The three-hour round table at the CHF, with readers running through an unbelievable 3,400 pages of material, also saw the presentation of CHF awards on the occasion of Book Night.

At the Croatian Heritage Foundation this year’s Book Night, staged on the 24th of April, closed with a round table discussion with the symbolic moniker of “A Full Bag of Books”. The selection of round table participants focused their discussion on the latest books dedicated to the creative work of Croatians living abroad. The event promoted the works of major diaspora writers, including Josip Novaković (Canada), Antonio Skármeta (Chile), Mary Helen Stefaniak (USA), Morgan Yasbincek (Australia), Marice Bodrožić (Germany), Josip Mlakić (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and Stjepan Blažetin (Hungary).
This CHF literary event, we should note, aims to encourage the systematic reading of books and studies focused on the Croatian emigrant communities and to challenge the prevailing attitude in the general public that there is nothing of any great meaning going on in this segment of Croatian book production (including periodicals and the translation work of our writers who work in the languages of their domicile countries).
“What we want to do is demonstrate that the exact opposite is the case with witty five-minute stage summaries of various books with migrant backgrounds and to show readers and the media that for the past quarter century there has been systematic writing in the country and abroad of the wealth of Croatian emigrant publishing,” said CHF director Mirjana Ana-Maria Piskulić
Leading into the A Full Bag of Books round table was the CHF Open Doors event, the first ever in its 66-year history, with a full day of happenings and a main programme consisting of four sections.
The CHF event kicked off at noon with a symbolic promotion of the autobiography of respected American returnee Vladimir Goss. Following a welcome from the CHF director the author, Boris Beck and ethnologist Lidija Bauk offered inspiring insights into his book Veliki Gložac.
In the afternoon, ahead of the round table, the head of the CHF emigrant heritage department Ljerka Galic received a valuable donation of books from the family of professor Ivan Morović, who wished that the books from his library be donated to the library of the Croatian Heritage Foundation. Zrinka Kulušić read from her grandfather’s biography.
Taking part in the CHF A Full Bag of Books round table were leading academics and readers, including writer Vladimir Goss, sociologist and poet Ivan Rogić Nehajev, eminent ethnologists and the authors of many books Milana Černalić and Jadranka Grbić Jakopović of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. English literature experts Jelena Šesnić and Kristina Grgic, also of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, and editor and writer Grozdana Cvitan of publisher AGM offered stimulating five-minute presentations on the excellent contemporary Croatian literature in the Anglophone world. Art historian Olga Šram spoke of a monograph on painter Stipan Kopilović.
Along with the children’s literature of Nada Zidar Bogadi we also heard from excellent French and Spanish language translators, like Daria Marjanović from national broadcaster HRT and CHF permanent associate Darko Mazuranić, and from Esperanto expert Marija Belošević with a treasure chest of attractive publications.
Versatile writer and anthologist Šimun Šito Ćorić piqued everyone’s interest with his newly published picture book With the Indian Croatan Tribe (in two parts: Arrows that Fly to the Sun and On the Wings of Sea Waves) published by Alfa with beautiful illustrations by Ivan Vitez.
We were delighted to listen to the selection of titles offered by prominent authors and literary pundits from the diaspora and works on the Croatian emigrant communities from around the world – people like Tuga Tarle, Marin Sopta, Mijo Korade and his doctoral students Filip and Ivan Katanić and Marina Perić Kaselj from the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies.
The three-hour round table at the CHF, with readers running through an unbelievable 3,400 pages of material, was joined by a number of Croatian literature experts and historians like leading Croatologist Sanja Vulić, Vladan Čutura and Karolina Vrban Zrinski from Zagreb’s Academy of Dramatic Arts, who was on hand to present Sjajna igra, an anthology of Croatian children’s poetry from Hungary compiled by Stjepan Blažetin.
The interest of the gathered was also piqued by ethnologists from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb like Jadranka Grbić Jakopović, the author of the first university textbook on our diaspora in the 21st century, The Multiplication of Native and Homelands / The Croatian Diaspora: Chronology, Destinations and Identity. The book is published by Zagreb’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences as a student textbook and focuses on individual phenomena related to migrations and the half millennium of Croatian emigration. As an illustration of studies of emigrant issues Grbić Jakopović offered an overview of her research and insights, and those of her colleagues Marijeta Rajković Iveta PhD, Paula Gadže MA, Biserka Jaramazović Ćurković PhD and renowned ethnologist Milana Černelić PhD.
In her five-minute presentation Milana Černelić PhD focused on the challenges she faced when writing her book Bunjevci – Origins, Destiny, Identity (FF Press, Zagreb; Zavod za kulturu vojvođanskih Hrvata, Subotica, 2016). The book rounds out and crowns many years of research into Bunjevci tradition and contemporary culture, its ethnic and cultural formation and identity characteristics and, based on the insights gained, describes empirically grounded observations and interpretations of their origins, destinies and manifold identities.
CHF Recognises Achievement on Book Night 2017
In the frame of the Croatian Books Abroad project the Croatian Heritage Foundation regularly recognises exceptional achievement in publishing abroad in the Croatian language, and for editors and translators of academic and literary works in the languages of the domicile countries of our migrants. Since 2006 The Croatian Books Abroad panel of evaluators has consisted of Željka Lovrenčić PhD (Croatica Abroad collection of the National and University Library in Zagreb), Vesna Kukavica BA (head of the CHF publishing department) and Diana Šimurina-Šoufek (editor of the CHF Internet portal).
Among the submitted books the panel was unanimous in recognising exceptional achievement in cultural activity in the work of writer Adolf Polegubić for his brilliant study on The Pastoral Care of Croatians in Germany (Frankfurt am Main, 2017).
Among the submitted journals and magazines the panel was unanimous in recognising editor Luka Budak for the excellent The Croatian Studies Review in English published by the Croatian Studies Centre, Department of International Studies of the Faculty of Arts at Macquarie University in Australia.
For the translation of literary works the panel was unanimous in recognising Ivo and Vinka Šoljan from the United States of America for their anthology The Canon of Croatian Poetry 1450 – 2000 (The Edwin Mellen Press, 2014).
Also recognised in the frame of the Croatian Books Abroad project is Većeslav Holjevac, a prominent former director of the CHF, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the publication of his seminal Croatians Abroad.
The award for Croatian language writer Adolf Polegubić from Germany was presented by acting CHF director Mirjana Ana Maria Piskulić, while the awards presented to editor Luka Budak from Australian and translators Ivo and Vinka Šoljan from the USA were accepted on their behalf by English studies expert Kristina Grgić PhD from the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the close of the A Full Bag of Books round table.

By: Vesna Kukavica; Photography: Ivana Tepeš Galić