prose

Tea Tulić: Merman

J.A. Hopkins on Tulić’s writing in her novel, Hair Everywhere: “As the fragments gleam with images and insights, Tulić guarantees her story the vitality of fiction rather than allowing the prose to dwindle into maudlin memoir. Indeed, cumulatively, these short, tender sentences deliver something of a benediction, a gentle laying on of hands, to remind us all we’re human.” https://tinyurl.com/J-A-Hopkins-EuroLitNetwork

Read Tulić's short story, Merman, below. Translation by Mirza Purić.



 

 
In March, my husband gets up at five in the morning. He brushes his teeth, washes his face, puts on a pair of jeans, a hoodie, a brown corduroy jacket and a pair of trainers, kisses me and takes the bus to a nearby island. At the beginning of his forty-minute ride, he bids his fellow passengers a:

‘G’mornin.’

Every morning, when he arrives on the island, he pulls on a pair of rubber trousers reaching up to his belly. They are braced, bright yellow trousers. You are my sunshine, is what I say to him in the morning. He puts on the Wellingtons which he has brought from home. He walks into the semi-open hangar and strews salt and pours brine on anchovies and sardines. This he does with his gloves off, for small fish are delicate, they break easily. In the semi-open hangar, spring mornings are chilly. It’s quite cold, darling, is what he says to me.

The fish arrives in big plastic buckets. It’s salted fresh only. It’s salted whole, after it’s been drained of blood. It’s salted with koshering sea salt. It’s salted till October. My husband lines them up neatly, fishy after fishy next to fishy, puts salt between them, pours brine over them, lids them up then puts weights on the lid. Sardines are oilier, and the white crates in which they are kept soon turn brown with oil.

Every night, round seven, my husband sits in the tub, in a magnolia-scented bath, and rubs his fingers with lemon. After that he bends his knees, puts his head on the edge of the tub and takes a kip. Later, when we make love, he doesn’t touch me with his brown palms. He rests his elbows on the pillow and kisses me with his cracked lips, his palms facing upwards. We don’t breathe. Our bed is like a ship in a ship breaking yard, such are his cries, such are his snarls when we make love. It is almost morning, my husband whispers and sinks into sleep. He can’t stretch his legs in the bed, the wooden footboard gets in the way. I lie like a closed oyster, light and firm. Sleepless, I stare through the crack in my shell at his neck where wrinkles form a pattern like those on a sock. We never switch sides.

The hangar is like a tiger, he says, that sea is its swimming pool.

Sometimes I hear him whimpering in his sleep when he’s having a nightmare. In his dream, he slips into the mouth of the tiger, lands on the beast’s wet tongue, in his jeans and hoodie, and he can’t get up no matter what, nobody hears him, nobody reaches out their hand, everyone just keeps working in silence, and he’s wriggling and I don’t know if I should wake him up and tell him it’s all just a dream. I don’t know, I’m not sure.

He is so beautiful when he sleeps. If I were a big woman, I would sit on him with all my weight and strangle him like a two-day old kitten.

In the morning I bid him a G’mornin’.

My husband is burly, and when he walks, it’s as if his steps are yawning. He stumbles over me as if over a pet. I sometimes hide behind a tree and wait for him to turn around. Or leave. If we’re going to a birthday party, I’m the one who wraps and carries the present. If he’s had a lot of wine, the room takes on a smell which makes me put on my shoes and walk up and down the street. If we don’t go out, he washes up and rubs his fingers with coffee dregs, and divines. He says great beasts will devour us on a safari.

The fish arrives in big plastic buckets. It’s salted fresh only. It’s salted whole, after it’s been drained of blood. It’s salted with koshering sea salt. It’s salted till October. My husband lines them up neatly, fishy after fishy next to fishy, puts salt between them, pours brine over them, lids them up then puts weights on the lid.

Today, instead of the Wellingtons, he took his blue flip-flops to work. In the morning he said, I’m taking my blue flip-flops. He slipped in the hangar, fell, wallowed in the brine and laughed. When he got up, he salted everything that needed salting. Lidded it up and placed the weights. He took his big rubber trousers out in the sun, hosed them down and lit up a cigarette. On his ride home, no one would sit next to him. As if the others smell nicer, he texted me.

I didn’t reply. Tonight I’ll paint my face white and my lips black to make it easier for him to read them.

He came home at five in the afternoon, the sun was already down, our feet were already swollen. We ate some potatoes and two chicken drumsticks each. Two coffee cups were left in the sink, unwashed. I took him to the beach, we slowly stepped into the shallows, till the sea reached my breasts. He started swimming, swam a circle round me, then turned on his back, stuck his white belly out and stopped moving. I took him into my arms and carried him across the sea, between the land and the offing. Away from the island. He hugged me, laughed, brought his large feet together and splashed on the surface. With his flowing hair and gleaming skin, he looked like a merman. It is almost autumn, he whispered.

