About the project

The project "The Power of Literature in the Changing World," which the publisher V.B.Z. is conducting with help from the Creative Europe program of the European Union, includes the publication and promotion of ten high-quality novels and comics written by European and Croatian authors. The project is thematically divided into two main focuses: LITERATURE GOES GREEN and LITERATURE BREAKING BARRIERS. One of the project's goals is to promote Croatian literature abroad, so as part of the project, V.B.Z. will continue its good practice, already started by previous cooperation with Creative Europe, and publish two Croatian novels in foreign markets in collaboration with the British publisher Istros Books and the Italian-Austrian publisher Folio Verlag.

In these uncertain times of pandemics, war, climate change, economic turmoil, discouraging reports on gender (in)equality or status of LGBT population in Croatia, we have decided to publish books that address these burning issues of today's world and our country.

All ten literary works included in the project problematize some of the European Union's priority issues (themes of environmental crisis, diversity and inclusion, and gender equality). Award-winning literary works and comics are being translated, and the choice of authors reflects the overall theme of gender balance. The project aims to increase the visibility of translators whose names are on the book's cover, and translators also participate in promotions and other promotional activities.

One of the main promotional platforms of the project is the literary festival Vrisak, where authors and translators from the project are guests. Special attention will be paid to digital promotion: promotions will be broadcast live on social media and promoted through podcasts. To emphasize the importance of environmental awareness and increase the project's visibility and message, books are printed on eco-friendly paper.

LITERATURE GOES GREEN

Three books directly deal with ecological issues and raise important questions about the consequences of climate change. The cult French post-apocalyptic graphic novel SNOWPIERCER, published in the 1980s, depicts the Earth in the future as a frozen wasteland and its remaining population traveling by train. Even among the survivors, there is a social hierarchy: the wealthy travel comfortably in the front carriages, while the others are crammed in the inhumane conditions at the back of the train. The author of the text, Benjamin Legrand, made a guest appearance at the Vrisak Festival in Rijeka in 2022, and we could learn first-hand about the importance of this comic and its acclaimed Hollywood adaptation.

The novel MOVABLE HORIZON by Italian author Daniele Del Giudice is the winner of the European Union Prize for Literature. It is an ode to Antarctica, the last "terra incognita" on the planet. The book draws readers into an almost surreal landscape that seemingly unites everything that exists, which is the beginning and the end of everything - because it is untouched nature.

MEMORY OF WATER, an award-winning novel by Finnish author Emmi Itäranta, is a work of speculative eco-fiction. It is one of the most influential young adult novels in the field of climate fiction published in this century and raises questions about growing up in a future world changed by the climate crisis where there is no more water.

LITERATURE BREAKING BARRIERS

Several books from the project speak about the mental health of young people, diversity, inclusivity, and crises in society caused by extraordinary situations such as pandemics.

The Swedish graphic novel GOBLIN GIRL by Moa Romanova, winner of the prestigious Eisner Award for comics, depicts a young woman who meets an older famous man on the Tinder app. The comic raises questions about the abuse of young people on social media and openly portrays one woman's struggle with panic attacks and anxiety. Author and translator Željka Černok appeared at the Vrisak Festival in 2022 and spoke about their experiences working on this uncensored comic that speaks about the problems of young people today.

BOLLA by Pajtim Statovci, a Finnish author of Kosovar origin and one of the most highly regarded contemporary European authors of the younger generation, is the winner of Finlandia, the most prestigious literary award in Finland. It depicts two men struggling to accept their sexual identity and division due to national affiliation in the patriarchal community of Kosovo, affected by the war between their two nations: Albanian and Serbian.

The novel HOMECOMING by Dutch author Anne Enquist tells the story of the tragic life of Captain James Cook's wife and depicts an independent woman ahead of her time. At the same time, the novel opens discussions about Captain Cook's legacy as an explorer and colonizer and about the common European legacy in this context, sensitizing readers to this complex topic that is little known or talked about in Croatia.

The dystopian novel THE UNIT by Swedish author Ninni Holmqvist imagines a society in which women over fifty and men over sixty who are single, childless, and work in unprofitable industries are sent to a community of "unnecessary" residents called "The Unit." This simultaneously frightening and touching book raises questions about the cruelty of society disguised as care for its inhabitants, all in accordance with the laws of "democracy" and capitalism.

Several books in the project directly or indirectly touch on the pandemic.

The novel SON, LET'S GO HOME by Ivica Prtenjača, winner of the V.B.Z. Award for Best Novel in 2021, will be translated into English and published in the UK. The story is set in the first pandemic spring and follows a son's struggle for his seriously ill father. It is an emotional story about an ordinary man, a novel that asks whether we can ever be ready to face the death of loved ones.

THE SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS by Drago Glamuzina will be translated into German. The second law of thermodynamics in physics refers to the fact that all natural systems tend towards entropy, or the chaos of the system. This novel is not about the laws of physics, but about the lives of the protagonists, whom the author completely exposes. As in "The Decameron," the protagonists of the novel have gathered and share their intimate confessions. Love is the central point for all - passionate, partner, friendly, desire - because love is the source of life, the antithesis of death - with which we have been surrounded so much in this pandemic.

"MOONSTONE: THE BOY WHO NEVER WAS" by Icelandic author Sjón tells the story of Reykjavik in 1918, during the Spanish flu pandemic, and gay young man Máni at a time when being gay was unthinkable. One of the important questions the novel raises is that social disdain and rejection of those who are different can be as dangerous and deadly as the biological virus itself.

In just a few years, the world and our lives have changed dramatically. The question is whether we can and know how to deal with all the changes, turn them to our advantage, and enter a better, more just world. Good literature, which raises questions and encourages discussions, will surely help us with that. And that is why this project was created and why we believe in it.