LitBirthdays September 11 – 17, 2011

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September is

Be Kind to Editors and Writers

Month


September 11

Katri Vala Katri Vala (b. 1901) – Finnish poet – Distant Garden / Kaukainen puutarha (1924)

Read the Authors Calendar biography (Internet Archive) of Katri Vala here

Vala’s first collection, KAUKAINEN PUUTARHA (1924), was written when she worked in the small schools of Vaajasalo and Valkeala. It opens with ecstatic images of the sun, earth, and moon, but the part five ends in sorrow and loneliness, “my heart fell down on the earth / like a crushed flower.”

Often Vala’s personal experiences and living in poverty mixed with the atmosphere of the era. Vala’s first child, a girl, died in 1931; she lived only two hours. After her death, Vala was depressed for a long time and once tried to commit suicide. Vala mourned her loss in such poems as ‘Portin takana’, ‘Yli virran,’ and ‘Vaikeneva lapsi’, which were included in the collection PALUU (1934).

Paluu sold poorly, and confused the critics. “Who said I’m a singer of the masses,” Vala noted in a letter to her husband. The last part of book consisted of fairy tale poems. Also in her first and second collection Vala had taken inspiration from the world of fairytales, but in the allegorical Si-Si-Dous series, which dealt with the ideological battle of the time, Vala combined fantasy with Christian motifs.

The heroine is an elf, her enemies are the little black men who do not tolerate happiness.

Si-si-dous looked at man
And pitied him.
Work and dreams and gray thoughts
Made up man’s life.
And Si-si-dous went to man
And sang to him a little ditty.
A song about wood, about light and liberty.

(from ‘Tales of Si-si-dous’, transl. by Cid Erik Tallqvist) Tired of all ugliness and hatred she sees, Si-Si-Dous decides to sleep for a thousand years. At the end, “The temple stands, silent, / filled with the smoke of transfiguration.”

From the LukeVille blog post about Katri Vala’s Distant Garden (in Finnish)

Note: This web page is no longer available

http://lukeville.blogspot.com/2010/11/katri-vala-kaukainen-puutarha.html

Excerpt (machine translation): The poetry book is divided into five parts. The first part, “March Bloom,” talks about new birth — the title says it all. The poems praise youth and the joy of life. This first section has poems focusing on the sun, colors, plants, trees, and light. Even if a person is aware that life does not last forever, and all the living die, sometimes one must enjoy the moment. She describes life in the sun, which falls into the sea in the evenings.

An excerpt from Vala’s “In the Meadow”

Distance and time glide away.
A boundless meadow. Red flowers
are opening in the twilight:
the endless chain of hearts
circles the round globe of earth.
From beyond the centuries – today
a voice, warm like the earth,
clear like the day, is sounding:
this is the road of life!

Read three of Katri Vala’s poems (in Finnish)  here

Tahitilainen serenaadi (Tahitian Serenade)

Hiekassa näin varpaittesi jäljet / In the sand I saw the traces of your toes
kauniit kuin pienet näkinkengät, / beautiful as the small shells
ja seppeleestäsi oli kukkia varissut tienviitakseni. / and flowers that had fallen from your wreath to guide my path.

Koko päivän sinua kaukaa katselin. / All day I watched you from afar.
Naurusi putosi päälaelleni / Laughter fell on my head
kuin kimaltelevat pisarat, / like glittering raindrops,
ja kätesi, vilkkaat kuin ruskeat linnut, /and your hands, busy as brown birds,
palmikoitsivat seppelettä kulmillesi. / braided the corners of your wreath.

Olet uupunut, armahin, / You are tired, my love,
laulettuasi ja naurettuasi / after singing and laughing
keskipäivän hiljaisessa kuumuudessa, / in the quiet heat of midday,
mutta anna minun nähdä / but let me see the shadows
silmäripsiesi varjot poskillasi! / of your eyelashes on your cheeks!

Meri lepää rannalla / The sea lies upon the beach
ja antaa kuun suudella jäseniänsä. / and lets the moon give it a kiss.
Olisitpa sinä meri, armaani, / You would be the sea, dear,
ja minä onnellinen kuu! / And I the happy moon!

Syysilta (Autumn Evening)

Käyn rantaan. / I’ll go to the beach.
Taivas tähdistä / The stars in the sky
on korkea ja hiljainen. / are high and quiet.
Lyö vesi mustin lainein mustiin kiviin, / Waves of water like black stones hit
ja rannan puussa lehti viimeinen / the tree on the beach, its leaves
kuin käsi hukkuvan / the last one like a hand drowning
tai mykkä tuskanhuuto ahdistaa. / with a silent cry of pain and distress.

