Sasa Ilic

Sasa Ilic

Born 1972 in Jagodina, Serbia. Co-Founder and editor of the literary magazine BETON ( 2005 LCB residence scholarship (Literary Colloquium Berlin). Publications: Predosecanje gradanskog rata (Samizdat/Free B92, 2000); Berlinsko okno (Fabrika knjiga, Beograd, 2005); Pad Kolumbije (Fabrika knjiga,2010). Living and working in Belgrade.


The Columbia Case

Novel. 227 pp. Fabrika knjiga. Beograd 2010.

The fate of a family in the maelstrom of history. While her father´s in a coma, Irena discovers his entanglement with the secret service in the 80s. At the same time, Serbian Secret Police is preparing the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

The Columbia Case is based on historical evidence: As reaction to Zoran Djindic´s operation “witness” aimed at the disclosure of war crimes in February 2003, the Miloševic-Clan started operation „eraser“. In mid-March Djindjic was dead.


Upon hearing the news that an accident has happened to her father, Berkeley doctoral student Irena Berat returns to her hometown of Belgrade a few days after the crash of the space shuttle „Columbia“. A quest for her father’s identity, as well as her own, begins and a painful confrontation with her family´s traumatic past. Searching for facts about her father’s accident, Irena slowly uncovers his secret life. In 1988, as an editor for the city committee of the Communist Party of Belgrade, he started as an unsigned contributor for the daily newspaper Politika, editing the nationalist column.

The story about Irena Berat encompasses the period from Feburary 4 until March 14, 2003, from her arrival to Belgrade until her plane’s takeoff back to Frankfurt. The story about her father Vladimir takes place on only two days of his life, November 18-19, 1988, when a huge meeting was held in Belgrade at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, the moment when Slobodan Miloševic’s political career began. The third story follows three assassins from the Serbian secret police who, engaged to destroy witnesses and documents that could be used in war crimes trials at the Hague Tribunal, and, in the end, to carry out the assassination of Prime Minister Djindjic. The novel´s three parallel narratives eventually meet up at the most dramatic moment of contemporary Serbian history: The assassination of Serbia’s first democratic Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic on March 12, 2003.

The Crash of the Columbia is based on historical documents, witness accounts, and the reconstruction of media related to the rise of Slobodan Miloševic in 1988 and the murder of Zoran Djindjic in 2003. It is a story about one family in the maelstrom of history that became the target of the secret police, whose claws still reach deep into the tissue of the intimate, social, and political life of present-day Serbia.


Sasa Ilic: Der Columbia-Fall. Roman.
Leseprobe (German), Download (pdf)

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