Balkan Art Scene
Arman Fatić — Sarajevo Starts When the Outside World Reflects on Scenes Encountered Here
Author: Ifeta Lihić
This year, you published two books, Sarajevski san and Meddah i fildžan. How long have you been working on them, and are you satisfied with the reception so far, especially considering the pandemic conditions?
The books were written last year and at the beginning of this year. Meddah i fildžan was simply a summary of some of my weekly thoughts that I expressed every Friday at 11 AM on Facebook; Sarajevski san started a few months later as a need to write down what was happening around me. I completed Meddah by the new year. I just thought there was nothing more I could or wanted to say in that form for now, while I wrote Sarajevski san for another two months, that is, until the moment I moved to Vienna. When I moved, I simply had nothing more to give my protagonist Orhan to live for, so I finished writting Sarajevski san there.
When it comes to the reception, I am satisfied. I am already working on the second edition of the book Sarajevski san because I have very few copies left, yet I feel the need to tell a few more stories from Orhan's perspective. I think the reception is very good because young people all over the region identify with the stories of my protagonists and realize that war, post-war and transition have affected us all equally, and only a few talk about it.
Is Sarajevo experienced and/or lived only when one leaves it?
I think that Sarajevo is always lived in different ways. Living in Sarajevo, living that wonderful crazy dream of better today, trying to overcome and outgrow some media and educational toxicity and transgenerational trauma from which a good part of all the problems arise, is very interesting. Escape from gloom and boredom is always fantastic and funny, and you never know where it leads, so then both good and bad here one experiences in a unique way.
Elsewhere, Sarajevo is when the outside world starts to reflect on images, scenes, situations or problems that one has encountered here. And then one can proudly acknowledge that he has been through it all, that he is a Sarajevo ‘jalija’ and that he will endure both good and bad, again in a special, only known to us, the melancholic way.
What is Sarajevo like beyond the narration of memory? Can the 'Sarajevo dream' be optimistic?
When I was writing Sarajevski san, I tried to stay objective until the last moment and force my protagonist Orhan not to choose a side but to see both optimistic and pessimistic living in this city. However, in the end, I gave him a pessimistic ending. Therefore, I am preparing the second, i.e. ‘white’ edition with approximately the same set of stories, and slightly different circumstances; he stays in the city and dreams a new dream.
Meddah i fildžan is inspired by stories from Turkish history narrated with ćejf of coffee drinking. Where did the inspiration come from?
I am interested in the identities in our country and the way they are toxic and monotonous. So, I would not say that I am fascinated by Turkish history but by the BH mentality. Turkish oral literature and history served me only as a point to bring liberal ideas closer to the broad masses through traditional and familiar values. That's why each story lasts just as long as it takes to drink one cup of coffee.
What is the life of a digital nomad like?
Funny? I don't really know what to say. Some things have been desirable to me since childhood and ever since been part of me. These are film, literature and travelling. I have never given up on them, I have given my best, and I give my best for them; I work and live with love, and my sincerity and dedication have borne fruit. Well said, this life is fun for me.
Kulturni centar GRAD, Belgrade
Književna zadruga was born out of friendship and love for the written word aiming at self-initiated publishing. Is Zadruga a form of resistance to publishing capitalism or the lethargy of young artists? In which direction do you see the future of Književna zadruga?
There is not much that the Zadruga can do against the lethargy of young artists. If someone has decided to wait forever for something to fall from the sky and not progress instead, it is their own stubborn choice. Publishing capitalism is there precisely because of the lethargy of young artists and media workers, but primarily literary critics have brought us to this point.
I have nothing against publishing in our region, on the contrary, I am proud to have the opportunity to read excellent translations of Western literature from regional publishers, as well as Middle Eastern literature here in BiH. There are publishing houses that have raised significant regional writers on the world stage. It is pointless to speak ill of them.
However, I do not want the covers of my books to contain the names of people who are homophobic, who are misogynists and the like. Also, I wouldn't like my books to be pushed into bookstores that are greatly souvenir shops and toy stores.
Književna zadruga is here (now and in the future) to offer young authors, who are not lethargic, to go with us through the entire process of publishing books, to get acquainted with all aspects of what publishing brings, from text to printed book, from promotions to bookstore shelves. Once a writer goes through this process, he/she can more seriously approach its own text and potential collaborations with publishers in our area much more seriously.
What is it like to be part of the team of the world-famous production company Taskovski Films?
Since Književna zadruga was founded, Taskovski Films has become my second job, so I am now more of an occasional assistant/consultant. However, while working there, I had the opportunity to see better how the whole art scene works, how much the mass production of content is, and how these contents are selected for distribution. Here I also upgraded my knowledge of dealing with a work of art from the moment it becomes part of the family (director Irena Taskovski runs her company as one big family, so the Književna zaduga itself functions that way).
Can we expect a new book soon?
The white, upgraded edition of the book Sarajevski san could be here very soon. Beyond that, publishing these books has opened up a lot more space for me during the day, so I try to read and write every day, so I'm sure some new content will be filtered out.