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FROM THE PEN OF MARTA PRAVICA TRKLJA

NEW NOVEL ON
THE TOPIC OF SLAVERY
WILL THE FILMMAKERS REACT TO MARTAS TOPICS?
Martas new novel is like a film script, and provides an excellent
opportunity for filmmakers to test their creative capacities on topics
that arise from myth and historical memory.

Author Marta Pravica Trklja had the


necessary courage to fill a historical gap that has
been uncomfortable for other writers. For centuries,
until recent times, we have not had or produced an
authentic account of the past. The best literature,
without remarkable bits of narrative, has been found
in Church literature, in some more or less eloquent
fragments of legal texts and in archival sources.
With the exception of a few dramatizations on epic
and medieval themes, we have had almost no pure
literary prose about any historical events of the
Middle Ages. Hence, we have not developed common knowledge of plot until the
19th century, nor do we have a narrative with the historical themesespecially
not novels.
Author Marta Pravica Trklja, native of Trebinje, who lives and writes in Canada,
has begun to fill that gap with her novels written in English: Wounded Dove in
Honor and Disgrace, Powerful Master and His Slave Bride; Deina: A Matter of

Survival and Melina: A Departure From Tradition. Martas poetics are very simple.
She has developed her own unique narrative style.
Because she has been away from her native Serbian language for a long time,
Marta has written her novels in English. Her literary techniques based on story
telling are not complicated and are quite in the
A NOVEL ABOUT HASAN
tradition of a historical novel. Mrs. Trkljas
PASHA PREDOJEVIC
story lines are not like the more modern ones,
with hanging plots which can be told in any
Marta Pravica Trklja is in
time. They are quite realistic stories related to
the process of reviewing
specific historical events or long-term
the Serbian translation of
processes.
Wounded Dove in Honor
In Canada, Marta has read among other things,
and Disgrace. She has not everything she could find on the history of
yet decided whether to
slavery in our region. She had before her folk
print this novel in Canada,
tales, family legends, epic poetry, and several
the United States or in her
scholarly works that exhaustively explored the
homeland. She is currently topic of slavery in several geographic areas in
the then Ottoman Empire, especially in Bosnia
collecting material for the
and Herzegovina, in the Dubrovnik Republic
background for and is
and along the Mediterranean.
starting to write the first
pages of the historical
The theme of "Wounded Dove in Honor and
novel about Hasan Pasha
Disgrace, is about the tribute in blood, which
Predojevic, about whom
was introduced by Sultan Murat II in 1420, in
there are many stories in
order to increase the number of able-bodied
the oral tradition of Eastern men to serve the expanding Ottoman Empire.
Herzegovina.
The essence of this move was very complex;
therefore, its perception in historiography is
multilayered. In some ways, the Sultan wanted to push the hereditary aristocracy
from the political scene, which in some way had always threatened his power.
Hence, the tribute in blood devshirme had been applied to non-Muslim children
only; they in time rose mainly to higher military titles in the Janissary units. In the
early days, they selected boys at the age of eight and ten and later they raised the
boundaries.

Marta writes about the "tribute in blood from the perspective of the parents
whose child the Turks had taken, as well as from a child's perspective. At the
same time, she brings into focus some fragments about their education and

