Blackberry Heaven - a Novel in Stories
Kristina Helena Reardon
Publisher: Slovene Writers' Association
In Blackberry Heaven, a young woman named Jana, who comes from the Slovenian countryside, finds herself in Amsterdam, where she meets Bepi, an old man from eastern Italy who sells live fish at a flea market. They each carry within them a number of spinning, intertwining stories that create a mixture of situations that are by turns funny, peculiar, unpleasant, fairytale-like, and romantic. These stories flow through village figures, urban adventures, and mystical dialects toward a river outlet that which is at once also a new source. Thus, the story of this "river novel" never ends, since the ending of the novel is at the same time its beginning. Nataša Kramberger's Blackberry Heaven is enlivened with careening rhythms and onomatopoeia. It provides a full-blooded portrayal of the characters in Jana's hometown, which serves as a contrast to Amsterdam, that city to which the mysterious paths of fate have led everyone from a Surinamese woman working at a cybercafé to the biracial child whom Jana babysits. All find themselves in a city where throaty Dutch names resound even as the memory of Jana's native Slovenian dialect remains. Nataša Kramberger is known for her use and mastery of many linguistic registers, proving again and again her remarkable storytelling and linguistic prowess.