Within the context of contemporary Serbian fiction, Sonja Besford’s novel, Set Away, is truly exceptional: a full-fledged thriller thoroughly permeated with love and crime, it obeys the rules of the genre while bending it at the same time. With meticulous dynamics of narration, the author gradually speeds up the rhythm of impressively movie-like sequences, which only increases dramatic tension to its powerful climax. Seen in this perspective, we could easily claim that this novel is a true page-turner. The reader eagerly goes through the pages carried by the energy and the mystery of the plot. On the other hand, Set Away is replete with cultural references, with an in-depth characterization of psychologically well-rounded protagonists, as well as with very precise language and immaculate style. In the center of the story there is the primeval, archetypal quest for identity. The readers, just like the novel’smain protagonist, are on the path of self-knowledge which the author wisely leaves open even after the thriller phase of the story is finished. Using the energy and the appeal of the genre, Sonja Besford has written a novel which undoubtedly belongs to the high literature with its powerful interpretative potential and a wide scope of possible meanings. The eagerness of the reader to finish it without a delay is just another, by no means insignificant compliment to the author’s skill.
Sonja Besford (born in Belgrade as Sonja Batinić) is Serbian poet, short story writer and novelist who lives and works in Great Britain. She is the President of the Association of Serbian Writers & Artists Abroad. Writing both in English and in Serbian, she has published several poetry collections (Mazno kao šamar/Gentle Like a Slap, Nespojivi prelom/Unmendable Break; Dolasci i odlasci/Comings and Goings; Sećanja na leta u Bristu kod Gradca/Summer in the Brist and Other Poems); a collection of short stories (Kako uloviti Talasona/How to Catch Talason, 1992); and two novels (Lovci vremena/ Time Catchers; Svedok/The Witness). Her new novel, Set Away, is published for the first time in the Serbian Prose in Translation edition. Sonja Besford also writes theatre and radio plays; her critical reviews have been published in the magazines and newspapers in the United States and Great Britain.