Catherine the Great and the Small

Olja Knežević

Translated by Paula Gordon

Istros Books



ISBN: 9781908236401


Publication date: 20 June 2020



Catharine’s tragectory in life is accompanied by failures in love, family traumas and an incredible romance with handsome Sinisa. The novel takes us through turbulent times in the Balkan region, from the eighties to the present day, portraying growing up in the twilight of communism, and giving intimate insights into all that happened to the region after that.

Carefully crafted characters and masterful, dynamic storytelling place Catherine the Great and the Small in the company of the very best of novels , which speak about the reality of their geographic setting and are remembered for their convincing, strong, maladjusted characters. Catherine is certainly one of them: a powerful female voice seeking her place within her family, among friends, in the cities she lives in, and constructing her unique identity as a daughter, granddaughter, friend, mistress, wife and a mother.

‘The splendid language of this novel is skilfully and vividly translated, and the narrative is compelling. What is also striking is the portrayal of the characters with all their flaws and foibles (and who gain our sympathy perhaps particularly because of them). This inclusiveness of vision towards both characters and places – without judgement, rejecting nothing – is a special quality. It is the viewpoint of our greatest organ of perception, the heart, a territory that Olja Knežević knows well and has made her own.’ Morelle Smith, Scottish Review

‘This is not a they lived happily ever after novel, not least because they lived happily ever after all too often does not happen in the real world. Catherine struggles, she falls, she fails, she picks herself up, she carries on, for herself and those she loves, and, somehow, she does not get the perfect situation but makes an accommodation with those around her, keeps her head help up high and marches on. We can only wish her well.’The Modern Novel