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The novel Unterstadt tells the story of an urban family of German origin living in Osijek from the end of the nineteenth till the end of the twentieth century. It is narrated through the portrayal of the destinies of four generations of women – a great grandmother, a grandmother, mother, and a daughter – their shattered illusions, the education of their children, the historical events that brutally lash out at them.

Ivana Šojat creates a world rich in detail and nuance, all her characters, both major and minor, are expressive and suggestive, abundant in virtues and flaws, complex and multidimensional, as life itself is. By depicting a clash of generations through the female characters of a family, the author creates a world in which, often due to bizarre strokes of fate or wrongly selected life-cards, both horrible and beautiful events occur. Yet the central theme, running through all the generations and all the characters, is that of hiding away from the past, fleeing from it, concealing it, which sooner or later leads to traumas and misunderstandings.

Unterstadt is a book about a family and a town, written in the manner of the best and greatest modernist novels. Through the history of one family, it speaks of the twentieth century in a multiethnic town, of dictatorships, of wrongly selected sides, of fate which one can hardly defy.Unterstadt reveals the richness of Ivana Šojat’s narrative talent, and it is thus not surprising that she has emerged as one of the most interesting writers of contemporary Croatian prose.

The book Understadt was published as part of the Growing Together project, co-financed by the European Union.