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Sanja Lovrenčić

Sanja Lovrenčić was born in 1961 in Knin (Croatia). Since her earliest childhood she has lived in Zagreb, where she finished elementary school, classical grammar school and music high school. She studied art history and indology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, and graduated art history at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade (1985). She began writing poetry and translating it from French and English during her studies; her first poems were published in the magazine Quorum, and she self-published her first collection of poems Insula dulcamara in 1987. In the late eighties she submitted her work for the first time to a public competition for a radio drama. After 1990 – having won first prize for both a radio drama and a radio play for children – she closely collaborated for several years with the Drama Programme of Croatian Radio as an author and translator. In 1994 she published two books in two different fields which are equally in the focus of her interest: the collection of poems Scarlet Fabric (edited by Hrvoje Pejaković) and the book of stories for children Esperel, the City of Small Wonders. By 2007 she published four more collections of stories for children (she won the Grigor Vitez Award for The Four Terrible Foof-Eaters) and two short novels, and after that she wrote only texts for picture books. She considers poetry to be the basis of her literary work and her most important field of activity, and she has never stopped writing it.

Her first collection of stories for adult readers, Wien Fantastic, came out in 1998 in the Quorum Collection of the MD Publishing House, which printed several more of her books in prose, mostly of an experimental nature. She published her first longer novel The Skating Rink in 2005. As a member of the Association of artists Autorska kuća (2004-2009), she also became the publisher of some of her own texts. In 2006, she therefore published her biographical novel In Search of Ivana, for which she received the Gjalski Award, and a collection of poems The River Surely Loves the Flood (Cyclops Award). In 2009, the Leykam Publishing House put out her novel Martin’s Strings in Croatian and German, which won the Steiermaerkische Sparkasse Literary Award and was shortlisted for the T-Portal Award.

With her younger son Adrian Pelc, she founded the Mala zvona Publishing House in 2010, in which the majority of her literary and literary translation activities have taken place ever since. However, she continues to collaborate with other publishers and, for example, she published the novel Ardura (2012) in Fraktura. Ardura was shortlisted for two literary awards, and Lovrenčić’s most notable books include the novel Cabinet for Sentimental Trivial Literature (2018) and a collection of poems Sketches for a Heroine (2021). For the manuscript I am Writing to you from a Distant Land she received the Tea Benčić Rimay Award in 2021 for an unpublished collection of prose poems.

Creative writing fellowships:
H.A.L.D. , International Residency for Writers at Hald, Denmark (2014).
Art Omi, USA (2015, 2021)
Villa Marguerite Yourcenar, France (2016)
Château de Lavigny, Switzerland (2017)
Q21 Museumsquartier, Vienna, Austria (2017)

In addition to writing, she does a lot of translation work. Her translated books fall into several groups: social sciences, literature for adults, literature for children, music history; she won the Cyclops Award (2012) for her translation of Virginia Woolf’s collection of short fiction The Haunted House

In 2005, she launched an event to encourage reading Pick a Story! which is since being held continually in several Croatian cities.

Since 2014, she has also been creating ceramic artwork, and has shown her work in several juried group exhibitions. Together with artist Iva Valentić, she founded the Pictogram Art Organisation in 2020, with the aim of creating handmade art books. They jointly exhibited several such cycles, entitled Pictobooks.

