Velickovic, Nenad 1962–

views updated

Velickovic, Nenad 1962–


Born 1962, in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia and Herzegovina).


E-mail—[email protected]


Institute for Literature, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, secretary, early 1990s; University of Sarajevo, Sarajevo, literature faculty; author. Military service: Served in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Army for four years.


Konačari (novel), Durieux (Zagreb, Croatia), 1997, translated by Celia Hawkesworth as Lodgers, Northwestern University Press (Evanston, IL), 2005.

Sexicon-Sexpressionism (essays), 1998.

Đavo u Sarajevu (short stories; title means "Devil in Sarajevo"), Feral Tribune (Split, Croatia), 1998.

Sahib: Impresije iz depresije (novel; title means "Sahib; or, Impressions from a Depression"), Kultura & Rasvjeta (Split, Croatia), 2002.

Izdržite jos malo, nećete još dugo, Omnibus (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina), 2003.

Otac moje kćeri (novel; title means "My Daughter's Father"), Stubovi kulture (Belgrade, Serbia), 2003.

(Editor) Inso(mno)lent P(r)ose, translated by Celia Hawkesworth, Knjizevna radionica (Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina), 2003.

Pedalo (play), first produced in London, England, at the Blue Elephant, 2005.

Also author of television and radio scripts, short stories, and essays.


Born in Sarajevo, Nenad Velickovic refused to flee his homeland when war in Yugoslavia began to break up the nation. Instead, as Tatjana Jukic related in a Style article, he "stayed and survived the siege. As a consequence, his texts, written mainly during the siege of the city, are ruled primarily by the rapidly and radically shifting cultural and political dominant." His first novel, Konac?ari, was published in 1997 and later translated into English as Lodgers. Set in the worn-torn Sarajevo of 1992, the story is about a Muslim family that finds shelter in the museum where the father is a curator. He tries to protect the museum's collection from looters; meanwhile, his teenage daughter, Maja, narrates the tale. Maja tries to make the best of things while there with her odd grandmother, vegetarian mother, her pessimistic stepbrother, and his wife. Despite the grim surroundings where even fresh water is hard to come by, Velickovic puts a great deal of humor into his story using Maja's witty perspective. Ales Debeljak, writing in World Literature Today, described the narrative tone as "gallows humor," adding: Lodgers supplies one of the best examples of ‘war literature’ wherein the aesthetic qualities are not suffocating in the straitjacket of patriotic imperative." Using Maja's perspective helps the author view the tragedy of war from the interesting perspective of a young teen who does not fully comprehend what is happening and remains somewhat self-absorbed. The result is "a first-rate work that shows the action but does not raise a moral-pedagogical finger," according to Debeljak. "Velickovic reveals an artistry that defeats the forces of brutality with wit, indirection, and boundless good humor," concluded Michael Pinker in the Review of Contemporary Fiction.

One of the themes in Velickovic's writings is the clash between Eastern and Western cultures. His Sahib: Impresije iz depresije, for example, is about an Englishman who comes to Bosnia on a diplomatic mission. On the pretext of trying to establish Western ideals of government, he portrays the motives of his country as closer to colonization than democratization. The author uses text from e-mails for much of the narrative, revealing at the end of the book that the e-mails are actually real correspondences with the authors' names changed. "The meeting of the Orient with the Occident serves as a good source for all sorts of humorous situations, misunderstandings, and witticisms, with which Velickovic's book abounds," commented Ana Lucic in the Review of Contemporary Fiction, adding that Sahib, is occasionally "a Swiftian satire, having as its main target the colonizing policies behind the rhetoric of liberating and democratizing nations."



Review of Contemporary Fiction, summer, 2003, Ana Lucic, review of Sahib: Impresije iz depresije, p. 136; spring, 2006, Michael Pinker, review of Lodgers, p. 148.

Style, fall, 1996, Tatjana Jukic, "Souls and Apples, All in One: Bosnia as the Cultural Nexus in Nenad Velickovic's ‘Konacari.’"

World Literature Today, July-August, 2006, Ales Debeljak, review of Lodgers, p. 72.


Nenad Velickovic Home Page, (October 27, 2007).

About this article

Velickovic, Nenad 1962–

Updated About content Print Article