One of the greatest contemporary Chilean prose writers promoted the Croatian translation by Hispanicist Željka Lovrenčić of his collection of short stories The Classifier.
Poet, storyteller, novelist and lawyer Juan Mihovilovich Hernández is in Croatia for the third time. He visited the Croatian Heritage Foundation on September 17th to promote his collection of stories El clasificador (The Classifier, 1992) in its Croatian translation by Hispanicist Željka Lovrenčić.
The gathered were welcomed to the promotion by Chilean ambassador Germán Orlando Ibarra Morán. Joining the author to speak about the book were CHF director Marin Knezović MSc, literary critic Denis Derk, the translator Željka Lovrenčić DSc and Zoran Bošković representing Split-based publisher Naklada Bošković.
Selections from the short stories were read by stage actor Dubravko Sidor, with Željka Lovrenčić moderating the discussion.
Mihovilovich, a third-generation Croatian expatriate, was a guest of the CHF seven years ago at the Interliber book fair when his the Croatian translation of his novel El contagion de la locura (Contagion of Madness) by Jerko Ljubetić – an excellent translator of the work of many Chilean writers of Croatian extraction and a corresponding member of the Chilean Language Academy – published by the Croatian Heritage Foundation of Zagreb and Split’s Naklada Bošković, was promoted.
Mihovilovich, one of the leading contemporary Chilean prose writers, was born and grew up in the “Croatian Quarter” of Punta Arenas, the southernmost city in the world. To date he has published four novels and five collections of short stories. Translations by Jerko Ljubetić of his novels Sus desnudos pies sobre la nieve (Her Bare Feet in Snow) and Contagion of Madness have been published in Croatia by Naklada Bošković. He is the recipient of many prizes, including the Argentinean Julio Cortázar prize, the University of Magallanes Antonio Pigaffeta prize, the Pedro de Oña prize and the Gabriela Mistral literary games prize.
Literary critic Ernesto Livacic calls Mihovilovich “One of the greatest representatives of modern Chilean prose,” noting that he has introduced a breath of fresh air into contemporary Chilean literature. The writer says of himself that he is given to a kind of realistic pathos. His prose is characterised by a clean, flowing style, unity, excellent portraits of the characters, depictions of common life situations, and is dynamic and precise. The Classifier includes twenty-one short stories. This edition includes a further five stories taken from the Restos mortales (Earthly Remains) collection. These are the stories Obsessed With Blue, The Regular Way, Rocky, Species In Extinction and Earthly Remains. In The Classifier we meet a man who spends a lifetime diligently classifying mail in the mail office only to be fired in the end, a girl who is compelled to earn a living first as a maid and then as a bar dancer, and stories concerning the fates of people in retirement homes… It all takes place in a setting of the magical and weird, but lifelike nevertheless. Although his stories have the attributes of realistic prose, in complex situations the psychological development of the characters comes to the fore. The syntax of Mihovilovich’s stories is simple and common, as this best reveals and describes human desperation and solitude.
The auditorium of the Croatian Heritage Foundation was packed with fans of fiction literature, the representatives of culture and state institutions, the press, professors from the University of Zagreb and fellow writers who came to take part in this promotion of Mihovilovich’s book.
The author expressed his warm thanks for everyone’s efforts in presenting the book, noting how happy and pleased he was to be once again in the land of his forbearers. He promised the publisher that a new manuscript was on its way adding, with a smile, that he might very well be in Croatia again in the coming year.
Text by: Diana Šimurina-Šoufek; Photos by: Snježana Radoš