Nikola Malović was born in 1970 in Kotor.
He graduated from the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade.
He has published a book of short stories The Last Decade (Poslednja decenija), novellas in dramatic form Captain Vizin – 360 Degrees around the Bay of Boka (Kapetan Vizin – 360 stepeni oko Boke), The Perast Needlepoint (Peraški goblen), and over 2200 articles. His stories have been translated into Russian, English, Polish and Bulgarian.
The awards “Borislav Pekić”, “Laza Kostić”, “A Master’s Letter” (for lifetime achievement), “Lazar Komarčić” and the October Award of Herceg Novi – he has received for his novel The Wandering Native of Boka (Lutajući Bokelj, Laguna, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013).
He authors the novel The Sail of Hope (Jedro nade, Laguna, Belgrade, April 2014).
He has published The Blue-striped Stories (Prugastoplave storije, Laguna, Belgrade, 2010).
He is the only author of the literary photo-monograph Herceg-Novi: A City of 100,001 Stairs (Herceg-Novi: Grad sa 100.001 stepenicom, Bookshop Co, Herceg Novi, 2011).
He is a member of the Serbian Literary Society and one of the founders of the literary Group P-70.
He lives in Herceg Novi.
About the novel, “The Wandering Native of Boka”
The first sentence of Malović’s novel reads: “I still think in Serbian”. This thinking in Serbian means actually thinking that is essentially anti-globalist. With this novel the Serbian literature not only got its first Mediterranean novel, or at least its first authentic Mediterranean novel, but also its first openly anti-globalisation novel – in the midst of a great production of the works which stand on the platform of the European and the globalist – and that, in a perspective that seemingly has no alternative.
Of course there is no conceptual world that can either ruin or give value to a work of literature, and because of that I emphasise that this is a fresh and original novel written with a rich, multi-layered vocabulary, and brilliant, highly literate sentences of a high style.
The novel is written in a clear style, from the central perspective of the wandering native of Boka himself, who cruises the Bay of Boka in search of the motives for his radio show. Actually, in the book the episodes of the cruise and experiences of different life situations alternate with chapters which offer the presumable records of the aired radio shows …
Malović’s style of writing is not avant-garde, but highly modern. It is perhaps the closest to the so-called magical realism of the great Latin American writers. The very term speaks eloquently of its essence, because the magical realism intertwines realistic motifs and actions with strong and expressive fantastical images. In the novel, they truly allow Malović’s expressivity and inspired eloquence space to find their full expression.
Novelistic dynamic is actually based on the continuous intersection, more explicit or implied, of the West and the East, the stone and the sea, the continent and the Mediterranean, and the literary heritage and individual talent, the traditional and the new myth. At these junctions Malović achieves poetic tension, which makes this novel an exciting and seductive reading, where the actuality of the present (political) time is transposed artistically enough, yet it is not diluted to the taste of an anaemic (in)difference. Or, as the narrator points out at the beginning in the form of poetic-Odyssean wisdom, one should take away “a layer of roughness and add a layer of artifice”…
Hence Malović, drawing on Homer’s Odyssey in regard to both motifs and structure, names his dramatised storyteller “Niko” (Nobody), referring in particular to the episode with the Cyclops Polyphemus, in which Odysseus comes up with the idea of a loss of identity, or a cunning negation of the linguistic essence of a being, which in the end saves him and his friends. In the context of this inter-textual relation, Malović, in the quoted first sentence: “I still think in Serbian”, offers a subtle parody on the current national-linguistic policy in Montenegro, heralding those satirical tones that will be voiced in various forms throughout the novel. The initially expressed linguistic awareness, however, is not a mere declaration, but is fully artistically consequent and conceptually consistent. Since, from the first to the last page of the novel, it is obvious that there is an intention and discipline to make the linguistic level of the novel particularly prominent, particularly coherent, yet juicy, exciting. Malović’s remarkably distinct linguistic and stylistic sensibility suggestively depicts Boka’s/coastal linguistic idiom. Moreover, it functionally builds a juicy sentence abounding in characters, adding to the text, at this level, smoothness and sexiness, maximally defamiliarising it, and making it complementary to the motif-thematic layer of the work…
The Wandering Native of Boka brings a considerable freshness and novelty into the contemporary Serbian novel, something that, in the recent years, could perhaps most intensely be felt in Tasić’s novels or Albahari’s Leeches – works of undoubted poetical particularity, but akin both artistically and in the sense of value. Finally, the initial impression does not fade, the impression that The Wandering Native of Boka for its (post)modernist swing, the complexity of the citation relations and multiplication of semantic implications, poetic self-awareness and mature and specific linguistic-stylistic sensibility, creative responsibility, seriousness, but also playfulness, opens to its author, as it seems, the door to make a grand entrance onto the Serbian literary scene.
For this reason The Wandering Native of Boka reaches far beyond the milieu of Boka Kotorska and grows into a work of a much wider symbolic spectrum. It is not a piece that treats the sea through a prism of cheep brochures from tourist agencies, through commonplace Baedekers, but a work modern in its traditionality of narrative premises, which aspires not to be post-modern in a post-modernist way, as a mere intellectual-aesthetic play and theoretical construct. Quite on the contrary, it’s a novel written with a strong motivation to introduce a distortional but rather possible view of Boka Kotorska (as a space the author is most familiar with) and through this image of ancient towns of the Bay offer a view of the present time and time that can come (in which the mask and the face will become one) and say something about seeking beauty, love and God in the time not at all inclined to them. This makes the challenge even greater, as well as the reading and cognitive Odyssey.
About the book “The Blue-striped Stories”
Form the last year’s literary production I would single out just one book of stories, Malović’s The Blue-striped Stories: allowing the fantastic dislocations strip the reality of a decaying society to the bone, the author is daring and uncompromisingly tendentious, but also without an illusion that art can change, ennoble or improve anything today; his temperament and regional features of the topic bring significant freshness to the domestic literature.