Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Interesting Legends Behind 4 Popular Tourist Destinations in Croatia

July 28, 2021 -  Croatia is mostly visited by tourists because of its long Adriatic coast but it's also blessed with enchanting rivers, lakes, and waterfalls. Not many visitors know that the surreal crystal clear blue and emerald colors of Croatia's different bodies of water are also home to many mysterious mythical creatures, historical heroines, and legendary tales. Get to know the mythical inhabitants of Croatia and explore the world of epic Croatian folklores in 4 popular tourist destinations in Croatia. 

Cetina and the Story of Mila

IMG_5397_1.jpgPhoto credit: Mario Romulić

Gushing under two mountains, the Dinara and Gnjat, and passing through the scenic towns of Sinj, Trilj, Zadvarje, and Omiš where it finally meets the Adriatic Sea, the Cetina River is one of the most beautiful canyons in Croatia and is a famous day trip destination for both locals and tourists. Considered the longest river in Dalmatia with its length of 101km, Cetina is a perfect place for canyoning, zip-lining, freshwater kayaking, and white water rafting. The clear blue water of the Cetina River has been a generous source of clean water and freshwater fish for the people of Dalmatia over the centuries. Thanks to the nymph named Cetina, this beautiful river came to life. According to legend, Cetina  desperately dreamed of conceiving a child and was tricked by the sexually ravenous God, Zeus, who promised to bore her an offspring after their union. After many weeks of waiting, Cetina did not get pregnant and upon realizing Zeus' trickery, the heartbroken nymph wept endlessly until her tears formed a river and eventually, the Cetina dried up and turned into stone. The Neolithic people believed that a person who wishes to conceive will be blessed with a baby of good fortune after bathing in the tears of the late demigoddess. There is also another story in Cetina that is historically significant to Croatian people. It is the story of a brave and clever woman who single-handedly defeated a whole Ottoman army -  Mila Gojsalić.

In 1530, Ahmed Pasha led a powerful Ottoman army to conquer the Republic of Poljica, now known as the modern-day Omiš. The army terrorised, pillaged, and ravaged the people of this place for a long time, but just before their final attack and Poljica's fall, a young beautiful woman named Mila Gojsalić appeared before the army.  According to stories, Mila was very beautiful and her charm easily bewitched Ahmed Pasha who fell right under her spell. Mila pretended to be in love with the leader of the Ottoman army and she ended up sleeping in the leader's tent. That evening, Mila sacrificed her chastity and life for her people. After making sure that Ahmed and his men were asleep, she snuck into the gunpowder storage with a torch and blew up the whole military camp. The powerful blast killed Ahmed Pasha and most of the Ottoman warriors, including the beloved heroine of Poljica. Although some stories claimed that Mila escaped the camp and plunged from the high cliffs down to her death in the river of Cetina. 

Mile_Gojsalića_Statue_by_Ivan_Meštrović_at_Omiš_2011-12-16_2_1.jpgPhoto credit: By Ivan T. - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17699310

The heroic act of Mila ignited courage from the people of Poljica who began to fought back until every single one of the Ottoman invaders was dead. To honor Mila's sacrifice and bravery, the greatest Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović created a statue of her. In the village of Gata, overlooking Cetina and Omiš stands the statue of Mila Gojsalić - a heroine who watches over the people of Omiš day in and day out.

Plitvice Lakes and The Black Queen

Zima_Plitvice0245_1.jpgPhoto credit: Mario Romulić

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is probably the most famous national park in Croatia. Millions of tourists flock to visit this magnificent landscape that is consisted of 16 crystal shades of blue and emerald lakes which are connected by many rivers, streams, caves, and waterfalls and are surrounded by luscious green woodland. This incredible scenery was created by the endless stream of waters that have been flowing over limestones and chalks for thousands of years, until eventually forming natural dams through deposits of travertine barriers. All thanks to nature's wonderful phenomenon, a series of 16 beautiful lakes came to life!

