Mirko Kovač

Dec 26, 1938 - Aug 19, 2013(74)

The book thief

The famous writer was a book thief in his youth. - Life is made up of extremes! - he concluded in his later years.

Writer Mirko Kovač read the authors who were his greatest role models in his later work quite by accident. They came into his hands when he was a teenager. Namely, he often visited the Belgrade reading room. After the war, it was managed by a printing worker, a great communist ideologue.

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Having obtained a management position, he decided to clean the institution of all undesirable, dark and ideologically destructive writers. So he condemned several dozen books by Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky to the stake, which he stuffed into boxes, intending them for waste.

He entrusted thirteen-year-old Kovač with the task of taking the boxes of those books to a nearby dump. But Kovač then showed the first sign of intellectual resistance that would later mark his entire life and work.

He dragged the forbidden books home and, despite his mother's opposition, hid them in the attic. The mother was afraid that they would all be arrested because of the stolen books! And little Mirko enjoyed discovering literature that, because it was forbidden to him, seemed even more attractive and intoxicating.

He read Tolstoy's "Childhood" more than twenty times, and it remained one of the most impressive literary works for him. The introduction, in which Tolstoy writes that there are only two ways to write - from the head and from the heart, remains one of the passages that he would often return to, even in the old days.


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