Kuun maljan vaskisen / The brazen moon cup
nyt nostaa metsänneito yli latvojen, / now raised by the forest maiden over the top,
ja helähtäin / suddenly with a clink
sen särkyy laita, / it breaks,
putoo sirpaleina mustaan veteen. / falling in pieces into the black water.
Vain alakuloinen / Alone and sad
nyt kaiku puiden alla nyyhkyttää. / now sobs echo beneath the trees.


Born September 11

D(avid) H(erbert) Lawrence (b. 1885) – U.K. novelist, poet, essayist – The Lost Girl

Tony Gilroy (b. 1956) – U.S. screenwriter, film director – The Bourne Identity



September 12

Kristin Hunter Lattany (b. 1931) – U.S. novelist, young adult fiction – The Landlord (1966) Kristin Hunter Lattany

Read about Kristin Hunter here and  here

In her career as a novelist, Kristin Hunter Lattany has developed a distinctive voice in late twentieth and early twenty-first century American literature. Her work is topical, addressing political and cultural issues that have arisen in the United States since the civil rights movement, especially inequalities and miscommunication in American race relations. Stylistically, Lattany’s use of realism makes her work accessible to diverse audiences—academic. popular, adolescent, and adult. Lattany’s first novel, God Bless the Child (1964), was a critical and popular success. The novel provides a hard look at issues in the inner cities of the 1960s. including a lack of jobs and adequate housing, family instability, and ethnic tensions between white business owners and African American employees and customers. The novel’s mood is shaped by the specter of “The Man,” a symbolic representation of a white power structure that benefitted from rackets such as the heroin trade and “the numbers.”

David M. Jones, Encyclopedia of African American
Women Writers
, Ed. by Yolanda Williams Page

Philadelphia Daily News Obituary for Kristin Hunter Lattany (2008)

http://alyoung.org/2008/12/18/in-memoriam-kristin-hunter-1931-2008/

After being ignored by waiters for 20 minutes, she quietly told her family to leave.

“They started for the door,” she wrote. “I then stood up, yanked the tablecloth and all the condiments off the table and kicked over all six chairs. I should have known we would not be welcome, since the meanest spirits dwell in the drabbest places.”

Kristin did not tolerate discrimination in any form, but her anger at the racism she encountered over the years was channeled more into her writing than in kicking over chairs. The author of about a dozen books for adults and children, plus scores of stories and articles in various publications, Kristin was frequently honored and hailed as an important chronicler of the black experience in America. She died Friday of a heart attack after collapsing in her home in Magnolia, N.J. She was 77.

Excerpt from The Lakestown Rebellion (page 12)

Josh’s store seemed to have been picked up and moved intact from a rural county in Georgia. The floor was bare wood worn smooth by many footprints; the walls were rough, unpainted pine boards. The place smelled of a wonderfully narcotic mixture of spices, hickory smoke, chicken blood, and sawdust. The stock consisted of things most northerners had never heard of, let alone seen or tasted. There were cracklin’s, fried pork rinds in a big tin can, and every other product of the pig, from black, smoked hams to white globs of lard. There were huge croker sacks of field peas, black-eyed peas, pinto beans, hominy, cornmeal, pecans, and peanuts, both roasted and raw. There was homemade sausage in oddly shaped lumps, heavily flecked with sage, that could never have come from a factory. There was cold sarsaparilla to drink and birch beer, and stronger things too, if you had a real thirst and Josh knew you well. And there was a delicacy Fess loved, souse, which consisted of many mysterious little snips and bits of the pig floating in their own gel, like tropical fish in a pink lagoon.

