curates Aristid Briand’s Cabaret du Neant from the early 20th century. Every last week of the month we perform songs, poems, musicals, danse and stand-up folly.
Last year Nina was invited by Marc James Léger to contribute to his anthology dealing with the idea of the New Avant Garde, part 2. A very lively correspondence has been established between these two writers, the editor Léger, a renowned critical theorist and Nina Zivancevic, scholarly poet in the critique mode. A segment of their dialogue was published in a form of an interview for the online magazine The End of Being.
A review of my novel ‘Living on Air’ has been published in Politika, Serbia’s the biggest and oldest newspaper. Below is an English translation from the Serbian original (click article scan to enlarge):
Politika, /Culture, August 26, 2013, Belgrade, Serbia
Europeans in Search of Happiness
The British publisher, Barncott Press has published in their ebooks edition, a novel by a Belgrade poet, writer and translator who presently lives in Paris.
Just a few weeks ago, the British publisher “Barncott Press” has published a novel of a Belgrade poet, writer and a translator who has been teaching at La Sorbonne and living in Paris. Her novel “Living on Air” or rather “living off air” was originally written in English, but the shorter version of it, entitled “As I said before”, was published by Prosveta in Belgrade, 2004.
Nina Zivancevic is very happy that the novel has seen the light in it’s English, integral version. The author, who has entirely devoted her studies to Crnjanski’s work has underlined that it was lamentable that the original version of Crnjanski’s “Novel About London” (the Shoemakers) had been destroyed as “the translation can never reach the heights of an original literary work even if it had been conceived as the original version of a manuscript translated by the author himself”? That is, the translation never obtains all the nuances and the profundity of the original no matter what language it was written in. That’s why she thought that it was crucial for her novel to be published in English.
“Living on Air” is a non-formal, postmodern novel which explores it’s own possibilities within the genre as such. Written in an epistolary form, the novel follows the journey and the development of its heroine, a European woman who explores the possibilities of the brave New World, but at the same time it is a novel of self-exploration, of the picaresque wanderings as well as it is a search for “the holy grail” and the ultimate meaning of life.
It is a novel about Hollywood, as much as it is about New York, about the “more European take on the North America” as it often asks the questions such as : what had prompted the Europeans to explore the New World? Was it just their pioneers’ need for self-fulfilling existence and personal happiness, or was it simply their existential grind and greed that led them to conquer the land of the Indians?
Zivancevic’s fiction never accuses the actors for their actions, as it rather profoundly explores the essential reasons of human migrations. It also contemplates the wars and reasons for all (in)human conflicts which, according to the author inevitably lead to the manifestations of diseases, physical cum spiritual ones, as well as to the biological annulment of the population.
Somewhat like the contemporary literary critic Susan Sontag, Zivancevic sees disease as a metaphor. This meta-global novel explores in fact, many of the contemporary critical theories which the author has explored and has taught at the universities throughout the world.
• Living On Air is available as an ebook from Barncott Press.
“Serbian poet Nina Zivancevic talks about the Beat culture, Cohen, Ginsberg, Corso, and Herbert Huncke.” The link.