Translated by Mirza Purić

panorama

Zagreb Classic Open Air Festival Kicks Off on June 23rd

Zagreb’s annual Open Air Classic Festival kicks off this week. The festival encompasses a series of classical music concerts and will take place downtown in Tomislav Park, with the beautiful backdrop of the Art Pavilion. The festival runs from June 23rd to June 29th, 2022.


panorama

Rebecca Duran's Take on Modern Day Life in Pazin (Istria)

Croatia is a small, charming country known today as a prime European tourist destination. However, it has a complicated often turbulent history and is seemingly always destined to be at the crossroads of empires, religions and worldviews, with its current identity and culture incorporating elements from its former Communist, Slavic, Austrian-Hungarian, Catholic, Mediterranean, and European traditions.

review

Review of Dubravka Ugrešić's Age of Skin

Dubravka Ugrešić is one of the most internationally recognizable writers from Croatia, but she has a contentious relationship with her home country, having gone into self-exile in the early 90s. Her recently translated collection of essays, The Age of Skin, touches on topics of of exile and displacement, among others. Read a review of Ugrešić’s latest work of non-fiction, expertly translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac, in the link below .

panorama

Vlaho Bukovac Exhibition in Zagreb Will Run Through May

Vlaho Bukovac (1855-1922) is arguably Croatia's most renowned painter. Born in the south in Cavtat, he spent some of his most impressionable teenage years in New York with his uncle and his first career was as a sailor, but he soon gave that up due to injury. He went on to receive an education in the fine arts in Paris and began his artistic career there. He lived at various times in New York, San Francisco, Peru, Paris, Cavtat, Zagreb and Prague. His painting style could be classified as Impressionism which incorporated various techniques such as pointilism.

An exhibition dedicated to the works of Vlaho Bukovac will be running in Klovićevi dvori Gallery in Gornji Grad, Zagreb through May 22nd, 2022.

review

Review of Neva Lukić's Endless Endings

Read a review of Neva Lukić's collection of short stories, Endless Endings, recently translated into English, in World Literature Today.

panorama

A Guide to Zagreb's Street Art

Zagreb has its fair share of graffiti, often startling passersby when it pops up on say a crumbling fortress wall in the historical center of the city. Along with some well-known street murals are the legendary street artists themselves. Check out the article below for a definitive guide to Zagreb's best street art.

panorama

Beloved Croatian Children's Show Professor Balthazar Now Available in English on YouTube

The colorful, eclectic and much beloved Croatian children's cartoon Professor Balthazar was created by Zlatko Grgić and produced from the late 1960s through the 1970s. Now newer generations will be able to enjoy the Professor's magic, whether they speak Croatian or English.

panorama

New Book on Croatian Football Legend Robert Prosinečki

Robert Prosinečki's long and fabled football career includes winning third place in the 1998 World Cup as part of the Croatian national team, stints in Real Madrid and FC Barcelona as well as managerial roles for the Croatian national team, Red Star Belgrade, the Azerbaijani national team and the Bosnian Hercegovinian national team.

news

Sandorf Publishing House Launches American Branch

Croatian publishing house Sandorf launched their American branch called Sandorf Passage earlier this year.

panorama

Jonathan Bousfield on the Seedy Side of the Seaside

From strange tales of mysterious murders to suspected criminals hiding out to scams, duels and gambling, Opatija, a favourite seaside escape for Central Europeans at the turn of the last century, routinely filled Austrian headlines and the public's imagination in the early 20th century.

review

Review of new English translation of Grigor Vitez's AntonTon

Hailed as the father of 20th century Croatian children's literature, Grigor Vitez (1911-1966) is well known and loved in his homeland. With a new English translation of one of his classic tales AntonTon (AntunTun in Croatian), children around the world can now experience the author's delightful depiction of the strong-minded and silly AntonTon. The Grigor Vitez Award is an annual prize given to the best Croatian children's book of the year.

news

The Best of New Eastern European Literature

Have an overabundance of free time, thanks to the pandemic and lockdowns? Yearning to travel but unable to do so safely? Discover the rhythm of life and thought in multiple Eastern European countries through exciting new literature translated into English. From war-torn Ukraine to tales from Gulag inmates to the search for identity by Eastern Europeans driven away from their home countries because of the economic or political situations but still drawn back to their cultural hearths, this list offers many new worlds to explore.

panorama

More Zagreb Street Art

Explore TimeOut's gallery of fascinating and at times thought-provoking art in the great open air gallery of the streets of Zagreb.

