prose

Želimir Periš: Greetings from Dalmatia

LIT LINK FESTIVAL 2017

A story translated by Tomislav Kuzmanović

Želimir Periš was born in 1975 in Zadar, Croatia. He is a member of ZaPis, an association of Zadar based writers, where he organizes literary events and runs creative writing workshops called Otpis. Also, he is one of the organizers of Kalibar Festival of Literature in Zadar. His stories, plays and poems have been published in several literary magazines and included in prose anthologies. He has received multiple awards for his short stories and poetry. His stories have been translated into Italian, Ukrainian and English. His book of short stories, Mučenice, was translated and published in Slovenia, and adapted into a theatre play. In 2015, his novel Mima i kvadratura duga was nominated for the literary prize of „T-portal“- best novel of the year. Books of prose:
Mučenice (Martyrs), Zagreb, 2013., Mima i kvadratura duga (Mima and squaring the debt), Zagreb, 2014., Mima i vaše kćeri (Mima and your daughters), Zagreb, 2015.



 

Greetings from Dalmatia

 

When you’re thirsty, the world bends out of shape. The ground becomes a convex sphere and each step you make feels like climbing. Trees lean over and their branches prick your eyes. Your eyes burn, your lips bleed, you feel you’re nothing but a sack of blood that has dripped somewhere along the way, and your headache is relentless.

He walked though someone’s olive orchard, watching the neat, brown circles of soil distributed evenly around each olive trunk. Someone had been here, not long ago, plucked the weeds, and arranged the rocks in circles around the trees. Everything was unnaturally tidy: the olives, white stones, blue skies, as if in a postcard. Greetings from Dalmatia – a sign above his head. Where is that overly tidy olive farmer now? Anyone could save him now, any human soul, because people always have water, that’s a sign of a civilization. To have water. And he wandered around that postcard, Dalmatian karst, macchia, olives everywhere, holm oaks and prickly cedars, everything picture perfect, each thing in its place, except that he was dying of thirst.

He watched hundreds of extreme survival documentaries. He’d manage in the desert, from where he was now the Sahara seemed like a salvation. He knew how to cut into a cactus and drain the juice out of it, he knew you had to skin the snake and pee in it and then drink it all to rehydrate at least a little, but the desert was nowhere in sight, nor were there any cactuses or snakes, and he didn’t have to pee. Why aren’t there any shows on how to survive in some god-awful place above Primošten? More sand in his kidneys than anywhere in this fucking petrified land through which he had been crawling for hours.

As every Dalmatian knows, you can make use of stone in many different ways. You can build a house, you can fence in a modest piece of your fertile land, always a scarcity in this parts, and build a wall to plainly separate your plot from your neighbor’s. And you can use the stone to smash your neighbor’s head when he trespasses onto your piece of land. The blood then drops on the stone, and the important difference between the blood and the stone is that you can drink blood, and the stone you cannot.

At a moment of despair, he tried to chew on some leaves. Olives, holm oaks or prickly cedars, that’s what’s on today’s menu. The prickly cedar looks juicier, but how do you go past the needles? He stuffed a handful of olives into his mouth and crushed them with his teeth. If they let even a drop of fluid, he will be saved. The nectar of olive oil flows through the tree’s veins, right? He’d drink a liter of that horror in a gulp only if someone put it before him, but chewing the leaves made him even thirstier. Agave, he remembered, agave is some sort of a cactus. But there were no agaves in sight. Fuck Dalmatia, fuck such land, all neat and no agaves.

He hated Dalmatia, he hated the olives and their oil, the lavender, the stone and the salt and the klapa singing about it all. For him, the sea was always just a giant transparent wall, a prison, a direction one could not take. He craved the possibility of escape to all four sides. He couldn’t breathe between the sea and the mountain. The smog was his Bura. He wanted spotlights above his head, not stars. There’s a party, they told him. Some guys from Zagreb, a view of Žirje, nice kids, all sons of doctors and architects. Man, that’s our chance. Let’s go, was his reply.

