Goran Gocić (1962, Užice) is a journalist, editor, filmmaker, translator and a writer whose works have been published or broadcasted by thirty media houses in eleven languages, including dailies Borba, Politika and Dnevni telegraf; TV stations RTS and Channel 4; the film magazine Ekran, Sight & Sound and the International Film Guide. During the war for Yugoslav heritage he had more than thirty appearances on global television stations (BBC World, News 24, etc.) as a political commentator, but he specialises in cultural mattersabout which hehas been publishing articles continuously since 1987.
Gocić graduated in English Language and Literature (Faculty of Philology in Belgrade, 1991), and received his MA in Media and Communications (London School of Economics and Political Science, 1999). He has written essays for about fifteen compendiums on the mass media (such as Power Degraded: The Media and the Kosovo Crisis, 2000; and Entertainment or Art: Concerns about Original Film, 2008). He has also prepared several among them, for example the latter.
He has published the books: Endi Vorhol i strategije popa (Andy Warhol and the Strategies of Pop, study, 1997/2012), Emir Kusturica: Kult margine(The Cult of the Margin, study in English, 2001, translated into Serbian, 2006, translated into Chinese, 2012), Želimir Žilnik: Iznad crvene prašine(Above the Red Dust, study, 2003, co-authored + English translation), Tai (Thai, novel, 2013/2014).
Documentary feature films: Prokleti stranci (Bloody Foreigners,reporter/camera, 2000), Blakanski dnevnik: Bugarska (The Balkan Diary: Bulgaria,screenwriter/director, 2010).
He has received two Borba Awardsfor essay on society (1996 and 1997), the “Dušan Stojanović” Award for publication in the field of film studies (2002/2003), the “Miloš Crnjanski”Award (2011 / 2013), and the NIN Award for novel of the year (2014).
Goran Gocić won the NIN Award for his novel Tai in 2013.
The book that is defined by its topos: Thailand. Love and Thailand. Woman, sensuality, demystification of the main character. Analysis of the Far East in relation to the (Far) West.
If it were not a novel, this would be a “feasibility study” on how a self-conscious man could or rather – want to protect a woman (as a Christian). A project doomed to failure under the given circumstances: not because it is not achievable, but because it is not needed. This seemingly frail woman by her very “passive” existence, presence, (Buddhist) refusal in acceptance, will contribute to a self-subsidence of the seemingly macho man from the beginning of the book, who will, in an amazingly honest self-analysis, turn into a vulnerable being. So vulnerable that he will need the help of St. Christopher, patron of travellers.
The structure of the novel is built in way both simple and complicated. The result is very useful for the book: the weight outweighs into comprehensibility, just like the other character of the book, the hero’s shadow, complement, contrast or even alter-ego, ideally complements this guest in another culture. Equally, the Notes at the end of the text upgrade the fiction, that is, fine art.
Tai is a lesson for the egotistical Westerner on how to cure his arrogant ego by Easterners’ suppleness. No, there are no winners. Maybe just the defeated. But then too – “healed” by the Empire of Emptiness.
And she is female.
Although told mostly from a narrative perspective (the main character is the narrator as well), in terms of genre, Tai is a polyphonic and multi-dimensional novel. Essentially a love story – ľamourfou between a middle-aged intellectual, a tourists from Serbia, and a Thai prostitute employed in a strip club in Bangkok – it is constantly intertwined and pervaded with motifs of travel, sometimes adventure literature, as well as the semantic key essayistic reflections, and the theoretical discourse and journalistic omniscience (which can often be read in a parodic key). In this case the love romance cannot be separated from the novel-essay and the novel-travel journal, and this is probably the most obvious, the primary value of Gocić’s book. The main conceptual thread that unites genre and linguistically so diverse segments of the novel, finds its inspiration in the well-known introspective twist of Montaigne’s Essays. In a contemporary context, in which Tai sets the thought of the Renaissance philosopher, that would practically mean: in the very process of writing ruthlessly re-examining oneself, the whole complex of one’s own prejudices, self-deceptions and “necessary illusions”, the entire load of existential lies of a westerner and a man from the Balkans in particular, in a concrete, sensual and emotional encounter with a Buddhist, matriarchal culture of the Far East.
Goran Gocić, the hero of the same name of the confessional novel Tai by Goran Gocić, is a Serbian writer with an identity crisis. A freshly divorced man. You could say an almost stereotypical example of a disappointed middle-aged intellectual who seeks any kind of sense, which quickly eludes him on all levels. The search for meaning initiated by life disappointments of all kinds results in a desire for an adventure that takes the hero of the novel to Thailand. A friend of the hero – a cynical and brutally realistic, on-line guide to the secrets of Thai love cuisine, with views that are often on the verge of racism – is present in the novel by means of e-mail correspondence, and communicates with the hero of the story from the address with the sender field which reads: mas (firstname.lastname@example.org ), could actually be Gocić’s alter-ego. More precisely, a devil’s advocate of his own convictions and prejudices from the time preceding the experience of his intellectual and emotional transformation. The presence of the heroine of the story is unobtrusive and largely mediated by the correspondence and dialogues between the male heroes, and by re-examinations of the writer given in the form of a monologue. What begins as a classic trafficking, or more precisely, sex tourism and an attempt to embody the desire for an unusual erotic adventure guided by the impulse of a Western man to consume something new and unusual – in the case of Gocić’s hero, gets a seemingly surprising turn. Prone to introspection, something that he has been prone to as a writer as well, Gocić’s character gradually reveals the other side of the Thai sex paradise. In fact, instead of the expected “harmless” and certainly casual entertainment with a go-go dancer that he happened to meet – he engages in a complex game of re-examination: of identity, the meaning of life, male/female relations, civilisation differences, traditions, attitudes towards family, love, sex, fidelity…