Year of publication
Number of pages
Albania (Botime Pegi)
France (Litterae Slovenicae)
Hungary (Napkút Kiadó)
Italy (Mim Edizioni)
Latvia (SIA Lasitava)
Netherlands (De Geus)
UK (Istros Books)
English pdf, French pdf, Italian pdf
culture clash, love, race and racism, women, gender, intergenerational and intercultural relationships, Europe, Africa
The winner of the 2013 European Union Prize for Literature breaks the mould of what we usually expect from a writer from a small Central European nation. With a global perspective, Gabriela Babnik takes on the themes of racism, the role of women in modern society and the loneliness of the human condition.
Defying convention, 62-year-old Ana abandons her life as a wife and mother in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and meets Ismael, a 27-year-old from Burkina Faso who was brought up on the street, where he was often the victim of abuse. What unites them is the loneliness of their bodies, a tragic childhood and the dry Harmattan season during which neither nature nor love can flourish. Ana soon realizes that the gulf between them is not caused by the colour of their skin or by the age difference between them, but mostly by her belonging to the Western culture and the differences in the concepts of East and West. Sex does not conquer loneliness, and repressed secrets from the past surface into a world she sees as much crueller and, at the same time, more innocent than her own. Cleverly written as an alternating narrative of both sides in the relationship, the novel is interlaced with magic realism, while fragments of African political reality often intrude on the narrative and a special place is the novel is reserved for one of the key figures of African cinematography, Senegalese film director Djibril Diop Mambéty.
Awards and nominations
European Union Prize for Literature 2013
Longlisted for the Kresnik Award for best novel of the year 2013
Longlisted for the International DUBLIN Literary Award 2017
Dry Season is a colourful tapestry, interwoven with elements of two different worlds, two completely different lives. It is much more than just a story of an unusual relationship between an older white woman and a young African man, both burdened with post-traumatic experiences. It is a mature, critical and inimitable writing with a global insight into the African society of today.
... Babnik has created a remarkable novel in which her protagonists are themselves aware of the opportunities offered by fictionality. They refer to certain episodes in the present or past as ‘scenes’ and to their lives as a ‘story’ or ‘narrative’. Miscommunication – the gap between what is said and what is meant – condemns several of the relationships in the novel to failure. Yet this same gap makes fiction possible. By making her protagonists the self-conscious narrators of their own ‘stories’, Babnik celebrates the art of writing fiction and invites the reader to do the same. To appreciate this unusual novel, we must abandon our search for ‘a reliable narrator’ and revel in embellishment, omission and the limitless scope of human fantasy.
This novel is a demanding and startlingly rewarding read. Both Ana and Ismael have stories that they urgently need to share, that are weighing them down. Both stories contain hidden corners that must be turned, secrets that are difficult to bear. ... The separate strands become entwined, creating the effect of a tightly braided cord that then begins to fray as the relationship falls apart. The magic fades but the telling grows increasingly surreal, leading up to an exhilarating and shocking revelation in the final pages.
Set against the backdrop of the Harmattan, the dry season in West Africa, this novel is a must read for anyone who enjoys brilliant literary writing with strong and intense characters.