Istros Books is raising funds to translate and publish Under Pressure, a captivating collection of short stories by Bosnian writer Faruk Šehić. A war veteran and a poet, Šehić combines beauty and horror to seduce and surprise the reader.
Following the amazing success of Šehić's first novel, Quiet Flows the Una, which won him the EU Prize for Literature 2013 and was reviewed in the Guardian, The Irish Times and World Literature Today among others, we plan to bring out the book that made his reputation as the strongest voice of the so-called 'mangled generation' to come out of the Yugoslav wars.
Under Pressure was first published in 2004 in Bosnian and was awarded the Zoro Verlag Prize. Along with this collection of brutal and heart-wrenching stories, Faruk Šehić's works have gained him a special place in the literature of the region and won him a number of awards.
Who are we and what's our motivation?
Istros Books is an independent publisher of literature in translation for the Balkans and SE Europe based in London.
At Istros, we believe that good literature can transcend national interests and speak to us with the common voice of human experience. Discovering contemporary voices and rediscovering forgotten ones, Istros Books works hard to bring out the best that SE European literature can offer – and that's an area with some bloody good stories to tell!
This project is no exception.
We believe Under Pressure needs to be published in English, as an important work of literature, and a testament to the ordinary people who lived through the Bosnian War.
With the resurgence of nationalism rippling across Europe today, this book serves as a potent reminder of the dangers of intolerance and divisive rhetoric.
In order to make this book accessible to an English-speaking audience, we need to fund its translation and production. This is where you come in, as members of the global Kickstarter community who make incredible things happen!
If you believe that great literature can cross borders and act as a vehicle for understanding the motivations and lives of others, please consider backing this project.
What do we need the money for?
Who is Faruk Šehić?
Faruk was born in Bihać, in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Until the outbreak of war in 1992, he studied veterinary medicine in Zagreb. However, the then 22-year-old voluntarily joined the army of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which he led a unit of 130 men. After the war he studied literature and has gone on to create his own literary works. Critics have hailed Šehić as the leader of the ‘mangled generation’ of writers born in 1970s Yugoslavia, and his books have achieved cult status with readers across the whole region. His collection of short stories Under Pressure (Pod pritiskom, 2004) was awarded the Zoro Verlag Prize. His debut novel Quiet Flows the Una (Knjiga o Uni, 2011) received the Meša Selimović Prize for the best novel published in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia in 2011 and the EU Prize for Literature in 2013. His most recent books are the collection of poetry entitled My Rivers (Moje rijeke, Buybook, 2014) and Priče sa satnim mehanizmom (BuyBook 2018). Šehić lives in Sarajevo and works as a columnist and journalist.
- Read an interview with Faruk Šehić on the European Literature Network
- Listen to Faruk talkng on the BBC World Service, Arts Daily programme (second item)
- Watch Faruk talking about the novel, Quiet Flows the Una, after receiving the EU Prize
- Follow Faruk on Twitter: @faruksehic70 and Facebook
Praise for Faruk Šehić:
"It’s hard to catalog the many ways this work satisfies. There is its intellectual rigor—with generous reference points in modern and contemporary film, literature, music, and philosophy, placing events insistently within our larger, shared culture—as well as the prose’s generally uncompromising tenor itself... " (World Literature Today)
"Šehić does not pontificate, does not moralise, nor does he endeavour to explain things to the less-informed, and there is not a hint of political correctness in his writing... He has no need for any of that. He knows what there is to know about the war, because he has lived one. In this book there is no divine, all-knowing view from above – Šehić literally describes the war through the gun sight of an AK-47.” (Josip Mlakić)
"The Bosnian author’s existence seems bipolar, founded upon the meeting of unlikely identities: a subtle poet and a grizzled soldier in symbiosis. Speaking of his days as a commando, he grins at the recollection of keeping an American poetry anthology in the ammo belt of his Kalashnikov. (Ginsberg was his favourite.) Now he has won recognition as a prose stylist, and his demeanour speaks more of a shy veteran than a literary figure." (Today Translations)
More about the designer Nina Mašina:
Aleksandra Nina Knežević is a freelance graphic designer and illustrator from Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Her work is fresh and contemporary, and easily communicates an international visual language through playful typography and graphics. Nina produced the illustrations for Faruk's first novel, Quiet Flows the Una, in both the original and the UK editions. See more of her wonderful designs on her website.
Nina has designed the book cover for Under Pressure and created these unique tote bags for our campaign, which you can pledge for and enjoy!
Risks and challenges
Translation is costly and lengthy, and it's worth noting that most UK publishers do not invest in 'foreign' literature for precisely this reason. However, without translation British children would never had the pleasure of reading The Moomins or The Little Prince, nor could their parents enjoy Hesse's Siddhartha or Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Since at Istros every book we publish is translated from a language of SE Europe, we are aware of the risks involved, and the majority of the money we are raising here is marked for the translator. Our biggest risk is not reaching the target for translation (£3200) and therefore this is our minimum for starting the project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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