Istros Books was supported for the translation of 4 books:
In a small town on the Adriatic coast, a local detective is content to sacrifice truth for the sake of telling his clients the stories they want to hear. At first, The Coming reads as a traditional detective novel, but suddenly changes form with the advent of snow in midsummer. When the town library burns down under mysterious circumstances, the detective’s long-lost son begins to get involved in the investigations from afar. He takes the reader on excursions into history and recounts the life of Fra Dolcino, a medieval heretic who announced the return of the Messiah and also illuminates the life and work of Sabbatai Zevi, a Renaissance cabalist, who maintained that he himself was the Messiah. We learn that Sabbatai Zevi died in Ulcinj and left behind a manuscript, The Book of Return, which remains hidden. The unsolved mysteries of both past and present, as well as environmental anomalies, serve to create the sense of an impending apocalypse, giving way in the final chapter to a post-apocalyptic reality.
A local journalist sends a distant relative to report on the war in Iraq, while he stays at home to sort out his love life and his professional career – all to varying degrees of success. As time goes on, things begin to unravel and he ends up having to fake his missing cousin’s reports while struggling to hold on to his actress girlfriend. Our Man in Iraq is a take on the Iraqi conflict from the other side of Europe, where politics and nepotism collide and the confusing aftereffects of the recent Yugoslav wars mix with the joys and trials of modern life.
After nine months of self-imposed isolation due to his wife’s departure, the protagonist of Seven Terrors finally realises that it is time to join the world once again. He decides to face his loneliness and understands that nothing will be the same again. Things start to change when Mirna, the daughter of his old friend Aleksa, appears in his flat one morning.
The search for Aleksa will lead the reader into a surreal world where rationality has disappeared and Charon, the mythical ferryman from Hades, drives a taxi while dead horses fly across the sky; where cracks begin to appear in reality and people disappear; where evil spreads like a virus and not even love can offer an escape. It is in such chaos that our hero endevours to remain sane and find the solutions to his problems, doing his best to solve the mystery of Aleksa’s disappearance while trying to save his own soul and bring love back into his life. This unusual and intense story is one which cannot fail to move readers and draw them into the postwar nightmare that Avdić has created.
A Handful of Sand is a love story and an ode to lost opportunity. Steeped in the social context of latter-day Croatia, its themes are vast: parenthood, loneliness, unhappy love, the absence of faith, the struggle for life. Now far from his homeland, the novel’s protagonist looks back on his life, from his childhood, university days and first working experience to more traumatic emotional events, making critical observations on human relationships and human existence.
Interchanging with the chapters written in the narrator’s voice are those narrated by a woman. As her strory progresses, we realise that she is the love of his life, but while she recognises this, he fails to see the importance of the connection between them. While the last part of the novel is devoted to the love affair between these two narrators, the opportunity for them to be together passes through their hands like sand through fingers. He shall go the path of resignation and self-exclusion from the world, while her emotional wounds make her stronger and give her a thirst for life which can only save her.
PROJECT IN FOCUS
‘Winning the Literary Translation award for 4 books in 2011 was really what got Istros Books off the ground and I am extremely grateful for them giving me the possibility of bringing these titles to the English-speaking audience. I believe that this funding strand is a lifeline for many small publishers all across Europe, who would otherwise not have the financial capacity to commission translations. The fact that each application is vetted by a team of local experts means that the books which pass reflect all that is best in contemporary, European fiction, and therefore winning the award for the second time round is also a great endorsement of my authors and the work of my translators.’
- Susan Curtis-Kojakovic, Founder, Istros Books