The 7th annual Festival of World Literature opens in Zagreb on September 8, 2019

The 2019 Festival of World Literature will take place at the Croatian Music Institute in Zagreb from 8-14 of September. This marks the seventh year of the festival, which always brings Croatia a number of celebrated figures from European and world literature, who then connect with domestic writers.

This year marks the first time that the Zagreb events will mostly be held in the Croatian Music Institute. The organizers say that they hope that this is the beginning of a long-term collaboration, through which many celebrated names from the international and domestic literary scenes may also be heard in the longest-lived institution of Croatian culture.

The 2019 Festival of World Literature has as its special focus literature in the Spanish language: and so a significant number of relevant writers will be attending. The Festival will open on Sunday, 8 September with one of the most significant contemporary Spanish authors, Fernando Aramburu, in discussion on his novel Patria – a novel about the Basque Country that has won a number of Spanish and European literary awards, has been translated or is being translated into more than 30 world languages, and in Spain itself has sold more than one million copies.

From the Spanish-speaking lands, in addition to Fernando Aramburu, the festival will host Argentinian Jorge Bucay, a world renowned writer and gestalt psychotherapist, and a favourite of Croatian readers, and Samanta Schweblin, a rising young star of the global literary scene; from Colombia, Laura Restrepo, well known by Croatian readers; and the celebrated emerging Madrid poet Elena Medel. Also in attendance will be, in collaboration with the Croatian PEN Centre, the Director of the International PEN Centre, the Catalan poet and activist Carles Torner, and the poet George Mario Angel Quintero. For the realization of the Spanish segment of this year’s Festival, thanks are due to the Spanish Embassy in Zagreb, and to Accíon Cultural Española (AC/E), which has given invaluable support for the inclusion of Fernando Aramburu and Elena Medel through the Programme for the Internationalization of Spanish Culture (PICE), through which Mobility Grants have been awarded for the inclusion of these authors.

Again in collaboration with the Croatian PEN Centre, 20 years of Lyrikline will be marked, one of the most important platforms for the promotion of poetry; Thomas Wohlfahrt, Christiane Lange, Jan Wagner, Zvonko Maković and Tomica Bajsić will speak at this event. Further, two poetry evenings will be held in the beautiful space of the Meštrović Atelier on Mletačka Street.

The Festival of World Literature, in partnership with Vilenica (the longest-running Slovenian literary festival) and Cúirt International Festival of Literature (based in Galway, European Capital of Culture 2020), has this year again successfully applied for funding through Creative Europe from the Education, Audiovisual and Cultural Exchange Agency (EACEA) for the two-year collaborative project entitled Read Me I am Yours: one segment of the Festival programme will be dedicated to this project. Thus the Ukrainian writer Myroslav Laiuk and the Spanish writer Elena Medel will be on Read Me I Am Yours’Residency for young writers, at Zagreb’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

The Festival, of course, contains not only Spanish-language authors, but a total of more than 100 international and domestic writers, literary critics, scientists, visual artists and musicians. At the beginning of this September, these will together place Zagreb on the map of the most interesting literary centres in Europe. These authors come from 18 countries over three continents.

Amongst them, to name just a few, are the first winner of the ManBooker Prize from the USA, the subversive, politically incorrect satirist Paul Beatty; Nicola Lagioia, a winner of Strega, the most important Italian literary award; Leïla Slimani, leading contemporary French writer of the younger generation, winner of the Goncourt Prize and a star of contemporary European literature; Burhan Sönmez, one of the most widely-translated contemporary Turkish writers; Dragan Velikić, winner of this year’s Vilenica Prize; David Lagercrantz, the writer who dared to continue the work of Stieg Larsson; the award-winning Irish author Eimear McBride; Srđan Valjarević, author of the cult novel Komo; leading light of Austrian literature Robert Menasse; Slovenian author Mojca Kumerdej; and the French writer Maylis de Kerangal. The Croatian writers participating this year include Julijana Adamović, Jurica Pavičić, Olja Savičević Ivančević, Marina Vujičić, Nebojša Lujanović, Luiza Bouharaoua, Dinko Kreho, Marija Dejanović and many more.

As in every previous year, there will be Literary Matinées for pupils from Zagreb’s high schools, in which Julijana Adamović, Jurica Pavičić and Nebojša Lujanović will participate. This programme has been broadened to include foreign language matinées, and so this year at Gymnasium XVII the French author Maylis de Kerangal will be a guest. For the pupils from High schools,  journalistic workshops in collaboration with 24sata and the weekly Express have been organized.

