Libar from Marinković to Krleža 

Author: Slavica Ćurković 

“When we found and designed the book prize in 2004, which the profession will award in several categories, we could not have even dreamt about how it would develop and what it would mean during the next ten years to writers, translators, editors, publishers, illustrators, and all those who are concerned with books and literature because they are, simply, readers. It was like that in all seven years of the economic crisis, which had a far greater impact upon the publishing industry than upon any other segment of Croatian culture. But after the annual book production was decimated and after many of the great and famous publishers, almost stopped publishing books or, to survive, they reoriented themselves to translations of easy bestseller literature, Kiklop could not be awarded without violating the original meaning of the award”, as was written in the press release published by the Book Fair(y) Association in Istria in 2015. 

It was more of a cry than an appeal for help to the entire literature industry, which was affected by a series of adversities. From then until this year, which is the most difficult of all, absolutely nothing happened. Kiklop – an award named after the great work of Ranko Marinković – became and remained a part of the history. However, this does not mean that there are no (other) fair awards, and that there is no connection established, for the future, between Pula and Miroslav Krleža, or more precisely awards named after the names he was often referred to. 

For years, fifteen book titles have been competing for the “Libar za vajk” fair award, which includes a sculpture by Mauricio Ferlin, and a sum of money for the author and the publisher of the award-winning work. 

The goal of the “Libar za vajk” award is to encourage exceptional publishing projects and give recognition to the book path starting from authors and publishers, through bookstores and the audience, with reminders of the importance of the book profession and the decisive role of the audience in the life of the book. 

The second Pula award is entitled Dr. Ivo Borovečki and it is awarded to the best reader of the Fair who genuinely likes to read and that has been fond of books throughout his life. This award is granted once a year. The reader gets the sculpture and a gift-card for buying books at the Fair. 

Dr. Borovečki, a distinguished doctor, a specialist in radiology, a polyglot with exceptional knowledge, a friend of the Fair and books in general, was, for many years, an inevitable visitor of all presentations at the Fair.

 The Fric literary prize is awarded every year in January for the best untranslated prose book published in Croatia, from July 1 to June 30 of the previous year. A little earlier, at the end of each Festival of Books and Authors, six finalists present their work in Pula in a special program, thus deepening the collaboration of the Fair with the most widely circulated daily newspaper in Croatia, whose magazines and special editions dedicate more attention to the book than almost all other mainstream media altogether. 

The Fric Award – named after Miroslav Krleža’s nickname – therefore, would not exist without Express magazine and 24hours newspapers, which provided two infrastructurally important things for developing the potential of the award: financial resources and marketing media space. 

“The idea of the award and the jury, which was established as a committee of competent readers who achieved top results in various disciplines, stems from Krleža’s principle to write about the present from the present, wickedly and responsibly, risky, in the way in which the truth is mostly not desirable”, claims Kruno Lokotar, one of the initiators of this award and the only freelance editor in Croatia.