Few publications in Southeast Europe can boast a following of 150.000 readers every month. Balkanwriters.com can: it is an internet magazine that publishes works by Balkan writers, and also the works of foreign authors translated into Balkan languages. When the e-zine was launched in November 2005, it had 3,500 readers; today, the magazine is read by some 150,000 people each month.
Creator, founder and editor-in-chief of Balkanwriters.com Dušan Gojkov says that the e-zine differs from other similar internet sites and blogs insomuch as the pieces are selected by the magazine's editors: "Otherwise, Balkanwriters.com is a classic literary magazine, the only difference being that it is not published in print. The advantage of the internet is that our magazine reaches a much bigger audience”.
"The majority of works that we publish are ordered from the authors, who write for free." Gojkov told Southeast Europe: People and Culture. He said that anyone can write for or to the magazine but that the editors chose what gets published.
The site's regular contributors include Dijana Matković, a journalist for the Ljubljana Dnevnik newspaper, Croatian writer and former Yugoslavia navy officer Dražan Gunjača, who has written several novels on the breakup of the former Yugoslavia ("The Rape of Reason," "Good Night Friends," "Seven Days of Solitude").
Jovica Aćin, a novelist and writer of essays from Belgrade, also writes pieces for the magazine. Aćin is the author of "Who Wants to Love, Must Die," "A Small Dictionary of Eroticism," "The Diary of an Outcast Soul," "I Read It In Your Eyes." Sarajevo poet Ferida Duraković, the recipient of several literary awards for her poems, including the Bosnia-Herzegovina Literary Youth Award, and awards from the Fund for Free Expression USA and Vasyl Stus Freedom Award handed out by the New England PEN Center, is another contributor.
Musicologist Jasna Ristovski is a music critic for the magazine and a former radio show host at Radio Belgrade. Jelena Bogavac, a dramaturg with the Belgrade BITEF theater, is also a regular contributor.
The magazine is independently financed, although Gojkov says that attempts to receive some funding from the states in the region had not been successful so far. "The Balkans are a unique cultural area, books circulate and find their way to readers in all the countries in the region, but mostly due to the effort of individuals, since true cooperation on the state level does not exist," Gojkov explains. "We have also applied for funding from the ministries of culture of Croatia, Macedonia, Greece, Romania and other Balkan states, but apparently there is little interest in the existence of a magazine that represents Balkan literature," Gojkov says.
Balkanwriters.com collaborates with writers from Europe, the U.S., Africa, Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and Australia in addition to writers from the Balkans. Our magazine also publishes works by writers who are not from the Balkans, but have the Balkan sensibility," Gojkov said.
Writer Vesna Denčić, who edits the magazine's satire section, works alongside Dušan Gojkov in the magazine's Belgrade office. In Croatia, the magazine's office is run by poet Elfrida Matuc Mahulja, while Marlena Iloska runs the magazine's branch in Macedonia, Ksenija Marković heads the magazine's office in Bulgaria, Suada Hadžibrahimić in Montenegro, and Željko Perović in Slovenia.
The magazine has an editor for Australia and the Pacific too, Daniela Kambašković Sawers, a journalist, translator and poet. The magazine also features works by Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, French novelist Elvira Jean-Jacques Maurouard, Polish poet Ewa Lipska, and young Australian poet Vivian Yue, along with works by Belgrade actress and writer Eva Ras.
Dussan Gojkov was born in Belgrade in 1965. He is the author of several books including a collection of short stories called "Grand Hotel," aired by Radio Belgrade and published in several literary magazines, followed by four different anthologies. His novel, "The Stowaway," was nominated for the 1994 NIN award. He is also the author of "Europe is Dancing," a book of radiophonic essays, and a selection of essays, "Une nuit (un jour) d'une vie." He has also directed over 250 radio dramas, 30 television documentaries, acted in the theater, on TV, in movies, written theater music, and also reported for the Yugoslav press and broadcasters in 37 countries.
His other works include the novels: "Platitudes," "A Photo Album," and "Writing on the Water."
Gojkov was awarded the Dimitrije Mitrinović Prize for 2008 for creating Balkanwriters.com. The award is given each year by the Ars Longa Fund for Preserving the Fine Arts for exceptional contributions to Serbian culture.