Translated from Bosnian by Celia Hawkesworth

Bosnian writer and editor Senka Maric’s 2018 novella Body Kintsugi (Kintsugi Tijela) has just been published in English by Peirene Press, translated by Celia Hawkesworth, who is well-known for her translations of work from the former Yugoslav republics.

I always keep an eye on what Pereine are publishing, as it’s such an interesting list. Autofiction is like catnip to me, so when I saw that this novel was upcoming I requested a review copy.

The novel, if you can call it that, follows the events that follow the breakdown of the protagonist’s marriage. We learn that her husband has left on the first page, leaving her with her two young children and a frozen shoulder (which I know from experience is very painful in itself!).

However, things are going to get worse. While manoeuvring awkwardly in bed to protect her painful shoulder she finds a lump, and is subsequently diagnosed with breast cancer, mirroring the author’s own diagnosis.

Kintsugi is a Japanese term referring to a method of repairing broken ceramics using liquid gold, which accentuates the fractures while arguably enhancing the aesthetic effect. It is an apt metaphor for this tale of resilience and recovery, which weaves together a narrative that intersperses the protagonist’s navigation of illness and single motherhood with traumatic childhood memories.

A visceral and angry book, it is not an easy read, despite its concise length and short chapters – although it ends on a more optimistic note.

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