Hundred and One Stories of the Century
Publishing Year: 1999
Number of Words: 91.570
Award: Ivo Andrich
Copyright belongs to the author
The Century is so far the most voluminous endeavor of Aleksandar Gatalica. The intention was to gather one hundred one one short stories, each one intended for one particular year of the Twentieth century. The author’s wish was to depict, as in a broken mirror, the entire history of the Twentieth century – the darkest and the most humane period in the overall development of the mankind. Even so, the reader will notice that this is by no means the official history of the Twentieth century, though all of the important events of the modern history are dealt with.
The Century brings us one hundred and one destinies of the people who had lived in the previous century. It begins with the description of the World Exhibition in Paris in the year 1900, and ends with the moving account of the Portuguese doctor for venereal diseases whose wife dies at the opening day of the World Exhibition in Lisbon in the year 1998. In between the two exhibitions many lives had ended: the life of a romantic pianist who enters the new century of anti romanticism old and ailing; the life of the youngest of the Ritich family who sits at the docs of Sevastopol plotting to slay his entire family in the year 1920; the life of Silvia Amanda who learns about the existence of the commune of 12 families in a small Pacific archipelago in the year 1924; the life of the employee of the gigantic insurance company who is being stalked by a mysterious beggar in the year 1932; the life of chetnik’s major Dragi Radosavljević who in Barcelona suspects for the first time that he is in fact dead in the year of 1955; the life of a Jew Teresa Lobos who accidentally marries Oscar Bruner, the son Nazi in Paraguay in the year 1964; the life of a sculptor Harry Stolc who sold himself as the most valuable item at the auction exhibition in the year 1973; the life of Willy Ostertag who opens the Museum of the Contagious Diseases in the year 1982; the life of the reverend Bertrand Milenard who upon learning that he is dying, comes to a belief that he will be reborn as a Jehovah worrier…
By abandoning beforehand the idea to bond the stories into one bigger whole, making it the most precious characteristic of this book, the author enables the reader to read this book in order, from the beginning to the end, or simply by choosing the preferred year. The author’s aim was to preserve the rhythm of the good stories followed by even better, thus showing as much diversity as possible. The stories were written in different techniques, dealing with the different issues of the Twentieth century, touching the histories of many insignificant and significant people from the vast number of countries.
Many characters lose their lives, but many succeeded in their infernal plans – this is a grand gallery of tales and life lines. In order to fit the whole century in just 415 pages, the author had to master never before used methods in expanding the borders of a mini story. None of the stories in The Century were supposed to be longer than four or five pages, but they had to possess every aspect of a complete short story: history context, character’s prehistory and his description, the plot, and the conclusion.