“A souse sandwich,” he requested of the proprietor, a very tall, very black man with the build and grace of a sprinter and the deceptively slow, soft, stupid-seeming speech of a deep southerner. The accent was deceptive because Josh Hawkins was gentle only with gentle people; and he was never stupid, though he had the southern black man’s knack of playing dumb when it served his ends. Fess sometimes suspected that the southern drawl itself was an art form invented by the earliest American blacks to give them time to think up ways of outwitting the white man. “Got fish today,” Hawkins said, without moving toward his counter. “Nunc Farmer brought by some porgies he caught this morning. Mae’s fryin’ ’em now,”


Born September 12

Louis Macneice (b. 1907) – Irish poet

Stanislav Lem (b. 1921) – Polish screenwriter, science fiction writer, philosopher, satirist – Solaris (1961)


September 13

Bill Monroe
Bill Monroe  (b. 1911) – U.S. country bluegrass musician, singer, songwriter

Read about Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music, here

Listen to Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys perform “Wayfaring Stranger”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMrBCJObQOk

and “Uncle Pen”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnI3b9aHV9Q

Oh the people would come from far away
They danced all night till the break of day
When the caller hollered “do-se-do”
You knew Uncle Pen was ready to go

Late in the evening about sundown
High on the hill and above the town
Uncle Pen played the fiddle, Lord, how it would ring
You could hear it talk, you could hear it sing

He played an old piece he called “Soldier’s Joy”
And the one called “The Boston Boy”
The greatest of all was “Jenny Lynn”
To me that’s where the fiddlin’ begins

I’ll never forget that mournful day
When Uncle Pen was called away
They hung up his fiddle, they hung up his bow
They knew it was time for him to go

Bill Monroe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oB4DDSkUAVE


and “Angels Rock Me to Sleep”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-oBP125spI&feature=relmfu

 
Watch an interview with Bill Monroe
Bill Monroe
I wanted to have a music of my own. It took me a long time. A lot of music I had to keep out of it, you know. But I put some blues and a little bit of jazz, and the old Scotch bagpipe; a little bit of Irish music, you know — the old time fiddle music. And a lot of gospel things in bluegrass music, like the Memphis Baptist, the holiness, like that. But it’s got a drive to it that no other music ever had. Check back over and you’ll see that rock and roll got its time from bluegrass music.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_loxtCMnEw


Born September 13

Roald Dahl (b. 1916) – U.K. (Welsh) children’s book writer – Matilda

Tom Holt (b. 1961) – U.K. novelist – Nothing But Blue Skies


September 14

Ivan Klima Ivan Klima (b. 1931) – Czech novelist, playwright, essayist – My Golden Trades (1998)

Read about Ivan Klima here and here

He was born in Prague in 1931. His father, Vilém, was an electrical engineer and inventor. “I don’t understand machines at all, but my father influenced me by being a workaholic; even on vacations he had a slide-rule.” Klíma’s mother, Marta, spoke five languages and worked as a secretary. Baptised a Protestant, Klíma had “no idea my parents were Jewish till Hitler came”. His mother’s evangelical ancestors had adopted the Jewish faith during the counter-Reformation ban on Protestantism in Bohemia. After the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, Vilém secured a job in a Liverpool factory and visas for the family, but his own mother’s was delayed. “He refused to leave so we stayed,” says Klíma. According to his brother, their mother never forgave him.

In 1941, when Ivan was 10, his father was sent on the first transport to Terezín, the “fortress ghetto” north of Prague. The rest of the family followed. In an essay, “A Rather Unconventional Childhood” (1993), Klíma describes the camp, where books were banned but he repeatedly read his copy of The Pickwick Papers . He had only a few months’ schooling, but wrote, drew and staged puppet shows. Though he vividly recalls the “instant soup and green, almost inedible bread”, he says: “We were hungry but not starving. It wasn’t an extermination camp like Auschwitz. It was organised by Jews, and it was possible for a young person to survive.” Many people, however, died of malnutrition, and Klíma recalls funeral wagons piled high with corpses. Though his family survived, other relatives and friends were transported to death camps and, as he later wrote, “gassed like insects and incinerated like refuse”.

As a hospital orderly in the 1970s, his ease in the morgue astonished colleagues: “I was used to seeing dead bodies.” For a long time Klíma covered his face with a scarf at night, having had to sleep with the light on in the camp. Another legacy, he wrote, was the building of an “inner wall” against those who might disappear. Yet “I don’t think it affected my capacity for intimacy,” he says.

[From an article in The Guardian by Maya Jaggi, May 2004]

Read Simon Corbin’s blog post about Ivan Klima here

I used to live in the Czech Republic (albeit briefly) and spent a period of eight years shuttling between the CR and the UK. My first visit was in 1989 – very soon after the Velvet Revolution – so I saw a lot of changes to both Praha (Prague) and the rest of the country over the best part of the decade that followed. Shortly before making the trip I had read Klima’s Love and Garbage which described the early morning rubbish collections by Prague’s bin men (who dressed in orange overalls). I was staying right in the centre of Praha in a flat in a street called Bilkova – and, on my first morning, I was woken by the orange-attired bin men clanking about on the cobbled streets below. Klima’s novel had just come to life!