But Croatian folklore, on the other hand, believes that Plitvice Lakes appear magical because it was, indeed, magical. Legend has it that a long time ago, the area of Plitvice only had one source of water - the Black River (Crna Rijeka). Unfortunately, the area was struck with a long-lasting horrible drought which dried out the Black River, and the crops, livestock, and people began dying. In despair, the people prayed and cried all day to the heavens for some rain, but for a very long time, their prayers were left unanswered. They were close to giving up when the Black Queen, who had just left her fairy palace to head to an area near Plitvice, happened to hear their pleas. After witnessing the damage of the drought to the people, the Black Queen said, “I am sad to see that you are suffering!” After that, the winds and thunder started to roar and strong rain came and poured for days and days on end until the Black River overflowed and 13 lakes appeared. People believed that the Black Queen cried for the people's misfortunes and her black and white tears formed the Black River and the White River in Plitvice. Together with the Matica River, they form the first lake and it was named Prošćansko (prošnja = prayer), to commemorate the prayers of the anguished people. For their token of gratitude to the Black Queen, the people of Plitvice built her a castle on the hill above lake Kozjak, where she can admire the splendour of her own creation.

Imotski's Red and Blue Lakes and The Wicked Gavan Family

Modro_jezero_1.jpegPhoto credit: By Yacht Rent from Croatia - modro jezero Croatia, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81974343

A small town that is perfect for travellers who wish to steer away from the frenzy of tourists, Imotski is Dalmatia’s hidden gem packed with nature, culture, history, and friendly locals. Unlike the busy coastal cities of Dubrovnik and Split, Imotski possesses a different charm -  tucked in the inland region of Dalmatia without the Adriatic Sea, this town, instead, offers an array of unique and breath-taking landscapes to its visitors. Imotski is rigged with incredible karst formations such as hidden caves, sinkholes, karst rivers, lakes, and canyons. The distinctive geographical formations of Imotski inspired countless folk tales including fairies, heroines, and goblins.  Perhaps the most famous of these intriguing formations are the Red and Blue Lakes, two magnificent karst lake formations which, according to Croatian folklore, have emerged to swallow the palace and wealth of the wicked Gavan family.

Named after the reddish color of the surrounding cliffs, the Red Lake is a beautiful karst lake and the third largest sinkhole in the world. It can't be reached on foot and without special equipment. Meanwhile, the Blue Lake is easily accessible and is located just beneath the historical Topana Fortress in Imotski. Locals and tourists are welcome to swim in the calm, turquoise blue water of the lake. The stunning and serene blue lake, however, hides a story of the evil Gavan family who used to live in the area of Imotski. According to folklore, Gavan with his wife, Gavanica, and their children, were the wealthiest and most powerful family in Imotski. Nonetheless, the Gavan family was known to be very cruel and vile towards their servants and neighbours and the only thing that mattered to them was their wealth. An angel heard about Gavan’s horrific acts and decided to descend down from heaven to test the Gavan family. The angel disguised as a beggar and knocked on the Gavan's palace door to ask for help. Gavanica opened the door and refused to provide any help to the beggar. The angel then asked Gavanica, “Are you not afraid of God’s punishment?” The arrogant woman replied, “What good can God do for me when I have my Gavan?” It was then that the angel revealed his disguise and punished the Gavan family. It was believed that the ground where the Gavan’s palace stood cracked open and swallowed the Gavans and their entire wealth. The locals still believe that the deep hole, now covered by the Red and Blue Lakes, still contain the palace and wealth of the family and on windy days when the bora wind blows, the screams of Gavan and Gavanica can still be heard around the area of these lakes. The locals also claim that beautiful fairies who live in the Fairy Cave in the Blue Lake have been sighted basking in the beauty of the lake at sunset and dawn. There is a current rumor that no human has ever managed to set foot on the Fairy Cave.

Stories of fairies and foes aside, the Blue Lake transforms into a spectacular football field every few years when it dries up. Many people flock to Imotski to witness these rare and out-of-this-world football matches on Imotski’s mysterious lakebed.

