Bosnian Avant-garde Phenomenon In Contemporary Literature

Boris Lalić is a phenomenon in contemporary literature in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has published books named 100%, Jackie's on The Road Again and A Good Life in Times of Crisis. Boris sells his books in front of the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo. His avant-garde style of living and writing is something that makes him rather special and distinguishes him from the crowd.

Bosnian, avant-garde Boris Lalic
Bosnian, avant-garde Boris Lalic

The guide through Bosnian anvant-garde literature

When did you start writing? What authors influenced you in the beginning and how does that affect your current work?

I started writing in elementary school, under the influence of rap music, which I listened to, so I also wrote rap songs then. In high school, I was more serious about writing prose, and in this respect, a book by Srđan Žagovec called Hardcore and Other Stories motivated me quite a bit because I saw that literature can be written differently and not everything has to be all nice and polite.

Other than Žagovec, I was influenced by books assigned in school and books from the library which I read for my own soul. Later, I studied literature, and after that, I pretty much limited myself to studies of the classics, because those are the books that have most excitement and fervor when I read them.

I mostly speak the colloquial language because I’m always on the streets of my city, so classics give me the power to know how to talk a little bit better when I concentrate, which comes in handy when I get to write something.

I like to connect the rich language of literature, which can rightfully be described as art, and the local slang of the Bosnian language in which I grew up and which fulfills me as a person.


Do you think that the art of quality writing is a thing of work and desire or talent?

I think it is a combination of the above-mentioned terms. Personally, I’m not so sure about my own talent although people tell me that I have it, but what I know is that reading a good book encourages me to write and gives me the passion that my writing needs to make it look convincing and to convey emotions. The most important thing for a person is to love what he is doing, because then you have the will to study, and that always brings some kind of progress.

Bosnian, avant-garde Boris Lalic
Bosnian, avant-garde Boris Lalic

Where did you get the idea to sell your books in front of the Academy of Fine Arts? What was the beginning like?

In Sarajevo, there are several places where books are sold in the streets, and I like it the most in front of the Academy of Fine Arts, so that’s why I come here. From the beginning to the present day I had a great time, no one ever objected to what I did, and not a day goes by that I do not get a little bit of attention from someone who passes by in that street.

Our people might not appreciate literature so much, but they do respect effort, and even if they cannot help you, they’re trying not to hinder. In the end, the relationship with fellow citizens that I have there has made me love the people around me even more.


In what ways did writing change you?

While I was a student and writing for a hobby, I did not give a lot of attention to others and I have written literally just about things that were going on in my head and the things that amused me. Now that I have made a real job out of this, I think about how other people can benefit more from what I write.

I’ve never before had this much attention because of my work, so I’m still getting used to the situation. There are, therefore, positive and negative changes. But I am not going to mention them since readers have no use of any of it, and I feel ashamed.

Boris Lalic
Boris Lalic

Do you have a special routine before the act of writing?

My routine is that every day I go from my Alipašino Polje neighborhood to downtown, by bicycle when the weather is nice, on foot when the weather is ugly, sit in a coffee shop and read at least 50 pages, and then I go back in my neighborhood, just hanging around the hood and my home, and then at 10 pm I go to my office and write, sometimes just a short time, sometimes until dawn. When I hear the first call to prayer, I put my pen down no matter what’s happening and return home.


What is the source of your ideas?

My sources are my life and the books that I read. Life gives me the material and books the understanding of life and ideas on how to introduce it.

Bosnian, avant-garde Boris Lalic
Bosnian, avant-garde Boris Lalic

What are you working on right now?

I am currently in the research phase for some new forms of writing, I started thirty stories, one novel, and one comedy, but didn’t continue working on them. In the new book, I plan to present my bourgeois characters as living people as much as possible and to allow them to break out of their caricature-like image which has prevented readers from living out and feeling the book.


How do you deal with the artist’s block? Do you have any advice?

It’s one of the things that really annoy me, but it gets a little easier when I write myself a letter where I fully insult myself as a writer and predict for myself a future without literature. After venting like that, I have lifted my spirits, I remember that we live only once and that it is not half as miserable to fail while trying as it is to fail by doing nothing.


How to use literature as a travel guide, read here.

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