Looking for the perfect souvenir from your travels to a foreign land? Consider a book penned by a local author. And, unless you’re proficient in the language or have a really good dictionary, look for a translated edition. 😉
On my recent trip to Croatia I found such a book at the Tisak Media bookstore in Pula. The store clerk directed me to a section devoted to translated titles. The tour bus awaited, so I quickly scanned the back covers and chose The Return of Philip Latinowicz by Miroslav Krleza.
Later I checked the reviews on Amazon. They were very good but I noted an alarming word one reviewer used to describe the work—protoexistentialism. Yikes!
Existentialism takes me back to a long ago Philosophy class. To refresh my memory of the concept, I consulted the FreeDictionary:
A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one’s acts.
Apparently protoexistentialism preceded existentialism. Whatever. There’s a reason I didn’t become a philosopher. But if you fancy yourself one, The Return of Philip Latinowicz may be the book for you.
I may or may not read The Return of Philip Latinowicz … the existential aspect gives me pause. But it’s still a splendid memento of a wonderful trip. And I feel so intellectual just seeing it on my bookshelf.
Good news: Independent bookstores are alive and well in Croatia. The country teems with them.
When I went to Budapest in 2011 I found a copy of Quarantine in the Grand Hotel by JenŐ RejtŐ. I recounted the experience in the Buried Under Books blog here.
For more information on The Return of Philip Latinowicz, click here.
For more on the fascinating city of Pula, including its Roman arena, click here.
What souvenirs do you bring home from your travels?