WHAT AN INCREDIBLE COUPLE! Both, Paula and Srećko, have the rare ability to touch the audience by talking on books. Paula, a lecturer and moderator of book festivals and very much into films. too, has this talent of expressing the heart of a story. And Srećko, a professor for Italian literature in Split, is able to explain to you why some books have to be read. And why they will change your life. Paula & Srećko definitely changed ours!
They are both writers and dive into life on several levels, Korana as a high school teacher, Edi as a photographer. And that's why their books are so coming out of life. Writing and living, that's just the same. On their event a Supermoon shed its light on us. (of which Edi made a photo, while Korana talked about her unique protagonist). It seems like double talent makes double light. We were double (even triple) impressed.
Milan Soklić is a great writer and an absolutely fantastic translator. On the day he came to our hotel we talked about his latest novel, a fictive story on Hans Driesch, the biologist, scientist, philosopher and the founder of the vitalist movement in the 19th century. His book talks about an episode in the Karst, a short but meaningful excursion on his way to Naples. With Milan we had a vital (!) and meaningful evening. And it was the beginning of a great friendship.
Damir presented his touching and intense book "The Memory of the Forest" whose main protagonist is the region LIka with its forests and villages, with its crude nature and hard life. The Lika contryside is Damir's subject in nearly every novel he wrote, of which were some turned into movies or theatre plays. We had a deeply striking and memorable evening...
Senka Marić is a poet from Mostar. Her poems tell us a lot on her view on life, on her living in Bosnia and her fight with cancer. But Senka is a great networker, too. She publishs one of the best poetry & literature websites in the region of former Yugoslavia. And thereby she creates a cultural space for all readers and writers who speak and understand the language. Senka is a connector, and what else could this world need more?
Damir Imamović: Sometimes you just don't know how it could happen that someone so talented, so incredibly inspiring, could come to your place, into your life. When Damir, this Sevdah artist fom Sarajevo, sings at our hotel we just feel blessed and thankful and try to share it with as many people as possible. You think, we are kidding? Next time you'll see an anouncement for one of his concert, just leave everything and check it yourself. You won't be the same person again...
Marko Jovanović is a harp player and founder of the Harmonica School Berlin. He organizes workshops at hotel Balatura and is our spiritual connection to the world of music. Without Marko we would still be only reading (which is not bad at all). But with his unique, empathic and joyful music lessons he opened a new dimension to us. He is one of the best harp players in the world.
Guy Helminger, a writer from Luxembourg, based in Cologne, is one of Balatura's house writers. Throughout so many years we invented festivals or reading events with the only purpose to have him here. Why? His multifaceted novels and poetry touch everyone and shed a light on the bizarreness of human souls. Light? Yes, and we love his light metaphors! Enlightenment at it's best!
The music of Jelena Popržan, a viola player and singer from Vienna, doesn't fit into any label. With her wild, independent, creative, playful and stunningly touching music she enchants everyone who is lucky enough to listen to one of her concerts. She not only enchanted us at Balatura's. She hypnotized us...
Imagine three extremely talented guys get to know each other in a hotel. They have a great jam session together, become friends, create a unique Harp-Oud-Percussion-Fantasy, record CDs and go on tour.
This could be the beginning of ... let's name them ... "Trio Franolić Jovanović Ćulap". Beautiful story, isn't it?
Richard Schuberth read his poems at the "PoetrymeetsMusic"-Festival, poems that are in fact poems written by his novel's protagonist Klara Sonnenschein. (It's complicated.) He read them in Croatian. This fact guaranteed him all the admiration of the local listeners. Richard is not just reading, He is singing, acting, shouting, even dancing if needed.
Richard Schuberth is our chief essayist, satirist, scenarist and main thinker We are so lucky. We don't even have to think ourselves!
Jelena Popržan & Damir Imamović
As individual artists they are already unbearably fascinating. Together they are just mind-blowing. Their music is Balatura's official soundtrack. (which only means that we wish we could have their music in any moment in our lives and feel its intensity, depth and joy of being. Just imagine a life filled with such an energy. We would feel immortal!)
