The Eighth Comissioner

Znanje, 2016, 216 pages

30-pages excerpt available in English

Translations: France (Gaia Editions), Germany (Dittrich Verlag), Slovenia (Mladinska knjiga), Macedonia (Kultura), Serbia (Rende), Ukraine (Folio)

INALCO Institute in Paris Readers’ Prize
Shortlisted for the Littératures Européenes Festival Award in Cognac
National Awards: Kiklop, August Senoa, Ivan Goran Kovacic, Vladimir Nazor, Ksaver Sandor Gjalski
Bestseller in Croatia with a successful movie adaptation that is now Croatian candidate for OSCAR in Best Foreign Language Category

The Eighth Comissioner takes us on a comical, intelligent and passionate dissection of an utopia, Mediterranean style.

Siniša is an ambitious politician who gets involved in a scandal. In order to keep him away from the public eye, the government sends him to Trećić, an isolated Croatian island with no telephone or internet signal. Even worse, Siniša doesn’t speak the dialect. There, he is put in charge of organizing the local elections – a task that seven commissioners before him failed to accomplish.

Baretic manages to give a thriller-like rhythm to a social satire, rendering it poetic and even erotic by infusing it with convincing emotion and adding the extra ingredient of linguistic ingenuity. Mixing the artificial ‘standard’ language of Tonino – the novel’s own Sancho Panza, with the almost-unintelligible language of the islanders, a blend of heavy Italian and English brought by the returned expats, the novel is a real reading pleasure.

The Eigthth Commissioner is a unique novel in Croatian literature for having been awarded all five major national prizes (Kiklop, August Senoa, Ivan Goran Kovacic, Vladimir Nazor, Ksaver Sandor Gjalski), earning the status of a modern classic. Thanks to numerous reprints, for six years since the first publication it remained on the lists of Croatian bestsellers. The novel has been translated into French, German, Slovenian, Macedonian and Ukrainian, with additional two editions in Serbia.

In 2017 the novel was shortlisted for the Littératures Européenes Festival Award in Cognac, France, winning the readers’ prize at the INALCO Institute in Paris. Only in Croatia is sold in more than 20.000 copies, which is a lot for such a small country. In early 2018, the movie adaptation premiered at the cinemas, with unseen success for a national production.

Everyone is unanimous in applauding Baretic’s mastery of language and style, as a linguistic homo ludens whose rules of the game don’t fall heavy on the reader, but in fact bring about tears of laughter. I too would like to add to the overarching compliments on the language and style, but what makes me personally fall in love with this novel is his seventh level of play: introducing a touch of poetry without disturbing the equilibrium.

Predrag Matvejević | author of The Mediterranean Breviary, translated into 20 languages

The Eighth Commisioner shows us how nothing is the way we think it is.

Glas Istre

Baretić introduces a whole new meta-level of the text itself.

Meet The Author