Krka National Park and The Tragic Love Story of Bogdan and Miljeva 

3S8C0742_Panorama.jpgPhoto credit: Mario Romulić

One of the most visited national parks in Croatia, Krka National Park has it all - the iconic Skradinski Buk waterfall, Neolithic cave, Roman architecture remains, Krka Monastery and so much more! It is also very accessible especially if you are coming from the coastal cities of Split and Šibenik. The park which is filled with dazzling waterfalls, gorges, and the 73km-long Krka river that gushes through a karstic canyon of 200m deep are intertwined by walking paths, hiking trails, and wooden bridges. The park has five main entrances: Skradin, Lozovac, Roški Slap, Krka Monastery, and Burnum, and all are accessible by car. But before becoming Dalmatia’s most famous tourist attraction, Krka National Park is built from the tragic love story of Bogdan and Miljeva.

A long time ago, the mighty Prince Bogoje lived in the area of Krka. In Bogočin, he built a beautiful palace for his son, Bogdan, who was set to marry a lovely noblewoman who lives in the town of Ključ across the river Čikola. That woman’s name was Miljeva and she was the daughter of influential Ban Domagoj and his wife Čika. Bogdan and Miljeva were cherished by the townspeople and on their wedding day, a large gathering of seven bans and twelve county prefects have gathered in Bogočin to witness the union of the beloved couple. The wedding was a success and everyone headed to the palace to celebrate the newlyweds where a tragic fate awaited the couple. During the celebration, a terrifying dragon descended into the party and dragged Princess Miljeva to the bottom of Lake Brljan. Prince Bogdan came to rescue his bride but the beast drew him to the river of Krka as well. This tragedy broke the heart of Prince Bogoje who used up all his wealth to grieve the loss of his son and Miljeva. With his riches, he built Aranđelovac monastery, a place to pray for the souls of the lovers. He also built the towns of Čučevo and Nečven to symbolize the love between Bogdan and Miljeva. In addition, he built two bridges which connect Roški waterfall and river Miljacka. Local folks believed that anyone who wishes to cross the bridges has to shed two tears to pay homage to the tragic fate of Bogdan and Miljeva's love. In the end, Prince Bogoje tore down the Bogočin palace and set off from this grief-stricken town into the unknown. Meanwhile, Miljeva’s mother, Čika, secluded herself to pray for the late lovers in a tower she built in Ključ. 

Because of this tragic love story, Bogočin is known by the locals as a “fairy town”, the river near Ključ is named Čikola and the area between Bogočin and Ključ is called Miljevci.

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Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Croatian Mountain Rescue Service Book Presented by Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute in Gospić

May 16, 2021 - Suitable for the 30th anniversary of one beloved Croatian civil protection organisation, the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service book was presented by the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute based in Gospic.

With many tourists and visitors (and Croats too), not being too careful when going on ''their little adventures'' up mountains such as the Dinara, Velebit, or elsewhere, the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service (HGSS) is as busy as Batman in Gotham. What with saving people who get lost, being bitten by poisonous animals that live on the mountains, or dealing with people who have hurt themselves in any way, they truly are praised as superheroes and are often the most beloved people on Croatian TV, either in commercials or when the press, telling their heroic tales.

Apart from mountains, their training was also shown to be useful for easing the numerous issues left following the 2020 earthquakes too.

Marking the 30 year anniversary of HGSS's station in Gospić, the Gospić Culture And Information Centre saw the presentation of the book ''The Day Replaced the Night, The Bura Wind Cleared Our View“ (Dan Je Zamijenio Noć, Bura Nam Očistila Pogled), last Friday. As reported by the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute website, the authors of this pop-science monograph are dr. Ivan Brlic, dr. Nikola Simunic and Dr. Anita Busljeta Tonkovic.

