The first-time novelist Téa Obreht's book The Tiger's Wife, a surreal, seductive meander through recent history in the Balkans, has turned the 25-year-old into the latest literary superstar after she was crowned the youngest winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction yesterday.
Three first-time novelists tackling macabre subjects – the aftermath of conflict in the Balkans, a love affair in a mental institution, and the story of a hermaphrodite baby called Wayne – feature in this year's shortlist for the Orange Prize for Fiction.
Chris Cviic was a writer and broadcaster who became a leading expert on the former Yugoslavia and the Balkans. Born in Croatia, the son of a businessman, he settled in Britain in 1954. His career took him to the BBC World Service, to St Antony's College, Oxford, to Chatham House and finally to the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, which promotes foreign investment and economic reform in former communist countries.
In the middle of May this year, thousands of leather-clad bikers from across the Balkans gathered in the Croatian town of Slavonski Brod for a bash celebrating the unbridled joy that comes from tearing up the open road on a powerful two-wheeled hog.
This New York trio have been producing deftly programmed global fusion for more than five years now, but it's on this third album that their songwriting skills finally measure up to their studio craft.
Albania was declared a capitalist state in 1992, but its leading city still has a lot of catching up to do if it's to make it on to the European tourist's map.
Forget the ex-buskers' Mercury-nominated debut. With Isla, produced by John Leckie, Portico have found their mojo: a thrumming, intensely textured and dynamic sound flowing between sax, bass, drums and hang. (Looks like a wok, sounds like a steel drum.)
It's probably stretching a point to suggest that the current 2-Tone revival says as much about our present social corrosion as any learned sociological treatise; though certainly, the last time blue-eyed ska bands were this popular, the country was riven with inner-city riots and being bled dry by complete bankers. Sound familiar?
Marcus Tanner reveals how he uncovered the gripping subject of his new biography: the warrior, book-worm and friend of Dracula known as the Raven King