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(E) "Novakovich is a world-class writer" Review of "SPLEEN"
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  11/3/2003 | Culture And Arts | Unrated
(E) "Novakovich is a world-class writer" Review of "SPLEEN"


Josip Novakovich

does it again

"Novakovich is a world-class writer", proclaims Boris Fishman, writer for "The New Yorker"

The new story called "SPLEEN" by Josip Novakovich is included among the "Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier" an anthology of stories set in Eastern Europe.

In "Spleen" Novakovich breaks new ground by writing in first person from a woman's point of view. A peaceful and innocent woman living in Bosnia stabs a man in self-defense when he and another thief break into her house during the rampage when Serb army was advancing. She survives and runs away to America, settling down in Cleveland, but so do many of her neighbors from Bosnia. As much as any survivor of violence can, the heroine is trying to live for the future, only to be haunted by memories of attack when she meets a new man in her life, who also happens to be from her hometown.

"Novakovich is a world-class writer", proclaims Boris Fishman, writer for "The New Yorker" and editor of the "Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier."

You can see for yourself how that is true by reading fiction story "Sheepskin" which appears in the "Salvation and Other Disasters" book. It is written in the first person point of view and set in the context of brutal war in former Yugoslavia. A deeply wounded man survives a Serb attack on Vukovar hospital and soon after seeks revenge. He kills the wrong man and the long story goes on with a twist.

Novakovich then wrote and published in the "Writing Fiction Step by Step" a fascinating explanation of how he made up the events that occur in "Sheepskin" and how they occur within the context of real-life events such as the war. "Writing the story helped me sort out some of my thoughts on the subject of victims of war and the theme of personal revenge. Almost like an experiment, so I could see for myself what revenge could look like, and what possible implications there could be in revenge that is highly individualized rather than sociologically abstract."

Josip Novakovich emigrated to the U.S. from Croatia at the age of twenty. He writes mostly in English. Josip's publications include "Plum Brandy - Croatian Journeys" published by White Pine Press in 2003, collection of stories from Croatia "Salvation and Other Disasters", Graywolf Press 1998, "Apricots from Chernobyl" and "Yolk" both published in 1995 by Graywolf Press. "Writing Fiction Step by Step" 1998 by Story Press and "Fiction Writer's Workshop" 1995. In addition, Novakovich co-edited "Stories in the Stepmother Tongue" published in 2000 by White Pine Press and was included in anthology "How To Write Funny" where he wrote a chapter on "Getting Laughs From Literature" published in 2001 by Writer's Digest Books.

Novakovich has won a Whiting Award, a Richard Margolis Prize for Socially Important Writing, three Pushcart Prizes, an O. Henry award, an NEA fellowship, and a nomination for the Pen/Hemingway Award for First Fiction.

In 2004, Novakovich new book "Infidelities: Stories of Lust and War" will be published by HarperCollins. Josip teaches writing at Penn State.

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