European Union Prize for Literature

Creative EuropeEuropean and International Booksellers FederationEuropean Writers' CouncilFederation of European Publishers

Winning Authors

Gabriela Babnik, Slovenia

About the author:

Gabriela Babnik was born in 1979 in Göppingen, Germany. After finishing her studies at Ljubljana University, she spent some time in Nigeria before working on a master’s degree on the modern Nigerian novel. Since 2002, she has regularly contributed articles to all major daily and weekly publications in Slovenia. In 2005, Babnik graduated in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the University of Ljubljana.

Her first novel Koža iz bombaža (Cotton Skin) was published in 2007 and was awarded the Best Debut Novel by the Union of Slovenian Publishers at the Slovenian Book Fair. In 2009, her second novel V visoki travi (In the Tall Grass) was published, which was shortlisted for the Kresnik Award in 2010.

Babnik lives with her family in Ljubljana.

Publishing house:

Anja Kovač Študentska Založba
Beletrina Academic Press
Borštnikov trg 2, 1000 Ljubljana
Tel.: +3861/ 200 37 00
Fax: +3861/ 252 26 18                                                                                                         Mail:

Translation deals:

Author contact:

Book awarded:

Sušna doba (Dry Season)


Gabriela Babnik’s novel Dry Season is a record of an unusual love affair. Anna is a 62-year-old designer from Central Europe and Ismael is a 27-year-old African who was brought up on the street, where he was often the victim of abuse. What unites them is the loneliness of their bodies, a tragic childhood and the dry season or Harmattan, during which neither nature nor love is able to flourish. She soon realizes that the emptiness between them is not really caused by their skin colour and age difference, but predominantly by her belonging to the Western culture in which she has lost or abandoned all the preordained roles of daughter, wife and mother. Sex does not outstrip the loneliness and repressed secrets from the past surface into a world she sees as much crueller and, at the same time, more innocent than her own. Cleverly written as an alternating narrative of both sides in the relationship, the novel is interlaced with magic realism and accurately perceived fragments of African political reality.


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.

More info on the author with excerpt in o.v. and EN or FR (PDF)

Other Works:

Koža iz bombaža (Cotton Skin)

Mladinska knjiga, 2007

V visoki travi (In the Tall Grass)

Beletrina, 2009