Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

buy us books !
Amazon wishlist

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada



the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

The Death of the Little Match Girl

Zoran Ferić

general information | review summaries | our review | links | about the author

To purchase The Death of the Little Match Girl

Title: The Death of the Little Match Girl
Author: Zoran Ferić
Genre: Novel
Written: 2002 (Eng. 2007)
Length: 196 pages
Original in: Croatian
Availability: The Death of the Little Match Girl - US
The Death of the Little Match Girl - UK
The Death of the Little Match Girl - Canada
Der Tod des Mädchens mit den Schwefelhölzchen - Deutschland
  • Croatian title: Smrt djevojčice sa žigicama
  • Translated from the Croatian by Tomislav Kuzmanović

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B+ : dark and bitterly comic picture of early 1990s Yugoslavia

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 1/3/2004 Sebastian Domsch
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 8/5/2004 Marion Löhndorf
Die Zeit . 11/12/2003 Dorothea Dieckmann

  From the Reviews:
  • "Der Roman ist eine Geschichte aus der Zwischenzeit: Das gilt für die Insel in der Nebensaison, wenn die Touristen fort sind und der Nebel kommt, und es gilt für das Land im blutigen Übergang zwischen Diktatur und demokratischem Neuanfang. Zoran Feric, der bereits zwei Erzählbände veröffentlicht hat, gelingt das Kunststück, einen spannenden Krimi und gleichzeitig ein subtiles Porträt seines Landes zu schreiben, das sich zur Parabel über das Böse und die Liebe weitet." - Sebastian Domsch, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Ferić interessiert das Ensemble von Zeichen, nicht die Todesursache; das Puzzle, nicht das fertige Bild; das Rätsel, nicht die Lösung. Und deshalb stolpert sein Held auf Heimaturlaub durch seinen mediterranen Kindheitsort, halb Schilda, halb Elm Street, und entdeckt an jedem Pflasterstein, an jeder Person Geschichten von Horror und Harmlosigkeit, Vertrautheit und Verdacht -- Geschichten, die Ferić Meisterschaft in der kurzen Form erneut unter Beweis stellen." - Dorothea Dieckmann, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

- Return to top of the page -

The complete review's Review:

       The Death of the Little Match Girl is set on the island of Rab in 1992. With the end of tourist season there's the usual sense of purposelessness, but with a background of a collapsing Yugoslavia all around the future seems far more uncertain. As if to emphasise the absence of hope the book begins with the funeral of a six-year-old girl. And the narrator, who leads the reader on this autumn tour, is, appropriately enough, a pathologist, Fero.
       Fero grew up here, but this isn't much of a homecoming. Still, it's very much a novel of place -- what's changed since he left, and what remains the same, and, especially, the locals. It's an off-kilter place, where even the four church towers in town all ring at a different time, unable to synchronise even that.
       It's also a place where many things aren't what quite what they seem -- and where the truth is usually much uglier than one might have first thought. So, for example, what look like shooting stars from town turn out to be something very different. And the little match girl of the title isn't the six-year-old but rather a transsexual who has been spreading a venereal disease ("They called her that because she'd been spreading the drip around. The sting must have reminded them of that. Matches."). S/he is brutally murdered, and much of the novel focusses on the investigation into that crime, uncovering more of the local sordidness and ugliness.
       The story is not so much concerned with who is responsible as in using the crime(s) to describe local life. From the mysterious library patron who defaces the books -- ripping out their endings, or giving them away -- to the circumstances around the deaths -- from a pornographic video tape to someone stealing the corpse of the little girl -- the island is a world of its own, all its moorings seeming undone.
       Almost too bleak, The Death of the Little Match Girl nevertheless has enough quirky variety and dark humour to keep from bogging down entirely in misery. The narrator, too, is an odd form of dispassionate, realising repeatedly that despite his familiarity with island-ways and characters that he doesn't fully grasp much of what's going on, making him an appropriate guide on this tour. With the decent (if also very dark) murder-mystery, The Death of the Little Match Girl is an intriguing Balkan period-piece, offering a solid picture of a transitional time and individual fates.

- Return to top of the page -


The Death of the Little Match Girl: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       Croatian author Zoran Ferić was born in 1960.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2008-2009 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links