Books I read about Croatia while in Croatia (and a computer game)

The Croatian War of Independence (1991 – 1995) is a very recent part of the country’s history, and most of the books that I read about Croatia included themes of war.

The Hired Man, by Aminatta Forna

Ostensibly about small village life in Croatia, this book unfolds into something darker through flashbacks into recent history. While parts of the book are set during the war of independence, the book is feels more about the characters and less about the war itself.

April Fool’s Day and Infidelities: Stories of War and Lust, both by Josip Novakovich

Without analyzing it too deeply, I’m going to say Novakovich’s writing is very Vonnegut-esc in a dark and gritty, yet beautifully written way. The first book was a novel, while the second is a collection of short stories. I thought they were both excellent.

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, by Rebecca West

This was the least war-focused of the books – it’s a travelogue of a visit to Yugoslavia between World War I and World War II. I have to admit that while I enjoyed the parts I read, I didn’t finish this book. However, in my defense, it is 1232 pages long, and I ran out of time in Croatia.

To depart briefly from books: I also played the game This War of Mine. While it’s not set in Croatia, it’s largely based on the siege of Sarajevo in nearby Bosnia in the same time period. (Both wars were part of the disintegration of Yugoslavia.) The focus of the game is the experience of civilians during war which fascinates me, especially because it’s so often ignored in games. Brian described the game as “The Sims during war,” which seems pretty close to accurate. I definitely recommend it.