Ostali naslovi autora/ice

Red Pigeons


The plot of this novel begins with the female narrator’s arrival on an unnamed Mediterranean island. She has inherited a house in an almost abandoned village and comes to see it; it is a good reason to get away from her daily struggles for a while. The landscape around her is nostalgically idyllic: crumbling stone houses, wild capers, homemade cheese, sunshine and wind. Everything suggests that there, at a distance from people, precarious jobs and urban routine, she’ll find a space for introspection, for facing her past, her desires and hopes. Along with the house, however, the narrator inherited a dovecot with a flock of pigeons bred by her deceased cousin, Toni. When she decides to release them from their prison, she has no idea that these homing birds will soon return to her along with six peculiar guests – Toni’s old friends. They organize a memorial party for him, and during three consecutive evenings they relate fragments of their shared past. Were they an international theater troupe that wandered the Mediterranean small towns in the seventies, or active participants in the political turmoil of the age of lead – it is difficult for the heroine to decide. At the end of the party, before they go away, the strange guests explain the true nature of her newly acquired inheritance: along with the house, she gets the obligation to tell their story, a story she did not fully grasp. And that’s where the Mediterranean idyll comes to an end: it will be replaced by a research into international terrorism in the 1970s, a personal revolt against the clash of wealth and poverty at that time and in the present, growing compassion for non-human living world and growing anger provoked by deadly business practices, cyber-subversions,  anger, fear and escape. To the fragments of her guests’ stories the heroine will react creating her own, a story that she will – when the storm she provoked subsides – almost unintentionally leave as a legacy to the new generation.

Letters for Everyone


This playful and cheerful book is perfect for those learning to read as well as for those who are helping them in this endeavor. Every of thirty very short stories – in which numerous characters, both human and animal, appear – is dominated by one single letter. This letter can be searched for, with ears or eyes, and every story can be continued. This unique spelling book invites the reader to play whereby it turns gaining reading habits into an easy and fun project.

Sketch for a Heroine


As a poet of proven skills, Sanja Lovrenčić sketches a mysterious heroine. Who is she? After reading, it is up to us to conclude. Or to let her continue to take shape within us for a long time. For, this collection of poems counts on the cooperation of a careful watcher and listener, a curious reader sensitive to language and its beyond. Sanja Lovrenčić invites us on an adventurous poetic journey through the poems/episodes of a very special, never fully expressible or sharply drawn protagonist, with whose joys, doubts, insights and resignations we easily empathise. (Dorta Jagić, ed.)

Longlisted for the Kamov Award 2021

Marija in Cities


Marija in Cities belongs to the series of Sanja Lovrenčić’s picture books about Croatian visual artists; this one is about the well-known photographer Marija Braut. The story about her is told from the viewpoint of her inseparable companion, the analogue camera, which directly and simply reports on their shared travels and work, the motifs of Marija’s photography, and her feeling for people and spaces, which the camera sometimes shared with the artist, and at other times just longed for calm scenes that are easier to capture. This is a lyrically intoned, very subtle depiction of the artist’s life and work, filled with a vestige of nostalgia for the great age of analogue photography, but also with hope in its preservation. In addition, the author offers the young readers an easy-to-understand introduction to the basics of this art technique.(Adrian Pelc, ed)


Book #4896

Crazy House


A child with a “slow parachute” jumps from the roof of his building and describes the balconies next to which she/he flies. She/he then climbs the stairs and informs us about the interior of the apartments and their occupants. Each of the tenants is unique in their own way: someone is obsessed with English breakfast, someone sleeps in a cage because he is convinced he turns into a bird during the night, someone lives in an elevator with a pet snake, someone makes mechanical animals, someone builds walls and someone tears them down…

Descriptions of the occupants of the crazy house are fanciful, vivid and amusing; the text also contains a discreet educational point: regardless of the harmless “madness” of each of the tenants, in general they respect each other, and all together form a harmonious whole. The “crazy house” thus becomes a symbol of possible coexistence, of individual freedom embedded in the community.

To the easy playfulness of the text corresponds the artistic style of the illustrator Venda Vernić, offers the young reader a kind of gallery through which one can move in two directions, up and down, finding on every page a visual surprise.


Book #3707

Notes on the House, Notes from Absence


The text of these Notes flows like a mountain stream or breeze: it describes scenes from writers’ residences in which the author stayed for a little over a year, and the reflections associated with these places make up the bulk of the book. These are notes about the journey, woven with the subtle skill of a top connoisseur of language and working with words. Atmosphere, associations and images are innumerable; thoughts, questions – we recognize them all, we ask ourselves all that. But here and there, as when the folds of a fabric are separated by a gust of wind, readers see that this is not all: from the notes made between the trips they catch hints of the horizon of harsh and stupid reality that led the author to go on the road again and again. “You cover reality with a veil and you see better,” she writes in this book. Traveling with clear thoughts and open eyes, Sanja Lovrenčić covers and reveals reality with a unique fabric woven of words. (Iva Valentić, ed.)

