Robert Perišić, prominent Croatian poet, writer and journalist, was born in 1969 in Split, Croatia. He took his BA in Croatian language and literature at Philosophical Faculty in Zagreb. He was editor of the cultural magazines Godine, and Godine nove based in Zagreb. His criticism and essays were published in Feral Tribune and Playboy magazines. Currently, he publishes a literary column in the Globus weekly. He lives in Zagreb and works as a freelance writer.
Perišić's books are authentic portrayals of society in transformation and its (anti)heroes. His bestselling novel, Naš čovjek na terenu (Our Man in Iraq), received the prestigious literary award Jutarnji list. The German edition of the novel (Unser Mann vor Ort) received the Literaturpreis der Steiermärkischen Sparkasse 2011 in Graz, Austria. The English edition of the novel was published in 2012, and in 2013 the US edition was released.
Robert Perišić's poetry was from the start marked by his self-assurance in his goal. His aim was immediately recognized in literary criticism as an attempt to immerse himself in the perennial margin of modern culture and literature, inhabited by diverse outcasts of the day and their fellow travelers, and to simultaneously chart new territory for his writing. The voice of his early poems was vibrant and brash, fully aware of the dark times in the 1990s, when a new generation was forcing their way into Croatian poetry. With his crisp and ironic style Perišić reflects a dilemma of his generation: how to stay on the margins, to be authentic in your opposition to the establishment, and at the same time to stake a claim and win your place in the society that was rapidly transforming before your eyes.
In his first book of poetry, Dvorac Amerika (Castle America), with tongue-in-cheek reference to Franz Kafka's canonical work of modern literature, Perišić describes the urban sensitivity of his generation by recourse to the visual language of pop and mass media, movies and video clips and graphic novels. Beaches and summer resorts in Dalmatia, a Croatian seaside region and Perišić's homeland, were turned into scorched landscapes and desolate towns from imaginary Latin countries. These places were peopled with vivid and original characters rarely seen in Croatian poetry: desperados, adventures, loners, and all kinds of figures from the bottom of society.
Perišić was praised by literary critics for the clear narrative and objective, matter-of-fact standpoint in many of his poems, which is to say for his strong tendency to avoid what was deemed an old-fashioned, emotional and romantic style. But that is just one side of his poetry. In his second book of poems, Jednom kasnije (Sometime Later), written as a second part or a long appendix to his first book, Perišić often uses the first person to articulate and describe the same bleakness and detachment that defined his fictitious, and postmodern poetic realms. It is as though an image of a lone, cynical gunman has become inseparable from the familiar, everyday man on a bus trip to the coast, after the many years he has spent in the big town. We can recognize him from the first verse, and can even identify with him, because we know all too well that his road will lead him to nowhere. Maybe that is why we will read his poems again.
Dvorac Amerika (Castle America), SC Press, Zagreb, 1995
Jednom kasnije (Sometime Later), Sandorf, Zagreb, 2012
Možeš pljunuti onoga tko bude pitao za nas (You Can Spit On the One Who’ll Ask For Us), short stories, Konzor, Zagreb, 1999
Užas i veliki troškovi (Horror and Huge Expenses), short stories, Ghetaldus optika, Zagreb, 2002
Nema boga u Susedgradu (No God in Susedgrad) short stories, Lom, Beograd, 2006
Naš čovjek na terenu, novel, Profil, Zagreb, 2007. German edition: Unser Mann vor Ort, trans. Klaus Detlef Olof Leykam Buchverlag, Graz, 201. Italian edition: Il nostro uomo sul campo, trans. Elvira Mujčić, Zadonai, Roverto, 2012. UK edition: Our Man in Iraq, trans. Will Firth, with a foreword by Tim Judah, Istros Books, London, 2012. US edition: Our Man in Iraq, trans. Will Firth, Black Balloon Publishing, New York, 2013
Uvod u smiješni ples (Introduction to the Funny Dance), autobiographical prose, Profil, Zagreb 2011
Kultura u predgrađu (Culture in Suburb), black comedy (2000/2002 in City Drama Theatre Gavella, Zagreb)
100 minuta Slave (100 Minutes of Glory), screen-play for the feature movie, director: Dalibor Matanić, 2004
Perišić's profile at Time Out Croatia
The US publisher page for Our Man in Iraq
Tim Judah on Our Man in Iraq
Perišić's author page on CriticalMass
J A Hopkin on Our Man in Iraq
The homepage of Istros Books, Perišić's UK publisher