By the sun’s position it could have been around noon, it scorched his vertex and burned thought processes under his hair. Every step thudded in his head as if his brain bumped against the sides of his skull, a dry vessel chronically deprived of fluid. He’d been walking since two, maybe three in the morning. Until dawn, he’d crossed at least ten kilometers through the darkness, in what direction, first towards the sea, down south, he thought that he was heading towards the main road, that someone would pick him up there, but then he got scared, what if he ran into a young man in a gray suit? So he went in the opposite direction, as far away from the sea as possible, he didn’t stop until dawn, and then he did stop and didn’t know where he was. He tried to get his bearing, to find out if there was a village somewhere, a phone, but there were only hills after hills, all green and rocky and barren and there was no church nor a man nor a telephone on any of them.

What would he tell them if he managed to make the call? He’d tell them that there was a young man in a gray suit. In his twenties, maybe thirties, how would he know? A white shirt and a gray suit, was he supposed to know the brand, Armani, Gucci, who the fuck cares? What if they asked him to sit for a facial composite? Gray suit, that’s for sure, but what else? A face, what face? What shape? He can’t tell the shape of his own face and he and his face look at each other on a daily basis. Don’t all faces have the same shape? All people have the same eyes and ears, all people are fucking same. Except that some have money, some don’t. Some carry guns, some don’t. He didn’t look, he just ran, Mr. Inspector, sir, only fools stay and watch. Others run for their lives.

Did you take something? Drugs, alcohol? the inspector would ask. That’s the problem with our police, you’re always fucking guilty of something. You’re never legal, always suspicious, always on the opposite of what’s allowed. Either you’re stealing a ride on a tram, or you’re a student who hasn’t registered a place of residence, or you took something at a party. It’s not important what others do, it’s not important that the gray suit took out a gun, it’s not important who he aimed it at, it’s not important that he heard, with his own ears, that girl’s screams. He saw their freaked out faces, he saw the gun go off. But none of that is important because he (!) took something. What were you, sir, doing in Primošten? that’s what our inspectors ask. You have two unpaid parking tickets, sir, you think we’re stupid, you think we don’t know you drove your father’s car, who else would get in that ‘91 heap?

How far from Primošten is he? How far has he walked? If he can walk five kilometers an hour, and he’s been walking for half a night, at least ten hours, that’s fifty kilometers. It can’t be fifty. He would’ve run into a village or a road, he would’ve seen them in the distance, unless he is walking in circles, unless he is hallucinating. Always in that fucking postcard. No matter how long he walked he is always among the olives. The headache wouldn’t let up, his throat grew tighter, has anyone ever died of thirst here? He’d say yes to a puddle infested with worms and mosquitoes, brown and stinky, that’s fine. Just bring it. Pour it.

Like last night. Just bring it. Pour it. First, second, seventh. Fifty-euros cocktails, fifty-thousand-euros pussies, five-hundred-thousand-euros cars. A firework of numbers. A gilded villa overlooking Žirje. A swimming pool with a diving board. A young man in a white shirt giving a speech above water. Others cheer him, taking turns in delivering phrases and importance. Then they dance. Then they snort. Women all over them. That’s another world. He felt the charge of power in the air. He was blinded by their haughtiness, their ironed suits and smooth hair. How arrogant were they when they spat from the terrace while the Moon rose above Zlarin. The golden youth, the seed of Croatian entrepreneurs and judges, and he, a gold digger, a little sucker. But the little sucker didn’t know that the golden got tired of all that bling, after enough money and cocaine, only blood can quench the thirst.

He fell, tripped over a rock and fell. The trees kept spinning around him, the sky stretched into a spiral, and he melted with the rock, with the solid and white Dalmatian pride. He banged his knee, smashed his elbow, he felt a stab in his hip and a burn in his throat. He couldn’t get up. The flesh on his elbow opened, and a stream of blood gushed from the crevice and dripped on the stone. A small red puddle formed in the groove of the rock. He would’ve cry, but he was out of tears, out of spit; there was not a drop of fluid in him, his tongue was as fat as a potato, he had to swallow air like pills, and the blood flowed, like a waterfall smashing against that rock. Olives, holm oaks and prickly cedars span around him. The edge of the postcard was on fire. His ears whistled. Can you really die in some godforsaken shithole? Where are the fucking cactuses?

