Book Fair(y) in Istria, the festival of books and authors in Pula, has for years hosted fiction and nonfiction authors, enchanting them with the mystical peninsula that has inspired local writers more than any other region in the country. And in all the different genres.
Two important literary events in Pazin, the very heart of Istria, have certainly contributed to this: the summer Festival of Fantastic Literature, which deals with a different town and its specific Istrian motifs every year, and the Istrakon, a sci-fi conference, which gives out a special prize for the best Istrian story: a famed Istrian prosciutto. This is why all the regional sci-fi writers have written in the Istrian dialect, exploring not only the dialect, but also phenomena such as the famous vampire of Kringa, the dinosaurs that left their footprints in the rocks in Bale, and the world-renowned Višnjan Observatory.
Equally entranced with Istria are the festivals’ visitors, whose impressions of the Istrian customs and lifestyle Alida Bremer brought together in her collection U mislima čupam borove. Giving stylistically diverse impressions of both local as well as foreign literary enthusiasts, the book successfully highlights what keeps so many of Istria’s visitors coming back so often: the diversity that one can keep exploring from year to year, just as we can keep coming back to the finest literary achievements, discovering new depths to them with each reading.
Politics is everywhere on the Balkans, including in its literature, and Istria has long had a fantastic perspective on this. The first to write about it was Vladimir Nazor, a great fiigure of Croatian literature, who narrated Istria’s political and social norms of his time through the local myth of Veli Jože. Years later, Danilo Brozović also used popular literature to examine Istria’s turbulent social changes in recent years, but instead of using a fairy tale, he provided a dystopian image in his novel Bojno polje Istra.
Ante Tentor faitfully represented in a naturalist mode the national and social events of the second half of the 19th century in his novels Ljubav na prijevaru and Suvišna usta. Each of the novels, published at the very start of the last century in a single edition under the title Iz zapadnih strana, brings a remarkable vision of Western Istria, and Ante Tentor is known as the first man to bring Western Istria into Istrian and Croatian literature. It is entirely possible that history would have forgotten about this author from Pula if he had not been brought back into the spotlight by Tatjana Arambašin, herself an author who has dealt with Istria in her fiction as well as working as a journalist. She is also one of the first Istrian authors in the ranks of the Croatian Writers’ Association.