Sanje Publishing

When Up There Birches Are Greening
by Breda Smolnikar

  • original title: Ko se tam gori olistajo breze
  • novel
  • first published in 1998, forbidden in 1999, new edition published in 2007
  • 144 pages
  • translated into: German, English (published by the author)
  • rights available: world
When Up There Birches Are Greening

Breda Smolnikar's tale draws on patterns of oral narrative, combining them with elaborate modernist forms of narration. The resulting text, typically told in one long sentence with an unmistakeable rhythm, interweaves multiple voices and language registers to build up fluid and fragmentary, yet powerfully evocative portraits of ordinary people and the historic events in which they are caught up.

When Up There Birches Are Greening traces the life of an extraordinary woman whose career in informal economy starts in the US (where numerous Slovenians emigrated during the 19th century) producing and selling strong liquors under prohibition – she even sells to the White house – then continues in Slovenia during the two world wars and accompanying political upheavals, always finding ways to survive and even thrive in seemingly impossible circumstances. As passionate in trade as ever in her uninhibited sexuality braving all early-20th-century taboos (but portrayed with tenderness and humour), Rozina’s uncompromising vitality is a far cry from the usual ways women are presented in Slovenian fiction.

Sample English translation is available in the attachement (translated by Lili Potpara).