He rolled to his stomach in pain, drew himself to the red rock and buried his face in the puddle of his own blood. Thirstily he licked the sweet liquid. The synapses in his brain crackled with pleasure because after so much time finally they felt moisture. He laughed. When you’ve got nothing, you need very little to be happy. When you’re dying of thirst, all you need is just a few drops. When you think about it, you realize that in the end you are just enough for yourself.

He rolled to his back and directed his bloody grin to the sky. The sun blinded him and the shine prevented him from opening his eyes, still he managed to read the ornate letters above him: “Greetings from Dalmatia.”

 

               

                                                                   Translated by Tomislav Kuzmanović

review

How Are You? by Barbara Matejčić, a review

LIT LINK FESTIVAL 2017

"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, eurolitnetwork.com

prose

Tea Tulić: The Hair is everywhere (Selection)

LIT LINK FESTIVAL 2017

Tea Tulić was born in Rijeka (Croatia) in 1978. Her work was published in various Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian and Slovenian literature and cultural magazines including McSweeney’s from San Francisco. In 2011, she won Prozak, a literary award for the best young author’s manuscript, which resulted in publication of her first book, a fragmentary novel Kosa posvuda (Hair Everywhere). The novel received numerous positive reviews and was included in the top five prose books of the 2011 by Vijesnik daily newspaper, The Croatian Ministry of Culture awarded it as one of the best prose books in 2011. Hair Everywhere is also translated and published in UK, Italy, Macedonia and Serbia. In 2014. in cooperation with the musical collective Japanski Premijeri, she published spoken word album Albumče on Bandcamp.
She is a jury member of international short prose competition Lapis Histrae and a member of RiLit, a non-formal group of writers from Rijeka. Her new novel “Maksimum jata” (Flock’s maksimum) is recently published.

CM extensions

Film festivals in Croatia

The Croatian Audiovisual Centre currently co-finances 59 film festivals and other audiovisual events. These serve various functions: they are particularly important for promoting Croatian audiovisual creation and serve as a platform for screening artistic content and non-commercial film forms, which makes them relevant on a local, regional, national and, in some cases, international level.

report

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."

interview

An interview with Zdenko Franjić

Starting out in 1987, Croatian record label Slusaj Najglasnije! (or Listen Loudest!) documented many of Croatia’s greatest bands, including Majke, Hali Gali Halid, Satan Panonski, Bambi Molestors, and many others. Over time, Listen Loudest! evolved, and today releases music from artists the world around. The mastermind behind Listen Loudest, Zdenko Franjic, has been kept his label/life mission together for over thirty years without a break.

panorama

20 Essential Films for an Introduction to Yugoslavian Cinema

Once upon a time there was a country, and that country made films. The films produced in the former Yugoslavia remain fascinating for anyone interested in the country or in films. This list is by no means definitive, for Yugoslav cinema is too rich and varied for that. It is rather, a primer for those unfamiliar with the region, the best bits from each era and each generation.

panorama

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.

panorama

Dancing under socialism: rare electronic music from Yugoslavia

In the last couple of years, various collections of electronic music from former Yugoslavia popped up, ranging from numerous downloadable CDR mixtapes to official compilation albums. Yet there are several more waiting in line to be pressed and, as you will see, these are most definitely worth waiting for.

news

First Croatian newspaper for asylum-seekers, refugees launched

The monthly publication was launched with the aim of establishing closer mutual trust and offering information to people who were forced to leave their homes in search of protection and security, it was said at the launch.
Most of the newspapers' authors are asylum-seekers.

panorama

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.

panorama

Zagreb Festivals and Cultural Events

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

panorama

A History of Eastern European Matchboxes

Although they were produced under strict state-controlled production processes; that were aimed at exploiting them as a means of publicizing political initiatives, promoting public health and safety, and selling the communist ideal both at home and abroad, the artists used them as a vehicle to experiment with various imaginative ideas and artistic techniques, achieving truly stunning results.

Authors' pages

Književna Republika Relations Quorum Hrvatska književna enciklopedija PRAVOnaPROFESIJU LitLink mk zg