Library JournalWhen I first read the synopsis of Novakovich's book, the similarity of our experiences were immediately evident: we both left our native Croatia for the United States during our formative years, we both absorbed the English vocabulary through books and rock'n'roll, and we both dared to choose professions that demand fluency in English. Finally, I thought, here is a book by an established Croat about Croatia and not a book by a weary scholar about (sigh) the plight of the Balkans. But after only a few pages, I was let down. These semi-linked essays, literary by style more than by topic (thus quite difficult to classify), discuss all things Croatian but in a way that props up the author's self-serving agenda to belittle any sign of the country's progress. Novakovich (Salvation and Other Disasters) is a sharp-eyed observer and a confident writer. He also possesses an unsurpassed skill to judge ("The islands are provinces of a provincial country") and judge some more ("It is easy to be thin here"), but always from a safe distance, as if prefacing each statement with "I got away." In the end, one comes to two conclusions: first, our perceptions of any society, including our home, are based on individual experiences. Second, Novakovich should have written a book about how he (not his country) lost his individuality. And, so, while he proudly continues to call himself an American and visit his homeland because its misery is the best cure for his writer's block, I will continue searching for that one book that will rise above the hackneyed stereotypes-the book that I will wholeheartedly recommend as an honest portrayal of this much-misunderstood and much-neglected country. This, alas, is not it.-Mirela Roncevic, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Essays by acclaimed Croatian writer Josip Novakovich.
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