top of page
Poster of Zagreb Book Festival cointaining pictures of faces from different ages, backgrounds and ethnicities.

Zagreb Book Festival 



Date: 24 - 28 May 2021. 

Location: Urania (Trg Eugena Kvaternika 3/3, Zagreb) / LIVE STREAM.


Zagreb Book Festival is an annual literary event in the Croatian capital. After six successful editions, Zagreb Book Festival has become an unavoidable place on the cultural and literary map of Zagreb. The seventh edition of ZBF was held under the title "I WANT YOUR STORY", featuring several events powered by Every Story Matters and focussing on the importance of diversity & inclusion throughout its entire programme. 

Monday 24th of May, 20h (CET)

Interview with Jul Maroh & Helena Puljiz

Jul Maroh is the author of the world-famous graphic novel "Adele's Life" that inspired the award-winning film 'Blue is the warmest colour'.  Croatian journalist Helena Puljiz talks to them about their work, life, identity issues, openness and stiffness of communities, the role of books in their life, and literature that reaches its full potential only when it is inclusive.

Tuesday 25th of May, 17h (CET)

Interview with Olja Savičević Ivančević and Mirna Brođanac

The Croatian participant in the Every Story Matters Talent Development programme, Mirna, and her mentor, Olja, have a rich and touching conversation on their work.

Tuesday 25th of May, 17h (CET)

Panel discussion: Books as Mirrors & Windows of the World

Our society is getting more diverse. One of the most amazing and powerful effects literature has on its readers is initializing the process of identification and empathy - tools we need in order to accept and learn from ourselves and others. Boris Jokić, Dubravka Zima and Yannick Geens start the conversation, moderated by Korana Serdarević.


Zagreb Book Festival is conceptualized as an annual literary event with the aim of encouraging reading and critical thinking. The long-term goal of ZBF is to strengthen all segments in the literary sector; from the authors themselves to the readers as end-users of books.

After six successful editions, Zagreb Book Festival has become an unavoidable place on the cultural and literary map of Zagreb. The seventh edition of ZBF will be held under the title "I WANT YOUR STORY".

A prerequisite for the perception of ourselves, the world, relationships, and the environment, is the story we tell about ourselves, both to others and to ourselves. Our worldviews, our stories, largely grow out of our negative and positive experiences and prejudices. We harmonize thinking, acting, taking a position, and even exclusion from society with our story in order to preserve our identity. As much as prejudices are harmful and limit our openness to the world and the admission of new experiences, we cannot avoid them because they serve as coordinates for movements within social conventions. They arise in the earliest childhood and follow us throughout life.

Literature itself, in its essence, exposes stereotypes and gives us an immediate possibility of identification with others, opens a space in which we do not feel threatened and within which we can replace images of stereotypes with images of literary heroes, images of people. It is more than anything other able to reshape the reader’s understanding of himself and the world thereby reciprocating his social behavior and self-awareness. Literature gives us a framework in which we can see a more complete picture of human experience and historical events make us more empathetic and far-sighted in order to be open to new experiences.

We will reflect upon this universal topic through fifteen events, panel discussions, stage interviews, and workshops where we will host important Croatian and foreign writers, scientists, and journalists. 


This year as a part of Zagreb Book Festival, several very interesting literary events will be organized by the Every Story Matters project. Boris Jokić (psychologist) Dubravka Zima (professor of Children’s literature at Univesity of Zagreb), Korana Serdarević (novelist and teacher), and Yannick Geens (representative of the project leader) will participate in the panel discussion Books as Mirrors and Windows to the World.


