Book Review: Srdjan Valijarević “Lake Como”

I just completed reading Serbian author Srdjan Valjarevic’s book, Lake Como. I was very curious to read the book because so few contemporary Serbian authors are translated into English. I’ve read a lot of Ivo Andrić and Daniel Kis, but no more recent authors. I would like to thank Geopoetika Publishing Company for translating a series of contemporary Serbian authors. I will definitely read others in the series.

Lake Como is the story of a Serbian writer who wins a month’s refuge at an expensive Villa on Lake Como to work on his novel. The author however, is not really working on the book and a friend helped him fill in the application to receive the grant award. He is a part-time writer and full-time alcoholic. Not much happens in the book and he describes his month at the lake. He does a lot of drinking, sightseeing, eating, and observing the other guest scholars in the villa. He also mingles with the local townspeople quite a bit and is a bit of a ladies man.

The unnamed antihero, or hero of the book I guess represents Serbia and the people of his generation. Valijarevic is my age although the book was written 5 years ago. It made me think about what it would have been like to lose your country (Yugoslavia) and living standards that went with it after years of war and embargoes. It was quite traumatic for people his age who were just starting out in their careers when the whole thing went to pieces. The best review I read on the book is by Daniel Kelleher and here are the other books in the series by Geopoetika.

Titles that fall within the Geopoetika Serbian prose in Translation series under review include:


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Srdjan Valijarević “Lake Como”

  • I think your review is pretty objective and I want to thank you on behalf of Serbs especially Serb refugees from Croatia and Bosnia. The media has painted us in a really bad light to describe it lightly and it is nice to see someone’s comment about the book that is not biased even though you view it as political. I didn’t read the book so I cannot comment on that. There is another Serbian writer who is sort of known and translations do exist, but he has a sort of surreal way of explaining things. The name is Milorad Pavic. He has a book The Dictionary of Khazars translated into English; I heard good reviews about it. He is seen as a different kind of writer from the others who come from the area.

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