Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stalking my favorite writers - in this edition: Edo Popović

Even before the big literature festival kicks off later in November we had the first reading session highlight in this season's event calendar:
One of the most famous, most popular and internationally most recognized Croatian writers, Edo Popović, came to Munich to present his old new book "Mitternachtsboogie" (Midnightboogie).

Edo Popović
Wait. Old new? What does that mean?
In fact "Ponoćni boogie" (Midnightboogie) was Edo's first book ever released in 1987 - some years before he became Croatia's most important war correspondent (1991-1995), and 16 years before his international breakthrough novel "Izlaz Zagreb Jug"  (Exit Zagreb South) was released.

The new part is, that it was now released as "Mitternachtsboogie" in German language.

"Midnightboogie" is a rough and kind of abstract piece of literature. It's like a candid shot of a youth in the Yugoslavia of the 80ies. And it is exciting to see the early state of the very direct sometimes hard, but still very emotional language, which became so typical for Edo Popović's writing.

"Midnightboogie" is a bit hard to follow sometimes because there is no classical linear story telling. But when the audience asked about that Edo made with his answer the (for me) most remarkable statement of the night:

"The reality is not linear."

I could not agree more.

Clemens Meyer
What I thought was a bit of a pity - like so often at bilingual readings - was that only a very short part of the text was read by Edo Popović in Croatian.
I know I am in a privileged position since I could understand the Croatian and the German parts, but most people in the audience spoke both languages - so that would have not been a big problem.

And even if I would not understand a word, I still think it is fascinating, important and an essential experience to hear the original text - especially if it is a piece like "Midnightboogie" which is based so much on the sound and rhythym of the words.

But I have to admit that in this case it was not so bad since the German text - the bigger part of the reading - was presented in a very competent and committed way by the German writer Clemens Meyer, who really brought the "Mitternachtsboogie" to life.

Clemens Meyer and Edo Popović are a team and you could really feel it that night. Not only that Munich was the last stop of a bigger reading tour of the two. They already worked together for a while and present each other's books to the audiences in the respective countries. A German / Croatian friendship and cultural co-operation at it's best.

The next project they have on their roadmap is a trip to Croatia to explore the filming locations of the famous "Winnetou" movies, which were in many cases later in the 90ies some of the worst battlegrounds of the war. A kind of ironical contrast, which is of course fertile ground for the creative mind of an artist - in this case the one of Clemens Meyer.

I am already looking forward to whatever will be the outcome of this trip!

Alida Bremer
One person, who should for sure not left out here is Alida Bremer - the host of the reading and Croatian / German interpreter in one person.

Alida was of course the best possible choice for this event, because she is the one who translated Edo Popović's texts into German and works closely with him for many years.

Alida Bremer also translated the books of a lot more contemporary Croatian writers, travelled with them for reading sessions and presented them together with their publishers on German book fairs. She is definitely the most important door opener for Croatian literature in Germany.

On a sidenote:  She lives in Muenster like my family and was Croatian teacher of my sister years ago. Small planet, isn't it?

Alida will be back in Munich soon for the reading of the wonderful Marica Bodrožić and Ivana Sajko at November 18, 2010. Stay tuned for my "Stalking my favorite writers" issue about this new event.

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