Our society is getting more diverse with every passing day. Understanding self and others in such a world can often be challenging. One of the most amazing and powerful effects literature has on its readers is initializing the process of identification and empathy - tools we need in order to accept and learn from ourselves and others. Apart from the beauty and power of the text itself, what will remain as a memory of the book we read is dependent on how we feel while reading it, how much of ourselves we were able to recognize ourselves in it. Assuming that inclusive literature, which allows every child literary hero/heroine similar to himself/herself, is often the most important prerequisite for children to love books, one would easily conclude that inclusivity in literature is a given fact. But is that really so?  What about stereotypes in literature for kids and youth? What should the role of the educational system be in this matter? What about required reading in schools? Publishers? Civil society? How to expand the scope of literature in this age of modern technologies? Stay tuned to hear about this and much more from our panelists. Besides the mentioned panel discussion the public will be offered to participate in a stage interview with one of the project's ambassadors, as well as in a very warm, intimate, and extraordinary talk between a mentor and a young talent who have been working together, as a part of the project, with the aim of creating an inclusive story.

Last, but not least, during the festival, there will be three interactive zoom workshops organized for high-school and university students. During adolescence, when young people go through a turbulent period of life, art and thus film and literature can be crucial for the successful establishment of their own identity, for accepting themselves and then others, for building a better, more inclusive community. Some young people remain on the margins of society, are excommunicated due to stereotypical labels, and have even more difficult times going through what might be the most sensitive times of their lives. What we can do, through both educational system and culture, is to encourage young people to express themselves and to think outside the inherited and imposed stereotypes passed down to them within their own communities. Our ambassadors will accordingly participate in these workshops.

All events will be held in the so-called “hybrid version” meaning they will be both physical and online events. The live stream will be available on the YouTube channel of Every Story Matters and Instagram and Facebook pages of the Zagreb Book Festival. Simultaneous translation of events will make them available for international audiences.



Picture of Jul Maroh

Jul Maroh comes from northern France. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in applied arts at the E.S.A.A.T in Roubaix, they continued their studies in Brussels, where they lived for eight years. There they received two degrees, for fine arts (comics option) at the École supérieure des arts Saint-Luc and for lithography / engraving at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.

Why every story matters? I can perfectly remember the sensation that overwhelmed me when I started reading literature or stories with the unordinary characters. The emotions irradiated all over my body, filled with relief and joy, suddenly finding the stories that mirrored me, where I could identify myself and recognize my own humanity. My loneliness and my doubts suddenly vanished. I became extremely impatient: eager to read the following pages. These sensations can save lives. When you discover that what you are, what you desire and what you dream of is not what your environment or the society expect from you, the consequences can be terrible. The literature and the narrative media such as cinema, contemporary art, photography and even music are at hand to connect us with the world and with our own intrinsic nature. Through the stories, as the emotions evolve and awaken within us, we recognize the humanity and the vulnerability of others. We recognize our own interiority.’

Picture of Ivana Bodrožić.

Ivana Bodrožić, born in Vukovar in 1982. She studied at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, where she has lived since then. In 2005, she published her first poetry collection entitled Prvi korak u tamu (The First Step into Darkness) as part of the Goran Award for young poets. Her poems have been included in numerous Croatian and international magazines and anthologies of contemporary poetry. Her first novel Hotel Zagorje (Hotel Tito) was published in 2010, receiving high praises from both critics and audiences and was an ultimate Croatian bestseller. The novel has been published at numerous respectful publishing houses and received a prestigious Prix Ulysse for the best debut novel in France, as well as numerous important awards in Croatia and the Balkan area. She has since published her second poetry collection, short story collection and two novels. Her works have been translated into English, German, French, Czech, Danish, Slovenian, Hungarian, Spanish, Italian and Macedonian.