''The Gospic HGSS station, even though with a relatively small member count, operates on the biggest and toughest rescue surfaces in all of the Republic of Croatia. This monograph, through geographical, historical and sociological context, aims to explain how important, but also how difficult the mountain rescuer's job is. The Croatian Mountain Rescue Service book, covering over 150 pages in an honest and interesting way, shows why HGSS is one of the cornerstone operative forces of civil protection and that, in its professional, altruistic, and humane approach, contributes to the overall civil rescue system with the goal of saving human lives,'' they stated from the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute.

Apart from the authors of the Croatian Mountain Rescue Service book themselves, the event saw HGSS Croatia's main man, Josip Granic, the director of the HGSS Gospic station, Josip Bozicevic, Deputy Interior Minister Damir Trust, as well as the Ivo Pilar Social Research Institute Headmaster, Dr. Zeljko Holjevac sit down and speak. All of them agreed that this book is an important statement of gratefulness to HGSS members for all of the hard work they do.

The book is a product of the Ivo Pilar Institute's successful collaboration with the institutions in Gospic, and the wish for the further and deeper continuation of that cooperation was expressed too. In case of need, HGSS can be reached by calling 112. But, to prevent becoming yet another damsel (or a bachelor) in distress, it's not a bad idea to check their safety guidelines for enjoying the outdoors in Croatia.

Not to far from Gospic is the North Velebit National Park with its glorious mountains, about which you can learn more on our TC page.

For more about the Ivo Pilar Social research Institute in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Croatian Poet Criticises Petition Against Culture Ministry's Tender for Support

May the 14th, 2021 - As the new public tender by the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media was met with the outrage by writers community, a Croatian poet ranting about writers ranting about the culture ministry is quite the turn of events. TCN reporter and slam poet Ivor Kruljac approves but also debates parts of the petition launched against the aforementioned ministry.

The ever-unfortunate literary scene in Croatia, which is sadly not represented as it should be neither in Croatia nor abroad, took heavy blows as a result of the coronavirus pandemic - much like the majority of other sectors. Popular literary events such as Interliber, and many more fairs ended up being cancelled, the blow to this specific branch of cultural industry that generally receives poor investments and poor profits thus became even more challenging.

To jump to the rescue, The Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media issued a public tender for both writers and translators. As Jutarnji list reported, the tender for the provision of financial aid to authors and translators for the best books and translations in 2019/2020 introduced a little novelty along with it.

''With the commissional value of the books, which in previous editions [of such tenders] was the only criterium of assigning financial support, this new tender also has a numerical valuing of literal works“, reported Jutarnji.

This numerical valuing is assessed by the number of awards, the level of participation in literal manifestations and festivals, and critical responses.

''Forty points goes to the winners of the awards: Janko Polić Kamov, Fric, Ksaver Šandor Gjalski, Edo Budiša, Vladimir Nazor, Kvirin, Judita etc. While rewards such as Post Scriptum, going to Fran Galović, Sfera, Tea Rimay Benčić etc, are worth only half of those points. Fifteen points can be received by participating in some festivals and manifestations, while the lower rank of such events is worth ten points. Ten points are also added for reviews in certain media while for others (this sometimes includes expert magazines), the critical review is worth only seven or four points,'' wrote Jutarnji List.

The literary community rebelled, and they started a petition called "The Right to Quality" against these propositions, demanding for the tender to be cancelled, which is supported at the time of writing this article with 233 signatures of Croatian writers and other concerned citizens.

''Public funding support for the best work has significant importance for the number of authors, which is why the authors themselves fought for the existence of this type of support with the initiative ''The Right to a Profession'', reads the text of the petition. The petition also welcomed the description of the criteria to improve transparency but determines that the quantification of literary value, which is a qualitative category in itself, ''disables the authors of a high aesthetic value to get the support their work truly deserves.''

Additionally, playwriters aren't even mentioned in this tender (despite grading rewards which are reserved for playwrites, poets, and essay writers, who are also in a bad position), and the winners of some of these awards will be known only after the ministry's tender closes.  

