Fragma is the debut collection of short fiction by Mojca Kumerdej, an award-winning Slovenian writer. Kumerdej’s style is witty, lucid, darkly funny—a style that can bring us to sympathize with, even as we loathe, characters obsessed with luxury cars and jealous of their own daughters. Her stories of sadism, masochism, mutual addiction, and violence in multiple forms introduce us to an utterly unique voice, valuable because it tells English readers something about contemporary Slovenia but, even more, because it tells us something about ourselves.
Afterword: Blanka Bošnjak
Edition: Dalkey Archive Press
Writer, philosopher and critic Mojca Kumerdej was born in 1964 in Ljubljana, where she graduated in Philosophy and Sociology of Culture at the Faculty of Arts. In addition to authoring literature, she writes commentary on science, stage and inter-media arts, and works as a dramaturgist for acclaimed theatre director Dragan Živadinov.
Her debut novel Krst nad Triglavom (The Baptism Over Mount Triglav), an irony-propelled parody of Slovene cultural and national myths, was published in 2001 by Študentska Založba. Her subsequent books of short prose Fragma (2003) and Temna snov (Dark Matter, 2011) appeared as part of the Beletrina series. In these, through the perspectives of a rich cast of characters, the inner frays and stitches of the human individual and the contemporary society are revealed with scintillating sharpness and witty interplay. Fragma was translated into Hungarian and Czech, Dark Matter into Spanish and Serbian, while Mojca Kumerdej’s individual shorts stories, featured in domestic and foreign collections and anthologies, appear in thirteen world languages.
Her most recent novel Kronosova žetev (Chronos’ Harvest) was published by Beletrina in 2016. Delving into the 16th-century milieu of Austro-Hungarian domains, the tale explores the strife between Catholics and Lutherans in the region. The same year, Aksioma Institute published her short story Ženska z volkom (The Woman with the Wolf) set in the Palaeolithic period 35,000 years into prehistory.
In 2016 the German foundation Stiftung Brandenburger Tor granted her a two-month residence at the Literary Tandem programme in Berlin. In 2008 she was chosen for a month-long residence in the House of Literature in Krems and in 2014 for the IHAG residence in Graz. Mojca presents her work at Slovene and international literary festivals and book fairs, appearing among other occasions at the Festival of Short Prose and European Literature of the Guadalajara Book Fair in 2012, where she spoke about the Spanish translation of Dark Matter (Materia oscura, Ediciones Arlequin; 2012). In 2015, the international festival Literatures of the World – Fabula taking place in Ljubljana published her short story Pauli for kids and grownups in the collection The Power of Deception.
Her story Pod gladino (Under the Surface) received the Crystal Vilenica Prize at the international literary festival Vilenica in 2006. The Serbian translation of Dark Matter (Tamna materija, Geopoetika; 2015) received the Kočić’s Pen Award in 2016, while the novel Kronos’ Harvest was a winner of the Prešeren Foundation Award in 2017.
Rawley Grau, originally from Baltimore, USA, has lived in Ljubljana since 2001. His translations from Slovene include the novels Biljard v Dobrayu (Billiards at the Hotel Dobray) and Panorama, both by Dušan Šarotar; the novel Kronosova žetev (The Harvest of Chronos) and the short-prose collection Fragma, both by Mojca Kumerdej; the novels Sušna doba (Dry Season) by Gabriela Babnik and Sukub (The Succubus) by Vlado Žabot (the latter co-translated with Nikolai Jeffs); the short fiction collection Družinske parabole (Family Parables), by Boris Pintar; and the essay collection The Hidden Handshake by Aleš Debeljak. He has also translated two plays – Ivan Cankar’s Pohujšanje v dolini šentflorjanski (Scandal in St. Florian’s Valley) and Slavko Grum’s Dogodek v mestu Gogi (An Event in the Town of Goga, co-translated with Nikolai Jeffs) – as well as poetry by Tomaž Šalamun, Miljana Cunta, Miklavž Komelj, Janez Ramoveš, Andrej Rozman Roza, and others. From Russian, he has translated a collection of poems and letters by Yevgeny Baratynsky, A Science Not for the Earth, for which he was awarded the 2016 prize for Best Scholarly Translation from the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages (AATSEEL). In 2017, his translation of Dušan Šarotar’s Panorama was shortlisted for the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize.
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