Josip Novakovich | The Sun Magazine

Josip Novakovich

Josip Novakovich emigrated from Croatia at the age of twenty and currently teaches fiction writing at Penn State. Last year he was a writing fellow of the New York Public Library. He has a new collection of essays, Plum Brandy: A Croatian Journey, coming out this month from White Wine Press.

— From January 2003

59th Parallel

You’d imagine that, in the wake of 9-11, New York City subways would be less crowded than usual, that at least the paranoiacs of the city (no doubt a large population, of which I might be considered a member) would not be in the subway, which seems like a target. For a month after the attack, I observed the multitude of bags every morning and wondered, What’s to guarantee there are no explosives here, no anthrax, no plague?

January 2003


Ordinarily, Marko Sakic walked the five blocks to work at his grocery store on the Street of Proletarian Brigades in Nizograd, Croatia, but these days he drove, because he didn’t want to face his neighbors in the streets. Croatia had recently declared its independence from Serb-ruled Yugoslavia, and, as a Serb, Marko didn’t know what this meant for him. He wanted to be inconspicuous.

August 1999

Come Rain Or Come Shine

Twenty-Five Years Of The Sun

This month marks The Sun’s twenty-fifth anniversary. As the deadline for the January issue approached — and passed — we were still debating how to commemorate the occasion in print. We didn’t want to waste space on self-congratulation, but we also didn’t think we should let the moment pass unnoticed. At the eleventh hour, we came up with an idea: we would invite longtime contributors and current and former staff members to send us their thoughts, recollections, and anecdotes about The Sun. Maybe we would get enough to fill a few pages. What we got was enough to fill the entire magazine.

January 1999

Fritz: A Fable

Fritz, a gray, wolflike German shepherd, howled so terribly at some intruder that his owner, Igor Lovrak, went into his larder and greased his great-grandfather’s rifle and thumbed gunpowder and bullets into the barrel before he dared walk out into the yard.

August 1997

The Enemy

I haven’t lived well because I didn’t know until recently who the enemy was. I thought the enemy was outside, somewhere far removed from me — the communists, the Serbs, the Muslims. I didn’t know that the true enemy was much closer at hand.

December 1996

Hats And Veils

Vadim felt the wind-borne particles of water bursting in the hazy sunlight. He breathed the firs’ musty aroma and remembered Bosnia’s mountain pines above his red-tiled house, and the day Serb soldiers had firebombed the forest and his house had burned in high-explosive flames.

May 1995
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Fence Posts

Visiting my hometown of Daruvar, Croatia, in 1986, I was taken aback when a friend told me, “Go back to the States! We’ll have a war here. Serbs have lists of all the Croatian households. At night they will slit our throats.” I thought he was crazy. Now I think I was crazy not to see the warning signs.

February 1993

The Apple

Late at night I heard a scream. Ivan was shaking me violently. “Father’s dying!” he shrieked. It was pitch-black in the room. I sprang out of bed, and both of us ran to our parents’ bedroom. “Where’s Mother?”

December 1990

Yahbo The Hawk

Again and again he flew against the window so mercilessly I was scared he would break his neck. Then his eyes glowed with wrath.

June 1989
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