Croatia at Frankfurt Book Fair 2017

Year to year Croatia is present at the Frankfurt Book Fair as a central place of world publishing industry. This year we are presenting selection of recent works by 11 prominent contemporary Croatian writers, followed by a selection of books published by more than 30 Croatian publishers.

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News Frankfurt 2015

According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), in the first six months of 2015, sales of e-books in the US fell by 10 percent, yet e-books’ share of total book sales remains stable at 20 percent...

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1st edition of Zagreb Book Festival

1st edition of Zagreb Book Festival was successfully held in Zagreb's Museum of Arts and Crafts.

The literary and cultural event Zagreb Book Festival was formed as a celebration of the written word and its particular power to enrich the human mind. Our mission is, at this time of growth of the new media, to raise interest in reading, writing and literary communication, but not excluding intermediality of modern artistic expression. We want to put strong emphasis on children's rights and the integration of young people in the cultural life within the society.

Considering the important historical event for Croatia, recent Croatian accession to the European Union, we believe that our obligation is to spread cultural space, to enrich our society that deserves cultural superstructure for making a difference in one's life. We want to make Sweden's literature and culture the focal point in more than 40 events at the Festival this year.

The aim of the Festival is to increase the book audience and to promote reading and books which will be boosted through literary programs with famous guest authors, best national selection of discount books, as well as the gastronomic and musical events.


Farewell, Cowboy by Olja Savičević review – coming of age in small-town Croatia (The Guardian)

The publication of this dazzling, funny and deadly serious novel will bring nourishment to readers hungry for the best new European fiction, and to those wondering where the new generation of post-Yugoslav novelists are. Istros Books, a UK publisher of south-east European authors, previously brought us Seven Terrors by Selvedin Avdić and The Son by Andrej Nikolaidis, but that is where all regionally specific grouping must end, because Farewell, Cowboy doesn’t need it. It shines on its own – with the help of a flawless translation from Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth.

In her dust-choked home town on the Adriatic coast, where “the spring roses were expiring in the parks” and the graffiti reads “Stranger, the law does not protect you here”, twentysomething Dada is at a loose end. Her world is dismantled at every level: collectively, through the 1990s war; familially, through the presumed suicide of her brother; and personally, after the end of a relationship, an interrupted degree and the decision to quit “the only quasi-city in this wasteland” (Zagreb) and return to small-town life (Split) with her mother and the ghosts of unsolved troubles. One of these ghosts is her brother Daniel, a fan of cowboy films, who was much loved in the Old Settlement neighbourhood, and is now the subject of graffiti in a gutted building. Another ghost is the Yugoslav war, the toxic residue of which breathes from the pores of the listless olive-groved landscape and causes the neighbourhood women “who are more highly strung here and fierier than their weary husbands [to] fight so that their tits gleam and their teeth and kitchen knives flash”. The postwar kids all speak in the barbed, disillusioned voice of Dada and her sassy sister: “There’s something suppressed about the Old Settlement, like venereal disease of the brain.”

Olja Savičević and her characters’ generation grew up “in a depression, in a cleft between two houses”, and the murkiness of her brother’s death has undertones of neighbourhood vendetta, the legacy of a war that “had a way of making people’s ethnicity everybody’s business”. Their sexuality, too, it turns out. The novel’s ostensible narrative hook is Dada’s desire to untangle the circumstances around Daniel’s death, but her private quest morphs into something more convoluted, a journey into the dark passions of small-town life. Everyone is implicated, and a series of striking portraits emerge: the next-door “professor” with “his physical resemblance to a drowned man” and habit of keeping salamanders in formalin jars in his living room “the way people […] keep pictures of their closest relatives”; the disabled old aunt from childhood dubbed “the insatiable one” by the kids because of her lubriciousness; Maria the slow-witted Gypsy from the slums who loved Daniel, a rare untainted soul; Mum with her poignant “Hollywood smile” who lives on a diet of TV and antidepressants; Angelo the gigolo (“there’s something about beautiful people that suggests a deceptive good fortune”) who grew up a war orphan and now seduces tourists in bars. There is never a slip into sentimentality, pathos, or freak-show indulgence – Savičević is too gifted a satirist for that, and too fine a poet. In perfectly pitched prose that almost moves on the page, she gives us the pulse of the land where “in the saturated darkness silver and gold veins explode, minerals crackle, mandrake roots scream, while dead occupiers rearrange their bones”. In one painfully comic scene the local gangster gives a glitzy party to celebrate his new hotel, complete with Balkan turbo-folk and a roast donkey: “And everything fell into oblivion, into a shallow dish full of fat.”

