The Drama of the Queer Child: Melancholia and Mourning in Contemporary Queer Narrative in Croatia

This article examines Dino Pešut's novel Tatin sin (Daddy's Boy, 2020) and Espi Tomičić's monodrama Your Love Is King (2020) in the context of Croatian queer coming-of-age narrative and post-Yugoslav literary culture more broadly. In particular, I focus on the theme of mourning for the ailing, working class parent in order to explore the intersection of sexuality, class, and national/ethnic origin in the literary and rhetorical staging of queer selfhood in contemporary Croatian literature. Drawing on psychoanalytical frameworks, specifically as elaborated and revised by queer and affect theory, I argue that mourning in these works should be seen as both a psychic and political “drama” of negotiating a future for a queer subject—a process characterized by ambivalence, uncertainty, and interminability that is often attributed to melancholia. While both Pešut and Tomičić initially cast the working-class parent as a melancholy object, enveloped in shame and silence, they also inscribe familial as well as one’s own sexual/gender “otherness” within the broader space of Croatian literary culture, thereby transforming the muteness of melancholia into textual and performative sites of public mourning. The article concludes by examining the figure of nesting—sexual, gender, class, and national/ethnic—“closets” in contemporary Croatian literature and the possibility of their cultural disassembling.

Vladislav Beronja

Vladislav Beronja

Vladislav Beronja is an Assistant Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He has written on critical memory practices in post-Yugoslav literature, alternative and anti-nationalist media in Croatia, and contemporary underground comics in Serbia. His current research examines queer poetics in Yugoslav and post-Yugoslav literary and visual culture.


Southeastern Europe