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Barbi Markovic: Superheldinnen (Superheroines).

de    en    fr    span    cz

A Novel.
With translations by Mascha Dabic.
Salzburg-Vienna: Residenz, 2016.
176 S.; broschiert; Euro 18,90.
ISBN 978-3-7017-1662-3.

Barbi Markovic


Like Superman, the three friends in Barbi Markovic’s new novel Superheldinnen (Superheroines) intervene in the lives of those whom fate has disadvantaged. However, their interventions are nothing like those of their titular namesakes. Once a week, the narrator, Mascha, and Direktorka choose a person to experience the "stroke of fate" or its alternative – "obliteration." In their column for the magazine Astroblick, they ask their readers to pool their energies so that the chosen ones may be transported into a hopefully better world or, alternatively, simply erased from collective memory.

But more than they need the scanty pay from their strokes of inspiration, they need one another so as not to fall into social depression. For lack of other sources of income, the friends hatch ideas for their interventions every Saturday in a grubby Viennese café, where the narrator also ponders why they are unable to ascend to the middle class. Immigrants from a crumbled empire – former Yugoslavia – they didn’t bring much more from their homeland than the parapsychological gifts they inherited from their aunts and grandmothers.

Recording the sounds of the cities where she grew up, Belgrade and Sarajevo, and her chosen cities of residence, Vienna and Berlin, Markovic tells of the young women’s persistent money problems and of their dreams, which are guided by the mechanisms of advertising. Superheldinnen is a satire that sweeps you up and describes with black humor the gap between young female immigrants who own nothing and members of our affluent society – a gap that they are willing to use any means to cross. The happy end could not be more ambivalent.

Abbreviated review by Beatrice Simonsen, May 2016
English translation by Laura Radosh

Complete version in German:

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