Vesna Aleksić was born in 1958 in a small Serbian town close to Belgrade, which she remembers as being a lively place full of children, carriages and steam trains, and which was formative for her writing. After completing her studies she became a school psychologist, and today works as an expert advisor in nursery education. Aleksić actually began writing by chance, after looking for new texts to use in her work. Encouraged by the chief editor of the »Politika« daily newspaper she went on to write her first children’s book »Karta za letenje« (1994; t: Ticket to fly). Since then more than 25 novels and collections of stories have been published, making Vesna Aleksić one of the most popular authors of literature for children and young people in her homeland. Following her début she produced »Zvrzda rugalica« (1996; t: The rascal star), which was lauded as the first anti-Communist children’s book and received the Neven State Prize (1996).
Asked whether she has certain readers in mind, Vesna Aleksić usually says that she writes »for children and perceptive people aged from 7 to 77«. She portrays her young protagonists as sensitive, clever and inspirational characters who, through vitality and unwavering courage, cast an awe-inspired view over the world. »Childhood is above all else a state of mind rather than a defined period«, says Aleksić. »Children are exceptional people who carry much in them which can easily be lost as an adult«. In »Ja se zozem Jelena Suman« (1998; t: My name is Jelena Šuman) – which was awarded the State’s Prize Politikin Zabařnik – the author depicts children who meet on a stairwell and discuss all the things that are on their minds. With great affection these stories document not only major and minor vexations, such as the acceptance of one’s own name, but also children’s profound musings on the universe and death. The author thus describes adolescence as a vulnerable phase when children, particularly during times of violent ethnic conflicts, can easily become the targets of aggression.
Against the backdrop of the shattered, multiethnic Yugoslavia, Aleksić’s novels for youg adults ponder the piercing pain of initiation. In »Marija Modiljani« (1999; t: Maria Modigliani) the author writes sincerely and movingly about the emigration of young Serbs to Canada, and about the traumatic sacrifice of homeland and language they must endure. The war and its aftermath are depicted from the perspective of the eight-year-old Maria, her 18-year-old brother and his girlfriend »Mody«. With equal earnestness and displaying a natural ease with the language of young adults, her novel »Licitacija vetra« (2000; t: Auction of the wind) documents a day in the life of an adolescent girl who experiences her first romantic rendezvous in the shadows of a heavy bombardment. The author here creates a novel which renders joy and the state of being in love as a particular form of rejecting the war.
Most recently Vesna Aleksić has published a collection of stories entitled »Ključar varoškog bioskopa« (2005; t: The cinema keeper). In 2004 she received the distinguished ZMAJ State Prize for her artistic contribution to young people’s literature. She lives with her family near Belgrade.
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