Breda Smolnikar’s literary career resembles an Ionesco theatre play: after the publication, in the 1960s, of several of her children’s books by the most important publisher in Slovenia Mladinska knjiga she went on to publish her works herself and under the pseudonym gospa (Mrs, a form of address banished from the official socialist vocabulary).
Her first adult work of fiction, Balada o divjem mleku (Ballad of Wild Milk) received much praise from critics and was even shortlisted for one of the major national awards, but was refused by the bookshops for being too religious (due to its dry, matter-of-fact descriptions of religious ceremonies). Her 1980s Stob trilogy, named after a village where the tales are set, explored recent history (especially that of World War II) in ways incompatible with the official historiography as well as introducing a new approach to short story form. The trilogy had critics compete in guessing the true author of these excellent texts; and it also earned Smolnikar a three months’ suspended sentence.
In 1998, she published Ko se tam gori olistajo breze (When Up There Birches Are Greening) under her real name since the pseudonym had lost its power of provocation. The very same year civil action was brought against her because somebody had recognized their parents in the tale’s protagonists and thought they had been misrepresented, especially in scenes portraying their sexual lives. The lawsuit and its sequels (appeals, reversals of sentence etc.) carried on for over eight years, and for most of that time the book was actually forbidden, and the fine imposed on the author threatened to bankrupt her. During that period, Smolnikar first organized a public burning of the sentenced book and then continued to publish versions of the litigious text: an expurgated edition; a locked book packed with material directly from the courtroom while the trial was officially held in camera; a stuttering version; a surrealist tale of a village where the letter F is forbidden, oops, orbidden; and finally an audio version. After eight years, the initial sentence was reversed by the Constitutional Court. Immediately, a new edition of When Up There Birches Are Greening was published by Sanje.
Smolnikar is also the author of several other books.