Girl with Broken Umbrella by Davor Banovic is a novel about love, friendship, and finding meaning in life. Banovic’s characters each have their own dreams to chase or goals to accomplish, and the novel emphasizes the importance of connecting with others and trying to understand our fellow man. This fictional book is a mix of genres, with elements of drama, humor, romance, and philosophy. Banovic is a Croation author, and for American audiences, Girl with Broken Umbrella’s old-world, Eastern European setting will have a classic and vintage feel to it.
Brokeness is a recurrent theme in the story. Banovic’s character Ana Iskra may be the eponymous “girl with the broken umbrella,” but her umbrella is not the only thing broken; many of the characters themselves are hurting, lonely, and looking for true meaning in their lives. In many ways, the book serves as a philosophy lesson, presented through the lens of this novel. The characters are very open to discussing their feelings on love and life, and they contemplate their purpose in the grand scheme of things. Many of Banovic’s characters are discontent with the lives they have, and they want more – whether that means more of a career, more of a love life, or more acknowledgement from others that their thoughts and words are valued and important.
Girl with Broken Umbrella is chiefly written from the perspective of the male characters. The book is predominantly dialogue-driven, and most of the thoughts and motives of the key characters are revealed through conversation. Banovic employs detailed description in his story, even when describing objects such as a chair or fishing rod.
Banovic’s characters tend to be thoughtful, introspective types – people who are curious about life and crave human interaction. Banovic’s story has an atmosphere of realism, and the characters are crafted as if they are people you might meet in real life – people who have had both luck and misfortune, but are still eager to chase their dreams. Even in sections of the book that come across as melancholy, a character will crack a joke, or see humor in his present situation, lightening the mood. Through his characters’ conversations, which question conventional wisdom and tradition, Banovic provides commentary on religion and politics.
Banovic has formed characters who desperately want to make changes in their lives – and for the most part, they succeed in doing so. At its core, the book showcases the struggle between being heard and being listened to – and it also captures the conflict between being heard and being understood.