Savičević has a rare ability to speak of the deadly serious with a hedonistic lightness that lures you into a spirit of abandon, only to go on to deliver breathtaking blows of insight. “Mum” never speaks of her sorrow. Instead, when she goes missing one night, Dada reflects: “People who have been lucky talk about the worst and the best days of their life. We who have been less lucky don’t talk about that.” The deliberately garish “western” section in the middle of the story, where a complacent foreign film crew come to shoot a cowboy scene cheaply in the dusty Balkans, suddenly tips into nightmare. The blood is never just make-believe, Savičević suggests with chilling breeziness, and anyone who believes that cowboy films, children at play or people in love are innocent is one of the lucky ones. With this novel, which lodges itself in your chest like a friendly bullet, a glorious new European voice has arrived.


Croatia at the London Book Fair - Bilateral Poetry Party

An evening of poetry with a line-up of 3 Croatian Poets and 3 UK poets. Hosted by contemporary avant garde English poet and artist, Steven Fowler, this promises to be a lively evening of words and wine. Featuring Croatian poets Olja Savičević, Damir Šodan, Ana Brnardić and UK poets Stephen Watts and James Byrne. This event is bought to you by the Croatian Writer’s Society in co-operation with Istros Books and Arc Publications.


Stephen Watts is a London-based poet, editor and translator with cultural roots in the Swiss Italian Alps and Scotland. He has two bilingual English-Italian works, The Mountain Language/Lingua di montagna (2008) and Journey Across Breath/Tragitto nel respiro (2011), six other collections of poems, including Ancient Sunlight (Enitharmon, 2014) and The Blue Bag (Aark Arts, 2004).

James Byrne: James Byrne’s most recent poetry collection Blood/Sugar, was published by Arc Publications in 2009. Bones Will Crow: 15 Contemporary Burmese Poets, published in June 2012, is co-edited with ko ko thett and is the first anthology of Burmese poetry ever to be published in the West (Arc 2012). Byrne is the editor of The Wolf, an internationally-renowned poetry magazine, which he co-founded in 2002. He is the International Editor for Arc Publications.

Steven J. Fowler is a contemporary avant garde English poet and artist. Fowler was born in Truro, Cornwall, studied at the University of Durham and the University of London, Birkbeck college. He lives in London and has published 6 poetry collections: The Rottweiler’s guide to the Dog Owner (Eyewear press 2014); Enemies: the selected collaborations of SJ Fowler (Penned in the Margins 2013); Recipes (Red Ceilings press 2012); Minimum Security Prison Dentistry (Anything Anymore Anywhere press 2011); Fights (Veer books 2011) Red Museum (Knives forks & spoons press 2011). 

Olja Savičević is an awarded poet and novelist, who burst onto the authorial stage with her short story collection Make the Dog Laugh in 2006. Last year, her collection of poems Mamasafari and Other Things was short-listed for the ‘Kiklop Award for Best Collection of 2012′, awarded annually by the Pula Book Fair. Her best-selling book Farewell, Cowboy has already achieved great success in the region, and was even adapted into a stage play. Part of the novel, Farewell, Cowboy was included in Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction 2014. 

