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Farewell Cowboy

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  494 ratings  ·  47 reviews
'Farewell, Cowboy' is a tough yet poetic novel by one of Croatia's best known writers. The story is rich in local colour and sentiment, following the main character, Dada, who returns to her home town on the Adriatic coast in order to unravel the mystery of her brother Daniel's death. Daniel, although young, smart and popular, threw himself under a train in mysterious ...more
Paperback, 175 pages
Published April 2015 by Istros Books (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.64  · 
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In summer 2009, Dada (aka Rusty) returns to her Croatian hometown to care for her mother, who, her sister reports, has become increasingly dependent on Valium, sleeping pills and alcohol. Back in Zagreb she’d been working as a photographer for a website that rips off other people’s stories and sleeping with someone else’s husband. Going home means abandoning that secondhand life and facing up to the fact of her brother’s death – when he was 18 he threw himself under a train. “One has to sit down ...more
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dada has grown up in a small town in Croatia from which she escaped as soon a she could at the age of eighteen. But she is drawn back to this bizarre town by the horrible suicide of her younger brother, Daniel. The book is told from Dada’s point of view and we are given information about her life and hometown as Dada remembers it. She speaks of memory being like a tape that “rolls forward and backwards. Fw-stop-rew-stop-rec-play-stop, it stops at important places, some images flicker dimly ...more
Joseph Schreiber
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A deeply personal piece of unfinished business draws Dada, the spirited heroine of Farewell, Cowboy, from the towers of Zagreb, back to the grimy streets of her hometown on the shores of the Adriatic in this debut novel from Croatian poet and writer Olja Savičević. Once she arrives her first task is to relieve her older sister of the responsibility of keeping track of their mother who seems to be surviving on a routine of pharmaceuticals, soap operas and bi-weekly treks to the cemetery to visit ...more
Jul 16, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly, I am blown away by the 3.79 grading that this book is receiving. Although Savicevic uses an abundance of words she never says anything. I could not tell you one thing that happened in this book. It was as if some very unremarkable person with an equally unremarkable life, pocket-dialed you and left a voicemail that was equivalent to 200+ pages. It felt like torture slogging through this.

I don't think I could convey how much I disliked this book. Just terrible. Awesome cover artwork,
J.J. Amaworo
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Set in a dreary town on the Adriatic coast, the novel follows the heroine Dada as she tries to find out why her younger and much-loved brother Daniel threw himself under a train a few years earlier.

The tone of disillusionment and decay shrouds the book like a fog hanging over a sea: the country is recovering from the Balkan Wars of the 1990s; Dada is listless after a relationship breakdown; and her family is struggling to live with the trauma of Daniel’s death.

The “plot" comes a distant second
Richard Wu
I picked this up after reading an excerpt from the McSweeney's website, and because it had an interesting title.

I'm not quite sure if anything happens in this book. Though Savičević uses many words, she conveys little. The characters are flat, archetypal, forgettable; whatever semblance of plot feels forced. Reading this sapped my energy - imagine the mental fog that accompanies getting out of bed in the morning, or wandering around in a literal fog and having no idea which direction is which.
Marina Sofia
An interesting, no-holds-barred and at times almost unbearably sad portrayal of the generation most affected by the war in Yugoslavia and trying to make a life after and in spite of it all. Yet, unexpectedly, the language and insights are not high-flown and dramatic, but rendered with a clear-eyed, almost cynical and mocking tone of a younger generation.
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One sister's poetic and sometimes less poetic search for the meaning of her brother's intentional death - suicide.Voyage through the other side of the touristic mediterranean coastal town, through the places more distanced from the sea, but closer to the hills, stones, sidewalks, ground.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Farewell, Goodbye sees the main character Dada return to her family home in Croatia to see her sister and her mother and on a search for the truth of why her brother had died. Also returning to the village is the vet who lived next door to which her brother Daniel had died. The cowboy in the detail being a reference to her brothers like of western movies along with their predeceased father who died at a young age, a film lover who worked first in the cinema then at a video shop.

As a crossover
Jake Goretzki
Aug 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
An odd, rather patchworky little novel - part Dalmatian coming of age, then a peculiar switch to Ned Montgomery filming a cowboy film (or maybe I was too distracted this week).

Some fine observations of Balkan living and neighbourhood life (I love the line about their fathers being 'men with heart attacks in their chests'). Pretty seamless translation from SSEES legend Celia Hawksworth - give or take a few oddities (not sure about her use of the Geordie-or-Belfast-sounding 'yous').

The pull
Ronan Mcdonnell
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A powerful, moving but curious book.
Everything is fractured, broken and split(!) apart. The reasons behind the suicide, the town in which it is set, the purpose of any character's actions, the narrative and order. Everything jumps in and out of focus, and nothing is ever quite right.
And this is a fitting way to tell a story set in a town so forgotten, so depressed, that it holds its own back; the only way to leave it, let alone have a chance to succeed, is to leave. But the town draws the
Tony Matthews
Sep 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read this on holiday in Croatia. Very good, personal story.
Katie Sue
Feb 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious, yet tragic. A literary thrill about home, journeys, and the definition of an individual.
Dada, on her first visit home in several years and brought back by her mother’s illness, finds herself drawn into an inquiry, her inquiry, into her younger brother’s suicide several years earlier. On that basis this sounds a bleak book, made more so when (if you know the area) you might realise that although set around Split, it is far from the glossy tourist part, or the lush beaches running south toward the resorts, but in the bleak, economically side-lined parts north of the city toward the ...more
Derrick Trimble
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Okay, this was not a book I'd normally pick up nor read. But I was travelling to Croatia and wanted to read a work by a Croatian author. I quickly came to an awareness that I don't generally read works by women authors. Let alone works by contemporary authors. Farewell Cowboy was out of my comfort zone on several levels.