THE STORIES FROM THE PAST


As the author said, "Since my early childhood I have been fascinated by stories and events from the past.
The farther those stories came from the past, the more I was interested in listening to them. Those stories,
together with the folk poetry my father and grandfather recited, deeply influenced my earliest intellectual
development, giving me a sense of our nation in its age-old suffering.
I felt as though I experienced nearly everything they told me. I have never forgotten any of their stories.
Even as a child, I deeply felt the sorrow of my people and tried to understand it. As I grew up and started
passionately to read, especially about the sufferings of our women who stoically fought for survival
throughout the centuries, I realized that from the beginning of our history, since we got our faith and
nation, throughout all ages, through all the wars, Serbian women carried a huge burden on their frail
shoulders. They gave birth to sons, raised them, prepared them to fight for freedom, and buried them
when they lost their lives.
Nevertheless, they always managed to persevere under that heavy burden and never lost hope for a
better future; nor, did they ever let their enemies kill their Serbian spirit. They firmly believed that
those enemies could take away everything that Serbian people possessed, but they would never let
them take their spiritual soul."
In the conversation we had, Marta mentioned that she thinks about Eastern Herzegovina daily and sees it
through the eyes of her youth. She remembers blue skies and green mountains, forests in which sharp
rocks rise from the ground, and its wonderful, noble people. She remembers the beautiful River
Trebinjica, meandering above the town and then gliding through Trebinje. She remembers the setting sun
hovering above the hill of Bjelanica. Herzegovina is the most beautiful place in the world to her.
Novelist Marta Pravica-Trklja earned a bachelor degree in English Literature and Classical Studies at York
University in Toronto, Canada. She taught business English at Sheridan College and then worked at York
University for ten years as a career advisor. She earned a master degree in English in 1995.
The title of her thesis was Serbian Oral Poetry 14th20th Century: a Paradigm of Honor. In her thesis,
Marta showed that each folk singer presented three systems of honor; patriarchal, patriotic and religious,
and offered a resolution to their conflict.
Marta argues that those paradigms of honor, the tension between them, and the way in which they are
resolved remained constant in the written tradition.
Martas novels can be found at Amazon.com. Amazon organizes competitions for the best novel of the
year. Among the 5,000 books in the third round, Martas novel Wounded Dove in Honor and Disgrace,
placed 250th.
Marta Pravica Trkljas life was thorny and difficult, but she believed in herself and achieved her goals. She
is one of the founders of the Serbian charitable organization Jovan Dui and one of its most valued
members.
SLOBODAN RUNDO

subsequent career in Constantinople and in other parts of the Ottoman Empire.


Marta not only integrates family drama into that summary, but also the narrative
of the emergence of the imaginary village of Gruicas Bridge near the town of
Trebinje, where most of the action takes place.
Angelina, the main character in the novel, like an ancient heroine is forced to
tolerate the deepest temptations and heavy defeats that break the strongest and

the most resilient spirits. Consequently, she manages to overcome all the
troubles that come her way one after the other. She is fortunate to meet with her
son again who became a Turkish Pasha. In the end, Angelina is able to make
peace with the world around her in order to close her eyes in peace and quietly
leave this world forever.
Marta Pravica Trklja talks openly about the brutal times and about the internal
social and national conflicts in the Ottoman Empire. While she could not avoid
the known epics and stereotypes, by the end of the novel she has opened a real
life perspective for all the actors in the action.
In recent literature that has treated topics from Bosnia and Herzegovina in any
way, Martas approach and ethical stance are very rare or almost nonexistent.
The many pages of other authors are written identically in black and white terms,
without any trace of moral shading about people in such a societal conflict.
Written today about slavery, Martas epilogues act authentically and convincingly.
In addition, her humanistic stories are open and they would most certainly be
useful reading for those who are working on the resolutions of similar conflicts
today.
While Wounded Dove was inspired by the phenomenon of slavery in the
atmosphere of the Ottoman Empire, Martas new novel, The Powerful Master and
His Slave Bride, deals with the same theme of slavery in Christian Europe. She is
telling a shocking and interesting story about a young woman Zlatomirka that
takes place on the trading route between Herzegovina, Dubrovnik and Bari in the
15th century.
The story begins when Zlatomirka disobeys her father by rejecting his decision to
give her hand in marriage to an old man in return for a great number of golden
ducats. Her solution was not to commit suicide, although she was on the edge,
but flees her parents' home. On the run, she accidentally falls into the hands of
slave-traders who sell her at the slave market in Dubrovnik. A rich, young, Italian
aristocrat, Lord Emanuel purchases Zlatomirka and takes her to his estate near
Bari.

Zlatomirka also planned to escape from him, but it became clear to her that her
young master was not heartless. She learned that he was a person burdened with
a difficult past, dominated by his father, a medieval despot, who was willing to
undertake every evil even with respect to his own son.
There follows a plot full of not only anxiety, dramatic events and uncertainty,
episodes ranging from incest to gruesome violence, but also inspire moral
transformations that alternate one after the other.
Like Wounded Dove, this novel has been written also in the unpretentious, clear,
forward moving style, without pause that would not leave readers indifferent.
Marta keeps the readers in constant anticipation so they feel they simply must
follow the main character, fear for her wellbeing, cheer her on, and in the process
examine their own conscience and their ability to resist violence today in a
completely different world.
It should also be noted that Martas new novel, Powerful Master And his Slave
Bride, like Wounded Dove, has exceptional visual effects. At times, it is like a film
script and it presents an excellent opportunity for filmmakers to test their
creative capacities on topics that are simply bubbling out of myth and historical
memory.
Nedjeljko MARI