Ivan Klima’s biography would make a fascinating book in its own right. He survived two totalitarian regimes – Nazism and Soviet Communism. He survived incarceration in the concentration camp, Terezin (Theresienstadt). He was liberated, aged 14 with a love of freedom and a burning desire to become a writer. His writing was then banned for 20 years in his native Czechoslovakia by the Stalinist Communist regime. He wrote ‘samizdat’ (banned) underground literature alongside Vaclav Havel (later President of the CR). He spent years under Communism as a hospital orderly and street cleaner. For three years before 1968 (during the brief window of democracy known as the “Prague Spring”) he edited the Journal of the Czech Writer’s Union. He was in London in 1968 when the Russian tanks rolled into Prague to subdue the growing popular clamour for democracy and freedom from censorship – yet Klima chose to return to his homeland even though he faced a publishing ban. Once the ban was lifted and his books were made available (in 1990) people queued for a mile along the length of Wenceslas Square (Vaclavska Namesti) and the print run for one novel alone was 150,000. He was deputy president of Czech PEN and often promotes Czech Greenpeace. He remains the most popular Czech writer……IN TRANSLATION!!

Watch this interesting interview with Ivan Klima (English with Persian subtitles)

Ivan Klima

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCk3gJQZKb8

Interviewer: This [The Spirit of Prague] is one of three books which were translated into the Farsi language. See how much you are a favorite in Iran. And not only Iran itself, but many Iranians living abroad. You are like a symbol of freedom for them.

Ivan Klima: Unbelievable. I couldn’t publish my work, and they were published originally in Iran. So, it’s surprising. Because I criticize any authoritarian regime. But the same happened in China. They published all of my important works in Chinese.

Interviewer: In Iranian official newspapers, it’s your quotation which says “A writer in exile cannot succeed.”

Klima: No, I didn’t say cannot, but it’s very difficult for him to succeed. That is my opinion. When somebody loses connection with his nation and with his language, that is a great danger for a writer who stays for a long time in exile. He loses his connection. He can be very useful by writing some political articles in a political novel, but he loses the taste of human relations in his time, or her time, far from his country. And 90 percent of them stopped their writing.


Born September 14

Hans Faverey (b. 1933) – Dutch poet – Against the Forgetting – Selected Poems

Ekiwah Adler Beléndez (b. 1987) – Mexican poet – The Coyote’s Trace

Ayo (Joy Alasunmibo Ogunmakin) (b. 1980) – German-Nigerian singer/songwriter – Joyful (2006)


September 15

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (b. 1977)- Nigerian novelist – Half of a Yellow Sun (2006)

Read about Chimamanda Adichie here and here

Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus – a coming-of-age tale about a 15-year-old Nigerian girl and her struggles against her repressive father – was published to acclaim in 2003. But it was her next book, Half of a Yellow Sun, that made her a sensation. A hugely accomplished and harrowing drama about the Biafran war, the novel won the 2007 Orange Prize and went on to sell 650,000 copies in Britain alone. Last year she was awarded the prestigious – and lucrative – MacArthur “genius” scholarship, which, she says, has given her the freedom to move between America and Nigeria and to concentrate, for the first time ever, solely on writing.

Adichie, 31, is in Britain to promote her third book, and first collection of short stories, The Thing Around Your Neck. She has been writing the stories for years – the earliest, she tells me, dates from before she began Purple Hibiscus.

… Another condescending figure from Adichie’s past makes it into “Jumping Monkey Hill”, the most obviously autobiographical (and funniest) of the stories in The Thing Around Your Neck. The story is about an African writer’s workshop that takes place in South Africa, presided over by a lecherous, arrogant Englishman called Edward Campbell. Campbell, “an old man in a summer hat”, sees it as his right to tell the students exactly what kind of fiction they should be writing. A Zimbabwean is chastised for writing about a childless couple who visit a witchdoctor – this, Campbell says, is “terribly passé”. He ticks off another student for featuring a gay character – “homosexual stories of this sort [aren’t] reflective of Africa”.

Adichie laughs when I mention the story, but when she wrote it, she says, she was motivated by rage. “I wasn’t really attacking this man. For me the story is about the larger question of who determines what an African story is. You have this workshop of African writers, it’s completely organised by the British, then this person who has his own ideas … imposes them on these young, very impressionable people. I remember feeling helpless. You’re sitting there thinking, this is the result of 200 years of history: we can sit here and be told what our story is.”