Besides traditional conversational segments, Tribina Razotkrivanje (Disclosure,one-on-one conversationand Dvostruki portreti (Double Portraits, one interviewer, two interviewees), and the programme Pisac i njegov čitatelj (The Writer and the Reader), a series of expert lectures and discussions will be held. The latter will include a lecture on the Polish literary giant Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, on the eightieth anniversary of his death; another on the role of Robert Musil in European literature in light of the Croatian publication of his third book Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man Without Qualities), translated by Andy Jelčić; and a lecture from Alessandro Vezzosi, a leading expert on Leonardo da Vinci, marking of 500 years since his death.

There will also be round tables. World Without Walls marks the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, but reflects simultaneously on the more recent announcement of Trump’s border wall with Mexico: it is organized in collaboration with the Croatian PEN Centre. A further round table will be on The Role of the Cathedral Today and Tomorrow, conceived in light of the fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and jointly organized with the Institut français in Zagreb. There will also be a discussion with the German philosopher and writer Wolfram Eilenberger, author of one of the most widely sold and widely translated book on philosophy, Zeit der Zauberer (Time of the Magicians), which discusses the most important decade of twentieth century philosophy and four of the greatest philosophers of the first half of the twentieth century: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Cassirer and Martin Heidegger.

All these programmes and events will be chaired by prominent Croatian writers, critics, editors, writers and journalists: all events will be simultaneously translated. Entry for the majority of events will be free of charge, though the evening programmes in the great hall of the Croatian Music Institute will be ticketed: however, every ticket will also function as a discount voucher at the Festival Book Shop. Tickets can be bought online through the Entrio system, or at the Festival desk from two hours before the beginning of the programme.

As in previous years, a series of related exhibitions has been organized. In the Studio of the Josip Račić Modern Gallery Studio twenty eminent and upcoming Croatian visual artists will exhibit their own paintings, drawings and collages inspired by works of literati, under the curatorship of Tomislav Buntak. At Galerija Šira, another exhibition will be held, of submissions for posters for the Festival of World Literature, made by students at the Academy of Visual Arts in Zagreb over the past three years as part of a competition jointly run by the Festival and the Academy. The visual for this year’s Festival was created by Ivan Stanišić, a fourth-year student at the Graphics Department. In the gallery of the Cultural Information Centre (Kulturno informativni centar, KIC), one of the most celebrated contemporary Austrian photographers, Kurt Kaindl, will present an exhibition of his own photography from his travels in European minority communities, journeys made over more than a decade with the equally celebrated and award-winning Salzburg writer Karl-Markus Gauß; this exhibition is supported by Austrian Cultural Forum Zagreb. The exhibition of portraits of this year’s Festival participants will be organized in the Croatian Music Institute.

As for cinema, three films inspired by literature will be shown. Namely the two Polish feature films Nienasycenie (Insatiability) (dir. Wiktor Grodecki) and Pożegnanie jesieni (Farewell to Autumn) (dir. Mariusz Treliński), and the French film Corniche Kennedy (dir. Dominique Cabrera).

A special treat is the theatrical re-enactment of a celebrated lecture by Miroslav Krleža, in the building of the Croatian Music Institute. In 1930 Miroslav Krleža, in the same Croatian Music Institute, gave a lecture to a full auditorium: Jutarnji list daily reported that more than 800 people attended. Krleža was due to hold a second lecture on Croatian literature, on 12 April 1933, but the police banned the event. This, the “third” Krleža lecture on Croatian literature, has been assembled from everything we have inherited from Krleža, by the Krleža expert Vlaho Bogišić. Miroslav Krleža himself will be played by Ozren Grabarić, one of Croatia’s most renowned actors, a star of the Gavella Theatre and a professor at the Academy of Dramatic Art, University of Zagreb; the director is Aida Bukvić, a renowned director and professor. This unusual event is intended as a reminder of the links between the Croatian Music Institute and the literary world.

The Festival of World Literature was founded by Fraktura Publishing House in 2013. For 7 days in early September, with the Festival of World Literature, Zagreb and Split become one of the centres of world literature, places to present new titles, where authors discuss their novels and many other topics in panels and round tables. The program of the festival incorporates more events every year, embodying a highly significant cultural platform on a national and international level. The events are moderated by leading literary editors, writers and critics. Every year, around 20 of Croatia’s most distinguished painters make portraits of the Festival participants as well as paintings inspired by motives from their books. As a literary and cultural manifestation, the festival includes literary talks, round tables, film screenings and graphic novel discussions. Opening and closing events of the Festival are accompanied with music performance. The aim of the festival is to bring together the best of local and international literature, through a series of live events, as well as to provide an opportunity for the audience to interact with contemporary writers.