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Summer of the Dancing Bear
Guernica Editions, Spring 2012
256 pages
Kindle (eBook)
ISBN13: 9781550713800
ISBN10: 1550713809
$9.95 Canada, $9.95 US

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Summer of the Dancing Bear is a historical novel about the "rite of passage"of a fourteen year old girl Kata befriended by a gypsy clan. The novel explores Kata's search for a viable identity, acceptance of death, and understanding of love, through her journey of solving the mystery of the disappearance of a two-year old girl that occurred when Kata was eight years old. The story evolves within a village community polarized by racial intolerances between the villagers and the itinerant gypsies, where she grows up under the tutelage of her grandmother. It is set in the 1960's former Yugoslavia, still reeling from the horrors of the Second World War. As the story begins, Kata is eight years old. Her imagination is imbued by many haunting influences: by the image of her grandfather who perished in the war, by the tales of the gypsies' sinister dealings, and by her grandmother's superstitions. The grandmother is Kata's moral and spiritual guide, and the local herbalist seen by many as a witchdoctor having close ties with the gypsies. In addition, Kata's sense of reality is sometimes muddled by the visions she fears to disclose to anyone, such as vivid flashbacks of surreally animated paintings. When the two-year-old girl vanishes from her home, all eyes turn to the gypsy tribe camping at the outskirts of the village. But the mystery remains unsolved. Six years later, the same tribe once suspected of stealing the child returns to the village. Kata, now fourteen, is befriended by the tribe and captivated by their carefree lifestyle. She also falls in love. However, the unexpected turn of events that reveal her family secrets also lead her to the quest of solving the mystery of the long-lost two-year old girl. At the microcosmic level, through the eyes of a girl whose experiences have been confined to living within her narrow community, the novel explores the complexities and downfalls of a family unit. At the macrocosmic level, the novel explores the at once contemporary and classic questions of ethnic and racial taboos and prejudices, and finally the universal mystery of life and death. Taking the reader from everyday village life and events to somewhat idyllic ones, to humorous, to tragic, to mythical and mystical, the narrative links concepts from history to art to religion, from fairytales to Greek myth. It explores the human fate by chronicling the events as seen through the eyes of a child from the age of eight to her adolescent age of fourteen, thus allowing the reader to shape his or her own sentiments. The writing style is permeated by a subtle irony titillating to the reader who enjoys being challenged. At the same time, its easy flow with humorous relief also appeals to the reader who seeks simply to be entertained. The scenes of magic realism add mystique to the protagonist who enters into the landscapes of classical art and myth and leads the reader through the realm of a disquieting world beyond the human eye, at once familiar and dreamlike. The ending resolves the mystery of the missing child and sets the stage for a sequel. The second novel will develop the concepts which had been planted in the first such as Kata's affection for Lorca, a gypsy who is ten years older than her. It will also lead Kata on a quest to solve a murder she feels is linked to the political and social upheaval stemming from the breakdown of Yugoslavia

Books by Bianca Lakoseljac

Bridge in the Rain Stone Woman Summer of the Dancing Bear