But I enjoyed it nonetheless. I just can't say why.

The writing style is mainly first person and a bit jumpy. Perhaps not so much jumpy as just internal the scattered thinking of
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
I believe that the artistic and cultural value of this book can be much better than what I got, but unfortunately the translation does not live up to the expectations. To be honest, the work of the translator seems thorough and she indeed put a huge effort on this book, yet there seems to be something missing in the prose that isn't easily projected into the English work.

That said, I did appreciate the insights on the Croatian culture and I believe this is an author to keep an eye on.
Ester Elbert
Full of beautiful sentences but the constant change of prospective and time threw me off. I understand that memories come and go randomly but this was too much and confusing.
Also it felt like I was reading of nothing. Nothing major happened, nor big discoveries were made.
I liked learning about croatian way of life and culture though....
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the first section, Eastern, hard to follow. The author/translator makes grammatical (?) choices that muddy the forward progression. Western is stronger; the prose is simplified slightly and the final images are incredible. I didn’t find much in Farewell. Overall, great plot, uneven and frustrating stylings.
Mark Ludmon
An intriguing insight into the lives of people living in a dusty town on the outskirts of Split in the aftermath of the Yugoslav War. It is told through a young woman returning to her home town to find out more about the death of her brother. Fragmentary and poetic, it sometimes loses focus but it is full of memorable scenes and details.
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The writing itself was beautiful, with sharp and poignant sentences, but the combination of those sentences didn’t create a story for me. Actually, I don’t think I even know what happened. Like, at all. Serious, what’s this book about?
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by a friend, I found Adios, Cowboy to be well written with a melancholic edge. The language, at times verges on the fantastic. I enjoyed the book, even though at times the seemingly off tangent description pulled us away from the main narrative.
Hannah Werkland
Oct 19, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 - the cowboys confused me for a while
I gave it 2.5 stars.

I loved the Chernobyl joke the mother tells: "[a] woman… gave birth to one child with three fathers."
[Is this a novel or a memoir?]

The narrator's brother has died; there was "an incident" involving many of the local boys, including the brother, at the veterinarian's home, after which the vet left town, presumable far away. After which, all the boys involved found death in diverse, non-suspicious ways. (This has all happened before the narrative.)

The town graffiti was very
Jaimie Lau
Enjoyable but definitely not for the main character, Dada. She did seem to have a clear direction as a character and her motivations were not apparent. Whether her reason for returning was investigating what happened to her brother or to take care of her mother, neither of these are in the forefront of her mind and it becomes easy for the reader to lose connection with her during the book. The tone of the book is on the depressive side and it is only towards the end when the reader is released ...more
Book Riot Community
Dada is not living her best life. She's at a dead-end job, her boyfriend is married, and things just aren't as fun as they used to be. When her sister calls Dada home to help care for their ailing mother, she thinks it will be a refreshing change of scenery, but what she finds there isn't much better. Determined to help herself and her family by facing the ghosts of the past, Dada sets off to uncover how her long-dead brother spent his last days. Adios, Cowboy is a funny yet serious novel about ...more
May 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written, though distracted story about family and community survival in a war-torn corner of the world. Certain passages are more engaging than others, and the structure seems a bit disjointed. It would have worked better with a linear telling, though I suppose the disjointedness has poetic purpose. I'm not familiar with Slavic stories or writers, so maybe there is something lost in translation. That said, I liked the book, but not invested to speed through this lovely ...more
Graham Oliver
Edit, review:

Official review up later, but basically the book has amazing language and the prose is just really smart. I'm especially a fan of how it's firmly aware of the modern digital world without making a spectacle of it (most books either ignore it or push it to the front too much).

However, the plot isn't doing much work at all, especially in the first half of the book.
Nicole Mundy
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unique way with words.
Oct 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"A life lasting a whole evening, a film lasting a whole life in which the best heroes lived just long enough to act an episode, for you to like them"
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nice attempt, but I'm not impressed.

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Writes poetry, prose, columns. Author of several poetry collections and books.

Lives in Split, Croatia.
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“I was born during the reign of now forgotten technical appliances, those transitional forms that didn't survive although it seemed that their epoch would last forever. Who'd have thought something as modern and contemporary as a cassette player would so quickly and definitively end up in a museum? a video-recorder, a Walkman, a floppy disk, telephone boxes, telephone answer-machines... who still uses any of those things? In fact it's easier to find someone who plays gramophone records or someone who writes letters and sends them by post, just as there are still people who go to the cinema and film libraries. But finding someone who watches videos or has a telephone answer-machine, who walks around with a Walkman or files data on floppy disks, doesn't seem possible, ever less so, even theoretically.” 0 likes
“It's absolutely true that you'll get by more easily today with cuneiform script and a clay tablet than with a floppy disk in your pocket.” 0 likes
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