Place: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Graphic Novel in Translation: Karim Zaimović’s “The Invisible Man from Sarajevo,” Part II

Part II of Asymptote blog's first-ever graphic-novel-in-translation

For Part I in this series, click here

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Download part one, part two, and part three.

Karim Zaimović (1971-1995) was a comic strip artist and writer for the weekly magazine BH Dani in Sarajevo. During the war he hosted a radio show on Radio Wall, Sarajevo, called “Joseph and His Brothers.” At 24, he was killed in Sarajevo, in August 1995, only three months before the Dayton Peace Accords brought an end to the fighting. His stories and the transcripts of his radio shows were lovingly assembled in the book, The Secret of Raspberry Jam, by his friends and colleagues, and were produced for the stage in a play of the same name by theater director Selma Spahić.

Aleksandar Brezar was born in Sarajevo in 1984. He has worked as a journalist at Radio 202 and a translator on several documentary films and other film-related projects for PBS, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Al Jazeera English, among others. His translations have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, Brooklyn Rail, Asymptote, Peščanik, and Lupiga. His graphic novel adaptation of Karim Zaimović’s story “The Secret of Nikola Tesla,” illustrated by Enis Čišić, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015.

Boris Stapić is a graphic designer and illustrator from Sarajevo. He studied in Zagreb, Croatia, at the School of Applied Arts and Design, and at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has worked at several advertising agencies as a designer and creative director. Boris has co-founded the TripleClaim Game Collective, a video game, app, and new media studio. Of the adaptation, he says, “adapting the original text was a great challenge because Karim’s stories seem to arise from an external creative impulse. They are a melting pot of ideas, obsessions and anxieties of the entire twentieth century, and a playful and engaging literary game of motifs and intimate fascinations.

Translator’s Profile: Mirza Purić

Q & A with Bosnian translator and Asymptote editor-at-large Mirza Purić

Mirza Purić (b. 1979) is a translator and musician. A graduate of the University of Vienna, he has been an Editor-at-Large with Asymptote since 2014.

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Who are you and what do you translate? 

Out of necessity, I’ll translate whatever will bring home the bacon, but what I am is a literary translator. When I set out years ago I worked on fiction almost exclusively. These days I mostly do poetry, I don’t know how that happened. I also play obnoxious music on a bastard instrument which is neither a bass nor a guitar. I’m not sure if this answers the first question.

Describe your current/most recent project. Why is it cool? What should we know about it?

I’m working on a selection of poems by Yusef Komunyakaa, who is one of my favourite poets. There’s this sad cliché that says you can’t write about music just like you can’t dance about sculpture, or something to that effect. Whoever came up with that nugget of brilliance has obviously never read Komunyakaa. Apart from that, I try to make myself available to young, up-and-coming authors, people who swim against the tide and/or operate outside of the mainstream, so I’m always on stand-by for Sarajevo Writer’s Workshop, a group of promising young writers and poets founded by the American writer Stacy Mattingly (check out her essay on a project she led for the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program). As Asymptote’s editor-at-large I constantly snoop about for new talent. This country being what it is, a lot of gifted people don’t have a platform. Asymptote provides one, and I do what I can to help these people hop on it. READ MORE…

Poligon Literary Festival: A Dispatch by Ivan Šunjić

"This year's Poligon boasts three prize winners: Krivokapić, Kaplan, and Pajević."

The first incarnation of the literary festival Poligon was held in Mostar on September 25-27, 2015 at several different venues in the city. The decentralization of the festival and the “occupation” of Mostar’s cultural hotspots by poets and writers helped revive the city’s dormant literary scene. The festival was imagined as a space for dialogue between authors from the former Yugoslavia, an opportunity for strategic planning and strengthening of interregional literary exchange. In the words of Mirko Božić, the initiator and co-organizer of Poligon, the festival hopes to put Mostar on the region’s literary map by providing a multi-medial platform for literature, but also visual arts and music. READ MORE…

Making Narrative Witness: A Caracas-Sarajevo Collaboration

A revolutionary collaboration spanning countries, languages, and memories

THE SCENE

The scene is an online video meeting. (Does that qualify as a scene?) In it are several Venezuelan writers and photographers gathered in a classroom in Caracas (all men but one, though not everyone is present) and their counterparts in and around Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, gathered mostly in twos and threes at laptops in apartments (all women but two; everyone is present).