The Culture Ministry could make many, many improvements, but, having the (mis)fortune of being present on the writing and more particularly, the poetry scene for the last six years (publishing and performing at various events, publishing short stories, and for better or worse, even being covered by the media for my work) I can't say, as a Croatian poet, that the arguments are really on the side of the writer's community either.

Here are several arguments regarding to petition (in bold), as well as counter-arguments (not in bold) from the most annoying Croatian poet in the country. I have no doubt my other colleagues will most likely hate me for it, but you, the reader, are free decide what seems to have more sense. Given the fact that Croatia is a democracy, the pluralism of opinions and civilised public debate is always welcome. Despite the fact that I will not sign the petition, you should sign it yourself if you feel it to be the right thing.

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pixabay

Assigning the funds by the number of sold copies of books borrowed in libraries is problematic as it's not showing the work's actual quality. Readership is affected by various factors, which don't always come because of a book's quality, but from the previous visibility of the author and the budget the publisher has.

Well, how exactly do we determine the value of literary work? I'm no literature academic, and literary academics don't really communicate these ''legitimate criteria that makes a good book'' all that well. Additionally, these books which are labelled as being good, are so boring to the average reader, and then the reader often gets insulted by ''the intellectuals'' for reading such garbage. When you look at other arts, such as music, you can see that music academics favour some music over other types but then again, some music, known as pop, is made for common people and the artists don't focus on achieving some melodic masterpiece but rather to entertain their audience or send a brief message.

Why do writers who do the same get so ridiculed by academic circles?

Why are they ignored by Croatian publishers? Why do writers then insult the readers, making literature more repulsive to the audience, and then get shocked when there isn't a lot of reading done and consequently not much money to be had from the book business? This also makes the Croatian literary offer very poor, and often its style and topics end up being very similar as a result of this unexplained criteria. In return, there's very little Croatian crime fiction, SF, fantasy, love stories, and other genres, and the readers turn to foreign writers in search of such stories (Jo Nesbo, Stephanie Meyer, J.K Rowling. Lois McMaster Bujold and many, many more). Such writing makes them popular and also visible. That's the answer as to whose work gets most bought and borrowed in Croatia, give them the cash!

Poets are at a disadvantage from the very beginning. There are far fewer rewards for poetry than there are for prose, which means the poets can do nothing else but achieve fewer points. There's also less poetry writing in general, which means a lower amount of points coming from critical reviews. Child authors, essay writers, and comic book artists are in a worse position than poets as well.  

The above gets right to the heart of the point from the perspective of a Croatian poet. But, why is it like that, exactly? Before the coronavirus pandemic took the world by storm, there were so many poetry events filled with poets performing and the audience coming to watch them perform. Be it slam poetry, open mics, or some other poetry events, be it in the libraries, bars, or clubs, it was apparent that Croatia doesn't lack poets, nor does it lack an audience for it. These events were in the majority and were always very open to newcomers.

Social media is also filled with people, either quoting their favourite poets or posting their own, personal poetry. So, why are there no more rewards and why is there not more extensive interest from the publishers (with some honorable exceptions) to invest in poetry and keep up with the trends? Culture journalists working for various media outlets should focus more on poetry as well, and coming from TCN's perspective, poetry articles really do attract an audience, as we saw on March the 21st (assuming that reporting on poetry, an important artistic and historical heritage of the linguistic form, isn't rewarding enough in itself).

Evaluating work by the number of reviews is problematic as books that are more visible, in principle, receive more reviews. The authors whose books are published by smaller editors, who have fewer resources to invest in their promotion, are in a less favourable position. In addition, evaluating the number of reviews where three negatives are worth more than two positives is also illogical in order to evaluate the quality of a piece of work.

On top of that still, the amount of points based on the media site on which the critic is published seems to be very random. The result is the unusual circumstance in which, if the same critic writes two reviews of two different books and publishes them on two different sites, depending on where the critic published the review, one writer will receive 10 points, and the other one four even if the first review was positive, and the other one - negative.    

