Biography or February
In 1512, on 22nd February, Amerigo Vespucci died.
Michelangelo Buonarroti, a genius, died on 18th February 1564, having already painted The Last Judgement. Maria Theresa pronounced Novi Sad the Royal Free City on 1st February 1784. On the Presentation of the Lord, on 15th February 1804, Karađorđe started the First Serbian Uprising in Orašac. On a wintery day of 17th February 1873, satirist Radoje Domanović was born, the one who wrote The Leader. The Empress of China was the first merchant ship to set off from New York to China, on 22nd February 1874. It is true that Pisarev was born on 11th February 1957 in the sign of Aquarius, ascendant Pisces, in the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. In Vizić! Marked by his name (Pisarev – Sr: scribe’s), he has been obsessed with writing so much that he does not even use the delete key.
He graduated in Literature from the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad. He works for Dnevnik.
He has written seventeen fortunate books.
Story collections: Knjiga gospodara priča (The Book of the Master of Stories, 1985), Miki Šepard: Strašne priče (Miki Sheppard: Horror Stories, 1990), Poslanice iz Novog Jerusalima (Epistles from New Jerusalem, 1996, selected stories), Besmrtnici (The Immortals, 2002, selected and new stories) and Velika očekivanja (Great Expectations, 2012).
Essays: Pred vratima raja (At the Heaven’s Door, 2002).
Novels: Mimezis i mimesis romana (Mimesis and the Mimesis of Novel,1983), Knjige naroda Lutaka (The Books of the Doll People, 1988), Gotska priča (A Gothic Story, 1990), Kovčeg (The Coffin, 1992), Popisujući imena stvari (Listing the Names of Things, 1995), Zavera bliznakinja (The Conspiracy of the Twins, 1999), Pod senkom zmaja (Under the Dragon’s Shadow, 2001), U srcu grada (In the Heart of the City, 2004), Ponoć je u sobi uspomena (It’s Midnight in the Room of Memories, 2005, 2010), A ako umre pre nego što se probudi? (What if He Dies before He Wakes Up?, 2009, 2010), Na stazi suza (On the Path of Tears, 2010).
He has been a laureate for the Laza Kostić and Stevan Pešić awards, and has received the Book of the Year Award of the Association of Writers of Vojvodina and Best Book of the Year Award of the Provincial Cultural Fund, as well as the Borislav Pekić Foundation Award.
He still lives in Novi Sad where he wrote this text in February 2013. When did you read it?
About the books
About the book Velika očekivanja (Great Expectations)
A truly unusual book of stories by Pisarev who, in the fashion of a giant slalom through literary references, takes his readers through the gates of these and a series of other issues.
Guided by the idea that literature as such, just like the setting of a book, has an equal right to determine the position of narration, using completely different registers of reality from one story to the next, the author leads us through an imaginary hall of literary secrets.
Always writing about the people on the margins, those who are going through love and eros of different scales, through unusual avenues of their own lives, Pisarev constructs a literary world whose most important constant is the fact that it is always different. Alternative. In it, the borders of the story easily become bordering existential states. And reading? Reading remains a myth.
The greatest value of this collection consisting of about thirty stories is its diversity. A careless reader will think that the authentic voice of our writer is lost. I shall say that this is simply untrue. Pisarev’s palimpsest-like prose is one of the most challenging in the entire corpus of the contemporary Serbian literature. Not only does the present belong to him, but the past as well.
Vasa Pavković, Blic
While the market, hungry for profits, demands of art to become cheaper, Pisarev’s ‘Freud-mumbo and Edip-jumbo’ implies that all stories have already been told (his included, as the matter of fact) and that all that’s left is their combination and (yes, useless) recombination. Consolidating the collection by associations to Revelation. Pisarev unveils the scariest (or, depending on the point of view, the funniest) fact about literature: it is actually dead, and today’s authors, like ancient Roman cartographers, who continued to include Pompeii, out of laziness or boredom, into the maps long after its destruction, merely maintain the illusion that creativeness still exists. If we lived in a society which cares about culture, this book, probably the best Pisarev has written so far, would cause a stir, at least a little bit.
