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The ten best Eastern Europen books you've never heard of

BY JEFFREY ZUCKERMAN, THE AIRSHIP, May 13, 2013

Black Balloon has just published Robert Perišić’s Our Man in Iraq, translated by Will Firth. Despite its title, the novel takes place almost entirely in Croatia and feels so deeply Eastern European in sensibility that I found myself jotting down other books from that region once eclipsed by the Iron Curtain’s shadow. Without further ado, here are ten brilliant and barely-known books from ten countries in Eastern Europe . .



 

Albania

Ismail Kadare, The Fall of the Stone City

Translated from Albanian by John Hodgson

 

Although he hasn’t won the Nobel Prize yet, Ismail Kadare might as well have—he’s just that famous in Europe. Under Enver Hoxha, Albania’s government was one of the last Communist regimes to fall, and Kadare’s works were often banned or published in translation before being read by the Albanian public. The Fall of the Stone City, his latest novel, is one of his best: it satirizes the German invasion of an Albanian city and shows how under Communism hallucinations can distort and become reality.

 

Croatia

Ranko Marinković, Cyclops

Translated from Serbo-Croatian by Vlada StojiljkovicBilled as a Croatian Ulysses, Ranko Marinković’s Cyclops follows the solipsistic Melkior throughout Zagreb as he and his countrymen gird themselves for World War II. Propelled by literary allusions—Homer, Petrarch, Dostoyevsky, and many others—and teeming with paranoia and anxiety, as well as a great deal of humor, this book so thoroughly embeds you in Melkior’s mind that you appreciate his delusions and come to understand Zagreb and its inhabitants.

 

Czech Republic

Bohumil Hrabal, Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age

Translated from Czech by Michael Henry HeimThere aren’t many novels that consist of just one sentence, and even fewer that pull off the trick successfully, but Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age is an object lesson for the not-so-advanced in age. The whole book consists of a narrator “palavering,”endlessly recounting anecdotes and charming the pants off his listeners. It only takes two or three hours to read, which is just the right amount of time to listen to an old man describing the funniest parts of his entire life.

 

Hungary

Deszö Kosztolányi, Kornel Esti

Translated from Hungarian by Bernard AdamsWhen I originally read the story of a kleptomaniac translator who steals astonishing amounts of money, jewelry, and valuables between the original version of a text and its translator, I was riveted. Kornel Esti comprises a hilariously bizarre series of magical, inexplicable fragments from the eponymous character’s life—a trip to an overly honest city, or a heartbreakingly clear account of a tram ride—painting a compelling portrait of Hungary between the wars.

 

Poland

Olga Tokarczuk, Primeval and Other Times

Translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-JonesThis is the story of a town named Primeval, and of the people who lived there from the First World War to the beginning of Solidarity. This is also the story of many Times, each one a different chapter describing a new place or a new person. Even God lives in Primeval, yet the nature of God’s existence is still a subject for debate. As the novel progresses and the characters’ lives interconnect in ever more complex ways, Primeval and Other Times moves from a singular experiment to a profound portrait of a village at once fantastical and intensely real.

 

Romania

Gabriela Adameșteanu, Wasted Morning

Translated from Romanian by Patrick CamillerSince the collapse of Ceaușescu’s regime, Romania has modernized rapidly, yet has not let go of its distant past. At the center of Wasted Morning is Vica Delcă, a seventy-year-old who has endured her country's many changes and takes no prisoners in the tales she tells. Set in Bucharest (once “the Paris of Eastern Europe”)and mixing stream-of-consciousness passages with keen-sighted realist narration, Adameșteanu’s novel offers a brilliant visual and historical panorama of a Romania that has swiftly become unrecognizable.

 

Russia

Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor's Baby

Translated from Russian by Keith Gessen and Anna SummersHer name isn’t thathard to pronounce: “Peh-true-shev-skay-ya.” That is, unless her horror stories of ghosts and vampires, neighbors letting their grudges swallow them whole, and creepy Siamese twins have you shuddering uncontrollably. While most post-Soviet writers in Russia are busy pushing the limits of postmodernity or addressing risqué topics once censored by the Soviet government, Petrushevskaya has gone on doing what she knows best, and chilling the blood of Anglophone readers finally getting a

 

Serbia

Milorad Pavić, Dictionary of the Khazars

Translated from Serbo-Croatian by Christina Pribicevic-Zoric

 

What kind of book gets published in a male edition and a female edition? A Dictionary of the Khazars that isn’t even about the real Khazars to begin with, of course. The novel focuses on the pivotal moment when many Khazar nobles converted to Judaism, and is structured as three small dictionaries (Christian, Islamic, and Hebrew). The difference between the male and female editions is a handful of lines in a crucial paragraph—but the consequences are immeasurable. Consequently, the act of flipping between entries and dictionaries is strange, idiosyncratic, and absolutely irresistible.

