Inside & Out of Byzantium
Nina Zivancevic, a prominent Serbian poet, scholar, and translator, lived in lower Manhattan prior to the outbreak of the war in Sarajevo in 1992. Zivancevic introduced the work of Allan Ginsberg, Kathy Acker, and Charles Bernstein to East European readers, and her polyglot sensibility is highly informed by her immersion in the downtown New York art and literary world of the 1980s. In this, her first book of fiction written in English, Zivancevic’s distant outsider stance as a cosmopolitan New York intellectual is shaken and inexorably transformed with the onset of the war. Faced with the complete blockade of information in the West about the situation in her country, she has no choice but to become actively involved in its comprehension, but without promoting the cause of a particular party or faction. Inside and Out of Byzantium is a remarkably visceral and powerful literary response to a state of permanent war.