Miljenko Jergović, this incredible writer and friend, made us the most beautiful present a literary hotel could ever receive. He dedicated a story to us in which he fictionally filled the gap in the biography of another incredible writer. And this imagination has to do with an imaginary version of a small hotel.
That's what fiction does, Miljenko's especially: closing gaps, connecting houses with protagonists and creating a world much more real than reality would ever dare to be.
Dragan Velikić always wanted to write a book about hotels. He never did, but in his novels hotels are frequently mentioned. This Serbian writer, who grew up in Pula and spent a lot of time in Rijeka and Crikvenica, is the most perfect hotel guest you can imagine. Not only that he is prepared for any kind of trouble, always equipped, he is full of stories and one of the best writers in Middle Europe. Do you want to meet him? Open your own hotel!
Saša Stanišić is a german novelist. On the day of his reading event in the audience was a big part of his family. It was his mother's birthday, who had arrived from Florida. We had the reading event with an enthralled audience, chocolate cake and a lot of laughter and tears. And that's exactly what his book "How the soldier repairs the gramophone" does to any reader.
Viktor Stanchev, this bulgarian guitar player sang his song on the "Poetrymeetsmusic"-Festival. He was one of the musician participants. The song's (a real earworm) last line of the lyrics was: "The sky answered with emptiness and only one little cloud." Next time he'll take part as a poet. Definitely.
"In the Woods" is the incredible and true story, written by this writer from Rijeka who faced the diagnosis of multiple sklerosis and was forced to change his style of living, especially his diet. IIt's a breathtaking story. And we are glad that Denis took his time to tell us about it!
Before Hotel Balatura became a vegetarian hotel we watched a lot of youtube videos with Rüdiger Dahlke, a german doctor, physisian and founder of a fasting clinic, based in Austria. We read most of his books and found that his teachings, the idea of "Peace Food", his view on medicine and holistic healing were incredibly inspiring. He is the one whose ideas had the greatest influence on the concept of our hotel. We still can't believe that he was really here. But he was!!
David Albahari's visit at the hotel was one of the most beautiful experiences at hotel Balatura. This truely great and fascinating writer from Serbia, based in Canada, presented his work on a late August evening. His prose leads you as a reader up the garden path, you never know if you can trust your reading conclusions. Every time there's another layer behind. We are still not sure if he was really there, in our wine cellar, or if he just made us think he was...
Almin Kaplan is the kind of poet whose poetry is so exciting, so sad and in the same time so beautiful that you'll find a reason to cry in nearly every text. (For what reason however). The pictures he provokes in the reader's mind are formed by the landscape of Mostar and the Hercegovina. By the mentality of its inhabitants and by the deep green of its forrests. But they are without doubt universal.
Milorad Stojević is born only a few steps from Hotel Balatura, in Bribir. He is the valley's most productive writer and a professor for Croatian literature. When he read from his novels at Balatura's he told us funny stories from his teachings of croatistics in China and South Korea. We didn't know that there are students of croatistics in Asia. But we think they definitely can't have a better professor than Milorad Stojević!
Dževad Karahasan's reading was one of the big highlights at Balatura. This Bosnian writer, born in Duvno, later the headmaster of the Sarajevo Theatre Academy, writer of many novels, essays, philosophical contemplations, professor and poet inspired the audience with his beautiful voice. Not only that his texts are wonderful. Listening to him, to that perfect intonation, to that timbre in his voice, to his pronouncation of words, all that is a true sensation. This man is a legend!
Igor Beleš was born in Borovo Naselje. But he grew up in our neighbourhood, in Crikvenica. At the Hotel Balatura he read from a funny story which takes place in a retirement home. Planning the event with Igor we had to calculate that he might leave the reading quickly, as his son was supposed to be born on that day. But the son -obviously a true understander of the importance of literature - decided to come to life a little earlier. That was really friendly.
Zoran Ferić is a writer from Zagreb. He is a highschool teacher, too. His works have a certain affinity to drastic motives and pictures, to bizarre protagonists and the disturbing elements under normality. At the hotel he read from a new manusript of 800 pages. When he read the episode with a dog nobody said a word. Into the silence, a little boy in the audience asked: "Did that really happen?" It might have, just like anything Ferić writes about.