A couple of Caracas photographers also tune in from what appear to be their flats. One Bosnian is in the town of Bihać. A Croatian writer from the Sarajevo group joins from Spain.

The Venezuelans in the classroom are having technical difficulties with their audio, and people move close to the room’s single computer to be heard. We make introductions. A few jokes. We lay out our plans. At least one Sarajevan, a redhead perched on a sofa, enjoys a cigarette.

READ MORE…

Translation Tuesday: “Sketch” by Zerina Zahirović

Translated by our editor-at-large Mirza Purić

She died quietly, she died the death of those who love stubbornly, angrily, jealously, secretly, and

elephantishly. At a neighbour’s urge, she treated rheumatoid arthritis with crude oil. The therapy resulted in second-degree burns. On the inside of my eyelids I sketch her knees – two magical orbs of glass – and I rub them with devil’s claw unguent. Prayer and displeasure spill softly in the room in which we are alone and furtive, for

where, why, and for whom does the devil

make unguent from his claw? She died quietly, to render loud some mornings that had tumbled down and stuck into me like hedgehogs. I sketch those mornings as a

 

crooked bicycle tyre. I push the bicycle uphill into the whitish dawn, I hurry to spill before her the smell of the lead from the newspaper, the smell of the pastry which is a crumbled sketch of her face on the inside of my eyelids. The way I close the distance between us is like the way her eyebrows come together in a frown, she pushes hard sugar cubes into my mouth, and I buzz in the garden for hours and I sip the sap of a liquorice. I sketch her as READ MORE…

Translation Tuesday: The Third Man

Bosnian short fiction from acclaimed writer Dario Džamonja, author of Letters from the Madhouse

From afar, judging by our gesticulations and the vehemence with which we’re defending our opinions, you’d think we were discussing the economy, the upcoming elections, pension funds, mortgages, the Hague Tribunal or some other inevitable aspect of our daily lives. Hell no! We’re trying to pose the dumbest question (and succeeding)! Meho is the reigning champion. He just keeps ’em coming: “What do you call a male turtle? What do you call a male squirrel? A male giraffe? A male seal? A male shark?” Someone counters, “A male shark is called ‘Jaws!’” Meho doesn’t let this phase him and on he goes, “If you have a goldfish in your aquarium, how can you tell if it’s male or female?”

“Well?” “You give it a bit of fish food: if he eats it, it’s male. If she eats it, it’s a female!” From zoology, we move on to physics: “How come you get circles on the water when you toss in a square brick?” The hot summer afternoon, dripping with alcohol, goes by in ostensible happiness and an easygoing atmosphere until it’s time to pay up—a bleak hour when dark clouds converge over everyone’s faces. Each of us has an overdue bill, a debt, an unpaid bar tab, a pair of shoes with worn-out soles, a car or a washing machine on the fritz… In the drunken stupor the conversation veers off to literature, as in a dream when images follow one another by some alien logic, and someone tells a story about Ivo Andrić. During his time as a consul in Rome, he met the Turkish consul, an exceptionally well-educated, wealthy, handsome man with a beautiful family who would regularly get wasted on cognac. Andrić asked him about it, and the man replied: “You know, Sir, as soon as I have a drink, I turn into another man—a ‘second man,’ if you will.” “So?” “Well, this second man then says, ‘I’d like a drink as well,’ and so it goes.” Meho interrupts the story, “If that’s the case, I’m the third man.” “How come? “I start off with a double!”

READ MORE…