[The Observer, April 4, 2009, article by William Skidelsky]

Listen to a BBC interview of Adichie about her novel Half of a Yellow Sun

Q from audience: I was just a young teenager when the war started and I lived through it in Biafra. I can’t believe that you weren’t even born. But on your pages, I felt the fear, the exhilaration of living, the joy, the anguish, the deepest sadness — the whole gamut of emotions. I could smell them; I could taste them. I just don’t know, how did you do it?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I really did hope that what this book would do was that it would not only start a conversation in Nigeria, but that it would be a way of remembering what in some ways I think we seem determined to forget. In some ways this is a book that I’ve always had in me. I’ve been obsessed with the subject of the war for a long, long time. And I was waiting to be ready to write it. I think I’ve probably read everything that has been written about the war. So I knew the facts, but I needed to know the truths of it. So I talked to lots of people. I was a nuisance to my parents’ friends. I would say, “Uncle, good afternoon, where were you in May 1967?” And at some point I think my parents decided that I shouldn’t come downstairs when their friends were around, because it was becoming ridiculous.

I really had hoped very much to make it about human beings, to make anybody who read this book, and for those who knew about Biafra and those who didn’t — just realize about human beings, about needless losses, really. And like you said, about pain. But also it’s in some ways about joy, that people found ways to remain human despite the fact that the war was robbing them, or trying to rob them, of their humanity.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/arts/2009/07/090729_worldbookclub_060609.shtml


Born September 15

François, duc de La Rochefoucauld (b. 1613) – French memoirist, writer of proverbs – Maxims (1664)

Agatha Christie (b. 1890) – U.K. detective fiction writer – Murder in Mesopotamia (1936, Hercule Poirot)

Dan Lungu (b. 1969) – Romanian novelist, short story writer, sociologist, essayist – Chicken Paradise (aka Hen’s Heaven) (2006)

Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich (Elizabeth Charlotte Welskopf) (b. 1901) – German novelist, history professor, philosopher – Das helle Gesicht (The Pale Face) (1980)


September 16

Prasoon Joshi (b. 1971) – Indian poet, lyricist – “Is Pal” song lyrics

Read about Prasoon Joshi here

Prasoon Joshi: Earlier I was a little confused in life, as my mother was a lecturer in Political Science and my father was an Assistant Deputy Director-Education, and besides this they were both great classical musicians.  Film music was out of bounds at home; all my friends used to enjoy parties with film music. I was not allowed to attend them. My dad always wanted me to become an IAS officer so accordingly I finished my B.Sc. and Post Graduation in Physics. After that I started preparing for the Civil Service Examination but my basic interest still was music and poetry.

Q: Belonging to a middle class family where higher education is not quiet possible for everyone, but today being a Creative Director in MaCann Erickson you are handling advertisements creativity of 11 countries on a National and International level, how do you feel about it?

Joshi: During my struggle period it was quite different, lot of people were not keeping good attitude towards middle class in Ad agency, the way we dressed the way we spoke etc. But still I always felt that my background was not my weakness but my “strength”.

After finishing my MBA I too could have got into some good organization, but I was firm and clear about my future. I was not just dreaming about being a creative person but always thinking about how I was going to achieve my dream. The passion in me was always there because “I love creativity”. God keeps testing you in your struggle period about whatever you want to do, whether you really want to do it or are you just dreaming about it.

[from an interview by Rajneesh Agnihotri here]

Watch Joshi recite the poem “Chalo hansi ko riwaj”

Come, let us make a ritual of  laughter
Silence is a pearl necklace
If it breaks suddenly
Thousands of bouncing, scattering pearls
Will burst into giggles like
Always silent brooks coming alive in the forest

Let us do what has never been done
Let us make a ritual of laughter
Give laughter away so we can add to it

She is only a little girl
But full of wondrous tricks
When her laughter resounds

She is only a little girl
But full of wondrous tricks
When her laughter resounds in old mansions
Gleaming like newly polished silver vessels
in the sunlight.

