LitLink Thoughts. The Publisher's View by Mitch Albert, Periscope Books.

The curation of a festival of literature naturally entails the “curation” of its participants. Lit Link excelled in this regard – the authors invited from the UK represented a very fine, accomplished tranche of contemporary British writing, and the publishers, for the most part, represented a scrappy, independent ethos and pride in advancing thought-provoking fiction and literary fiction in translation.


The Croatian writers chosen to read their work, meanwhile, exhibited a predilection for bold, frank, challenging, experimental material. Their writing seemed utterly of our time – that is to say, fresh and relevant, but also embodying a certain melancholy, a quiet angst that perhaps reflects the uneasiness of the contemporary Balkan state. This disquietude was intimated in several conversations with the various Croatian writers on the tour, and could be sensed behind certain facts about the country that were offered – such as the population drain that some argued was taking place as a result of the shortage of jobs, with a figure of 50,000 migrants to other EU countries over the past few months alone from one city. (Other facts were anchored more obviously in the country’s recent history, such as the revelation that Rijeka was the only city that had never elected a leader from amongst the nationalist right, and the impending change of heart over the currently named “Marshal Tito Square” in Zagreb.)

And yet, which country amongst us is immune today from a general sense of unease and glumness about the direction of politics, civil society, literature? Certainly, the ostensible theme of the Lit Link tour – “Despite Brexit” – pointed to the UK’s own complete turmoil, and it was presumed that the subject need not even be broached directly as part of the trip, rendering the theme ironic. No one complained. (More than one Croatian writer expressed a surreal dismay about Brexit, having once looked to Britain as a bastion of opportunity and freedom from the vantage point of their own, then-isolated country, and now having that equation virtually reversed in many ways.)

Needless to say – perhaps because we participants were so effusive about it during and immediately after the tour – the hospitality, conviviality and generosity displayed by the Croatian organisers and contributors was impeccable. Daytimes afforded ample space in which to get to know most everyone personally and professionally (not always easily done on such trips), to exchange views and to obtain a good frame of reference for the three cities visited and points in between. Highlights included learning about fellowship programmes, support for translation, the scarcity of literary agents, the earning potential for writers in Croatia, certain untranslated “greats” and even the lack of any firm distinction between “fiction” and “non-fiction” in Croatian literature.

Evenings were given over to the readings in highly compelling venues, and the parties afterward were no less stimulating in their way. Robert and Ivan formed an almost comically balanced partnership, and the result was an unrushed yet well-timed, well-planned tour over a considerable distance with attendant logistics.

The value of such trips for foreign publishers, I have long felt, lies not in the expectation that we shall return to Britain and immediately and automatically begin commissioning and translating titles from the country in question (although that can and does happen). Rather, having made a serious acquaintance with the literary culture and context of a place, having met with writers, publishers and translators and opened several channels of dialogue, having acquired a feeling for the nuances of the place and its language, we are fortified with an appreciation that informs all future encounters or opportunities with work and people from the host country. Having absorbed it all, recognition will thus be immediate at the next turn, and good work will often ensue (even if unrelated directly to publishing activity – these trips are an excellent means of extending “soft power”). Another benefit, Europe being what it is, is that recognition often spills over tangentially: familiarity with Lithuania ties into encounters with Polish culture, for example, as familiarity with Croatia can help establish a feeling for Serbia.

The Lit Link festival, coming up on half a dozen years of operation, has undoubtedly supported Croatian writers and writing in ways that are otherwise unavailable. It is not difficult to discern the benefits to foreign publishers and writers, either – and that brings us back to the care taken in curation and execution.

Hvala svima!

By Mitch Albert



Vasko Lipovac - life and works

Works by Croatian polymath Vasko Lipovac are celebrated at Klovićevi Dvori Gallery (till 25th February 2018). A master of Mediterranean modernism, this exhibition surveys the career of the artist, a varied body of work curated by art historian Zvonko Maković.


Discover Croatia's Archaeological Secrets

Discover Croatia’s rich archaeological secrets, from the well known ancient Roman city of Salona near Split or the Neanderthal museum in Krapina to the often overlooked Andautonia Archaeological Park, just outside of Zagreb, which boasts the excavated ruins of a Roman town or the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, Vinkovci.


