Year of publication
Number of pages
France (Éditions Hoëbeke)
Italy (Keller editore)
Mexico (Ediciones Arlequín)
UK (Istros Books)
English pdf, Spanish pdf
travel novel, migration, immigrants, writing, search for inspiration, loss and change, home, Ireland – Belgium – Bosnia
A writer, perhaps the author’s alter ego, looks for peace and inspiration as he travels slowly along the rainy, foggy coast of Ireland. From there he goes to Belgium and then, by way of Ljubljana, to Sarajevo, but for the most part his journey leads him ever deeper into the landscapes of his own inner world. The narrative takes the form of an associative stream of consciousness in which different times, places, and events overlap to create an unusual story with many narrative voices. Although the connections between them may not be immediately obvious, it is not entirely accidental that they find themselves sharing a common story. Standing out among these narrators without a country are Gjini, an Albanian driver and occasional tour guide; Jane, an Irish-American woman; Spomenka, an émigré professor of literature from former Yugoslavia; a random audience member at a literary event in Brussels; a poet from Sarajevo; and others. Their diverse narratives create a panoramic view of the search for something they might call home.
The narrator’s extraordinary depictions of landscape reveal the inner experience of the writer in a foreign setting, far from a home that seems ever more elusive. In the manner of W. G. Sebald, the story is supported and complemented by photographs taken by Šarotar himself.
Awards and nominations
Shortlisted for the Kresnik Award for best novel of the year 2015
Shortlisted for the Oxford–Weidenfeld Prize 2017
César López Cuadras Readers Award for fiction 2017
Longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award 2018
This is not a novel in which anything happens; it has all happened already, catastrophically, and the condition of exile is the only place from which one can achieve peace or perspective. This is what I think this marvellous book is telling us. …
… the hydraulic ebb and flow of Panorama’s sentence waves subsumes the role of narration … Giving oneself to these meditative rhythms represents the true depth and joy of this novel—and it is a spiritual joy. .
... dense but rewarding series of W.G. Sebald-like meditations on ideas of belonging ...
Some literature defies simple description. Case in point, Panorama, by Slovenian poet and writer Dušan Šarotar. One might be inclined to define it as a meditation within a travelogue within a novel. Or perhaps you would prefer to rearrange those terms, it probably wouldn’t matter, because in spite of its subtitle: A Narrative about the Course of Events, Panorama stands at a curious angle to space and time. It is a novel of remembering, of telling and retelling, narratives within narratives, bound together by a coarse thread of repeating themes that are at once timeless and timely.
This book is about a lot of things. Like all good novels, it is about language ... It is also about exile and identity and belonging (and not belonging). Of course, it is also about war and death and the terrible upheaval that war causes. It is about the dark side of life, for there is always a dark side. But it is also about friendship and remembrance and learning about the world.
But while Šarotar (and his narrator) serve as the mouthpiece for the various emigres who show up in Panorama, Šarotar, who still lives in Slovenia and writes in Slovene, does not seem to share the emigres’ preoccupation with the loss of their birth languages. His ultimate goal is an attempt to capture in a grand, sweeping gesture of language the ineffable sense of being alive, of finding oneself human on a strange planet. It’s both a search for personal understanding and an attempt to test the limits of language.
Panorama is an extraordinary, uncategorizable book, that is moving in its human dramas and ambitious in its cultural scope. It is also a topical novel of belonging and non-belonging, and of the different kinds of exile – national, linguistic, cultural – that lies at the heart of one strand of the European experience. “A narrative about the course of events” is its subtitle, and it is indeed a rangy, poetic, journalistic, fictional melancholy book of travel in time, place and mind.
… A meditation on loss and change ... and on time, migration, language, ocean, love and war. It is densely compacted: its two hundred or so pages seem to expand much as a paper flower from childhood did when put in water ...