Zovite me Esteban

Lejla Kalamujić

Publisher: Dobra knjiga

Bosnia and Herzegovina

For her short-story collection Zovite me Esteban Lejla Kalamujić received the Edo Budiša Prize for the best short-story collection 2015 and was short-listed for the European Union Prize for Literature 2016. The collection reads itself like a split, fragmented novel. The different scenes and episodes circle around the pain encroaching upon the protagonist, whose mother has died early. She is raised by her four grandparents – all of them imposing, distinctive characters – and her drinking father. That is, until in the wake of the siege of Sarajevo, the family gets splintered even farther apart. The image of the mother appears again and again, in family legends, tales told by the adults, childish fantasies, or as a song on the radio or a smell – conjuring up the many visits to the cemetery alongside the grandparents. Yet the image of the mother also materialises in the shape of a cool confidant, wearing Levi’s jeans and smoking next to Lejla in the park. In her stories, the author touches upon many taboos and difficult topics: the loss of close loved ones, angst and depression, the bond between two women, and the search for identity in times when one’s own country is falling apart and the present seems absurd. As when the train to Belgrade needs to change its engine and conductor on all three border crossings. These are stories that deeply touch and move their readers.

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