interview

An interview with Neven Ušumović

"At the end of the 1990s, the prevailing trend in Croatian literature was neorealism: the consequences of war, the sudden impoverishment of wide sections of society, the brutality of the economic transition were foregrounded. In this decade, there is more experimentation: intermediality and crossover of genres offer particularly productive solutions for an inventive dialogue with social reality. It would please me if people outside Croatia read Robert Perišić, Zoran Ferić, Boris Dežulović and Marinko Koščec; then new writers such as Vlado Bulić and Zoran Pilić. They are characterized by harsh satire, uncompromising analysis of the social situation, and poetic inventiveness." - from dalkeyarchive.com



 

Interview translated by Celia Hawkesworth

Are there any exciting trends, movement, or schools in contemporary Croatian fiction? Who do you feel are the overlooked contemporary authors in Croatia who should be more widely read and translated?

At the end of the 1990s, the prevailing trend in Croatian literature was neorealism: the consequences of war, the sudden impoverishment of wide sections of society, the brutality of the economic transition were foregrounded. In this decade, there is more experimentation: intermediality and crossover of genres offer particularly productive solutions for an inventive dialogue with social reality. It would please me if people outside Croatia read Robert Perišić, Zoran Ferić, Boris Dežulović and Marinko Koščec; then new writers such as Vlado Bulić and Zoran Pilić. They are characterized by harsh satire, uncompromising analysis of the social situation, and poetic inventiveness.

Who are the contemporary European writers from other countries that are writing compelling fiction?

Unfortunately, I read European writers on the whole in translations into Croatian or related languages (Serbian, Bosnian, and Slovene), and only in rare cases do I read Hungarian, German, or English. I find writers who develop new ways of dealing with the past, memory, and historical time particularly stimulating: the late W. G. Sebald, and also Daniel Kehlmann in German literature; the Norwegian Per Petterson; the Russian writer Victor Pelevin, the Hungarians Ádám Bodor and Péter Esterházy, the Serbian writers Vladimir Tasić and David Albahari . . .

Do you want your work to be translated? Why or why not?

A good translation encourages further reading and opens up new communities of readers. It is hard to imagine anyone who would not wish to have their writing translated! Writing, reading and translating are inseparable.

Are there enough publishing outlets in Croatia for contemporary fiction? Is there a market for literary fiction in Croatia?

Since the end of the nineties, some Croatian prose writers have enjoyed really great media attention. They achieved this through lively journalistic activity and continuous publication of new titles. There were some new publishers, such as Profil, Algoritam, V.B.Z., and Fraktura, which had very creative editors and promoters who brought literature in Croatia close to the pop sensibility and established new PR standards. However, the market is too small, so the large Croatian publishing firms are now trying again to expand their activity into the cultural space of former Yugoslavia. In the last few years the monopoly of such publishers in the book market in Croatia has increased so much that it makes it hard to promote writers whose books do not bear their brand.

Given a choice, would you prefer a faithful, literal translation of your work or an interpretive re-imagining of it? Why?

I spent about ten years translating from Hungarian into Croatian and it is not easy now for me to answer that question. A condition for a good translation is certainly faithfulness to the text; however, only a translator who has the ability to interpret the original creatively can give a translation the quality that will ensure that it has literary value in a different linguistic and cultural setting.

http://www.dalkeyarchive.com/info/?fa=text167

 

panorama

An Interview with Bekim Sejranovic

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Zagreb's Amazing Daughters

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Untranslatable Croatian Phrases

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Check out a quirky list of untranslatable Croatian phrases from Croatian cultural guide extraordinaire, Andrea Pisac, in the link below:

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Jonathon Bousfield on the Museum of Broken Relationships

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The Lasting Impact of the 1980s on Zagreb

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Cool Things To Do in Zagreb

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Jonathan Bousfield on Diocletian's Legacy in Split

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interview

The Poetry of Zagreb

Cities have served as sources of inspiration, frustration, and discovery for millennia. The subject of sonnets, stories, plays, the power centers of entire cultures, hotbeds of innovation, and the cause of wars, cities are mainstays of the present and the future with millions more people flocking to them every year.

Let the poet, Zagreb native Tomica Bajsić, take you on a lyrical tour of the city. Walk the streets conjured by his graceful words and take in the gentle beauty of the Zagreb of his childhood memories and present day observation.

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Jonathon Bousfield's Take on the Croatian Cultural Landscape in 2018

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review

Jonathon Bousfield Reviews the English Translation of Krleža's Journey to Russia

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Jonathon Bousfield on the Heyday of the Iconic Yugoslav Record Label, Jugoton

Jonathon Bousfield recounts the rise of Jugoton, the iconic Zagreb-based Yugoslavian record label that both brought Western music to Yugoslavia and later was at the forefront of the massive post-punk and new wave scenes in the region.

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Mirogoj Cemetery: An Architectural Jewel

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You Haven't Experienced Zagreb if You Haven't Been to the Dolac Market

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panorama

Croatian Phrases Translated into English

Do you find phrases and sayings give personality and flair to a language? Have you ever pondered how the culture and history of a place shape the common phrases? Check out some common sayings in Croatian with their literal translations and actual meanings below.

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Discover Croatia's Archaeological Secrets

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report

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.

panorama

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'...

report

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...

panorama

Croatian Sites on UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

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Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb

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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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