Isabella Michela Affinito
3. Deborah Benigni
(Mucchio Selvaggio, num. 588/2004, Italy)
Gunjaca, the author of dramas and novels we already spoke about
on these pages, is trying to contemplate the inevitability and
the senselessness of war, almost playing the role of a Michael
Moore from the Balkans. There stories are the result of thinking
about all the events that shook up the author's country in which
all of a sudden, everybody turned up to be enemies to one another,
not knowing exactly why and not even wondering why. So it seems
that one of the remedies are questions with no answers. Questions
that do not need a single answer because answers are enemies to
the dialogue such questions open.
Isabella Michela Affinito (Fiuggi, 2 August 2004, Italy)
Drazan Gunjaca from Pula (Croatia) has written numerous short stories or essays about the phenomenon of war in order to express himself and show the tragedy of such an event that, sadly, repeats itself frequently in the history of mankind. All the way through the book the author does not seem to have great hopes regarding the matter, all the more since he has personally been tried by five years of harsh war in his country, he saw and heard a lot, every type of pain amplified by a pelting rain of bombs, some of them even called intelligent, but none the less lethal, bombs that sometimes fall on the innocent.
“All Men Are Brothers” contains fourteen short stories showing both the individual and the social disillusion of the author, a sort of disenchantment expressed by a prolixity of vocabulary exclusively connected to the phenomenon of war, like a terrible obsession humanity cannot do without. Why? Why, after long years of peace (let us call it ceasefire), man has the urge to sound the thunder of death with the noise of weapons.
Maybe it is all about a game of subsistence where two opponents keep, cyclically, fighting for the predominance over something; or maybe it is an atavism man is attached to since he first set foot on this Earth. Who knows? “And so I sit on my terrace and the same thoughts come to my mind for the umpteenth time: why can’t wars be avoided? Is it because the majority of people have no idea about their essence, until one happens to them? Maybe also because they are not aware of the fact that today, in the galloping globalization, there are no other people’s wars. These are all our wars because all of them, one way or another, directly or indirectly influence our lives.” (p. 33).
The author managed to enter other people’s consciences, especially those of his adversaries, people thinking differently, in order to overturn them and suggest at the same time, new formulas of life. Did he manage or not? Only by reading this book in its entirety can we understand Drazan Gunjaca’s reasons for peace, his long discourse that at times approaches a philosopheme of war, its side effects, the disasters and the number of victims that will surely make it to the media but will nevertheless remain absurd victims, just as absurd as hatred and contrasts between nations.
3. Deborah Benigni (Punto di vista, n.45/2005, Italy)
All men are brothers
Foreword by Renza Agnelli. Cover photo of the author. Graphics I. Campisi.
Edizioni Universum, Trento 2004, pp. 64, 9.90 EUR
A lucid but merciless analysis of the value and significance of the word “war” today: this could be a possible definition of this treatise by the Croatian author who presents a detailed analysis, even if among a thousand questions as well as frenzied certainties, of the motives that make human beings embark on such a foolish trip and perpetuate it pointlessly into an apocalypse of tortures.
The starting point for the author’s reflection is the terrible Balkan war he witnessed in first person (“a war that lasted five years”, as he himself repeats several times), a war that physically and internally devastated the country where he still lives and writes, and for which he feels “an incomprehensible love”. This war seems to have ended a long time ago for many people, but the author states that in reality it has never ended, or at least it shouldn’t have in people’s consciousness: the war is not just an affair of the State, it is an obsession for which the whole human race and not only the participants are responsible (“If no normal person wishes a war, why has war become a normal phenomenon?”).
A bitter but felt criticism of the civilized world, intended to break the indifference paralyzing so many people around a theme so sadly topical. It’s a theme that does not have a plural form for Gunjaca: in the age of “galloping globalization” it is not logical to speak of many wars… they have way too many elements in common, making us think of the “war” as a merciless lord, an infernal demon possessing the soul, the intelligence and the matter of the world. Are there really “lords” in conflict or is it IT, the chilling prosopopoea, the dominator of the “dominators”? The latter is only one of the many questions the author keeps asking both himself and, rhetorically, the readers, all through these 14 essays written with a vibrant pen that is never hypocritical or conformist.
The literary core of the book is worked out in a felt invitation to look reality in the face and open our eyes for such hot matters. Is there any sense, in this day and age, in speaking about “intelligent bombs”, when they are so obviously a desperate insult to life? How can war be a rational choice? The questions raised by the author are larger than the boundaries of his country, thus touching other realities: New York after September 11, Iraq, Afghanistan… The reader is made to reflect on his role and his duties in the world, defined by Gunjaca as “my biggest and most painful illusion”. Sadly enough, the war belongs to everybody, not only to those who have witnessed it in first person. In conclusion, the title of the book may seem a strange paradox: who are the brothers the author is talking about? The homonymous chapter explains it as a quotation of His Holiness John Paul II, on occasion of his visit to the author’s country. Gunjaca only points out: “All men are brothers, and the exceptions are there to confirm it”.