This project is a vigorously researched literary novel inspired by a series of events which occoured on the continent some years ago. On the surface, it is a story about a bank robbery and a fugitive, but at its heart is much more complex, touching on a number of current themes, such as the European expatriate experience, the trauma of living through the collapse of Yugoslavia, and dissatisfaction towards current models of capitalism, as well as more universal themes, such as loss, seperation and questions of personal agency. It is at once a novel that - in the mould of all heist-based fiction - is pacy, suspenseful and laced with intrigue, and a more cerebral reflection on what it means to be an ordinary person driven to extraordinary measures.
Certain sections of this novel are set in Belgrade, Serbia - a city Matthew Owen had never before visited. The IATL grant enabled him to spend a week in Belgrade, during which time his research took the shape of exploring, photographing, reading and talking with an array of locals. In certain ways this research was unquantifiable, in an empirical sence, but it enabled him to gleam the atmosphere of Belgrade and its people in a way that he feels has been hugely beneficial to large sections of his novel.
It allowed me to get to a place where I could write comfortably about a city, and produce vastly improved fiction as a result.