Trusted Tales: Creating Authenticity in Literary Representations from Ex-Yugoslavia

Pisac, Andrea. 2010. Trusted Tales: Creating Authenticity in Literary Representations from Ex-Yugoslavia. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This research deals with questions of authority and authenticity and how they are expressed, constructed, and appropriated within the Anglophone book market. It considers the body of literature written about ex-Yugoslavia since the 1990s Balkan conflicts by exiled writers from the region which has entered the international literary canon. Books’ routes from original publishers into English translation are discussed through practices of trust, one of the crucial social devices underpinning their exchange. Within these cross-cultural processes, the role of cultural brokers is crucial. Symbolic and cultural resources are specifically mobilised through their powerful author brands.

By exploring authenticity in the context of book publishing, I further look at how ideas and practices of community are employed and negotiated by writers and those who promote their books. My field is multi-sited and fluid, reflecting how different individual and national positions are enacted and performed through strategies ranging from unconscious dispositions to deliberate intentions. This research thus brings together ideas of the author as an authentic, representative voice together with exile as a position that grants them a new lease of relevancy in the post-socialist context.

Although ex-Yugoslav books occupy a ‘high end’ niche of the UK market, constrained by commercial as well as political, cultural, and institutional forces, in public discourse ideas of the ‘free market’ and ‘free speech’ are mobilised to produce various types of modernisation narratives. The (post)socialist production of literature is perceived as having to ‘evolve’ into a capitalist model: this would allow not only healthy competition and consumer choice but guarantee an individual writer ‘free speech’ as a basic human right. Therefore, the most general question this research raises is what kind of foreign literature gets translated into English, under what socio-cultural conditions and which politics of representation it serves within the project of world literature.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


anthropology, publishing industry, translated literature, world literature, the balkans, ex-yugoslavia, croatia, serbia, trust, free speech, free market of ideas, narratives of entitlement, brand, authority, authorship

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5 October 2010

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

06 Feb 2012 17:40

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:22


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