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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 87 | volume XV | November-December, 2012



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 87November-December, 2012

Literature as a Hearth-stoning

(Lidija Dimkovska’s A Spare Life, Ili-ili, Skopje 2012)

p. 1
Olivera Kjorveziroska

“I did not become a writer. I cannot write even now. Writing is a solitary act, and I can still feel Srebra’s head next to mine. That it can see what I am writing. And I feel ashamed, I feel embarrassed, and I cannot write. Except within myself” (Zlata, p. 365)

Lidija Dimkovska’s newest novel is not just written ‘within itself’; rather, it spells out over 368 densely populated pages, unified in a book that weighs 380 grams, with a 20 mm wide backbone. Therefore, Lidija Dimkovska is not Zlata, the narrator of A Spare Life, one of the Siamese twins. With this, right at the onset, I put aside an autobiographical reading, disregarding whether or not I believe in a literature without the autobiographical or not…

A Spare Life’s Tail
    A Spare Life
is a richer and higher form/version of Dimkovska’s first novel, Hidden Camera. Yet Hidden Camera was neither petite in stature no diminutive in nature (110 grammas, 11mm wide), for when it was originally published, in 2004, it signaled a unique literary occurrence – the novel was the recipient of the “Stale Popov” Prize, awarded by the Macedonian Writers’ Association; it was also short-listed for all the other literary awards in Macedonia during that year. By a single vote it lost the ‘Novel of the Year’ Prize given annually by “Utrinski vesnik” [a Macedonian daily] in 2004, i.e., it went in the hands of Olivera Nikolova, the author mentioned both in Hidden Camera, and now again, in A Spare Life: on page 98, Zlata says: “I’d like to be like Olivera Nikolova”.

I think that it is almost customary to view an author’s previous successes as a kind of a ‘tail’ now attached, permanently, to their newer works. And A Spare Life’s tail is a rather lengthy one; the fans of magical realism might even suggest that it drags itself through “many meadows and mountains”, or if you like, through “many countries and continents”, too, since Lidija Dimkovska is one of the most successful Macedonian writers, both home and abroad, with a sling of awards, translations, literary residencies to her name. Consequently, A Spare Life is not Hidden Camera, even when we seem to find them inseparable. We are mistaken. We are tricked by the small stuff, the petty trivia; the truth lies in the larger chunks.

A Spare Life’s Body
    This is a large-scale and utterly-consumptive novel; it presents

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