Published as the siege of Sarajevo ended, Lodgers is a hilarious, unsentimental report from the front lines of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Detergent mixed with flour, museum relics sold to U.N. peacekeepers, the magic power of laminated accreditation - all of the folly and the horror of that time are revealed in the sarcastic report of the novel's teenage would-be authoress. Maja lives in the basement of a Sarajevo museum, enduring with equal annoyance Serb artillery and vegetarian meals that taste like fried sponge. Her father, the museum director, zealously guards the treasures upstairs while their aged co-lodger Julio plots to trade them away. Maja's mother copes with yoga while dour stepbrother Davor endures the endless crying and cravings of his pregnant wife. Floating amidst it all is Maja's grandmother, blind and deaf, yet drawn to any conversation involving food. Need and crisis propel Maja and her companions from one humorous situation to another. Yet her pitch-perfect gallows humor makes it clear that the brutalities of war penetrate these small moments of life - and even the self-centeredness of a teenaged girl. A best seller in the Balkans and widely translated in Europe, Lodgers is an uncompromising novel about a modern tragedy.
Nenad Velickovic was born in 1962. He is the author of one other novel and three books of short stories as well as numerous TV scripts and radio plays. From 1992 to 1996 he served in the army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He lives in Sarajevo. Among Cella Hawkesworth's numerous published translations are Ivo Andric's Damned Yard and Other Stories (Dufour, 1992) and The Days of the Consuls (Dufour, 1993), Dubravka Ugresic's The Culture of Lies (Penn State, 1998) and The Museum of Unconditional Surrender (New Directions, 2002). She is also co-translator of Ugresic's In the Jaws of Life, published in 1993 by Northwestern University Press.