The novel focuses on rarely addressed aspects of Croatian history. The plot centres around the female protagonist Ana Sadak, who flees in 1945 from the partisans to the Austrian region of Altaussee. The book describes her escape down the green border, as well as previous layers of events which led to her escape and struggle for survival. She was a caretaker at the ustashe children’s camp, where she took gentle care of small prisoners, unaware of their fate. The novel is a portrayal of the fate of an individual trapped in historical events and describes the so-called ‘ratlines’ of fascist emigrants. It certainly broaches the important subjects of facing the Austrian and Croatian past.
The author called his novel Die Zeit der Häutung (Moulting Time), in which the latter noun is closely connected with skin (die Haut). Indeed, this novel gets under the reader’s skin. Following the how and what of the event really hurts to read.
About the author:
Robert Kleindienst (1975), an Austrian writer, studied German, political sciences and pedagogy at the University of Salzburg. Since 2016 he has been a freelance artist, a member of literary associations Grazer Autorenversammlung and IG Autorinnen Autoren, Salzburger Autorengruppe, and the founder of the literary website dei flut. Author of the novels Später vielleicht (2009), Nicht im Traum (2013) and Zeit der Häutung (2019), a collection of short stories Vermintes Echo (2014), as well as poetry collection Brandseeleute (2014). A winner of book awards, for example for the text “Aschenmeerschwein: Antikodex” which focuses on unmasking Nazi crimes. Kleindienst’s main subjects of interest are facing the past and World War II traumas.
About the translator:
Milka Car (1973) studied German and Comparative Literature at the University of Zagreb (1992-1997) and in Vienna (1999/2000, ÖAD scholarship), earning a master’s degree in 2003 with a thesis on the reception of German drama in Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb in the first half of the 20th century, and a PhD with a dissertation on documentary prose in German in the last third of the 20th century. Since 2000 a junior assistant, since 2003 assistant, since 2004 a senior assistant and since 2010 a docent at the Department of German Language and Literature of the Zagreb Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.