokusira, njegov trud će se isplatiti. Štaviše, vratiće se nazad i obratiti pažnju na neku skrivenu šalu ili dosetku. Sagledaće ga kao deo šire priče ili posebnu priču koju ne mora da stavi u neki širi kontekst. Bilo kako bilo, isplatiće mu se da pročita ovu zanimljivu, hamvaševsku knjigu, baš kao i drugi deo Borisovih pustolovina koji, koliko sam čuo, autorka privodi kraju.

Aleksandar Novaković