The Fly in the Atelier of Ivan Kožarić


How to introduce children to the world of a famous conceptual artist? The author of the text chose a character from the artist’s notebook, a little fly. Accidentally it enters the atelier – where all objects are wrapped in paper (the situation taken from real life). One by one they unwrap themselves for the little fly, telling and singing their stories. The illustrator creates the magical space of the atelier with highly original inventiveness, masterfully inserting citations of Kožarić’s works.


Book #3419

Six Walks of Slava Raškaj


This picture-book is the first within a series with which Mala zvona introduces works of great Croatian visual artists to children. The famous Croatian impressionist painter S. Raškaj was deaf – and very sensitive to nature. Therefore, the writer of this picture book chose to represent her life and work in six walks with easel in different surroundings: the garden of her childhood, parks in the city where she learned to paint, winter woods and summer meadows where she made her best pictures. The illustrator did not copy the style of watercolors made by S. Raškaj, but gave the adequate transparence and lightness to his own.


Book #3338



May Bug and Paper Boat


As a paper boat is floating carelessly on a city fountain, it is suddenly stirred by something that fell into it. The intruder turns out to be a cockchafer that couldn’t learn to fly. The two gentle creatures – the little boat that could so easily sink and the little bug that doesn’t fly – very quickly become inseparable friends. While floating on the fountain, they protect each other from little dangers and explore their surroundings that seem marvelous to them: balloons fly over their heads, people come to the fountain to toss coins into it and dream of luck, fireflies come to light up the night. And when real peril arises, it turns out that the little boat and the cockchafer have, along their way, already made friends who are ardent to save them. Sanja Lovrenčić thus creates a lyrical story about fragileness and the magic that resides in the world’s details which is accompanied by aquarelle illustrations of an almost minimalist quality by Mingsheng Pi.


Book #3334

Zagreb through the Lens of Petar Gunjača


In the legacy of Petar Gunjača (1924-2017), former employee in a furniture factory, known as photographer only to fans and collectors of photo equipment, were found several thousand photos, among them numerous shots of Zagreb from the 1960s and 1970s. Sometimes accidentally captured street scenes, sometimes persistent shooting of a same motive, sometimes deftly captured sport movement, suggestively evoke various urban atmospheres. Leading a kind of parallel life behind the lens, Petar Gunjača offers an impressive photographic opus and an interesting historical document. Inspired by Gunjača’s photos, the text writer Sanja Lovrenčić articulated her vision of the town in thirteen short prose fragments, intertwined with the story of the photographer’s life.


Book #3359

The Cabinet for Sentimental Trivial Literature


Shortlisted for the Predrag Matvejević Award 2021, longlisted for the Fric Award 2019 Sanja Lovrenčić’s books draw into her net a reader who is ready for adventure, for whom reading is not merely following a linear plot and a pastime, but recognition and acceptance of a game that, when joined, becomes infinitely meaningful, subtle and even fun. Her new novel, entitled Cabinet for Sentimental Trivial Literature, in which is its set, but which is also an indicative determinant of what will be told, is certainly one of the “more readable” of her novels, i.e. one in which there are no traps for readers, unless they themselves want to fall into them. Also, as is often the case with this author, its structure is built somewhat conceptually, by changing the epistolary form, which makes up the main flow of narration, with inserted stories that form a rounded and meaningful whole it. There has been a crisis in the Cabinet, which is a kind of small, private and non-profit museum that houses the legacy of “sentimental and trivial literature”. The curator, who writes letters to the late founder Rosa, realizes that not only does the Cabinet need a “cash injection”, but also a new guardian to replace him. Since this is not just an ordinary job but also has a specific emotional and, of course, sentimental value, neither is easy to perform, and a job advertisement that includes one of the key sentences of the novel: “Your story is more important to us than your qualifications”, will further complicate matters. (…) Ten candidates apply to the ad that had inadvertently implied that candidates should also be writers, and they bring with them stories about their professional and private lives, sometimes completely bizarre, but also stories that make up an integral part of the novel. While the curator, who is becoming more and more desperate and sceptical, fills letters to Rosa with fragments from his own and the Cabinet’s everyday life, as well as those concerning the past, origin and meaning of her and his museum, an unusual and “soft” legacy that seems to have been run-over by a time of different imperatives  and priorities, the candidates succeed one another before him, with their experiences, but above all with the stories they enclose, enabling the novel to emerge from the closed space of the Cabinet into the outside, towards modernity and its peculiarities and problems. This “opening” – placed in stories within the story – subtly positions the novel towards recent reality, because it indirectly deals with the themes of art and artistic activism, social responsibility, commercialization and the entry of capital into unprofitable spheres of human activity, feminism. science and technology, but also love, which is one of the shared motives and concerns both interpersonal relationships and the preservation of some past values. (Jagna Pogačnik)

