News Archive

Croatian Journalist/Novelist Provides Insight on Balkan Wars

1997-98 William F. Quillian, Jr., Visiting International Professor Slavenka Drakulic spoke March 30

3/24/2005 10:05:58 AM


LYNCHURG — An internationally acclaimed Croatian journalist and novelist returned to R-MWC March 30 for a reading of her most recent book.

Slavenka Drakulic, the 1997-98 William F. Quillian, Jr. Visiting International Professor, read from "They Would Never Hurt a Fly — War Criminals on Trial at The Hague" during the event. The free reading was open to the public and was held in the Alice Ashley Jack Room at 8 p.m. A reception followed.

Drakulic, a journalist and novelist, emigrated from Croatia in the early 1990s for political reasons. She has written for various newspapers and magazines across the world, but is perhaps most well-known for her recent works dealing with the Yugoslav wars.

In They Would Never Hurt a Fly, she observed proceedings at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague for five months, following people such as Slobodan Milosevic and Biljana Plavsic. Her account makes the reader look twice at the Balkan Wars and the horrors that occurred to the people of her country.

The book won the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding.

Four of her novels and five of her non-fiction books have been translated into more than 20 languages. At the heart of her writing is 12 years of attempting to understand and share the horrors of the Balkan Wars.

Drakulic’s works have won praise from literary critics.

Among those, the Library Journal wrote, “Acclaimed Croatian writer Drakulic has captured the parodies of the Balkan region through commentary (Caf Europa) and fiction (S: A Novel About the Balkans). Her latest, a collection of essays about the Balkan war criminals on trial in The Hague, follows her tradition of taking the historical personally in an effort to reach the underlying truth. And no matter how elusive the truth may be and whether one agrees with her conclusions, Drakulic succeeds fully in making us think twice about the causes of war crimes and their frightening commonness. Devoting a chapter to each criminal (e.g., Slobodan Milosevic, Ratko Mladic), Drakulic probes past and present with a determination that climaxes in the forceful last chapter, “Why We Need Monsters.” The lesson learned is that “only if we understand that most perpetrators are people like us can we see that we too might one day be in danger of succumbing to the same kind of pressure.” Drakulic is to be commended for drawing our attention to these trials, especially as many Americans struggle to rationalize the recent actions of their soldiers in Iraq.”

Drakulic was born in Rijeka in 1949 in what was then Yugoslavia, now Croatia. She graduated in comparative literature and sociology from the University in Zagreb in 1976.

For more information, please contact Brenda Edson at 947-8142.

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CONTACT: Brenda Edson, Director of College Relations