Year of publication
Number of pages
Austria (Folio Verlag)
Egypt (Al Arabi)
Italy (Keller editore)
Lithuania (kitos knygos)
North Macedonia (ILI-ILI)
Sweden (Ramus Förlag)
UK (Istros Books)
German pdf, English sample translation, Italian sample translation
multigenerational family saga, intimate/family/intergenerational/gender relationships, Slovenia and the Balkans in the 20th and 21st century, immigrants, socio-political context, erased citizens of Slovenia
The Fig Tree
The Fig Tree is a novel composed of intertwining stories of Aleksandar and Jana, Vesna and Safet, and Jadran and Anja. As well as others. But mostly that of Jadran, a 30-something who tries to piece together the story of his family to better understand his own story. Because he cannot understand why Anja walked out of their life, he tries to understand the death, supposedly facilitated by a suspicious pill bottle, of his grandfather Aleksandar. He tries to understand the withdrawal of his grandmother Jana, the disintegration of her memories, and her retreat into oblivion and dementia. Jadran tries to understand the departure of his father Safet, his disappearance from Ljubljana in the first year of the war in the Balkans. And he tries to understand his mother Vesna, her bewildering resentment of his grandfather, her silent disappointment with his father.
The Fig Tree is a multigenerational family saga, a tour de force spanning three generations from mid-20th century through the turbulent times in the Balkans until present day. Vojnović is a master storyteller, and while fateful choices made by his characters are often dictated by historical realities of the turbulent times they live in, at its heart this is an intimate story of family, of relationships, of love, freedom and the choices we make.
Awards and nominations
Kresnik Award for best novel of the year 2017
Župančič Award, the highest recognition of the City of Ljubljana for outstanding creation in the field of art and culture, 2017
Shortlisted for the Njegoš Award 2017
The release of Goran Vojnović’s third novel The Fig Tree is what we call a literary event – deservedly so? Absolutely! … The Fig Tree is one of the rare delicious fruits of contemporary Slovenian fiction.
Has the praise pouring in for the novel even before its publication been deserved? Do we really have a new classic in the vein of Lojze Kovačič – with broad strokes, sharp details and surprising depths? It absolutely hasn’t been undeserved … The Fig Tree is without question one of the best Slovenian novels in recent years.
Goran Vojnović wrote a book about emotions. If his first novel was a gift to linguists in the form of 183 pages of material on sociolects, and his second novel was a gift to historians offering a fresh insight into Balkan war crimes and their legacy, his third novel is a guide to relationships for all those who have a place to call home.
The Fig Tree is a multigenerational family saga that takes the reader from the not-so-distant history to present day. The fig tree in front of the house is the main character’s Proustian madeleine, and The Fig Tree is Vojnović’s most ambitious novel to date.
The Fig Tree is an exquisitely rendered novel, it’s a big and satisfying read, and among others calls to mind Colum McCann’s TransAtlantic and Orhan Pamuk’s Silent House.
One of the most important novels to come out in the Balkans in the last decade.
Vojnović filters the recent history of his homeland, the suspicion of outsiders, the racial and cultural tensions through the lens of one family’s experience (his background in film is evident in much of the novel). He explores a world where a name can be a threat or destroy a life. Memories can be destructive, as the Balkans wars proved. But they also sustain us. The Fig Tree is about identity – about what make us, what shapes us. Vojnović often withholds crucial strands of the narrative that reveal a character’s motivations. Safet’s abrupt departure and Aleksandar’s desire to work in Cairo are initially baffling. Together with Jadran, the reader has to untangle the threads in an attempt to find the answers. When Aleksandar returns to find his wife irretrievably changed, it is truly heart breaking. Vojnović’s portrait of Jana’s memory loss, from the perspective of the husband caring for her, is one of the most moving accounts of dementia I’ve ever read. This is a remarkable portrait of a country’s fragmentation and a family’s fracture.