Ivana Šojat-Kuči was born in Osijek, Croatia, in 1971. She spent several years in Belgium, where she received a university degree in French. In 2000, she published her ﬁrst book of poetry, Hiperbole, after winning an award for the best unpublished manuscript at a poetry festival in Drenovci. She works as a literary translator, and has translated more than twenty books from English and French. Excerpts from Saint Espoir, her unpublished poetry collection written in French, were published in the Belgian literary magazine, Le Fram. The collection was nominated for best manuscript by the Poetic and Literary Society of Kraainem, Brussels in 1999.
Ivana has been frequently honored with literary awards: For Hiperbole, she won best unpublished manuscript at a poetry festival in Drenovci, 1999. The book Unterstadt, earned her the Vladimir Nazor Award, 2010, Ksaver Šandor Gjalski Award, 2010, Fran Galović Award, 2010, Josip and Ivan Kozarac Award, 2010. Šamšiel, was honored at Kozarčevi dani (Kozarčevi Days) festival in Vinkovci, 2002, and Utvare won the annual Vladimir Nazor award, 2005.
Published Books. Novels: Šamšiel/ Shamshiel (Matica Hrvatska, 2002), Unterstadt (Fraktura, 2009), Ničiji sinovi/Nobody's Sons (Fraktura, 2012), Yom Kippur (Fraktura, 2014). Short stories: Kao pas/Like a Dog (DHK-ogranak, 2006), Mjesečari/Sleepwalkers (Fraktura, 2008) and Ruke Azazelove/Azazel’s Hands (Fraktura, 2011). Essays: I past će sve maske/And all the masks will fall (Alfa, 2006). Poetry: Hiperbole/ Hyperboles (Hrašće, 2000), Uznesenja Ascensions (Triler i DHK-ogranak, 2003) and Utvare/Phantoms (Solidarnost, 2005) and Sofija plaštevima mete samoću/Sofija sweeps up loneliness with her capes (VBZ, 2009).
Find Ivana online at www.ivanasojatkuci.com.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Mostly, my source of inspiration is everyday life, stories of “ordinary” people. But, there are also historical events that provoke me to write—injustices nobody has talked about, such as the destiny of German people after the World War II which I described in my novel Unterstadt and more recent events such as the war in Croatia (novel Jom Kipur).
Describe your creative process.
Everything always begins with one single sentence that comes to me in a dream, or while I’m doing something not the least connected to writing. I never force myself to write. I consider writing as something divine, something that cannot be provoked by force.
Where do you write? Do you have any writing rituals?
I have no special rituals. I can write everywhere, in any time of the day. On a computer, or by hand. Very often, I write and translate in my living room, beside my children, and the TV, sometimes on the bus, while traveling for work, or in the park. That’s why I always have my notebook in my handbag—and a pen.
What are you reading now? Do you read literature that has been translated from other languages or just Croatian books?
I read in English, French, Italian and Croatian. I’m literary translator. At the same time, I can read two or three books as research for the book I’m working on. Now I am re-reading Talmud (for the third time), Kuran, and The History of Islam.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on historical novel Ezan – about Ottoman empire (second half of the 16. Century), about young Christian boy, Luka, from village in Bosnia (Jablanica) who becomes Janissary, fearsome fighter for his new religion of Islam.
Do you have a favorite English writer?
I would say Raymond Carver, T.C. Boyle, Scarlett Thomas, G.G. Kay… many others.
Which Croatian writers or books do you think should be available in English?
Croatia has a lot of gifted writers. It is hard to name only some of them. But, I’ll try: Slađana Bukovac, Merita Arslani, Mihaela Gašpar, Delimir Rešicki, Kristian Novak… and, why not Me?
What makes Croatian writing unique?
Every culture has something nobody else has. Croatia has its own tradition, history, lifestyle, and it’s all visible, palpable in every work of Croatian authors. Literature is the best way to meet new people, new cultures, to widen horizons, to obtain better understanding of the wide, colorful world we live in.