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15 Jan 13

WW1 Epic Wins Serbia's NIN Book Prize

Important literary prize goes to Aleksandar Gatalica for his epic novel, which the jury said cast a new perspective on the First World War.


Nemanja Cabric
BIRN Belgrade
Gatalica talking to journalists | Photo by Beta/Vladimir Milovanovic

Serbia's prestigious NIN prize for the best novel published over the previous year has gone to Aleksandar Gatalica for his novel "Veliki Rat" ["The Great War"].

The jury consisting of five writers or critics, Vasa Pavkovic, Ljiljana Sop, Mileta Acimovic Ivkov, Vladislava Gordic Petkovic and Mica Vujicic, announced its decision on Monday.

The book is an epic modern novel about the historical turning point at the beginning of the 20th century, showing how the great hopes then felt in the future of mankind were dashed.

The novel depicts the destinies of about 70 people from all sides and various strata of society: winners, losers, generals, musicians, soldiers, spies and ordinary people.

Gatalica –  Writer and a translator:

Born in Belgrade in 1964, Gatalica graduated in World Literature from the Faculty for Philology in Belgrade.

During his career he has written and published 11 books and translated numerous work from Ancient Greek.

Gatalica has won several important prizes in the past such as the Milos Crnjanski and Ivo Andric prizes.

He is currently director of the Foundation of the National Library of Serbia.

Gatalica's novel beat the novel "Death mask" by Laslo Blaskovic by a final score of 3:2.

The jury later explained that "The Great War" stood out from other novels in terms of the the way it revised the relationship of society towards the First World War.

In a statement after the jury announced its decision on January 14, Gatalica did not hide his satisfaction with the award, recalling that this was the third time that his book had reached the final selection for the NIN prize.

"This novel is the peak of my work. I am happy that the decision was brought after a vote, because this is good for Serbian literature. Two good novels stood out," he said.

The reward will be handed over to Gatalica on January 21 at the Belgrade City Assembly.

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