Vladislav Bajac was born in 1954 in Belgrade, Serbia. He studied Yugoslavian Philology and World Literature at the University of Belgrade and later worked as a journalist. He translated prose and poetry from English into Serbian, including the anthologies »The Poets of the Beat Generation« (1979), »Trip. A Guide to Contemporary American Poetry« (1983), as well as Leonard Cohen’s collection of poems, »The Energy of Slaves« (1981). His own poems were first published in 1972 in »Koji put do ljudi vodi« (tr: Which Way Leads to People). Bajac won the International Itoen Haiku Poetry Contest in Tokyo in 1991 and 1993 for his haiku. He then published short stories, including the collection »Evropa na leđima bika« (tr: Europe on the Bull’s Back) in 1988, for which Bajac won the Serbian Stevan-Pešić-Prize for the best prose work of the year. His first novel »Knjiga o bambusu« (tr: The Book of Bamboo) appeared a year later.
His latest novel, »Hamam Balkanija« (2008), won him the International Literature Prize Balkanika: he is the second Serb to have won this award. The story is set in two different times, the 16th century and today. The characters in the contemporary setting, including Orhan Pamuk, Alberto Manguel, Allen Ginsberg and Bajac himself, encounter historical personages such as the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire, Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, Suleiman the Magnificent, and his son-in-law, the Grand Vizier Rüstem Paşa. Bajac goes beyond the reach of a typical historical novel, however, and his plot acquires a timeless dimension. Written partly in diary form and partly in the form of a historiographical meta-fiction, Bajac’s novel circles the divisions between fiction and reality and past and present. He combines spatial and temporal levels and traces the parallels between the different worlds. Without confining himself to the real biographies of his historical characters, he is free to develop events in historical and contemporary settings. A central theme in the novel is the problem of a multiple identity arising from the background and religion of an individual. The novel also exhibits a multiple structure in its stylistic approach: a classically structured narrative is interwoven with the modern styles of the 20th and 21st centuries. In the original edition one part of the book is printed in Cyrillic script, and the other in the Latin alphabet.
Bajac is Vice-President of the Serbian P.E.N. Centre and is the founder and chairman of Geopoetika Publishing in Belgrade. The author lives in Belgrade.
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