‘What is inclusive literature to me? Thinking about this term which seems a bit like it was made halfway between the Department of Comparative Literature and Brussels, I feel a need to translate it into a known experience and language. Without a hint of sentimentalism I can only say: in my youth, literature saved me. Although, I used to only read, enjoy masterfully crafted tales, conquer language and experiences, receive gifts from other dimensions which gave me hope that there is more than here and now. On occasion I encountered the likes of me. In my early twenties I discovered writers who wrote about their traumatic experiences after World War II, wordsmiths like Primo Levi, Marguerite Duras, Ilija Jakovljević, Imre Kertész. Before them, before, I wasn’t even aware that this is possible and allowed, I wasn’t acquainted with the fact that my experience is the experience of many, an experience important and valuable enough to be turned into a novel, that writing heals, not only the reader, but also the writer’s soul. I was enthused and shocked, wherever I went I carried books in which I found myself, reading and awing, all until one day – because of them – I emboldened enough to write, hoping others would identify with my book. Perhaps at first glance inclusive literature doesn’t seem like a life-saving thing, but if you delve deep beneath the term, you will find everything you, the way you are, weren’t entitled to in the so-called real life. Once you immerse yourself in such a book, it escapes paper, the language becomes fluid and relates to the most profound human experience. That is why, as Aristotle says, art is realer that truth. It tells us everything that can be. A combination of your lived experiences and something new each book brings guarantees ongoing growth. And growth is not possible without including everyone, otherwise we stand still or fade.’

Picture of Olja Savičević

Olja Savičević is a writer and poet from Split. She is the author of poetry collections It will be terrible when I grow up (1988), Eternal Children (1993), Women's Letter (1999), Puzzlerojc (2005), House Rules (2007), Mamasafari (and other things) (2012 .); the story books Laugh at the Dog (2006) and the novels Adio the Cowboy (2010) and The Singer in the Night (2016). For the manuscript Laughing Dog, she was awarded Prozac, she won the first prize of Ranko Marinković Večernji list for a short story and the Cyclops award for the best collection of poetry House Rules. The novel Adio kauboju was awarded the T-portal award for the best novel, as well as the Slobodna Dalmacija award for art by Jure Kaštelan. A play was also made based on the novel. It has been included in domestic and foreign elections and anthologies. She is the recipient of the International Writing Scholarship International Writing Program at the University of Iowa and the Istanbul Scholarship of the European Literature Promotion Network Traduki.

‘Let us try to picture the willpower needed to write a novel with one finger, how strong the only dark-skinned boy in the class has to be, or when your name and origin are unique and some think they’re wrong, when you grow up in other people’s clothes and desirous of everything, when being in love is an everyday struggle and you remind us of the power of love, when your body isn’t exactly yours, but it’s unique and beautiful, or when you’re only a woman in a world tailor-made to suit men’s needs. These stories are what we need to remind us who we are, what really matters and who we could be, the experiences inspiring and encouraging us, fixing our weak points, teaching us a lot about the preciousness of life and mutual relationships. Thinking about others is true self-respect and a precondition for gentility and understanding of nature, animals, the world in its totality.’ith books that offer a true insight into the world that grows and billows from the amount of different voices.’

Picture of Korana Serdarević.

Korana Serdarević is a writer and high school teacher, was born in 1982 in Zadar. For her short stories she won a low award (twice first prize Ranko Marinković, award Zlatko Tomičić, regional award Ticket), the first collection of short stories Nothing to do awarded was stimulated for the best literary year of the Ministry of Culture. Some short stories have been translated into English, German, Italian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Romanian and Ukrainian, and the entire collection has been translated into Macedonian. In December 2017, she published Irene Toth’s Roman Experiment, which found its way to the finals of Tportal’s      election for the Novel of the year.

‘Literature in education was for a long period burdened by compulsory outcomes, based on canonical lists and canonical interpretations. Since the canon consists of works written by dead white men, an interpretation of such a list hardly opens room for inclusion, and the ‘windows to the world’ such a list cracks open is inevitably reduced to the boundaries of a well-known area. Understanding the literary world, inevitably built on the foundations of the real world, experienced and thought through, includes recognising and interpreting the author’s experience. The authors hailing from the same social stratum undoubtedly offer different personal tales, but fail to offer a chance to comprehend different cultures, distant experiences, identities. Uncontested importance of the value of text as a work of art aside, the right of those different from the most on our reading list is to join their experience of the world to young people’s reading experience, to offer a story of their own. Also, the right of every reader being educated is to be provided with books that offer a true insight into the world that grows and billows from the amount of different voices.’

bottom of page