Year of publication
Number of pages
Germany (Wallstein Verlag)
UK (Istros Books)
English sample translation, German sample translation
historical novel, philosophical novel, 16th century, Renaissance, Protestant Reformation and Counter-Reformation, power struggles, heresy, religious persecution, witch trials
The Harvest of Chronos
The Harvest of Chronos is a philosophical and historical novel that looks at Central Europe, the Inner Austrian lands – modern-day Slovenian territory, an area plagued by ceaseless battles for supremacy between the Protestant political elite and the ruling Catholic Habsburg Monarchy. The battles for supremacy are fought among the rulers and between the rulers and the people, who diligently follow everybody and single out individuals seen as different and suspicious. In this epic saga, history and fiction intertwine in wavelike fashion, producing a colourful portrait of the Renaissance, permeated by humanist attempts to resurrect antiquity through art, new scientific findings, and spirited philosophical and theological debates. This was a time of intrigues, accusations of heresy, political betrayal and burnings at the stake, an age that produced executioners, scapegoats brought to the sacrificial altar in the name of God, the sovereign or the common good, and extraordinary individuals who were prepared to oppose the dominant beliefs of the masses and dared to believe in a new order.
In a language that is deliciously rich and slightly elevated, at times deliberately archaic but always cheerfully contemporary and imbued with humour, the novel tackles superstition, false beliefs and selective memory as well as the questions of God, of being and of nothingness.
Awards and nominations
Prešeren Fund Award, Slovenia’s highest award for artistic achievement, 2017
Kritiško sito Award for best book of the year 2017
Shortlisted for the Kresnik Award for best novel of the year 2017
Thanks to its originality, its conceptual and linguistic complexity, The Harvest of Chronos is without parallel in contemporary Slovenian literature.
While exploring aggressive tactics used by the Catholic Church in their campaign against Protestantism in a studious manner and with special attention to detail, Mojca Kumerdej doesn't fail – by way of metafictional jumps into the future – to establish correlations with current events or at the very least allude to history repeating itself.
Slovenian writers are fond of delving into documents of times past and cloaking their findings in literary interpretations of historical events. But the majority of them go only as far back as our recent and not-so-distant past, in the best case to the beginnings of the 20th century, and fewer venture further back in time. Mojca Kumerdej makes a significantly bigger step here and goes back to the early modern era, 16th century to be exact, where she explores some of the primal patterns and origins of modernity – in particular modern, contemporary Slovenians. If perhaps, after reading The Harvest of Chronos, this isn't just a humorous oxymoron.
The novel handles historical material with awareness and gives it a postmodern treatment, which comes with a great deal of temporal and spiritual distance, treating it with both empathy and irony. What's more, the book brandishes significant philosophical examinations of fundamental humanist issues – of being, of time, of nothingness, of god. This is the novel's core.
This constant elusiveness, the feeling of being in a world we know, even though we are separated from it by four centuries – this is one of the many aspects where the novel excels.
Mojca Kumerdej wrote a superb historical novel that raises the philosophical question of meaning, engages the reader and demands many leaps of thought. Despite its length, it is never boring and continues to captivate, enlighten, and delight with linguistic cleverness and artistry.