Summers with Maria

Fraktura, Sep 2022, 176 pages
French sample available

Translation rights sold: Serbia (Booka)

Drenched in the Mediterranean sun, Summers with Maria is an auto-fictional history of five generations of women, in the vein of Ginzburg’ Family Lexicon and Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women.


Meet The Author

Fraktura, Sep 2022, 176 pages
French sample available

Translation rights sold: Serbia (Booka)

Summers with Maria spans across a period of hundred years, more precisely across one hundred summer seasons from 1921 to 2021: through them, the author narrates the lives of her heroines, five women of the same family who all go by some variant of the titular name: Marieta, Mary, Masha, Mariola, Mara…

We meet the oldest among them, Marieta, born in the dawn of the 20th century, as a sixteen-year-old faced with an unplanned pregnancy. A century later, Mara, the youngest, travels across Europe digitally sketching the family tree of her female ancestors.
In less than 200 pages, Savičević manages to paint a vivid fresco of a century of female emancipation, as effortlessly as flipping the pages of a family album. In a series of colorful fragments, we meet our heroines through their tiny and immense milestones:
their first periods, war years, courtships and friendships, family gatherings, joys and tragedies, journeys and displacements, memories and dreams of their brighter future.

Much like Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women, Summers with Maria tells a universal tale of mothers and daughters by telling about the everyday lives of women in a small Dalmatian coastal town. The focus is on the intimate and the unknown; great historical events are never narrated, yet always echoed. It is a private history of women on the Balkans and the Mediterranean, tackling gender and national identities, one’s roots and private exiles, girlhood and womanhood as well as wars, lagers, political turmoil and its consequences on women’s intimate lives. Like her heroine Mariola, that may function as author’s alter ego, Olja Savičević reconstructs the reality with the help of fiction; using oral history, archive tapes, photographs, documents and letters, she crafts a poetic chronicle, a yearbook bursting with life, a universal history of women’s experiences.

Olja Savičević Ivančević is a poet, a fact the reader is very well aware of: her use of language is skilful, economic, clear, and most importantly, seductive. Summers with
Maria is a tale of (non)belonging, comings and goings, about the corrosive effect of time on the illusions of the youth. Like a river, it flows, yet stays in place.”

Magdalena Blažević 

If this is an autofictional novel, as some critics suggest, it is then a masterclass in autofiction in the post-yugoslavian literature, skilfully borrowing novelistic
strategies without losing any of its accesibility.

Maja Abadžija | Booksa


“As in Savičević’ earlier works, the centre of this literary universe is the Mediterranean, which shines most in the summer. The summer is one of the key motives not only in the title, but in the overall atmosphere of the novel that the author creates, masterfully as ever. All is bursting with senses, everything you can touch, read, smell. Everything in Summers with Maria is rich and opulent, everything is “magical, soft and marvellous” even though we know well it is not and that paradox is its essence, and summers exist so we could see things clearer, more rooted in reality.”

Jagna Pogačnik | Kritika HDP-a