There is a club in Zagreb, Booksa, founded almost ten years ago, where the chairs are old, the staff are young and the owners amazing. Mika and Vanja, two women who felt, like so many others in Zagreb, that the local literary scene lacked something, a space which would combine bookstore, coffeshop and stage for booklaunches, panels and all sorts of actions. And these two decided to do something about it. And what they did created a central venue for literary events in this part of Croatia, as well as one of the most hip places independent culture affacionados and activists like to meet at. Because they serve awesome tea there. And host numerous events.
Among the there one called “SF at Booksa”, run by Croatian SF author, editor and illustrator, Aleksandar Žiljak. He played host to the wonderful Petra Mrduljas Dolezal, who won the SFERA Award this year in the academic category for the book Widening Rings: The Heroic Quest in the Works of J. R. R. Tolkien.
The nerd in me had so much fun there last night. The crowd was very varied, among the standard SF fans who attend the program regularly, hid many of Ms. Mrduljas Dolezal’s students. She works at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Zagreb. The discussion covered many topics, form the impossibilty to research to Tolkien unless on speaks English to the merits of employing Jungian rather than theories in looking into the matter.
Ms. Mrduljas Dolezal wrote the boook based on her doctoral thesis and told a very interesting story on how no professor would be her mentor because of the subject matter until she was referred to the recently deceased Zoran Kravar, a well respected professor with a deep love for fantasy and Tolkien in particular who had won the SFERA Award twice.
Above and beyond an excellent public interview, Ms. Mrduljas Doleza is a good writer, the book she wrote was fun and easy to read while its academic level was not lowered, no small feat. I enjoyed her writing immensely, but I must admit she totally charmed me by coming to the SFERA Award Ceremony with her small baby son.