Jelena Simic Valentic is a sommelière, consultant and the founder of the Croatian Wine Boutique "Pupitres". She joined us on a "books&wine" evening and explained the philosophy of wine tasting to us. A very charming and illuminative experience. We learned that tasting wine is pure poetry!
Ajla Terzic is a novelist from Travnik. When she came to Balatura she used to live in Sarajevo. Meanwhile she is travelling around the world and still writing.
After participating at the Festival "FinbarmeetsBalatura" she left us a compelling story about a woman who prepares herself for the visit of a wedding. A deep, intelligent and touching story, just as Ajla herself.
Our beautiful friend is a jazz and opera singer. His voice amazes everyone. Listening to him, you not only feel the vibration in every single cell of your body, but also the power of sound and music in your heart. That sounds so pathetic, we know, but it's nevertheless just the truth. Alan is our direct connection to nature, to everything, to the universe - just ask any of his pupils...
Bekim Sejranović is a literary nomad and a fascinating writer and translator. Born in Bosnia, he grew partly up in Rijeka and moved to Norway. He is someone who lives between the worlds, always on the road, always writing and reading. He writes great essays on his reading experiences. A truely literary traveller. A real journey-list. ;)
Lidija Dujic (1965.) is a poet, essyist, academic and teacher at the University of Zagreb and Osijek. She stories for children - Plagva (2007) and the poetry book Dry masonry (2010). She wrote radio dramas and theatre pays. She is someone connecting poetry, literature and education. We talked to her at the Balatura hotel and visited a local school. And we learned a lot, of course...
Roman Graf is a novelist from Switzerland. He participated at the Finbar-Festival in 2010. He was one of the rare participants who were not interested in football. (It was World Championship at that time). Instead he walked through Tribalj and wrote a story about what he saw. A very detailed and highly literary observation of stranger ina a Croatian village. Sometimes we need strangers to see what surrounds us...
Dorta Jagić is one of the best poets in this country. (That's not an opinion, it's a fact) When participating at the "PoetrymeetsMusic"- Festival she told us the story (in a poem, of course) about Annie Taylor, the first woman who fell down the Niagara currents in a barrel. "There's only one Annie", Dorta's poem says. We would like to add: "...and there is only one Dorta". The one and only Dorta, who with every poem jumps into a barrel and let's herself fall - whatever might happen next.
With Ludwig Bauer, a writer from Zagreb, we had a great time. At the hotel we talked about his novels for adults which tell us a lot about the life and fate of Danube-Swabian families on the Balkans. But we visited schools as well, presenting Ludwig's children book collection. We can't decide which was the better experience: the school or the hotel reading. In both cases it was so quite you could hear a pin drop. Ludwig Bauer hypnotized children such as adults.
Rade Jarak, this novelist, essayist, poet, and academic painter visited us on a hot mediterranean summer day. Which might be nothing special for him, as he is born in Dubrovnik. When we sat outside in the hotel yard late at night, we heard an animal drinking from the old water basin some 100 metres from us. The drinking seemed to come from a really big animal, maybe a bear. But possibly we had just too much wine...
Boris Dežulović is a writer and columnist from Split. His essays and articles fascinate with tartness, witticism, analytic overview especially on the political situation on the Balkans. He was supposed to write a story for the Finbar-Festival at the Hotel Balatura, he never sent it. A fact that convinced us in the attitude that this story exists somewhere and that it must, just like any text Boris writes, be fabulous, poetic, intelligent, funny and thrilling. And that's enough. <3
Miro Gavran, a novelist, theatre writer and poet presented his book on Kafka's friend, Max Brod, who is telling his version of the friendship to Franz Kafka. Miro Gavran came with his wife Mladena who beautifully read passages from the book. Miro is the the authour of numerous theatre plays, he owns his own theatre and in some countries there are festivals based only on his plays and writings. We were lucky that Miro and Mladena made this warm and wonderful excursion to Hotel Balatura!
Enver Krivac is a writer from Rijeka, a composer and musician. He told us about reading events in Rijeka with the nonformal writer's association RILIT. These readings are happenings, something like rock concerts for literature fans. Enver brought a certain rockn' roll atmosphere to our house, and we loved it!
