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(E) 'April Fool's Day': Ivan the Terrified - 30% off to buy NOW
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  09/21/2004 | Culture And Arts | Unrated
(E) 'April Fool's Day': Ivan the Terrified - 30% off to buy NOW


"Novakovich knows how to tell a story"  - The New York Times


Dear Crown readers,
Have you seen the review on Sunday in The New York Times? If not, go to and then books, and look up "Ivan the Terrified."  Book is 30% off on both and It even appears to be selling pretty well.

Josip Novakovich


 'April Fool's Day': Ivan the Terrified

Published: September 19, 2004

By Josip Novakovich.
226 pp. HarperCollins Publishers. $23.95.
Books and Literature

HIS wickedly funny and deeply harrowing first novel from Josip Novakovich, a Croatian expatriate who came to the United States  at 20 — in part to avoid enlistment in the Yugoslav Federal Army — relates the picaresque tale of one Ivan Dolinar, born in Croatia on April Fool's Day in 1948, around the time of Tito's historic split with Stalin.

Novakovich knows how to tell a story, and his prose has an easy, elegant velocity. Of the rain in Serbia, he writes, ''The wetness carried the smells of poisonous mushrooms and old leaves, not only of the leaves that had just zigzagged to the ground but also of the leaves from the last year, and from thousands of years ago.''

This novel's darkly ironic chapter headings — ''Ivan falls in love with power as soon as he learns how to crawl''; ''Ivan finds out that the world is a huge labor camp'' — deftly move us through Ivan's peripatetic existence and this novel's meditations on war, faith and the doldrums of humanity. Miraculously, Ivan survives childhood despite his parents' blasted lives. (His father returns home from World War II with his severed arm and leg in a potato sack, having ''changed armies several times and joined the winning side too late,'' and promptly drops dead of delirium tremens; his mother's goal is to be ''as inconspicuous as possible.'') He fully understands the absurdity of his own options: ''He could assimilate in Serbia. . . . He could join the K.G.B., the C.I.A., both. And he could become an alcoholic. He was absolutely free.''

Ultimately, he hits the road to attend medical school in northern Serbia, where his Muslim roommate (later nailed to a cross by Chetnik rebels) makes a joke about assassinating Tito that lands them in a labor camp, where Ivan comes face to face with Tito
himself. The dictator offers him a cigar, but when Ivan doesn't smoke it properly (''Cigar is a nose sport, not a lung disease,'' Tito says), his prison sentence is lengthened. After Ivan's release, he is drafted into the Yugoslav Federal Army and, like his father, ends
up changing armies several times. (Novakovich makes it clear that in this case there are no winning sides.) He first fights against the Croatian Army, which captures and enlists him, only to be recaptured by the Federal Army and forced on a 100-mile death march.

Here's a copy from bn.:

April Fool's Day
Josip Novakovich

 Larger view
Hardcover, September 2004
 List Price:   $23.95
 Our Price:   $16.76  (Save 30%)
 Barnes & Noble Member Price:  $15.08


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Product Details:
ISBN: 0060583975
Format: Hardcover, 240pp
Pub. Date: September 2004
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Barnes & Noble Sales Rank: 199


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