“It is hard for me to single out any of the books I have written because I perceive them all as my children and I love them. But, let’s say that I wrote ‘Pretend You Did Not See This’ with the most passion.”

Hrvoje Šalković about his writing

Short synopsis:

The novel Pretend You Did Not See This owes a lot to on-the-road poetics, the adventure novel tradition, new-age ideologies and hedonistic western rituals of urban daily life in the broadest sense.

Domagoj Krugman, the main character, is a typical loser – he drives rich nerds in a taxi in Melbourne (or any other city in the world) and wastes his life guided by apparently nothing, suffers from a chronic lack of trust in society and a routine life momentum, until Charlie comes into his life, a “cool dude” who takes him on a trip to the West. The only direction their travels have is away from boredom which they actively confront as soon as it emerges.

The energy of this road novel, unrestrained rock rhythms, literary and musical associations, an attitude that life mostly does not make sense if you wait for it to come along, and successful wise subtexts make a mythology of a man’s brave attempts to discover the sleepy selfhood that hides until something gets it started. The miles that are left behind him uncover the miles in front of him. The life philosophy of Šalković’s characters will undoubtedly attract readers and so will the author’s indisputable literary scope.

Praise for Pretend You Did Not See This :

The reader who tackles this novel will not do so from the inferior position of a frustrated loser who rots away in his recliner, reading enviously while others enjoy life. His role is more similar to that of a stowaway who, owing to his incognito status, is not allowed to fully participate in all the pleasures of travel, but is nevertheless a participant having a great time, left wanting more.

Đurđica Čilić Škeljo, hrvatskiplus.org

Pretend You Did Not See This definitely represents something original and, ultimately, welcome, as the road novel, a genre that so heavily relies on pop culture references, has not been a common occurrence in Croatian literature. Šalković admitted to being influenced by the beat generation, which is abundantly clear as his novel forms a certain “blood-brotherhood in the universe” with Kerouac’s On the Road and Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Add that old dirty man Bukowski and a pinch of Bob Dylan to the mix as a sort of constant leitmotif, and the idea Šalković was going for becomes much clearer.

Jagna Pogačnik, Jutarnji list

In sensibility close to the rock, urban population, this novel is a commendation to every detachment from the conventional, routine, boring and the non-ambitious. Irresistible and – therapeutic!

Mirjana Jurišić, Večernji list

Šalković’s road novel or a fairy tale for those who feel nostalgic for the spirit of the sixties.

Davor Šišović, Glas Istre

In a kind of beatnik tourism, the protagonist visits his motherland, Croatia, which has slipped into a primitive sort of capitalism after the war, something Šalković approaches effectively and completely originally compared to other Croatian writers. The numerous aspects of the former regime, Yugoslavia, the war, and transition remain the main and only preoccupation of domestic authors, while Šalković opts for an inventive twist and refreshing withdrawal from the subject, condensing all of that history and tragedy into a single chapter, reinforced with a burlesque counterpoint, which might be a sore spot for some readers.

Igor Gajin, Vijenac

About the author:

Hrvoje Šalković was born in Zagreb in 1973. He obtained a degree in journalism at the Faculty of Political Science, and worked as a sports journalist for some time. After arriving in London to improve his knowledge of English, he stayed in England for three years and enrolled in a postgraduate program at Westminster University, where he graduated in the year 2000. During his London days, Šalković wrote his first stories, which he self published upon his return to Zagreb under the title com.opanci.com.obojci. He has travelled through 116 countries on all seven continents and has published 174 travelogues. When he is not traveling, he lives and works in Zagreb.

Other works: com.opanci.com.obojci, 2002; Fallen Map / Pala karta, 2003; Pretend You Did Not See This / Pravi se da ovo nisi vidio, 2006; Rabbit on the Moon / Zec na mjesecu, 2007; Combination Ltd. / Kombinacija d. o. o.,  2009; Prime Meridian / Nulti meridijan, 2011; We Don’t Accept Elfs / Ne primamo vilenjake, 2013; Waltz against Eintracht / Valcer protiv Eintrachta, 2014

Awards, selection: The Balkan Noir for the best crime novel in 2014

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