Thursday, 16 June 2011

Brutality in the Balkans - Zlatko Enev's Requiem for Nobody

Hard, brutal, cruel, and cynical - this is the requiem of Zlatko Enev. A story about the turbulence in Bulgaria in 1984-1985, followed by the outrages in Serbia and Kosovo, and finished with contemporary Berlin. A story that begins with a French bread and ends with a sacrifice. Painfully honest and painfully realistic, Enev turns towards a shameful period in the Bulgarian history without the proud nationalism and patriotism - to present a picture we must see, although we don't want to believe.

The beginning. The nationalization of the bulgarian turks, who were forced to change their names. The process, which many mistake with patriotism, involved persecutions, murders, and brutalities comparable to the Turkish yoke. Those, who didn't want to abandon their religion or name were persecuted outside the boundaries of Bulgaria. In Turkey they called them Bulgarians, in Bulgaria - turks. They were nobodies - no name, no origin, no belonging to any particular group. This requiem is for them - for the innocent victims of the Bulgarian so called nationalism. People that felt themselves Bulgarians but because of hatred were punished. Enev takes the objective position of an external observer. The author doesn't belong to any ethnic group, he is simply Human. And the actions against the Turks in the 1980s were anything but human.

The women. Beaten, raped, killed, when they even attempted to raise their voice. Maria, the girl who fell in love with a gypsy, an idea unacceptable at that time (and still to be honest) bore the guilt of her beloved's death. Sold as a prostitute by her savage step father, Maria found herself in the Albanian reality. There she was a victim of men's perversities, filming porn movies. Her sufferings are too terrible to describe here. Enev, however, does an incredible job. I had to stop several times while reading because literary I felt the need to throw up. So savage, so brutal, so totally inhuman, Maria's destiny was never to be happy when she finally meets her torturer.

The turk, whose husband is suspected of organizing anti-Bulgarian activities and subsequently killed, falls in love with her rapist. The young girl who becomes pregnant from the local judge is killed by him. The German teacher expelled from Bulgaria because she dared call a turk girl by her own name. None of these outrages against women was punished. There was no system in place to punish the guilty ones. The women were nobodies. Their sufferings were unimportant, their guilt was inherent, and their destiny to suffer was predetermined. This is a requiem for them.

Zlatko Enev's Requiem for Nobody is difficult to read and accept. Yet it is objective (sometimes way too brutal) description of a period in Bulgarian history carefully hidden by communist propaganda. It is not recommended for people with weak nerves.

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