Nataša Dragnic was born 1965 in Split, but she lives in Germany and writes in German. Her novels "Every hour, every day", "The Sea again" and "It was the Wind" are deeply influenced by Natasa's childhood at the Mediterranean coast. Her books are like long, light summer days. One summer evening the wind left her in our garden. Wonderful!
Edo Popović is one of the cult writers in Croatia. At Balatura's he talked about his book on walking, a literary, philosophical walk through the Velebit mountains. One of the main subjects of the book is civil courage and the research for a Walden-like return to the simplicity of living. The day before he came he got arrested for taking part at a street occupation in Zagreb. We were a little worried if he would be able to come. Edo Popović lives what he is writing about. Impressing!
Ivica Đikić is a journalist, essayist and writer. He worked for many newspapers and wrote novels which have been turned into films. The most impressing thing with Ivica is that he has the courage and the artistic capability to write about the most painful subjects on the Balkans. We deeply admire this courageous and gifted writer!
Alis Maric is the founder of the literary blog "Citaj knjigu" ("Read the book"), Croatians first and mostly popular book-recommending website. She is a big promoter of reading and writes critics on the latest publications in Croatian and international literature. She regularly recommends books on the Croatian Televison. On our reading & winetasting event she presented books for a hot and happy summer reading!
Olja Savičević Ivančević is a Croatian short story and novel writer and a poet. When reading at Balatura's we talked about a book with the title "Making a dog smile". We loved to listen to that incredible warm and heartopening Dalmatian melody of her speaking and listen her funny, stunning and intelligent prose. While witing this text I am reading her new novel "Singer in the Night", a road movie in bookform. One of these roads will Olja hopefully lead to our hotel very soon again.
Slavenka Drakulić had the best visited reading event in the history of Hotel Balatura. And really, there was no chair left in town. Everyone came to listen to her. Which is quite understandable as Slavenka, who was born in Rijeka and had lived in Vienna, Stockholm, Zagreb, Istria and many places more, is a great novelist, a committed essayist and dedicated political analyst. She is a bridge between Croatia and the World. That night she was our bridge to the world.
Paul OGrady is an executive and business coach born in Dublin in 1975, where he has lived most of his life. He worked as an archtect. Then he came to Croatia, opened a school for Irish dance and met his wife. He lives in Istria now, grows olives, works on building projects and writes. We had a great reading (and singing) with him, and the day before a worksho for Irish dance in the castle of Drivenik. We felt like real Irish knights and Ladies...
For many years we dreamed of having Ante Tomić, this wonderful writer who lives in Split, in our hotel. And then, one year he finally came. It was a warm, funny, but in the same time very touching event on which Ante, who is famous for his novels, screen plays and witty Saturday columns, read a poem to us. He really knows how to surprise his audience!
Anna Elisabeth Mayer visited Hotel Balatura four years before she wrote her great novel "The dog from Montpellier", this portrait of a French doctor who was interested in dissection. But already at the time of the festival at Hotel Balatura, her prose worked exactly like a dissection knife. She writes sharp, accurate and insistent texts. Just perfect!
Edi Matić arrived from Split. He is a well-known writer and a great photographer. At the hotel we talked about his crime story (which is a lot more than a crime story) that is situated in a small place in Istria. At times we had the feeling that Hotel Balatura had moved to Grimalda in Istria and together with the audience we breathlessly followed the filmish scenes of his book. Edi finds strong pictures for every figure. What else can you expect from a photographer?
Damir Miloš is born in Opatija, but lives in Dalmatia now. His texts are probably the best you can read about the relation ship of man and sea. They are contemplations on travelling the seven seas. Damir is a great sailor and he told us that he writes his books - to forget them immediately. We are lucky that some publishers get his manuscripts and make books out of them.
Renato Baretić, this Split-based writer who grew up in Zagreb, read at the hotel-opening -event. He was the first to read (and sing, yes, he did) in our hotel yard. When Renato comes back to Tribalj we visit a small place, 2 km from us, which is called Baretići. That 's where his family is originally from. We love the idea that Renato is in fact at home at Balatura's. That his writer's genius gave us the best start a literary hotel could ever have. Thank you, Renato!