The Slovenia Times

Miljenko Jergović wins Vilenica Prize

Writer Miljenko Jergović, the winner of the 2024 Vilenica Prize. Photo: Hina/STA

The 2024 Vilenica Prize for Central European literature will go to Miljenko Jergović, a Sarajevo-born Croatian author. He will receive the award at the Vilenica international literary festival in September.

Declaring the winner on 4 June, the chairman of the judging panel, Aljoša Harlamov, described Jergović as a precise, empathetic chronicler of the horrors of the past but also of beautiful moments in the region.

Jergović, 58, won international acclaim with his debut Sarajevo Marlboro, a 1994 collection of stories about everyday life in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina.

He is one of the most prominent Croatian intellectuals and the most widely translated contemporary author from Croatia. His books, in which he intertwines autobiographical and autopoetic passages, have been translated into more than 20 languages, including Slovenian.

Jergović graduated in philosophy and sociology in Sarajevo before leaving the country in 1993 during the war. He has been living in Croatia since.

He writes fiction, poems and essays, largely about post-Yugoslav realities, which have won him a number of awards.

The Vilenica Prize judges noted the fluidity of his language and his unique sense of storytelling that naturally transforms historical, social and intimate events into literary masterpieces.

The 2013 novel Kin is considered his masterpiece. The family epic focusing on his grandfather tells about centuries of unrest in Central Europe and the Balkans.

Jergović has often been compared with Ivo Andrić (1892-1975), another Bosnian-born author and the only winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature from former Yugoslavia.

He will receive the €10,000 Vilenica Prize at the conclusion of the Vilenica festival, at a ceremony in the karst cave after which the festival and the award are named.

Previous laureates include Milan Kundera, Peter Handke, Olga Tokarczuk, Ilma Rakusa, Austrian writer Josef Winkler, and Latvian poet Amanda Aizpuriete. Last year, the prize went to Otto Tolnai, a Hungarian author from the Serbian province of Vojvodina.

Organised by the Slovenian Writers' Association, the Vilenica festival has been held every September since 1986, centred in the western region of Kras.

Running between 2 and 7 September this year, the festival will spotlight Czech literature, and Dušan Šarotar as the Slovenian writer in focus.

One of the topics the participants will delve into is artificial intelligence and humaneness of literature. This links to the title of this year's festival Icarus 2.0, a tribute to Srečko Kosovel (1904-1926), an avant-garde poet that introduced technological words, phrases and symbols into Slovenian poetry.


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