Again, the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there's no empirical way to determine which book is a good book and which isn't. If there were such a righteous empirical way of determining the quality of a book, we wouldn't have the difference between positive and negative reviews. Bad would always be bad, and good would always be good, and there wouldn't be any debates.

Take a look at the empirical field of physics and the definition of friction; ''Friction is a force between two surfaces that are sliding, or trying to slide, across each other“. This definition will always be the correct definition regardless of culture, personal preferences etc. Furthermore, positive reviews, even if done correctly by the rules of the still ''unclear criteria of literature scholars“, that wouldn't be set in stone.

When the poetry volume ''The Flowers of Evil“ by Charles Baudelaire was originally published back in 1857, the academics of the time condemned it as immoral and wrong, and of a poor quality, but today it is celebrated by the successors of that same academia, as one of the best poetry books ever. So, no writer should even care if the reviews are good or bad in terms of quality. That being said, reviews will raise a publication's visibility, attract readership, and inspire critics to write more reviews (combined with the PR done by the publisher). All of this shows the writer's ability to spark a reaction with their work. As such, whether a review is good or bad is irrelevant, but reviews do show the impact and public importance of the book, and therefore it seems to be quite the right direction to go in assessing books by the ministry.

That being said, the tender benefiting the publishing of one review in one media outlet over another is problematic if it doesn't better elaborate why some media outlets are favoured over others in the tender.

Furthermore, big publishers publish more books in larger quantities, and invest more in their promotion, and they already have a name that attracts the press. That is absolutely true. But, today, with the development of social media (which allows promotion without high expenses), and while journalists strive to discover new things, new names, new approaches - small publishers have never before been in a better position to push themselves and the writers they represent out into the public arena and develop and expand to the level of ''big players“. The only question is - do they have the will to do it?

It's not adequate that the esthetical value of a book is evaluated by attending events and manifestations. Festivals more often call upon already established authors who then have an unfair advantage. Additionally, every organiser mostly invites his own authors who again have an advantage over the others. The tender doesn't value international festivals, which causes a paradoxical situation in which the promotion in the organisation of the publisher is evaluated, but it's not evaluated when the promotion happens during an established international festival.

The term ''the presenting of the book“ is problematic for multiple reasons. First and foremost, the majority of these festivals don't present the book (and its a problem to prove that by participating in these festivals, the book was actually presented). Last, but not least – this is discriminatory towards authors of a weaker state of health, who are older (with the risk of the novel coronavirus still large) or busy with family and work obligations and are unable to travel.

Festival organisers do discriminate against writers, but whose fault is that exactly? Are these festivals organised by the Republic of Croatia, by the Ministry of Culture? If they are, then it's problematic, but if these festivals aren't organised by the ministry, then this whole petition is barking up the wrong tree. If the festival organisers aren't willing to be more fair and open to new names, then we, the writers, need to show solidarity with our colleagues and negotiate with festival organisers to invite our colleagues who are less presented to participate. If you're a writer/publisher seriously concerned with this issue, but you're among the lucky ones who get invited, use your position to help others out a little.

On the other hand, it's too bad international festivals aren't valued in the tender, and the ministry should work more in helping Croatian writers become more visible on the international scene. Regarding ''vulnerable writers, the old, the sick, and those too pre-occupied to attend'', they should be presented by their publishers, and an additional problem is that often the expenses of travelling to festivals aren't covered for the writer, and their participation costs money.

Awards such as the VBZ award, the Dragutin Tadijanović award assigned by (HAZU) etc aren't mentioned in the tender. Relevant international awards Croatian authors frequently are awarded, such as the Bridges of Struga (Macedonian award), the European Union Literature Award, the European Poet of Freedom, etc, are also ignored.

Every single award, be it Croatian, European or international, should be valued in the tender, but VBZ really shouldn't be. For those who don't know, the VBZ award is the annual award for the best-unpublished novel, and the winner sees their manuscript published, and there is a financial 100,000 kuna prize that goes with it too. With a huge monetary prize and the chance to have that piece of work published, why would VBZ be part of a tender whose goal is to financially help those writers who have run out of money?