Zagreb Childhood in the Sixties


Sanja Lovrenčić wrote the book of prose fragments entitled Zagreb Childhood in the Sixties while she was working on the translation of Walter Benjamin’s autobiographical Berlin Childhood around 1900,and her writing is therefore marked by an interesting duality. Zagreb Childhood functions as an autobiographical discourse and deals with the elements typical for that genre: introspection, sketches of the chosen period, a fine nostalgia for childhood, which an adult can reach only as a selection of fragments that can never be made into a coherent whole; those elements could be labelled as personal and local. On the other hand, however, the book is a response to a literary text, a reaction not to a childhood or a social change, but to a certain type of writing. This leads to a completely different set of ideas, that we might call inherently literary – intertextuality, the fictionalization of the self, the use of poetic language and lyrical fragments that simultaneously connote and transcend personal experience. Thus Zagreb Childhood combines two elements that are necessary to make a quality literature: inclusion in the local context, as well as its constant dissolution – both intimacy and universality.

Hanging Sheep-stealers, a novel


In this book of stories – with a subtitle: a novel – the author is playing with the science fiction genre, but hanging sheep-stealers is not a genre literature in the narrower sense of the term. Each of twenty texts of the book has a different narrative structure and is related to some problem of contemporary world, pushing chosen topics to possible or impossible extremes. So the obsession with eternal youth leads to the production of GMO people with a gene of snake, who change their skin every year but lose part of their memories in the process; the sudden loss of rare earth elements causes a major technological drawback; a solution for the recycling of plastic waste is achieved by the creation of copyrighted plastic-eating mutants; the idea of general participation in political power (“five minutes of power to everybody”) manifests itself as a travelling parliament-carousel with eight politically correct entrances; in the defrosted Arctic there is a war going on for the resources made attainable by the global warming etc.

All the stories are connected by the environment, a single imaginary world of not-too-distant future, but each has its separate setting and characters, with their interests, perceptions and – what is especially important – voices. The stories are often told through monologues and dialogues, from a somewhat distorted subjective perspective that constantly leaves open possibilities of another interpretation of things.

Out of the Atelier


New poetry collection by Sanja Lovrenčić.


still life: frozen begonias

brush captures the moment:
the stem still looks solid
ice in its heart makes it
apparently alive
while the sun is shining fervently
upon deep-frozen world

you see in the background:
someone left open
the veranda door
in the coldest night

malicious master painter in the picture
on a piece of auxiliary something
delivery box perhaps in which arrived
everything that’s crammed in the corner
is painting the rotting the gray the weary
plants as they will be
in only a few hours –

but not yet

Searching for Ivana


A biographical novel by Sanja Lovrenčić about the Croatian author Ivana Brlić Mažuranić. Written in the first-person singular, the story develops on two levels, in the past and in the present, unfolding around the changing and yet unchanging topics of family relations, artistic creation and female existence in the world of literature.

“K.Š.Gjalski” Award for the best Croatian novel in 2007.