panorama

Welcome to Zagreb's Hangover Museum

Partied too hard last night? Drop by Zagreb's Hangover Museum to feel more normal. People share their craziest hangover stories and visitors can even try on beer goggles to experience how the world looks like through drunken eyes.

panorama

Jonathan Bousfield on the Future as Imagined in 1960s Socialist Yugoslavia

How will the futuristic world of 2060 look? How far will technology have advanced, and how will those advancements affect how we live our everyday lives? These are the questions the Zagreb-based magazine Globus asked in a series of articles in 1960, when conceptualizing what advancements society would make 40 years in the future, the then far-off year of 2000. The articles used fantastical predictions about the future to highlight the technological advancements already made by the then socialist Yugoslavia. Take a trip with guide, Jonathan Bousfield, back to the future as envisioned by journalists in 1960s Yugoslavia.

panorama

Untranslatable Croatian Phrases

What’s the best way for an open-minded foreigner to get straight to the heart of another culture and get a feel for what makes people tick? Don’t just sample the local food and drink and see the major sights, perk up your ears and listen. There’s nothing that gives away the local flavor of a culture more than the common phrases people use, especially ones that have no direct translation.

Check out a quirky list of untranslatable Croatian phrases from Croatian cultural guide extraordinaire, Andrea Pisac, in the link below:

panorama

Jonathon Bousfield on the Museum of Broken Relationships

Just got out of a serious relationship and don't know what to do with all those keepsakes and mementos of your former loved one? The very popular and probably most unique museum in Zagreb, the Museum of Broken Relationships, dedicated to preserving keepsakes alongside the diverse stories of relationships gone wrong, will gladly take them. Find out how the museum got started and take an in-depth look at some of its quirkiest pieces in the link below.

panorama

Cool Things To Do in Zagreb

Zagreb is Croatia’s relaxed, charming and pedestrian-friendly capital. Check out Time Out’s definitive Zagreb guide for a diverse set of options of what to explore in the city from unusual museums to legendary flea markets and everything in between.

panorama

Jonathan Bousfield on Diocletian's Legacy in Split

Diocletian’s Palace is the main attraction in Split, the heart and soul of the city. Because of the palace, Split’s city center can be described as a living museum and it draws in the thousands of tourists that visit the city annually. But how much do we really know about the palace’s namesake who built it, the last ruler of a receding empire? Jonathan Bousfield contends that history only gives us a partial answer.

interview

The Poetry of Zagreb

Cities have served as sources of inspiration, frustration, and discovery for millennia. The subject of sonnets, stories, plays, the power centers of entire cultures, hotbeds of innovation, and the cause of wars, cities are mainstays of the present and the future with millions more people flocking to them every year.

Let the poet, Zagreb native Tomica Bajsić, take you on a lyrical tour of the city. Walk the streets conjured by his graceful words and take in the gentle beauty of the Zagreb of his childhood memories and present day observation.

panorama

You Haven't Experienced Zagreb if You Haven't Been to the Dolac Market

Dolac, the main city market, is a Zagreb institution. Selling all the fresh ingredients you need to whip up a fabulous dinner, from fruits and vegetables to fish, meat and homemade cheese and sausages, the sellers come from all over Croatia. Positioned right above the main square, the colorful market is a beacon of a simpler way of life and is just as bustling as it was a century ago.

panorama

Croatian Phrases Translated into English

Do you find phrases and sayings give personality and flair to a language? Have you ever pondered how the culture and history of a place shape the common phrases? Check out some common sayings in Croatian with their literal translations and actual meanings below.

panorama

Discover Croatia's Archaeological Secrets

Discover Croatia’s rich archaeological secrets, from the well known ancient Roman city of Salona near Split or the Neanderthal museum in Krapina to the often overlooked Andautonia Archaeological Park, just outside of Zagreb, which boasts the excavated ruins of a Roman town or the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, Vinkovci.

panorama

Croatian Sites on UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List

A little know fact is that Croatia, together with Spain, have the most cultural and historical heritage under the protection of UNESCO, and Croatia has the highest number of UNESCO intangible goods of any European country.

panorama

Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb

The National Theater in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, is one of those things which always finds its way to every visitor’s busy schedule.

panorama

Zagreb's Street Art

So you're visiting Zagreb and are curious about it's underground art scene? Check out this guide to Zagreb's street art and explore all the best graffiti artists' work for yourself on your next walk through the city.

panorama

Zagreb Festivals and Cultural Events

Numerous festivals, shows and exhibitions are held annually in Zagreb. Search our what's on guide to arts & entertainment.

Authors' pages

Književna Republika Relations PRAVOnaPROFESIJU LitLink mk zg