Borštnikov trg 2, Ljubljana, Slovénie
Gabriela Babnik est née en 1979 à Göppingen, en Allemagne. Après ses études à l’université de Ljubljana, elle a passé un moment au Nigeria avant d’entamer un master sur le roman nigérian moderne. Depuis 2002, elle rédige régulièrement des articles pour d’importants quotidiens et hebdomadaires en Slovénie. En 2005, Babnik a obtenu un diplôme en Littérature comparée et théorie de la littérature à l’université de Ljubljana.
Son premier roman, Koža iz bombaža (Peau de coton), est paru en 2007 et a reçu le Prix du meilleur premier roman de l’Union des éditeurs slovènes à la Foire du livre slovène. Son deuxième roman, V visoki travi (Dans les hautes herbes), est paru en 2009 et a été sélectionné pour le Prix Kresnik en 2010.
Babnik vit avec sa famille à Ljubljana.
Translated by Olivia Hellewell
I don’t know how much time I spent with Malik in Cotonou; a week, two, a month, year – this time was somehow deleted for me. Whilst waiting for school to end the two of us lived with some French lady called Julie Amado. She could have been the fleeting woman from Black Street with hair tied-up high, a slender back which at the inner of her body opened out into the shape of a letter ‘s’, and a slow gait, too slow even for her age. It betrayed her, that gait; it spoke of her vague past or at least of her excessive proclivity to melancholia. But after much thought I decided that it couldn’t have been the same person. Malik couldn’t have things under such supervision and also Julie herself seemed completely crazy. For instance she didn’t sleep at night, with her huge bed being overrun by cats; she sat alone in the chair with her feet on the bed, whilst all the cats – there must have been more than twenty of them – slept on her lap and in amongst plates of rotting fish.
I didn’t ask Malik where he met Julie, nor what the two of us were doing at her place. As far as I understood, we were waiting. Malik had otherwise introduced Julie to me as a friend, who knew how to form sentences and who was therefore writing a novel. He had even thought up a title for her, Once Again, the Sea, or something like that, and Julie was thrilled. She offered me a typewriter, a large, black, antiquated animal, which upon typing gave out a menacing sound and it consumed paper, with the trees going into its oblong mouth in tens. At such tense moments I leapt from behind the table and began to pull the paper, at first carefully, but then more and more furiously, with the torn up pieces flying through the air like snowflakes, we are the like snow which eventually ceases to fall, I murmured a sentence to myself which I still don’t know where I picked up, but after a few days the machine gave way, the tropical rainforests were saved, the landscape unfrozen whilst for me everything had only just begun. Julie began to tell me her stories all over every corner of the house. Maybe to some degree they were interesting enough for me to churn out a book about them. But I declined, seeing as in reality I had no idea how to construct sentences, Malik had just made that up, but she carried on leaning her back against the wall, biting into a baguette and some holey cheese, and recounted. It was how I learnt of how she came to Cotonou as a volunteer teacher a year earlier. But because things didn’t work out - she said it just like that, I remember exactly – she had left her job.