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We Trade Our Night for Someone Else’s Day


Translated by Ellen Elias-Bursać

Seven Stories Press

New York • Oakland

Copyright © 2016 by Ivana Bodrožić

English translation © 2021 by Ellen Elias-Bursać

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Seven Stories Press

140 Watts Street

New York, NY 10013

College professors and high school and middle school teachers may order free examination copies of Seven Stories Press books. To order, visit, or fax request on school letterhead to (212) 226-1411.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Simić Bodrožić, Ivana, 1982- author. | Elias-Bursać, Ellen,


Title: We trade our night for someone else’s day / Ivana Bodrožić ;

[translated by Ellen Elias-Bursać].

Other titles: Rupa. English

Description: New York, NY : Seven Stories Press, [2021]

Identifiers: LCCN 2020044885 (print) | LCCN 2020044886 (ebook) | ISBN

9781644210482 (trade paperback) | ISBN 9781644210499 (ebook)

Subjects: LCSH: Vukovar (Croatia)--Fiction. | GSAFD: Suspense fiction.

Classification: LCC PG1620.29.I44 R8713 2021 (print) | LCC PG1620.29.I44

(ebook) | DDC 891.8/336--dc23

LC record available at

LC ebook record available at


Part One: Hole

I. Hands

2. Someone’s watching us

3. Moving toward

4. Years of lead

5. Be alone on the street

6. She and he and he and I

7. Money in hands

8. Into darkness we run

9. A few years for us

10. Time to cleanse

Part Two: This Is the Country for Us

11. Eyes the color of honey

12. Cold

13. The first and the last day

14. Garden

15. Hunger

16. People from the cities

17. The ghetto

18. Room

19. Hey, Mama

20. Synchro

21. Dum dum

22. Weary

23. This is the country for us

Translator’s Note

About the Author

Part One: Hole



finger a fold on the silken skirt

let the fingernail rip to pain

now (fall 2010)

“The worst part is realizing you can’t open the door from the inside,” was the first thing she said. Then she fixed her gaze on the gray linoleum floor and spent a long time picking at the cuticle around her fingernail, her skinned elbows propped on the school desk. On her left pinkie and ring finger she was still wearing fake nails, so she hadn’t been there long. There were moments when the look on her face was bemused, as if she’d surfaced, mystified, from another time, but this quickly faded to stiffness and a dull gaze. Nora had no idea how to kickstart the conversation, and even less how to get close to her after all the salacious, tragic, twisted stories of pedophilia the papers had been printing about her for weeks. She hadn’t expected her to look like this—a shapely blonde with light eyes in the Požega prison visitors’ lounge. Nora would have trusted this woman to look after her child—if she’d had a child—without a second thought while she ran an errand. She’d spent hours poring over the photos peddled to the tabloids by shocked relatives and people who until recently had been this woman’s friends: a snapshot of her wrapped in a sarong, out with her husband at the river island beach, squinting into the sun and grinning at the person behind the camera; then another shot of her, head bowed, wearing a jacket with sleeves reaching down below her wrists, being escorted out of the building while the old ladies peered out of their windows, their elbows planted on brightly colored cushions; and, finally, a third one of her standing, contrite, in the modest courtroom of the county court. In this last picture, published on the front page the previous week, Nora thought she saw (had she merely imagined this?) a jeer playing around the woman’s tightly pressed lips. “This dragon-lady story is the sort of plum you don’t get every day,” said the editor of the paper as he urged her to take on the job, but somewhere beneath his coercive, wheedling veneer she sniffed the sleaze of the system in which she lived and worked. The editor supported her male colleagues without a blink, and he spoke to them, even when they were junior to her, with courtesy and respect, while whenever anybody dropped by the office he dispatched Nora to fetch the coffees, even though she was better educated and more competent than the men. He occasionally spoke with admiration for the slick criminals in politics and others who boasted of their reputations as war criminals while they strutted around, flashing their folksy charm. He thought they were badass, even if he didn’t share their politics. This made Nora sick. She’d rather be writing about other things; she ached to have a go at the people at the top, to expose the system, which stank like a fish from the head. She would have preferred to keep away from this desperate-housewives woman who’d snapped and murdered her husband. Nora was vying with a colleague to dig up dirt on the mayor of the city, who had offered to bribe a city councillor from the opposition party; the councillor had recorded their conversation and made the recording public. But instead, Nora was assigned the desperate housewife. Everybody already knew the facts—they’d been chewed over in several dailies. K. G.—a teacher at the city’s general and vocational high school—had hooked up with, or possibly seduced, D. V., a seventeen-year-old student. After they’d been together a few months, the teacher talked the boy into killing her husband. Three shots to the chest and head, pools of blood; the neighbors heard the screams. True love is so poignant. At first the alibi was a break-in, then self-defense, but soon the lovers confessed. There was no conclusive proof that he’d pulled the trigger, so the boy was released from jail on the condition that he be committed

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