Year of publication
Number of pages
USA (Dalkey Archive Press)
English sample translation
history, war, war crimes, trauma, reconciliation, healing, ideologies, mythology, good and evil as archetypes
by Vlado Žabot
Following his supervisor's instructions, Radovan Podolni, a doctoral student of history, sets off for a former war zone to research the archives and the border fortifications there. But with each step, the apparently clear task of uncovering the objective truth about the past becomes increasingly complex and dangerous. Radovan's academic perspective subsides beneath the weight of dreams and coincidences that disrupt his plans, until he finally realises that in reality the war is still not over. The spirit of those killed on the battlefield is still alive and is transferring its energy to the survivors who, trapped in ancient battles, fail to seek out the deeper reasons for the war.
With his characteristically vivid and suggestive language, which shifts events to a semi-dormant, mythical time, Vlado Žabot fearlessly looks at the reverse side of ideologies that have long striven to recognise in the demonic force of war heroism as something holy. Radovan uncovers the illusion that throughout history has driven the dialectic of victors and victims when he sees in mankind the spiritual being that quenches its thirst in the imaginative and the mythical, even though it dons such a rational mask. He finds the only possible way out of the circle of violence and achieves it when he takes upon himself the weight of the world.
A masterfully written story of the circle of the violence of war and the subjective victory of an individual – for our time, for all times.
Shortlisted for the Kresnik Award for best novel of the year 2018
In Žabot's novel The Holy Battle, the dead or the invisible, killed on battlefields or in fights, emerge as if they were still alive.
One of the strong points of Žabot’s storytelling is the excellent building of atmosphere, and in this regard The Holy Battle is unquestionably a small masterpiece. His idiosyncratic style of diving into topographical and cerebral miasmas and murky waters is so polished, exquisite and such a delight in this novel that it is almost eerie. Žabot can make a regular haunt in the middle of nowhere seem like an ominous location, where every word is a hint of even more horrifying stories.