Year of publication
Number of pages
Croatia (HENA COM)
North Macedonia (Vostok)
English sample translation, German sample translation
young adults, students, relationships, immigrants, exclusion, marginalisation, nationalism, social activism, 21st century
No Matter How
The novel follows two parallel narrative strands with chapters alternating between the voice of 17-year-old Lili and that of university student Alja. While Lili, a high school student from an underprivileged background, and her older boyfriend Mars deal with an unplanned pregnancy, 20-year-old Alja has just returned from a summer backpacking in Ireland and is now trying to bridge the distance between her and David, whom she fell in love with in Ireland. Both Lili and Alja soon realise that the world around them is much bigger and much more complex than their love woes, and while the first half of the novel deals with the girls' personal problems, the second half takes on a certain social urgency.
Through tutoring, Alja meets 13-year-old Senad who lives in abject poverty with his Bosnian family. Appalled at the conditions they live in, she joins an activist group that fights for minority rights. Meanwhile, Mars loses his job after an outburst against an immigrant. The paths of the two protagonists cross in a brief but fatal moment when they find themselves head to head at the same street protest. The circumstances of their brief meeting mark the end of the world as they know it, and while their lives are changed forever, they need to continue – no matter how.
Longlisted for the Kresnik Award for best novel of the year 2015
Shortlisted for the Kritiško sito Award for best book of the year 2015
As Glavan doesn’t intrude on her own story to preach about right and wrong, the reader is free from any compulsion to interpret the story in one way or another until the very last page of the book. However, this doesn’t mean that the author leaves us uninterested; on the contrary, the novel consistently challenges us to consider its themes from multiple perspectives and to grow together with both protagonists.
No Matter How is a well thought-out, complex work that initially attracts the reader with its language, which the author uses to define the two main characters, giving them their own, unique voices, and then goes on to present an intelligent storyline that increasingly veers from the personal towards the public and holds up a mirror to today’s society.
No Matter How by Polona Glavan is a powerful work dealing with social justice, an animated story that restores, in a manner unique to the author, the now-stale enthusiasm of recent protests: the desire for change and the conviction that it is still possible, in spite of everything.