Creative Europe is the European Commission's programme for support to the culture and audiovisual sectors, which aim to highlight excellence and raise awareness of Europe's creativity and heritage. In the field of literature Creative Europe supports initiatives for the translation and promotion of literary works across European Union (EU) markets, with the aim of increasing access to and readership of high quality European literature.
The main goal of Cankarjeva založba publishing house, in general and in the framework of Creative Europe programme, is to promote and emphasize the importance of literature diversity – linguistic and genre.
One of the important goals of Cankarjeva založba is also development of mutual cooperation between lesser-used language communities, especially between the Balkans and the rest of EU.
Therefore, our Creative Europe project programme includes ten unique, high-quality literary works, half from the less developed Balkan region and half from the more developed EU regions, that have never been translated into Slovene language. The majoriti of selected works are written in lesser-used languages, Finnish, Slovakian, Czech, Polish, Bosnian, Serbian, Dutch, Macedonian and Italian. As Slovenian is one of lesser-used languages as well, Cankarjeva založba is especially interested in getting to know the literary traditions of other small European nations.
THE BOOK OF UNA (2011)
The Book of Una is a story about a man trying to overcome the personal trauma caused by the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. It is also a novel about childhood spent on a beautiful river and about fish, plants, swimming, diving and enjoying life in a small Bosnian town. The Book of Una is an attempt to reconstruct the life of the main character, who is somewhat bipolar in nature: he is both a veteran and a poet. At times, he manages to pick up the pieces of his life, but at other times it escapes him. His memories of the recent war and the killings are “dirty and disgusting”, while he views his present as humdrum, and his identity feels incomplete. With the help of his memories, he uses his mind and strength to look for a way out of the maze in which he is confined. In parallel with this story, the book’s passages on the town on the River Una take on mythical and dreamlike dimensions. Here, the novel expands into a poetic description of nature, the seasons, plants and animals, as well as childhood memories not yet tainted by all the events that will happen after 1992.
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A ROUGH START (2010)
A Rough Start, significantly subtitled The Referee's Extra Time, depicts family relations in the context of the social climate of Serbia during wartime in the '90s, succeeding in creating a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. The main protagonists are likeable and eccentric members of a family from Banat: the father is a beat-up football referee, officiating lower-division matches, who earns extra money tutoring maths; the mother is a dentist and political activist who is trying to establish a local radio station; an uncle who has disappeared during the war also plays an important role in the family and the novel. Although the author claims this is purely a work of fiction, the story is very convincing, with a very authentic narrative style. Vujičić portrays his characters from a dual perspective: firstly, from the immediate vicinity within the family environment, and secondly from the contextualized perspective of the historical dead-end and moral debacle of Serbia during the era of Slobodan Milošević. The story's warm and good-natured irony and lively humor are posed against the counterbalancing and interpretative arena of ethical ideas.
TRAVESTY SHOW (2004)
Travesty show is a collection of seventeen short stories, unconventional and disturbing, while subtle and remarkably diverse at introducing their poignant subject matter, generating a profound reading experience. The world presented in the book is a world of women eagerly attempting to counter the conservative roles imposed on them, traditional conventions and patterns of behavior in order to come to terms with their femininity, sexuality, their either young or aging bodies. The stories intimately depict the period of the '70s and '80s in Czechoslovakia behind the Iron Curtain, as well as the post-Communist society, gripped by rampant consumerism at the beginning of the new millennium. The collection Travesty show is characterized by personal engagement, narrative insistence and sheer subjectivity, whereas its composition is based on mystery, a poetic and surreal atmosphere of unpredictability, striking an ironic, playful and unreserved tone in the portrayal of female characters in their relations with men (husband, lover, father, stranger) on the margins of their inner lives.
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DARK PARADISE (1989)
Dark Paradise is a collection of short stories. The stories deal with a set of bizarre Finnish characters, from a germophobic man who obsessively cleans his apartment and does not let anyone come near him, to a woman who wants to make herself look good for her approaching death, and a pregnant widow who has to clean off her husband's brains after he has been killed. While these stories are characterised by extreme behaviour, there is a sense of humour that always shines through and gives us faith in humanity. The style of Liksom’s fiction is terse and the tone detached. A special feature of her prose is the use of slang, giving her stories added authenticity.
