A debut story collection of darkly humorous, feminist speculative fiction from the Balkans.
Publication Date: 03-19-2019
Translated by Jennifer Zoble
Afterword by Ellen Elias-Bursać
Mars showcases a series of unique and twisted universes, where every character is tasked with making sense of their strange reality. One woman will be freed from purgatory once she writes the perfect book; another abides in a world devoid of physical contact. With wry prose and skewed humor, an emerging feminist writer explores twenty-first century promises of knowledge, freedom, and power.
"Bosnian writer Bakic’s debut teems with the oddball narratives of George Saunders, the eerie atmosphere of Edgar Allan Poe, and the feminist intellect of Marge Piercy. . . . Told in a straightforward manner that transports speculative fiction into almost realist territory, Bakic’s collection imaginatively and strikingly examines sci-fi tropes from not only the point of view of women, but also from the voice of an effortlessly gifted writer whose future is much brighter than that of those depicted in her stories." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Bakic’s stories are perfectly of the American short-fiction zeitgeist—dark, sometimes indeterminate, sidestepping realism—but as the afterword points out, there are few writers from the Balkans that make use of the speculative or the dystopian in their work, which makes this collection all the more darkly alluring.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Mars showcases Asja Bakić’s strong and unique voice. These are sly, uncommon stories—a rare mix of the witty and the visceral, with no small hint of the decadent and transgressive. A major talent.” —Jeff VanderMeer, author of Borne
“Mars is a compelling collection of finely nuanced stories that are equally playful, haunting, erotic, willfully mischievous, profoundly melancholy, and more than a touch perverse. Jennifer Zoble’s masterful translation of Asja Bakić’s youthfully elastic genre-blending prose is a stunning achievement, and these stories are an absolute pleasure to read.” —Donald Breckenridge, author of You Are Here
“Asja Bakić’s debut will transport you to another world, one that is as ethereal as it is cryptic. A visceral, imaginative, and deeply satisfying work.” —Cristina Rodriguez, Deep Vellum Books
“Stylistic deftness and unpredictability [continue] throughout this collection. Bakić is after answers to questions that defy explanation.” —Words Without Borders
“The stories in Mars are brilliant, unsettling explorations of gender, sexuality and genre.” —Shelf Awareness
“Unsettling in unsettling ways, Bakić’s mix of realism with science fiction and fabulism occupies the uncanny valley between the recognizable and the unrecognizable, unsheathing the weirdness of daily life.” —Josh Cook, Porter Square Books
“There’s an immediacy to Bakić’s offbeat worldview, sometimes strange and surreal, sometimes terrifying and upsetting, that pairs perfectly with the madness of the current political moment.” —Locus Magazine
“Bakić’s stories are a dark delight—a treasury of forbidden pleasures, moments of resistance and resilience, and terrifying possibilities.” —Strange Horizons
“At turns funny, surreal, and grounded in simple language but flung through twisted realities, the stories in this collection are provocative and utterly readable.” —The Brooklyn Rail
“Skillfully disorienting.” —BUST
“Mars is an expedition, to be sure, and it demands that you hold on with the same force that it holds onto you long light years after it draws to a close.” —Paperback Paris
“From the very first story, the exciting plot lines and thought-provoking topics keep you reading and wanting more; however, this book is best taken slowly, with time in between to savor each story.” —Asymptote
Interested in teaching this book in your classroom or reading it with your book club? Download an educator’s guide and discussion questions here!