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  • Writer's pictureBalkan Art Scene

Vanja Šunjić — Both Women and Men Writers Speak Openly and Uncompromisingly

Author: Hana Tiro

The collection is written around a very personal event – divorce of the parents, father's mistress, mother's suffering. Have you encountered any insecurities before publishing your work? In terms of, how people might react to you personally?

The micro-stories from the collection started coming out as Facebook statuses in 2018 and even then I saw how the audience reacted to it, polarized by taking the sides of certain heroes and heroines and trying to find something biographical and similar to my life in it. It didn’t bother me too much back then, because back then it was statuses, and now it’s a literary work, and therefore it’s fiction, intertwined with my, the experience of my mother and the women around us. The story is very universal, circular, I would say. The introduction says that every unhappy family is unhappy in its way and that every love triangle is identical.

There are certain dates on each excerpt. What do they represent? Date of the event, or date you wrote down the event, or something else?

We added dates later. Since the book was published by the Književna Zadruga, I had the privilege of playing with form and content. No one was holding me back and asking why that was so. That is why the book is very multimedia. We added the dates when we put together the narrative flow because the fragments were not created in the order in which they were arranged in the book. I think that they helped to read and understand the text, but that they also gave it beauty, style, and even infantilism.

The form of the collection is pretty different from the regular prose or poetry collection we usually have. In couple of sentences, you had to inform the reader about a certain event that took place. Was the process, thus, harder or easier?

At first, the process was pretty straightforward, since by posting statuses on Facebook I wasn’t aware I was writing literature. Later, all this had to be leveled and a voice created that would retell all these events, but in a different language, more reduced, more infantile, and more poetic. I was endlessly helped in this by the editor Alen Brlek, with whom I went through the whole process.

Organization Književna Zadruga is developing fast-paced. As one of the founders, do you have some kind of a plan, what is happening next?

So far, we have visited Zagreb twice, Belgrade, Banja Luka, Mostar, and Sarajevo. What we are planning by the end of the year regarding promotions are Ljubljana, Maribor, Podgorica and Skopje. As for other activities, by the end of the year, we want to publish at least one more book by a cooperative member and we are considering a performance for November 25th.

Are you currently working on anything new? (here I mean books, poetry collections, etc)

I started writing a novel, which was simply put in the background by the events of my life somewhere, and I returned to poetry completely unexpectedly. We'll see what I complete sooner.

I would love to be gender-neutral here, but female writers sometimes struggle with being perceived too light or too crude, and never enough. Can you comment on that?

It is very difficult to fight in a masculine patriarchal society, especially in the domain of frameworks that question precisely the relations of that society from the purgatory of a woman, mother, daughter, friend, sister, etc. On the one hand, you constantly get the label of a frustrated woman and on the other hand, your writing is characterized as a woman's letter, which is a priori less important and relevant and is something that causes pity. It is important that we, the authors, constantly fight against it. What is commendable is the fact that on the literary scene of common cultural space, we have both women and men who understand this issue and speak openly and uncompromisingly against it, while writing extraordinary literature.

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