In an interview with Ooligan Press, Gordan Nuhanović discusses writing The Survival League and his experiences as a Croatian author and journalist:
Gordan Nuhanović: During the 1990s, I worked as a journalist and sometimes also as a war reporter. Back then, there was little value placed on good literature, since the state was at war and people were just starting to become involved in other things besides bare existence. It was only in the late 1990s that the ideas of the young, urban generation began to gain ground, when several writers had their books published. I started to write under somewhat strange circumstances, in the hospital. I ended up there as a result of total exhaustion, working nonstop on the ground in Bosnia and Croatia. While recovering, I started mulling over stories I’d apparently carried around within me for a long time but hadn’t had the time to develop. So I began to separate myself mentally from journalism and look at the world through [a] completely different, more interesting lens.
Which story is your favorite? Why?
I don’t have any specific favorites; I love them all more or less equally, from the “First and Last Punker,” which I wrote in just a few hours, to the more complex, literarily demanding stories such as “Generation of Talented Experts” or “Barefoot Temptation.”
As a punk rocker, did you have problems similar to those of the character in your first story in The Survival League?
It’s true that as a grade-schooler I loved punk rock and British and American New Wave. In the former Yugoslavia, this sound reached us a little later, and it was common for one record to make its rounds in the city from one record player to the next. Technologically speaking, we were in bad shape. I remember specifically one record in a punk rock collection that was so worn out that I could only hear the last song on the album, but I had still been willing to spend my allowance for an entire six months on it. The relationship we had in [the] former Yugoslavia toward punkers was strange; when they showed up in public, otherwise ordinary people became irrationally angry, and it was part of that ambience I tried to capture in my story. I had no problem with the character of my main protagonist because I assumed the identity of the waiter who didn’t really care what happened to him; I’ve met a lot of these kinds of conformists who don’t really hate but always seem to go along with the majority.
What is your favorite band?
When I was a kid, I was crazy about Iggy Pop; he was my favorite and I tried to imitate him, although we had little news or information about him, and photographs were especially precious. I also love the Clash, New York Dolls, Ramones, Larry Martin Factory, Lou Reed, etc.