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As far as short story is concerned, there was never any doubt: you should go, just as you should know how to stop (on time)

That old alchemy that turns a comma into a perfect full stop will once again show itself in the texts written by some of today’s most exciting European writers, but the question from the title of this introduction will also mark the programs of this year’s FESS in many other, more serious ways.

What are our homelands (languages, countries, cultures?) to us and should we be/stay faithful to them – stay or go?

As the world marks ten years since the invasion of Iraq, and the quarrels on the legitimacy of the military intervention do not seem to lose momentum – Hassan Blasim, a tremendous Iraqi writer living in Finland, and Rawi Hage, a Canadian and Lebanese – a winner of the prestigious IMPAC Dublin Award, talk about the consequences of the decisions someone else made on their behalf, about their literary and human answers to the decisions that changed the world we live in.

A choice that changes the world locally, in our own backyard – just over a month from turning Croatia into one of EU stars – we will discuss together, in the company of Europeans carrying different experiences – Irish, Spanish, Bulgarian, British… – writers who have a lot to say about this.

But can you really remain somewhere in between? Start then stop, open a story and then close it, loan it from “someone else’s” medium, draw it into your own, and bring it back so that it makes you tickle? This sensitive balance is tested in this year’s edition of FESS by an extraordinaryKarrie Fransman and a group of Croatian comic book authors, in a project that will generate some new comicstories out of “our” stories and “their” comics.

The old dilemma the Clash sang about will be also felt by books – are they going or staying, do we need them, and in what shape and form? European literary stars famed and celebrated among their Croatian audiences – Philippe Claudel, Paolo Giordano, Filip David, Alek Popov, andRawi Hage – will present Croatian editions of their books and they will do so for a myriad of reasons but also so as to (once again) turn this question into a rhetorical one.

If ever there was a moment when while working on this year’s edition of FESS we never once had to ask ourselves – stay or go – it was the one when we chose Wales to be our guest of honor! Deborah Kay Davies, Jon Gower, Owen Martell and Rachel Trezisewill work their short story magic and show you why!

Simply: Mary Costello, Damir Karakaš, Senko Karuza, Ildikó Lovas, Adam Marek,  Denis Peričić, Edo Popović, Keith Ridgway, David Roas, Ivana Simić Bodrožić…each guest of the 12th FESS offers an individual, compelling, vibrant, exceptional, loud and clear answer to the dilemma from the title – YES, WE SHOULD!

Until tonight and until the end of the week, in Zagreb and Varaždin, at the Festival of the European Short Story!

Roman Simić Bodrožić