How to write about reconciliation and not repeat phrases? What is reconciliation? Is it possible without healing – both individually and collectively? What can we as individuals do? “Birds,” and “House in the Forest,” and “Triangle” answer these questions. And not only that. The first three award-winning stories of the fourth edition of Biber convey one different truth, an insight into the thoughts of others. The road to reconciliation is paved with empathy and acceptance.
“In this process, reconciliation is not a strong enough word. Children are reconciling, while healing is needed here, the healing process “- Mariana Canak at the promotion in Novi Sad.
For the fourth time in a row, the literary endeavor of Biber, the Center for Nonviolent Action Sarajevo-Belgrade, is collecting short, engaging stories about reconciliation, dealing with the past, in Albanian, Macedonian, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, and Montenegrin.
“This time, the number of texts received was around 750. The number is growing from year to year,” explains Qerim Ondozi, a member of the Biber team, coordinator for Kosovo, and translator of stories from and into Albanian.
Biber has its momentum in quantitative terms, but not exclusively.
“What is interesting is that now well-known literary names send their works to Biber competitions. Writers who are recognized by the public,” says Ondozi.
Among those names are Vladimir Tabašević, Monika Herceg, Bojan Krivokapić – who won the first prize at the fourth Biber.
“Writers want their works to be translated into other languages. That is important for writers also,” Ondozi said in an interview with KTBP.
“It is important how the text will communicate with the audience of another language,” – said Bojan Krivokapić at the promotion of the collection in Novi Sad.
The possibility of this type of communication gives additional value to the texts in the book collection because the pages of the fourth edition of Biber give us the opportunity to enter the thoughts of others.
“To enter the thoughts of the other, to encourage empathy, to see the so-called enemy crying, that is the acceptance of the other and the path to reconciliation” – Maja Halapir, winner of the third Biber Award, at the promotion of the collection in Novi Sad.
Each page of the latest Biber bears the imprints of the past. And not only that. Fears, thoughts, consequences are identical regardless of which part of the Balkans the writer comes from.
So, what do promotions across the region look like? Because each page is a small experiment of dealing with the past.
“These are more touching conversations, discussions with a lot of emotions. We wonder why we did it to ourselves,”- says Ondozi, who also attended the one in Novi Sad, explaining that reconciliation, personal experiences are discussed at the promotions and that the writers themselves read their texts.
“When you read a text in Serbian, Albanian, Croatian… When you read texts by different writers, in different languages, you see the human in them, you realize that regardless of national identity, religious affiliation, there is something universal – pain and suffering are the same for everyone,” adds Ondozi.
The fourth edition of Biber has 25 stories selected in the competition to be published in this multilingual collection. The members of the jury of this competition were Tatjana Gromača, Anton Berishaj, and Selvedin Avdić. The first three awarded stories are first prize: “Birds” by Bojan Krivokapić from Novi Sad, second prize: “House in the Forest” by Alma Tabak from Sarajevo, third prize: “Triangle” by Maja Halapir from Samobor. In addition to the awarded stories, there are 20 more stories in the collection chosen by the jury and two selected by the organizing team.
You can read the collection below