 

Slovenia

Maja Novak, The Feline Plague

Translated from Slovenian by Maja Visenjak-LimonThere’s something delightful about a novel where businesswomen double as heavenly goddesses and run a chain of pet stores across Slovenia. When a quiet child decides to serve Mammon instead of the earth, she unintentionally unleashes the feline plague of the title and proposes a huge charity telethon to save the country’s morale. If this summary sounds outlandish, the full novel certainly reads as something more believable—albeit wholly Eastern-European in sensibility.

 

Ukraine

Oksana Zabuzhko, Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex

Translated from Ukrainian by Halyna Hryn“Not today, she says to herself. Not yet, not today,” this short book begins, before diving straight into the story of an Ukrainian writer teaching at Harvard and coming to understand the intricacies of female sexuality. The result is an amazing breakdown of love and sex, and the shades of gray in between. Oksana Zabuzhko became one of Ukraine’s foremost writers with this breakout novel, and has since written doorstops spanning six decades of Ukrainian history, but Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex feels pure and honest in its narrator’s attempt to make sense of a new life and a newly liberated country.

o nama

Dobitnik nagrade "Sedmica i Kritična masa 2020" je Filip Rutić

Dobitnik književne nagrade "Sedmica i Kritična masa 2020" za mlade prozaiste je Filip Rutić (1997).
Nagrađena priča ''Riža s kečapom, blagim ili ljutim” ima snažan pečat 2020, a autoru je uspjelo kroz nepretenciozan ton i jedan neobičan odnos dati sliku opće nestabilnosti u eri korone i potresa.
U užem izboru nagrade, osim nagrađenog Rutića, bili su Lucija Švaljek, Iva Hlavač, Luca Kozina, Marina Gudelj, Vid Hribar i Darko Šeparović.
Ovo je bio peti nagradni natječaj koji raspisuje Kritična masa, a partner nagrade je cafe-bar Sedmica (Kačićeva 7, Zagreb). Nagrada se sastoji od plakete i novčanog iznosa (5.000 kuna bruto). U žiriju nagrade bile su članice redakcije Viktorija Božina i Ilijana Marin, te vanjski članovi Branko Maleš i Damir Karakaš.

intervju

Filip Rutić: Književnost bez novih glasova i perspektiva pretvara se u historiografiju

Predstavljamo uži izbor nagrade ''Sedmica & Kritična masa''

Filip je u uži izbor ušao s pričom ''Riža s kečapom, blagim ili ljutim''. Standardnim setom pitanja predstavljamo jednog od trojice muških natjecatelja.

o nama

Natječaj ''Sedmica & Kritična masa'' 2020 - uži izbor

Nakon šireg izbora slijedi uži izbor nagrade ''Sedmica & Kritična masa'' za mlade prozne autore. Pogledajte tko su sedmero odabranih.

o nama

Natječaj ''Sedmica & Kritična masa'' - popis šireg izbora, pred objavu užeg

Natječaj ''Sedmica & Kritična masa'' za mlade autorice i autore do 35 godina starosti bliži se svome kraju. Ovo je peto izdanje nagrade, utemeljene 2015. godine, koja pruža pregled mlađe prozne scene (širi i uži izbor) i promovira nova prozna imena. Prva nagrada iznosi 5.000 kuna (bruto iznos) i dodjeljuje se uz plaketu. Prethodnih su godina nagradu dobile Ana Rajković, Jelena Zlatar, Marina Gudelj i Mira Petrović.

proza

Marina Gudelj: Ljudi na uglu ulice, pokraj prodavaonice pića

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - UŽI IZBOR 2020.

Marina Gudelj (1988., Split) završila je Hrvatski jezik i književnost na Sveučilištu u Zadru. Radi kao nastavnica Hrvatskog jezika u školi. Prvi književni rad, kratka priča Semafor, šahta, apoteka, birtija objavljena je u Zarezu 2015. godine. Iste je godine osvojila prvu književnu nagradu na portalu KSET-a za priču Kamo idu irske mačke. 2017. godine osvaja prvo mjesto na natječaju Kritične mase za priču Lee. S istom pričom iduće godine sudjeluje na LitLink festivalu u Zagrebu. 2018. godine osvaja treće mjesto s pričom Dulcinea na konjaku na 17. izdanju Festivala europske kratke priče, a krajem iste godine ulazi u uži izbor natječaja Prvi Prozak i Na vrhu jezika s pričom Vještica. 2019. godine osvaja nagradu Prvi Prozak za autore do 35 godina starosti, a objava zbirke priča očekuje se sredinom 2020. godine.

proza

Vid Hribar: Bilješke za preživljavanje

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - UŽI IZBOR 2020.

