Goran Samardžić [Bosnia and Herzegovina]
Do you see your work as fitting into the traditions of European fiction--or indeed any national or regional tradition?
Yes, I believe that my writing follows the standards of European fiction in terms of form. But in my best writing I think that, to its benefit, I do not conform to those standards and I succeed in adding a different flavor to my writing: a flavor that is new and personal, Balkan, if you will. When I was just starting out as a writer, guided exclusively by a desire to write something new, often I was unclear, confusing and haphazard. Luckily, most of those works haven't been published and have ended up in the trash. Nowadays, I believe that a writer should be clear and understandable to himself and his readers. A writer without readers is like a boat continentals have kept docked in their gardens.
Are there any exciting trends, movement, or schools in contemporary Bosnian fiction? Who do you feel are the overlooked contemporary authors writing in Bosnia and Herzegovina who should be more widely read and translated?
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, there are numerous authors who have had success in being an average writer, but only a few have made their way to a global readership. Quite simply, their position has already been filled by one of their colleagues and so they haven't been noticed. Of course, I believe that it is better that anyone from this small region and equally small language has been discovered and read than if no one has. The literature of Bosnia and Herzegovina is like an iceberg; only a small part of it is visible above the water. These authors are too stubborn and vain to unify and make lobbies. They act alone and mostly without any official support.
Who are the contemporary European writers from other countries that are writing compelling fiction?
Authors I admire include Sergei Donatovich Dovlatov, Hanif Kureishi, Orhan Pamuk, Alessandro Baricco, and many others. I am a co-owner of a bookstore and just about every month I discover a new and interesting author or a book by an old and forgotten writer. Book publishing isn't just about discovering new authors; it's also about reminding us of those old, forgotten, or nearly forgotten authors.
Are there enough publishing outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina for contemporary fiction? Is there a market for literary fiction in Bosnia and Herzegovina?
We have many publishing outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina, or, to be precise, we have many in the major cities such as Sarajevo, Mostar and Banja Luka. In the smaller towns there are none. At the same time we have undeveloped readers in the sense that there are not many. Our bookstores group all the writers of the world in the same place, which makes it very hard for Bosnian and Herzegovinian writers since local readers, as few as there are, prefer to get acquainted with foreign writers.
Do you want your work to be translated? Why or why not?
Yes, I would like my work to be translated into all the languages of the world, so it can be read by many people. I found myself easily bored when I am faced with the fact that I have to write for just several hundred people. The more people read your work, the more reactions there will be. As a result, you can tap into this energy and work harder and better.
Given a choice, would you prefer a faithful, literal translation of your work or an interpretive re-imagining of it? Why?
I would prefer a faithful, literal translation of my work. However this shouldn't be "outside" of the spirit of the language that my work is being translated into. Every literary work will lose some of its spirit in a literary translation, but the less it does, the more successful the translation is. Without good translators, the literary space of a smaller language, nation, or culture would remain in isolation. The country I live in generates good writers and artists, but only those with good luck and good connections become widely known.