The bigger problem is the question of how fair are these awards in the first place. Are they transparent? Are there no biases from the judges appointing these awards? Interestingly enough, there used to be an award called ''Kiklop'', which was given to the most purchased book in Croatia, but was cancelled in 2009 because the winning book by Nives Celzijus (about what's it like to be the wife of a Dinamo footballer) was considered by writing community to ''not be intellectual enough''. When in reality, for a book that can appeal so much to the Croatian readership, in a country that doesn't read much, such rewards should still be respected.

The final item of the tender that tries to consider the books that went unnoticed isn't going to accomplish too much. From the whole tender, it's visible that the emphasis is being placed on the work that received the most media attention and follows the old principle - The more attention something gets, even if it isn't good attention - the better.

Again, books should be visible to the public, and visibility should be awarded. The majority of publishers seem to see the distribution of a writer's work as their only job, and then they're surprised when despite distribution, the books just sit there not being snapped up by eager readers. Knock on doors, contact people, contact the press, everyone. Prepare a decent press release. Scream from the rooftops that you published a book from the top of your lungs and afford your writer the attention their work deserves. With the aforementioned development of social media, there's truly no excuse to be lagging in that respect today. Then, you'll get the media attention, and half of this tender would not be problematic at all. The problem is the policy of publisher's work and not the criteria by the ministry for this particular item.  

Overall, the Ministry isn't without sin in this saga, but the Croatian writing community (particularly publishers, and event organisers) also needs to act differently to benefit the writers themselves, especially the new generations (and poets, stop forgetting the poets!).

Poets and writers deal with language, and you can learn more about the ins and outs of the Croatian language on our TC page.

For more about culture in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

English Translation of a Book by Kristian Novak Sold on Amazon

Kristian Novak is one of the most influential young Croatian novelists, and today it was made public that the English translation of one of his books, "Dark Mother Earth" can be purchased on Amazon.

Kristian Novak's first novel, Obješeni  (The Hanged) was published in 2005, but his first real success came in 2013 when he published his second novel, Črna mati zemla  (Dark Mother Earth). His second novel won numerous prizes, including tportal's prize for the best novel of the year in Croatia. It's often said that Črna mati zemla is one of the best Croatian novels of all time, and it has since been successfully adapted for stage, and a film adaptation is in progress. His third novel, Ciganin, ali najljepši  (Gypsy, But the Fairest of Them All) has repeated the success of its predecessor, as it has won numerous awards, has been adapted for the stage, a TV series is in production and it has been translated into several foreign languages.

The OceanMore publishing company, which published Dark Mother Earth and Gypsy, But the Fairest of Them All in Croatia, reported that the English translation of Dark Mother Earth can be purchased on Amazon. It is published by Amazon Crossing, the leading publisher of translated books in the US. Their mission is to publish award-winning and bestselling books from around the globe, written in languages other than English, making international literature accessible to many readers in the US (and to those who read in English) for the first time. Not only was the novel published by them, but it also made the front page of their website, as shown in the photo above. The novel was translated to English by Ellen Elias-Bursać, a world-renowned translator of South Slavic literature to English, who has translated many books by Dubravka Ugrešić and Slavenka Drakulić.  

The book is also available as an audiobook, with Will Damron as the narrator.

Kristian Novak's literary agency describes Dark Mother Earth as a crime/horror novel about Matija Dolenčec, a successful young writer struggling to overcome his creative and emotional block by reaching for his own, deeply repressed and forgotten story which was compensated by inventing all of his other stories. It’s a story about a personal journey from a bright, alienated, casual and urban place into one that is dark, intimate, essential and rural.

Matija’s suppressed memories slowly reveal the traumatic story of his childhood in a village in a rural region of Northern Croatia, of his father’s tragic death and eight mysterious suicides, of two demons haunting him, the loss of a friend, great myths and local legends, the historic turmoil of the nineties, everyday lies, guilt, cruelty, loneliness and love.

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