With his book "The Forgotten Mountain - Montenegro's Mythical Beings" author Milisav Popović has garnered the first prize at the international literary festival "The Lyre of Orpheus" - organised in Sofia and Krumovgrad in November 2008 by the European Academy of Culture.
Before "The Forgotten Mountain," no one in Montenegro dared enter the realm of epic prose. "My book actually does partly belong to that genre - while in another way it is a literary revival of the exotic and almost forgotten world of legends and myths from these parts.
People here believed that epic fantasy was not a very popular genre - something which the majority wouldn't like. However, "The Forgotten Mountain" has proved them wrong. Readers are now hungry for works that carry a scent of local fantasy," says Popović.
The writer believes that things have started for the better and that foreigners are slowly developing a taste for Montenegrin magic. "To them it is exotic and unusual," says Popović, "Yet to me, epic fantasy will always be an orchard where I gladly pass time." Asked about the source of his infatuation with the genre, the writer replies: "I'm not sure where the love comes from, but it was doubtlessly sparked by the Russian, Serbian, Celtic and Norse fairytales I read as a boy... In matters of pleasure, the soul is sometimes bound to childhood - or perhaps preserved by it."
"The Forgotten Mountain - Montenegro's Mythical Beings" is a collection of stories derived from Slavic mythology. There are few written sources to draw on, however, which proved a kind of advantage for Popović, goading him to set his imagination free and create hitherto unknown beings.
"Many of my grandmothers' and grandfathers' stories were crouching in a corner of my soul. It took me a long time to recognize these elements as a good inspirational basis. There are very few people in Montenegro today that could tell you about beings we created centuries ago," Popović says. "You know, to see a large meadow and have the possibility of dotting it with a multitude of wildflowers is simply a challenge to anyone to be as creative as possible, or at least try to do so."
And so Popović wrote about daemons, fairies and other unusual creatures that bear colourful names: Valgori, Starpanji, Zduva?i, Uzsrdi, Zagrivuk, Jaudi, Trokloci, Kletnici, Moreni, Usoljenici, Svarog... The book's popularity was quick to spread via internet forums, where its fans lauded their favourite work of fantasy. The campaign-like movement began right after the book was published in June 2008, and gained significant momentum after Popović received his international award. During this time, copies of "The Forgotten Mountain" were hard to find in Montenegrin bookstores.
The work's popularity was confirmed in February 2009, when the audiences of Montenegro's radio and television station ATLAS voted "The Forgotten Mountain" the best book in 2008.
All this success has had added benefits for Milisav Popović, including an invitation to contribute to the prestigious American magazine "National Geographic." Thus, the special "National Geographic Traveler - 50 Places of a Lifetime" edition, traditionally published every ten years, which was released in October 2009, featured an article on Montenegro penned by Popović.
Motifs from the novel have been entered into the Encyclopedia of World Mythology (Paris 2009).