Damir Šodan is a Croatian poet, playwright and translator. He has published four volumes of poetry, two collections of plays and an anthology of Croatian “neorealist” poetry. He has translated many influential American poets into Croatian and lectured on the topic of poetry. A recipient of two playwriting awards, he has been internationally featured in The American Poetry Review (2007), New European Poets, (Graywolf Press, 2008), Les Poètes de la Méditerranée (Gallimard, 2010), The World Record (Bloodaxe, 2012) and The Hundred Years’ War (Bloodaxe, 2014). He lives in The Hague, the Netherlands. 

Ana Brnardić has published four books of poetry that received several prestigious Croatian awards for poetry: Pisaljka nekog mudraca (The Pen of a Sage, 1998. – Goran Award for young poets; Slavić Award for poetry debut), Valcer zmija (The Snake Waltz, 2005. – Kvirin Award for young poets), Postanak ptica (The Creation of Birds, 2009) and Uzbrdo (Uphill, 2015). With Adrian Oproiu, Ana translates modern and contemporary Romanian literature into Croatian. She is also the General Secretary of Croatian Writers Society.


Croatia at the Leipzig Book Fair

This year Croatia was represented at the Leipzig Book Fair by authors Daša Drndić, Ivana Šojat Kuči, Ivana Simić Bodrožić, Milana Vuković Runjić, Branko Čegec, Marko Pogačar and Daniel Rafaelić.
The program of the Croatian program at the Leipzig Book fair was Alida Bremer.
The programme took place both at the Book Fair venue and at several locations in the city.
Croatian stand was hosted by KURS organization form Split.


Kristian Novak receives Literary Award for the Best Novel in 2013

The writer Kristian Novak has won the award for his novel "Črna mati zemla" published by Algoritam. He was presented this prestigious literary award worth 50,000 HRK at yesterday's award ceremony held at Europa Cinema in Zagreb. Recognizing the importance of investing in culture and granting awards to writers, one of the most-visited web portals, established this award seven years ago.

This year's competition saw the participation of 49 titles, which is the highest number of applications throughout the seven years since the foundation of the Tportal Literary Award. The last year's winner was ‘Budi Hamlet, pane Hamlete’, the first novel by Tahir Mujičić (AGM 2012), and other winners were 'Adio kauboju' by Olja Savičević Ivančević (Algoritam 2010), ‘Tri’ by Drago Glamuzina (Profil, 2008) and 'Anastazija' by Dalibor Šimpraga (Durieux, 2007.). The year before last, the award went to Ivica Đikić for the novel 'Sanjao sam slonove' (Naklada Ljevak 2011), and this year's competitor Sibila Petlevski was also among the award winners. She had received the award for 'Vrijeme laži' (Fraktura, 2009), the first part of the ‘Tabu’ Trilogy, from which the second novel ‘Bilo nam je tako lijepo’ went to the competition's final two years ago.

The decision on the winner of the competition was passed by a jury of independent literary experts comprised of: Jadranka Pintarić, Katarina Luketić and Miroslav Mićanović.

The award was presented to the winner by the president of the jury, Jadranka Pintarić, who explained: "This year, we were looking for something fresh and wondrous, for refinement in details and for challenges in style and language in which we identify the author's passionate effort, instead of the "lightness" of writing sentences. And this is exactly what we found in Kristian Novak's novel "Črna mati zemla“, this year's winner of the novel of the year award."

Đurđica Klancir, Chief Editor of tportal, pointed out the importance of this competition: „Tportal is one of the rare Croatian general portals featuring a culture section. By this project, we wish to celebrate the power of the written word and, every year again, create a kind of recapitulation of the annual national novel production and to highlight what of this year's literary production is going to stay...for future generations.“

The award ceremony was also attended by Mrs. Andrea Zlatar Violić, Minister of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, and Mr. Davor Tomašković, President of the Management Board of T-HT, who took this opportunity to say "Hrvatski Telekom, being a socially responsible company, is supporting cultural projects, as also demonstrated by this award. By this award we wish to reinforce the social status of established literary names, but also present an opportunity to new authors and contribute to the creation of new literature lovers. My thanks go to everyone who has participated in our competition, and I would like to invite Croatian authors to apply with their work again next year."