Dejan Trajkoski

Dejan Trajkoski (1977, Prilep) is a well-known Macedonian author of the younger generation. He has a degree in philosophy.

He has authored the novels Istina, ljubav (Rašomonijada) (Truth, Love – The Rashomon Effect), 2012 and Infidelity (Неверство), 2014, which has been translated into Armenian, English, Albanian and Serbian.

Trajkoski is the conceptualiser and director of the International Literary Festival PRO-ZA Balkan. He is the owner and editor for the publishing house “Prozart media”, a member of the International Federation of Film Critics FIPRESCI, the Association of Macedonian Writers and the Macedonian PEN centre.

About the novel Infidelity

The new novel by Dejan Trajkoski focuses on the topic of one of the eternal themes of contemporary literature – the disintegration of identity in the encounter with the Other World, which inevitably leads to the destruction of the essential properties of a human being: love, fidelity, ideals, freedom, human individuality.

The novel is set in the time period between the beginning of the 1920s and the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes.

This period is the backdrop for the main narrative lines of the novel: innocence and romanticism of the first love of a young man Sone for Mena nested in their home of Macedonia, Sone’s wanderings because his marriage proposal has been rejected by Mena’s parents due to his social status of “a pauper”, and his leaving for America in search for a better future which he can offer to Mena one day.

However, the second part of the novel quashes the fairy-tale-like atmosphere announced by Sone’s birth, together with the dream of ideals and pure love, as the thematic focus shifts to moral decay of an unspoilt soul once it leaves its home and steps onto a foreign ground. On the soil of unfamiliar America, all moral values are degraded in the “upside down mirror”: Sone’s days are filled with alcohol, immoral women, “people whose totem is dollar”…, and his infidelity is not reflected only in him being unfaithful to the women he loves, but also in his inability to remain true to his own Being and dreams – this is why he falls down the pit of History irreversibly losing his own self.

This historical cynicism is conspicuous throughout Trajkovski’s novel. Actually, the entire novel can be seen as a discussion with the cynicism of history, which, in comparison to the cynicism of weakness (a Schopenhauerian incapacity of faithfulness) of a human being seems absurd.

All in all, Trajkovski’s Infidelity announces the arrival of a completely mature prose author, who is for me a pleasant surprise. A remarkable appearance in our literature, because he is not satisfied with tradition alone, but he does not refute it either: he seeks a new form and has already stepped OVER the threshold of its discovery.

Venko Andonovski (from the preface to the Serbian edition)

In the archetypal story told to us by Trajkovski, an educated reader can get entangled in a multitude of literary associations, but the impression is still dominated by the beauty of the poetic language, and the halo of ancient myths and legends.

The lovers who are in the centre of the plot are called Sone and Mena, invoking associations of the Sun and the Moon, followed by Jose Saramago. The story is dominantly brought in alternating narratives of the narrator and Sone, creating an additional dynamism. However, they are not the only voices, but this is no place for revealing everything. Although set in the relatively recent past, historically speaking, Infidelity is a novel emanating the spirit of ancient legends. There is something reminiscent of the frames from Milcho Manchevski’s films in the lyrical passages of this novel.

The author displays particular mastery in the subtle texture woven with details and facts referring to the time in which the novel is set, and which have historical, even political weight. This is not a classical historical novel, as it relies on archetypal and universal topics, so a wrong tone would sound especially wrong in this sense, but there are no such things here.

Muharem Bazdulj (Politika, 2019)

There are also instances of folk wisdom (for example, Sone’s granny’s words) contrasted to the philosophies of Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, given in the passages delivered in the voice of the narrator or the episodes where Sone re-examines his love and fidelity. In this book Trajkovski chooses an interesting procedure: originally, we are under the impression that the narrator is omniscient, only to discover that he shows signs of doubt later, even the fact that he can be deprived of both his voice and the right to tell the story. These “moods” alternate like on a movie screen, almost like in procedures of film montage, which is yet another feature of the simple complexity of Dejan Trajkovski’s novel.

The book is a page-turner, the reader eases into Sone’s world as well as Mena’s, where surprises and voyages await him, ranging from fairy tale to history, with a lot of love, tradition and cynicism.

Aleksandra Jurukovska