Vesna Trijić, Blic
About the book А ако умре пре него што се пробуди? (What if He Dies before He Wakes Up?)
In the midst of dispersed, immeasurable time, Pisarev’s hero, a member of the generation which is already lost between the worlds, finds out that he is currently in a year without years and in a space which is yet to be discovered. The disappeared streets of Novi Sad are to be named again, and the books are people who are trying, in a Chinese shopping mall, to (re)map the coordinates of something that is already a terra incognita: the hazy continent of Novi Sad. The search for the promised land/promised city is a search for the (lost) identity. And the dream in a city which is disappearing before the reader is revealed through the 21st century postmodernist realism with fantastic elements (from cyberpunk and virtual reality to the Matrix universe), following in tracks of chamber-style pastorals, as well as intimate psychologisation of the early 20th century novelists. The tone of memories, the colour of nostalgia, renewal and/or reconstruction of reality is rooted in Pisarev’s old obsession that we live in a false world – the real one has fallen to pieces, and we live in its copy today
The author of What if He Dies before He Wakes Up? invokes, in a kind of final analysis, a curious and somewhat unexpected trinity of the ‘secret history of culture’, which consists of punk, science fiction and contemporary theory of possible worlds.
Pisarev’s hero searches for the lost identity in a space that is yet to be discovered, in a year when there were no years.
Đorđe Pisarev once again tells a non-linear story, interlaced with meta-textual segments, so that the entire novel makes a fine narrative amalgamation in which the fantastic and the intellectual mix with the knowledge of literature, while pensive narrative tones referring to transiency and the relationship to a loved woman have added a sublimating reading quality to this book, proving that top-level literature is not necessarily uncommunicative, hermetical and accessible to a narrow reading audience.
The novel What if He Dies before He Wakes Up? talks about still effective consequences of the conflicts in the territory of our former country, whose cultural and political tensions are still unresolved, by lowering them to the level of a personal destiny and the capacity of literature to talk about the world and the derealisation thereof.
Undoubtedly, the hero, all of us, no matter what we are like, sooner or later, must come up with some new algebra of the world and find the meaning in life again. Similarly to Sebastian Bux from The Neverending Story, who found a new name for the empress, after a long and fantastic search, Pisarev’s hero will succeed in renaming things to renew the world he needs.
Letopis Matice srpske
Pisarev has created a virtual book which searches for the roads to the reality (as a group of images and stories) and the real (as a personal effort to get free of the images), including elements of fantasy and pop-cultural narrations, but also literature’s noble aspiration and ability to unobtrusively create better worlds, to lyrically depict transiency and to search for points of transformation in the bordering discourses of love, dream and death.
Everyone who has ever read anything Pisarev has written is probably not surprised by the title of his new novel. Namely, the author’s procedure of fantastic modelling is used to emphasise the mysterious consequentiality of the oneiric space and/or the discovery of the porous border between the worlds of the dream and of (literary) reality.
This is not a story of a hero who narrates it, but about the heroine he is trying to create in his new novel, which introduces one more dialogue, converging on the heritage of postmodernism, about the literature and the purposefulness of writing in the age of virtual challenges.
In the novel What if He Dies before He Wakes Up? the reader founds himself in the informational destiny of a brain dangerously close to the Agency of Fear; life slides with immortality into the TV prime time. If we know of the spirit of the times, eventually all colours will become the natural world, so that people in peace can fight their silly wars and design patterns for democracy, which, through politics and enlightenment becomes a ‘curse in disguise’.
Radio Novi Sad
Succeeding in presenting the reader with a fine play of irony and literary quotes, Pisarev has elegantly introduced characters, their complicated relationships, and desires and hopes, into the story.