The plot of the novel Judith unfolds in the province of Judaea in the sixth century BC. The heroine is Judith, a young widow, who recounts in the first person her moving and dramatic life story.
Judith lives in cruel patriarchal times, and she has never experienced sincere love. Her aggressive husband suddenly dies shortly after their wedding.
When the Assyrians, who were the greatest military force of the time, lay siege to her town, its citizens are left without food and water, and the devastation of her town is only a matter of time. Due to her beauty, Judith is the one chosen by the city elders to go to the enemy military camp, seduce the commander and then behead him.
In this dramatic story inspired by the well-known Biblical episode, everything takes place according to the plan of the city elders, apart from one unforeseen event: Judith falls in love with the Assyrian commander, her people’s greatest enemy...
And so the dramatic war story unexpectedly turns into a painful love story with an unhappy outcome.
Judith has gone through ten editions in the Croatian language (Mozak Knjiga, Zagreb)
The novel has been published in translation in Russian (Azbooka Publishers, St Pe- tersburg), French (Theatroom noctuabundi, Paris), German (Seifert Verlag Vienna), Slovenian (Orbis, Ljubljana), Slovakian (Publisher Jan Jan JankoviÊ Bratislava), Eng- lish (ITG, Zagreb), Norwegian (Engelstad Forlag, Oslo), Czech (Dauphin, Prague), Catalan (Editoral Ensiola, Muro-Mallorca), Serbian (MOSTART, Zemun), and Bulgarian (Fakel Express, Sofia)
The PONTO theatrical company premièred Judith in Esperanto in Beijing, China, at the World Esperanto Conference.
The novel has had an excellent reception from the critics and the public in Croatia and abroad
This is a novel that is sure to have many readers. The tale has been woven by a story- teller with an ease that is completely unattainable to many writers.
We have before us an exceptionally readable text that is in every respect crafted with taste.
In the embrace of a man whom she must kill, she becomes aware of her body, and the role assigned her transforms into an intimate drama full of inner tension, which does not cease with the actual execution, but continues on in her life in which she must be and act what she is not.
The most successful part of the novel is when Judith finally meets Holofernes, when she falls in love and when she first comes to know carnal love, since that aspect of her marriage had in fact been an ongoing rape.
Gavran’s customarily straight-forward and readable way of story-telling is enriched here with a Biblical style and careful selection of the everyday elements in Judith’s life.
Told in novel form, the story of the Old Testament widow is given a quite unexpect- ed twist. The revelation of her actions, her secrets and her fate is really effective and original.
Gavran has portrayed Judith as a woman of flesh and blood, revealing her emotional and private life, which we do not, of course, find in the Bible. He has shown both sides of the coin, the public and private, and the visible and concealed.