22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Drago Jančar

Portrait Drago Jančar
© Hartwig Klappert

Drago Jančar was born in Maribor, Yugoslavia (now Slovenia) in 1948. He studied Law there and was editor-in-chief of the student journal »Katedra«. Later, in Ljubljana, he met intellectuals and artists who were also members of the opposition, including the poet and resistance fighter Edvard Kocbek; his long-lasting friendship with the Trieste author Boris Pahor also began at that time. In the late 1970s, Jančar worked as a film dramaturgist. In 1980 he became the editor-in-chief of the Slovenian publishing house matica in Ljubljana and cofounded the influential literary and philosophical magazine »Nova revija«. From 1987 to 1991 he was the President of the Slovenian PEN Centre. He struggled for the democratization of his country and published numerous essays and reports about the Bosnian war.

Jančar’s career as a writer goes back to his youth, when his early texts were published by the weekly magazine »Mladina«. His œuvre consists of several volumes of short prose, novels, plays, and essays about political, historical, and cultural topics. His early novel »Galjot« (1978; Eng. »The Galley Slave«, 2011) is set in the 17th century and written in a brilliant and dense style. Its hero suffers from the Inquisition and the plague. The historical subject matter can be read as a parable of the repression of present times. In 2001, his renowned masterpiece »Severni sij« (1984) was published in English as »Northern Lights«. Jančar’s most recent novel, »To noč sem jo videl« (2010; Eng. »I Saw Her That Night«, 2015), follows the fascinating life of a young woman who disappears in Slovenia in the confusion of the final days of World War II, but who lives on in the memories of five people who knew her.

Several international cultural institutions have bestowed awards on Jančar, including the Prešeren Prize (1993), the Kresnik Prize for the best Slovenian Novel of the Year (1998), and the Jean Améry Prize for Essays (2007). He also received the Prix Européen de Littérature for his life’s work in 2012 and for »To noč sem jo videl« (fr. »Cette nuit, je l’ai vue«, 2014) the Prix du Meilleur livre étranger for the Best Foreign Book in 2014. The author lives in Ljubljana.