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Konfino, Žak

KONFINO, ŽAK

KONFINO, ŽAK (1892–1975), physician and author. Konfino, who was born in Leskovac (Serbia), practiced as a physician until World War ii and only began to write at the age of 40. Two of his early works were books of short stories: Moji opštinari ("Members of My Community," 1934) and Lica i naliičja ("Heads and Tails," 1936). Serving in the Yugoslav army in the war, he was captured by the Italians in 1941 and sent to a pow camp, from which he managed to escape to Switzerland. He returned to Belgrade in 1944 and became a full-time writer, coming to be regarded as one of Yugoslavia's outstanding satirists. Two themes are especially important in his works: the day-to-day life of Sephardi Jews in Serbia and the psychological relationship between doctor and patient. His books include the novel Moje jedinče ("My Only Child," 1952) and two collections of short stories: Lekareve priče ("The Doctor's Tales," 1953) and Nove humoreske ("New Humoristic Tales," 1960). His plays for stage, radio, and television include the comedies, Siroto moje pametno dete ("My Poor, Clever Child," 1957) and Eksperiment (1962). The latter was staged in Warsaw, and his works appeared in translation in many countries. He translated *Shalom Aleichem's Marienbad into Serbo-Croat. He also wrote the novel Jesi li Ti razapeo Hrista ("Did You Crucify Jesus?" 1968).

In the post-World War ii era, he was member of the Board of the Jewish Federation. In a letter to his colleagues on the Board dated June 29, 1946, he stressed the special character and near totality of Jewish losses in the Holocaust. Only two of his short stories appeared in Hebrew translation.

add. bibliography:

D. Katan Ben-Zion, "Presence and Disappearance – Jews and Judaism in Former Yugoslavia in the Mirror of Literature" (Hebrew, 2002), 75–76.

[Zdenko Lowenthal]

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