Vid Hribar (1993., Zagreb) je trenutno na završnoj godini diplomskog studija na odsjeku dramaturgije pri Akademiji dramske umjetnosti u Zagrebu. Piše scenarije, drame, poeziju, kratke priče, uz to se bavi komponiranjem i sviranjem klavira u brojnim zagrebačkim bendovima. Na radiju se izvode njegove ''Nule i ništice'' (2017.), radiodrama inspirirana motivima Harmsove istoimene zbirke kratkih priča, drama ''Oskarov san'' (2019.) te ''Od Vlaške do Britanca'' (2019.). Njegova drama ''Tuneli'' prevedena je na makedonski jezik od strane Makedonskog centra ITI, a njegova drama ''404'' objavljena je na portalu drame.hr. Kao kompozitor radi na nizu kazališnih, filmskih, televizijskih te radiodramskih projekata.

proza

Luca Kozina: Grbava plesačica

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - UŽI IZBOR 2020.

Luca Kozina (1990., Split) piše prozu i poeziju. Radovi su joj objavljeni u časopisima: Zarez, Fantom Slobode, Mogućnosti, Republika, u zborniku Rukopisi 43 te na internetu (Zvona i Nari, Književnost Uživo, Kultipraktik, Nema). Dobitnica je nagrade Prozak za 2019. godinu. Piše književne kritike za portal Booksa. Članica je književne grupe NKV.

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Petra Bolić: Hans.

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR 2020.

Petra Bolić (1992., Varaždinu) studirala je francuski jezik i književnost, kulturološku germanistiku i književno-interkulturalnu južnoslavistiku na Filozofskom fakultetu u Zagrebu i Karl-Franzens Universität u Grazu. Znanstveno polje interesa su joj njemačko-južnoslavenski kulturno-književni transferi i suvremena slovenska proza. U slobodno se vrijeme bavi književnim prevođenjem i književnom kritikom. Vlastitu je kratku prozu do današnjega dana skrivala u ladicama.

proza

Ivana Pintarić: Propuštanje riječi

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR 2020.

Ivana Pintarić (1988., Zagreb) je edukacijski rehabilitator. Piše poeziju i kratke priče. Ulomkom iz romana ''Gorimo (ali ne boli više)'' ušla je u finale izbora za nagradu "Sedmica & Kritična masa" 2015. godine. Ulazi u širi izbor nagrade "Sedmica & Kritična masa" 2017. ulomkom iz romana "Ovo nije putopis o Americi". Bila je polaznica Booksine radionice pisanja kratke priče pod mentorstvom Zorana Ferića. Objavila je radove na portalima kultipraktik.org i booksa.hr. Objavila je priču u časopisu Fantom slobode. Članica je književne grupe ZLO koja okuplja mlade pisce različitih književnih afiniteta i usmjerenja, koji zajednički promiču ''mladu'' književnost, sudjeluju na književnim natječajima, festivalima te organiziraju književne susrete i čitanja.

proza

Josip Čekolj: Kokoši ne letiju visoko

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR 2020.

Josip Čekolj (1999., Zabok) student je treće godine kroatistike te etnologije i kulturne antropologije na Filozofskom fakultetu u Zagrebu. Dosad je svoje pjesme i kratke priče objavljivao u hrvatskim i regionalnim časopisima i zbornicima poput ''Rukopisa'', ''Alepha'', ''PoZiCe'', zbornika Gornjogradskog književnog festivala, Po(e)zitive i drugih te na portalima Kritična masa, Strane, Poeziju na štrikove, Čovjek-časopis i NEMA. Ovog ljeta izdaje dječju slikovnicu ''Srna i Mak u potrazi za uplašenim mjesecom'' u nakladi Mala zvona. S pjesničkim rukopisom ''Junaci i zmajevi su izumiruće vrste'' ušao je uži krug za nagradu ''Na vrh jezika'' 2019. godine.

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Ana Vučić: U Limbu

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR 2020.

Ana Vučić (1992., Karlovac) još uvijek pokušava završiti Kroatistiku i Sociologiju na Filozofskom fakultetu u Zagrebu. Dosad su joj objavljene neke pjesme i jedan ulomak u studentskim časopisima i na Kritičnoj masi. Otkad je Jastrebarsko zamijenila Zagrebom piše tek neznatno više. U slobodno vrijeme čita, gleda sport i serije te mašta o obrani diplomskog rada u normalnim okolnostima. Vrhuncem svoje dosadašnje književne karijere smatra sudjelovanje na prvoj Kroeziji u kafiću Luxor.

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Ivan Katičić: Klošari

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR 2020.

Ivan Katičić (1990., Split) objavio je zbirku kratkih priča ''Pet metara bliže zvijezdama'' (Pučko otvoreno učilište Velika Gorica, 2016.). Živi i ne radi u Omišu.

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Gabrijel Delić: Orlovski

NAGRADA "SEDMICA & KRITIČNA MASA" - ŠIRI IZBOR 2020.

Gabrijel Delić (1998., Zagreb) napisao je nekoliko članaka na temu automobilizma objavljenih na jednoj britanskoj web-stranici i poneku kratku priču od kojih je zadnja objavljena u regionalnom natječaju ''Biber'' za 2019. godinu.

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