Year of publication
Number of pages
Serbia (Partizanska knjiga)
English sample translation
immigrants, second generation, urban environment, stereotypes, identity, former Yugoslavia
by Ana Schnabl
The protagonists of Disentangling are a pot-smoking guy, a girl with anorexia and other people at their personal bottom or on the margins of society. However, instead of deconstructing their circumstances with cynicism, they approach their problems differently. Aljoša Harlamov, author of afterword to the book, says that it is typical for Schnabl’s generation of writers to transcend the “hipster” attitude towards reality, an attitude which is never wholly serious even though it’s wholly serious. The defence mechanism of vapid intellectualism gives way to a thorough settling of vulnerability.
With a precise understanding of the rules of the genre and a keen ear for the rules of psychology, Schnabl skilfully, cleverly and often touchingly exposes the anatomy of nearly forgotten emotional states: guilt, shame, terror, joy, as well as true freedom, disentangled from the fear of being oneself.
Awards and nominations
Best Debut Award of the Slovenian Book Fair 2017
Shortlisted for the MIRA Literary Award of the Slovenian PEN Centre 2017
Shortlisted for the Novo mesto Award for best short story collection 2018
It’s a rare occasion that Slovene is used in such a vivid manner. It’s a rare occasion that a young (or any) author writing in Slovene so thoroughly – emotionally, physically, reflexively and reflectively) grasps the time, space and spirit of a generation, while keeping their writing free of petit-bourgeois moral judgments, taboos, ideologies, fake aesthetics, clichés, redundancies and overcompensations that belong in high school, as the author is wont to say … Schnabl, a clever student of human nature and a relentless examiner of her environment and circumstances, (almost) never exaggerates. This is something new and exciting.
Ana Schnabl has tied the stories of Disentangling into debut that’s unexpected in both style and substance, never shirking from obstacles placed in front of it by society, and daring to go further, right up to the edge, where it digs up painful and buzzing things that cannot be grasped by reason alone.
It’s probably true that Ana Schnabl’s book of short prose doesn’t look like a typical debut. Almost all of the stories in Disentangling possess a thoughtfulness that might lead one, as it did Aljoša Harlamov, author of the book’s afterword, to think of it as classic psychological realism … What sets Schnabl apart is her deliberate turn from cynicism. Thanks in part to its absence, the author’s dense writing never becomes oppressive, not even when at its most candid, and dispenses commentary on controlling social practices the as if it were an afterthought.