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TAIGA STATION (2008)
In Taiga Station author confronts two turning points in Soviet history in the 20th century: the post-WWII period, full of hope with its omnipresent sovietisation, collectivization, the creation of kolkhozes and nationalization; and the '90s, period of disillusionment following the collapse of the Soviet superpower. The story actually begins in 1946, when Hablund Doran, an inexperienced idealistic Dane, travels far into the taiga to make a documentary, but does not return. Sixty years later, his compatriot Erske Jenkel, a student of anthropology, sets out to find him. The book is subdivided into chapters named after some of the key characters. The descriptions of the characters’ fates give an insight into life in the remote regions of Russia and how it has changed over the past sixty years, or rather how in some ways it has not changed at all. Hůlová does not shy away from depicting the political backdrop, in particular that of the late '40s. And she devotes herself to Soviet policies on minorities when she depicts life between the native inhabitants and the new “settlers”.
ANIMAL TRISTE (1996)
In Animal Triste, an autumnal love story of erotic obsession, possessiveness, remembrance, oblivion and time, an elderly woman dwells upon a failed love affair when she was no longer young, but not yet old. The narrator relives meeting her lover, Franz, at the natural history museum, when, for the first time in her life, she experiences all-consuming love and absolute happiness. Ultimately, the affair founders because of her inability to believe that Franz will actually leave his wife. When he disappears from her life, she withdraws from the world, waiting for his return and repeatedly revisiting their time together in a never-ending cycle of obsession. Her love for Franz becomes a compulsive suffering from which she can neither free herself nor withhold anything. But another essential part of this story is history: WWII, the first post-war years, everyday life in East Germany, as well as the fall of the Berlin Wall.
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THE LAST ESCAPE (2014)
Jan van Mersbergen
“You’re my father”, the boy says on the telephone. His name is Deedee, he is ten years old, and he is talking to his father for the very first time. After this first phone call from his son, Ivan is puzzled. Was it a prank call? But after the boy’s second call they meet, and when Ivan sees the boy, he knows it is true. Deedee looks just like Ivan’s younger brother, who stayed in Yugoslavia and was killed in the war. Ivan left Yugoslavia to escape the war, and now makes a living by performing a Houdini act in Amsterdam nightclubs. So when Ivan is invited to perform his act in the south of France, the boy travels with him. Finally, Deedee can see his father’s act live. But the performance has an unexpected ending. If it is true that a child needs his father, does a father also need a child? And what is the value of freedom when you are tied down? Jan van Mersbergen’s impressive novel about fatherhood and the search for freedom captures some big subjects of great literature in a light and unsentimental tone.
Warsaw 1939, the first days of the German occupation. Konstanty Willemann wakes up one day, hung-over and nauseous and tries to establish his identity. It is a question that goes deeper than the usual drunk’s confusion. The Germans have occupied Warsaw for fourteen days now and it is high time for Konstanty to decide whether he is German or Polish. The question of his national identity has never bothered him before, but in 1939 such ambivalence is no longer permitted. Konstanty’s father was German, his mother is a German-speaking Silesian who chose to be Polish, which is how she raised her son. As a result, Konstanty has two mother tongues and “two souls in one body”. Almost unwillingly, he joins the underground movement and is assigned to be a spy among the Germans. No one is sure who Konstanty is any longer, not even Konstanty himself. In Morfina, Szczepan Twardoch has achieved a rare thing in Polish prose: he has created an anti-hero who is undeniably likeable. Like the greatest figures before him, Witkacy, Gombrowicz, Littell, this young writer has shown himself able to portray a weak and torn individual enmeshed in the wheels of history.
THE MARK (2011)
The story of The Mark is set in the front line, as one sniper becomes aware that he is in the sights of another, who happens to be a woman, and moreover one who is extremely beautiful, and though he is caught in the cross hairs, she does not fire. Why not execute the victim? As in a chess game, they look at each other, carefully studying their faces through the gun sights. She is the narrator and listens to his story. Our narrator tells the story, and Doruntina (he names her Doruntina, in order to establish an act of communication) listens intoxicated. This story demonstrates the senselessness of all wars, which can cut off the established trajectories of people's lives and make a farce of everything that seems stable.
MY BRILLIANT FRIEND (2011)
My Brilliant Friend is a large and captivating bildungsroman, apparently the first in a series. Its narrator, Elena Greco, recalls her Neapolitan childhood and adolescence in the late '50s. There is a kind of joy in the book not easily found in her earlier work. The city of Elena’s childhood is a poor, violent place, but deprivation gives a richness to the details. A trip to the sea, a new friend, a whole day spent with your father, a brief holiday, a sketched design for a beautiful pair of shoes, a wedding, the promise of having your article published in a local journal – these seemingly ordinary events take on an unexpected luminosity against the background of poverty, ignorance, violence, and parental abuse. If Ferrante’s earlier novels have some of the brutal directness and familial torment of Elsa Morante’s work, then My Brilliant Friend may remind the reader of neo-realist movies by De Sica and Visconti, or perhaps of Giovanni Verga’s short stories about Sicilian poverty.
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