Skin Colour Cloud (Oblak boje kože) is a novel about guilt and justice, about victims and the other ones, but most of all about the Roma people and their culture, about those on the margin whom we do not see, but are always in the middle of a tragedy. In the novel we follow four narrative lines. The text opens with the story about a young Roma man, Enis. After the owner’s son was killed in a fire at the “Three Palms” cafe, everyone is looking for the culprit, and there can be only one - the young Roma who worked there as a waiter. No one doubts his guilt, his face is all over the newspapers, so he is forced to run. The only place he can hide is his father’s village in Bosnia. Like his sister, he only dreamed to live like everybody else, not to be constantly marked by the colour of his skin. This event, in the wake of the war, was the trigger for the seemingly quiet crowd to seek justice in the Roma settlement in Zagreb by surrounding it and making it a ghetto. The Roma are to blame, they are the ones who are different and hence dangerous. Will the brother and sister manage to overcome all the boundaries, especially the ones in people’s minds? Will Enis find his father, who obsessively collects every document about Roma people with similar surnames, killed in the Roma Holocaust, hoping for a large compensation while driving high-rank Yugoslav Army officers in his old Mercedes as a taxi driver?
Lujanović makes his novel complex on many levels. He interweaves Enis’s story with the story of his sister Sanda, a girl who not only dreams about different and better life, but takes real steps towards it, until the hands of destiny take her back to the beginning, to the ghetto whose strong fence is zealously built by those on both sides.
There is also the story about “the other side”, about the owner of the cafe and her ill son, who dies from the fire-related injuries. Until that tragic event, Enis tried to establish a normal coexistence with the two of them.
The fourth narrative line functioning as a novel within a novel goes back to history and discusses the Roma Holocaust as a subject kept secret, with no entry, let alone research papers, lessons in textbooks or books about it. One way to emancipate a marginal and oppressed culture is to attempt to fight for its own voice about its past.
The novel is about the human need to transcend the boundaries and break the curse of the ancestors; about prejudice and its tragic consequences; about minorities and majorities, nationalism, xenophobia and chauvinism; about the rigid rules of tradition and the wars where the already weak always suffer the most.
In his novel Skin Colour Cloud (Oblak boje kože), Nebojša Lujanović writes about an often marginalized subject, rarely talked and written about in Croatia - about Roma people, their community and customs, their view of the world, religion, misfortunes and numerous prejudices that accompany this ethnic minority in Croatian society every day, and about the minority problems in general.
The book can be read on several levels, and the fact that this is primarily a book about Roma people is just one of them. At the most abstract level, in author’s own words, this is a representation of any member of any minority - national, religious or sexual, who has limited access to certain positions and jobs, and thus to material and non-material wealth that limits one’s life. That is when you live in a modern version of a concentration camp, only its wire fences are now replaced by the set of tacit rules.
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