Let us find new riches
Let us make a ritual of laughter

She swings in the garden
With the pungency of young green mangoes
Or runs along the paths
Wild and free like she owns them

A penny in hand
She leaps into the fires of fury
Like a cooling stream of water
And fades in the distance
Giggling softly

So far away. Let us bring it closer
Let us make a ritual of laughter

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPgITCJL4Sg

Watch / listen to “Is Pal” from the 2007 film Aaje Nachle
(lyrics by Prasoon Joshi)

is pal main hoon ya tum bhi ho / Am I alone in this love filled moment, or is it you too?
ya dono ho ke bhi na hain / or, are we both in this moment, yet lost in each other?
kyon ho kya ho, ho bhi ki naa ho / Are we really in this moment, if so, how and why?
ya kehna sun-na manaa hai / or should silence overtake these precious minutes together
is pal mai hoon ya tum bhi ho / Am I alone in this love filled moment, or is it you too?
ya dono ho ke bhi na hain / or, are we both in this moment, yet lost in each other?

tumhe dekh ke yaad aayi, vahi bisri kahaani / One look at you reminds me of that eternal love story
deewane ka kissa, ya phir ik deewani / the story of that lovelorn young man, or perhaps a damsel
dono sang sang rehte hardum / side by side forever
aisa ye, maine suna hai / or so I have heard, and it so reminds me of us both
is pal main hoon ya tum bhi ho / Am I alone in this love filled moment, or is it you too?
ya dono ho ke bhi na hain / or, are we both in this moment, yet lost in each other?
kyon ho kya ho, ho bhi ki naa ho / Are we really in this moment, if so, how and why?
ya kehna sun-na manaa hai / or should silence overtake these precious minutes together

ishq hua…
tum bata do yaad koi, kya puraani leke aaun
yaa nishani deke jao
yaa kahani leke jaao
Ya ki mann chod do jaye
Yeh jaata ,jaata jahan hai
is pal main hoon ya tum bhi ho
ya dono ho ke bhi na hain
kyon ho kya ho, ho bhi ki naa ho
ya kehna sun-na manaa hai
is pal main hoon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9p32sk1L-g


Born September 16

Clive Bell (b. 1881) – U.K. art critic – Art (1913)

Molly Shannon (b. 1964) – U.S. comedian, writer – Superstar (film) (1999)

Paul Henning (b. 1911) – U.S. radio, television, film, and song writer; tv series creator (The Beverly Hillbillies) – Bedtime Story (co-writer with Stanley Shapio)  (1964)


September 17

Igor Stiks1
Igor Štiks (b.1977) – Bosnian (Yugoslavian) law professor and novelist – A Castle in Romagna (2000)

Read about Igor Stiks here

About A Castle in Romagna

It begins in Northern Italy in 1995 where three friends go to visit an ancient castle in Romagna. They are there to visit the castle because of the internment there, centuries before, of the poet Enzo Strecci. Before they can explore the ruins, one of them is delayed by a caretaker, who is fascinated that he comes from Bosnia, at the time a scene of frequent violence. As the other two go to explore, the Bosnian tries to politely escape from the talkative caretaker. But soon, the man reveals that he, too, is from Bosnia, and begins telling his own life story as well as the story of Enzo Strecci.

His story takes place when the schism occurred between General Tito and Josef Stalin. This led to Yugoslavia trying to become autonomous, with the result that eventually it divided into the complicated political region where Bosnia is located. The caretaker recounts how he barely escaped with his life from those convinced he was a Communist informer. He ends up, scarred and mutilated, in Italy. He describes his own connection with the castle while explaining how Strecci ended up at the same location during the Renaissance, and how it ended in Strecci’s execution.

The concepts of trust, vengeance, and betrayal are all classic story lines, but explored here in a way to remind the reader that often the danger lies closer to us than we may wish to realize. The fate of Strecci may be appropriate, but it’s a poignant moment when all his former friends are called to testify against him to save their master. He realizes then the “logic of power.”

I was fascinated by this book, as it’s the first Croatian translation that I’ve read, and because the author is relatively young. He says a great deal about human nature with very few words, and he points at the blind spots most people have when it comes to reason.

[from an Amazon.com book review]

Igor Stiks at the Chicago Bosnian Film Festival

Igor Stiks


Born September 17

Hank Williams, Sr. (b. 1923) – U.S. country music singer/songwriter – “Your Cheatin’ Heart”

Ken Kesey (b. 1935) – U.S. novelist, youth culture writer – Sometimes a Great Notion

Hope Larson (b. 1982) – U.S. cartoonist / graphic novelist – Mercury (2010)

Francis Chichester (b. 1901) – U.K. adventurer – Gipsy Moth Circles the World (1967)

 

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