I first met Nenad during Christmas mass in the Church of Saints Cyril & Methodius and St. Raphael in Manhattan. It was during my visit to New York (1998) where I was promoting my novel Rhapsody on the Island of Susak for Croatian emigrants and the American public. During prayer I saw a tall man, with a distinct black hat. Very soon after the mass I had the honor of meeting him.
This man is a Croatian American recording artist, composer, performer, producer and peace activist. He has performed with a wide range of artists, including Luciano Pavarotti, Bono & The Edge (U2), Brian Eno, Garth Hudson & Rick Danko (The Band), Vince Welnick (Grateful Dead), John Malkovich, Ellen Burstyn, Martin Sheen, Michael York and many other artists. His name is Nenad Bach and after the mass we became friends. Nenad showed a very sincere interest in my books and offered to help me. It was a big surprise for me because I grew up in a country where the communist regime taught people to be loyal to the disreputable regime, but not how to showcase their own abilities, how to be more creative, and how to connect with a free and democratic world. The latter was reserved only for the extra privileged people who were very loyal to the communist regime.
It was the main reason why Nenad Bach left our homeland Croatia (Nenad only wanted his three children to grow up in a democracy). Maybe it is the reason why the main character in my latest literary work (The Countdown Trilogy) is a Croatian emigrant, Martin Balarin, who left his native island of Korcula due to the unthinkable pressure and propaganda forced upon him by the communist regime. Nenad Bach and my hero, Martin Balarin, share some similarities; they went to the United States almost at the same time (September 1984, I didn’t previously know when Nenad had emigrated to the United States), to the same city, New York (where today live approximately 70 000 very successful Croatian emigrants), and both of them had become successful in their careers.
But, The Countdown Trilogy has been recognized by a real person from the other side of the world, the State of Israel. I first met Mr Pierre Lavi during the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair at the State of Israel’s pavilion. Very soon after our first meeting, he contacted me and presented me with a proposal to be my publisher for the Hebrew edition in the State of Israel, as well as my publisher on the global market. Thanks to Mr Lavi I had the great honor to be the first Croatian guest writer at the State of Israel’s pavilion during the Frankfurt Book Fair (October 2014), as well as the the exceptional privilege to participate in the Jerusalem Book Fair in February 2015, and to promote The Countdown Project, under the auspices of the Republic of Croatia and the State of Israel.
Mr Lavi has recognized the potential of The Countdown Trilogy (a very tense political spy thriller where the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies look for a young inventor in possession of an invention by Nikola Tesla and where the settings of the story take place in several countries: United States, Croatia, India, Israel, Vatican) in the film industry. Of course, my first step was to introduce Nenad to Pierre. Very soon they agreed that Israel and Croatia had a wonderful cultural project not only for their own markets, but for international markets as well. This is only an example of how we can make this world a better place, how to encourage more humanism, more understanding, and how to make more connections between people and countries in the world. We are living in the 21st century and we all want the same: to make this planet a better and more human place to live.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that we live in a world of science, technology, art and an unthinkable quantity of knowledge, at the same time we live in a world where hate is still very much alive. Nenad and Pierre live in New York and Jerusalem. Both cities had two terrible terrorist attacks which I describe in The Countdown Trilogy. It was my attempt to warn of a new threat in the world. But I am very sure that this collective project of ours is one of many international projects that have the potential to make this world a better place for us all. Perhaps this is the reason why Nenad’s song Everything is Forever, as well as Pierre’s books about humanism, are great examples of how tied together we are better. Maybe the best message of this article is the fact that, thanks to my modest contribution for a better tomorrow, I met two brilliant men and artists, who became my wonderful friends: Nenad and Pierre.
God bless all of you.