Nikola Tesla – Mind from the Future - Multimedia Exhibition in Zagreb

A spectacular multimedia exhibition honouring Nikola Tesla, one of the world’s greatest visionaries, titled ‘Nikola Tesla – Mind from the Future’, will stay open until 20 March 2018.
“Immersed into the magical world of the genius Nikola Tesla, by merging the elements of a ‘live’ film, video set design, computer game, and magical hologram and light adventure into a unique multimedia experience of extended reality, with this exhibition we seek to take you on a contemplative ‘journey’ without beginning or end, through a process of inspiration, creativity and production.” - Helena Bulaja Madunić, exhibition author


Hollywood and Dubrovnik

The medieval city in Croatia is having a geek-culture moment as the setting for King’s Landing in the HBO series “Game of Thrones”.
Hollywood seems to have discovered Dubrovnik. Parts of The Last Jedi, the eighth episode in the Star Wars saga, also take place in the fortress town. Filming wrapped this year on a new Robin Hood film starring Taron Eagerton, Jamie Foxx, and Jamie Dornan (and produced by Leonard DiCaprio). The 25th James Bond film is reported to begin shooting in the city in January 2018.
But not everyone appreciates all the attention.


Great films shot in Zagreb

There's a surprising raft of indelible productions shot in and around Croatia's capital, like the world-dominating spy-caper 'James Bond: From Russia with Love' and Orson Welles' interpretation of Kafka's absurd, existentialist novel 'The Trial'...


LitLink. The Editor's View. By: Anna Kelly

As far as I know, LitLink festival is unique. Each year it takes a group of writers and publishers to three Croatian cities – Pula, Rijeka, and Zagreb – for a series of evening readings. Along the way there are coach journeys on winding roads, stunning vistas of deep green fields and icy mountains, excellent Croatian wine and food, sea swimming, plenty of book chat...


A very rough guide to LitLink. The Author's View. By: Joanna Kavenna

Each night there is a bilingual Croatian-English event. Translations are projected behind the writers as they read. It becomes apparent that many contemporary Croatian writers are high ironists, forging dark comedy from aspects of life that most disturb them – war, corruption, the riotous hypocrisy of those who claim to govern us.
The tour runs from Zagreb to Pula to Rijeka...


Olja Savičević Ivančević: Singer in the Night review

Read a review of the much acclaimed contemporary Croatian writer, Olja Savičević Ivančević’s book, Pjevač u noći (2016) (Singer in the Night).


New wave in Yugoslavia

As its counterparts, the British and the US new wave, from which the main influences came, the Yugoslav scene was also closely related to punk rock, ska, reggae, 2 Tone, power pop and mod revival.
Important artists were: Azra, Šarlo Akrobata, Idoli (famous for their song "Maljčiki" and its respective video in which they ridiculed the soviet soc-realism), Pankrti (first Yugoslav punk band), Prljavo kazalište (started as a punk unit; the title of their second album Crno-bijeli svijet which means "black and white world" holds a reference to the 2 Tone movement), Električni Orgazam (punk at the beginning, they moved towards post-punk and psychedelia later and were described as "The Punk Doors"), Slađana Milošević, Haustor (mostly reggae, ska and similar influences, but with a more poetic and intellectual approach compared to some danceable bands), Buldožer, Laboratorija Zvuka, Film (one of the first new wave groups), Lačni Franz and many others.
New wave was especially advocated by the magazines Polet from Zagreb and Džuboks from Belgrade.


How Are You? by Barbara Matejčić, a review


"From time to time, a literary work would appear that would succeed in giving a voice to the voiceless ones. How Are You?, an excellent collection of short stories by a Croatian journalist and writer Barbara Matejčić, is one of these literary works.
The author has spent a period of her life with her characters, being with them, helping them and listening to their stories, and her method is hence intrinsically one typical of investigative journalism."
Saša Ilić,


The Little Black Egg: a punk excursion to Croatia

"It’s called Rijecki Novi Val. (Novi Val is Croatian for New Wave.) This is one of the best collections of anything I ever acquired. Punk and New Wave were huge in the Balkans. I said it once, and I’ll say it again: the ex-YU countries are responsible for the some of the best punk music made anywhere."


Croatian Sites on UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

A little know fact is that Croatia, together with Spain, have the most cultural and historical heritage under the protection of UNESCO, and Croatia has the highest number of UNESCO intangible goods of any European country.


Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb

The National Theater in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, is one of those things which always finds its way to every visitor’s busy schedule.


Zagreb Festivals and Cultural Events

Numerous festivals, shows and exhibitions are held annually in Zagreb. Search our what's on guide to arts & entertainment.

Authors' pages

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