The panel presenting the bilingual edition of the novel Anđeo featured writer Anita Martinac, CHF board of directors president Milan Kovač, Sanja Pažin of publisher Kerigma-Pia, the book’s reviewer Anto Pranjkić, and Ms Pejaković.
A bilingual edition of the novel Anđeo (“Angel”) was promoted on 17 September at the CHF building at an event hosted by the Croatian Heritage Foundation and publisher Kerigma-Pia.
The event was opened by CHF director Mijo Marić. Joining him were Croatiana Gregurić, an advisor with special status for the Croatian diaspora at the State Office for Croats Abroad, on hand in her capacity as the representative of Andrej Plenković, our prime minister, and Zdravka Bušić MP, the chair of our parliament’s committee on Croatians abroad.
The panel presenting the novel featured Mostar-based writer Anita Martinac, CHF board of directors president Milan Kovač, Sanja Pažin of publisher Kerigma-Pia, the book’s reviewer Anto Pranjkić, and Ms Pejaković. The event was moderated by the, as always, inspired editor of the Croatian Emigrant Almanac Vesna Kukavica. Joining the presenters to perform a number of adaptations of popular songs was the Gavrani vocal and instrumental ensemble formed by a family of Australian Croatians that have relocated to Croatia.
“It is great honour to greet you all as the director of the Croatian Heritage Foundation at the promotion of the latest novel by Canadian author Katarina Pejaković,” said CHF director Marić. “The Croatians community there is one of our most active diaspora organisations in the world,” Marić continued, adding that, “Canada is numbered among the economically most developed countries in the world with an exemplary parliamentary democracy, that was among the first to recognise Croatia’s independence. This is the result of the advocacy of our people who live in Canada, including writer Pejaković. I take this opportunity to once again congratulate the author and the publisher.”
Taking part in the event were many prominent Canadian Croatians that have relocated to our country, academics, and associates working on the many CHF programmes. Guests included Tomislav Markić, the national head of the Roman Catholic church’s Pastoral Directorate for Croats Abroad and a priest with the Zagreb archdiocese, Ivan Marić, the representative of foreign minister Gordan Grlić Radman, and Ida Mahečić Bajović, the representative of Alan Bowman, the Canadian ambassador to our country.
The author, Ms Katarina Pejaković (Dalj 1953), is a poet and journalist resident in Canada since 1969. She earned her degree in political science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and has worked in ethnic Croatian organisations. She is the founder and long-standing editor of a Croatian language television programme broadcast in Toronto and a Croatian language radio programme broadcast in Vancouver. She writes diaspora poetry with particular affection and publishes her work in a number of Croatian diaspora publications. Ms Pejaković writes in Croatian and English, producing poetry, short stories, articles and plays for children, and has published her work in Hrvatska revija (“The Croatian Review”), Hrvatica (“The Croatian Woman”) and Hrvatski calendar (“Croatian Almanac”). She published her collection of poetry Samotni putnici (“Solitary Travellers”) in Hrvatska revija (Barcelona, 1989), a collection of essays titled Deset zapovijedi ljubavi (“The Ten Commandments of Love”) in Zagreb in 1994 (published by Naklada Meandar), and her collection of poetry Sjena u oku (“Shadow in the Eye”) in 2006 (published by HKZ/Hrvatsko slovo).
Her latest novel presents stylistically flowing, modern autobiographical prose. The book is published in Croatian and English. The idea for the novel has its roots in the Homeland War period; Ms Pejaković was giving a lecture at a Canadian secondary school and the pupils were especially impressed by the story of an angel on a Christmas card she had received from a dissident uncle. The short story Paper Angel grew out of this and was published in Storyteller Magazine, a Canadian magazine featuring short stories, and was selected as the best short story of 1993.
In her latest novel Ms Pejaković, now a mature woman, looks back at the multilayered metaphor of the angel, and the wealth of poetry present in child’s prayers. The reminiscence encapsulated in this novel draws on the fact that the author left her native homeland in search of a new one, on the memories of her native region, and on her multiple relocations, from her native Slavonia region in the northeast of Croatia to Toronto, then Ottawa and finally Vancouver on Canada’s west coast, and on the origin of her mother Marica Pejaković (née Smoljan) in Kupres, a small town in neighbouring Bosnia-Herzegovina, to whom she dedicated this novel. Angel is an inspiring realistic novel for young readers that reads as an excellent inter-generational work, touching on the transgenerational traumas induced by Croatian migration.
In closing we leave you with the author’s own words, a message from this unassuming writer expressed in an interview following the publication of this novel, that encapsulates her continuing search for truth. “There are only two kinds of writers, notes English writer Brian Wilson Aldiss [1925–2017]: one encourages the reader to think and the other to dream. I hope that I fall into the first group, because I feel that writers and poets must be the conscience of their nations. It falls on them to admonish, warn and point to the need for change.”