The Invisible

A novel


Year of publication: 2008

Word count: 76.770

Award: „Stevan Sremac“

Copyright belongs to the author


„Who is responsible for modern arts?“ was the not only marketing question under which the probably most successful novel by Aleksandar Gatalica came out. In the finals for NIN Award (Serbian Booker counterpart), laurelled with „Stevan Sremac“ award, this novel left neither the readers nor the critics indifferent. The Invisible is an allegorical story of the history of modern arts. In communicating his novelesque ideas, the author starts from the loop in development of visual arts, which has not been quite unbundled so far, and poises the question: how is it that after the first impressionist exhibition in 1873 modern arts burst into such an unexpected development, thriving as precipitously as it was met with contempt and derision of the audience.

This was the basis for development of genuine bildungsroman on characters who grow from small players of the epoch into controllers of arts’ historical flow. The novelesque assumption is seemingly simple: nobody, in the beginning of the twentieth century, seemed to care about modern arts. Not only minor poets do starve, but so do Braque and Picasso. Only twenty years later, in the aftermath of the WWI, hundreds of painters became well-off Parisian dandies, to become rich people who mutually differ only by type of sport car they drive only a decade later. How is this possible? Aleksandar Gatalica’s novel delivers a simple answer: it is about artistic conspiracy of a society from Switzerland that not only „invented modern arts“, but also precisely decided what artist would be the greatest, great or just acknowledged.

The novel Invisible was written in form of 33 letters sent by Dr Dimitrije Gerasimović Gerasim from his sick bed to a young friend of his in Chicago, starting from 1953, where he revealed his role in the century’s greatest artistic conspiracy. The letters written by Dr Gerasimović are not common epistles, but the notion of letter is significantly broadened to describe the epoch, events, thoughts and, of course, a novel plot.

After nearly twenty years, there came out an epistolary novel in Serbian, with Marc Chagall, Andre Derain, Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and others, beside fictional characters.