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Mascha Dabic: Reibungsverluste.

de    en    fr    span    cz

Losses through Friction.
Novel.
Vienna: Edition Atelier, 2017.

152 pages; Hardcover; Euro (A) 18,-.
ISBN 978-3-903005-26-6.

Mascha Dabic

Excerpt

Of course Nora is late this morning. As so often – no, as every morning, Nora thinks she must at last, at long last put in order the piles and heaps of books which have spread through her little flat in Vienna and seem to multiply like little monsters. 'Like gremlins, Nora thought and pulled the blanket over her head, while her elder brother had looked on fascinated as the little monsters multiplied unchecked.' This sentence, the fifth on the very first page of Reibungsverluste (Losses through Friction), the attractive, entertaining and intelligent debut novel by Mascha Dabac, refers, however smoothly it may seem to arrive, to hidden terrors, to monsters lurking below the surface. Below the surface of one day, for what is narrated is around fifteen hours of Nora's life; she is an interpreter, who on this day of the week works in an institution providing psychotherapy for refugees and asylum seekers. The arch of the narrative begins with her getting up in the morning and ends with her return to her flat in the evening, with her abandoning her resolution to give up reading for three months, switching off the reading lamp by her bed and with her last thought on this day, that reading may be the last safe place, but no, 'There is no safe place. Nowhere.'

Mascha Dabic, who at the age of eleven moved with her family from Sarajevo to Vienna, knows what she so winningly writes about. She herself studied English, Russian and Translation Studies, has written journalistic pieces about migration, and works as an interpreter for conferences and in connection with asylum seekers.

With a light touch and in a manner that is psychologically powerful and dramatically perfect she demonstrates conclusively that the private sphere is political, just how much the political sphere is private, and that moving and distressing individual fates reflect global upheavals, conflicts and the traumas of the present. How much all these areas oscillate and produce something which is called life, in which what matters above all is language: precise language which is never belittling, and intelligent empathy. And it is precisely all this which distinguishes this debut novel.

Abridged version of the review by Alexander Kluy, 27 February 2017.
English translation by Leigh H. Bailey.

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