Translated by Ellen Elias-Bursać
Winner of the Prix Ulysse for best debut novel in France
Winner in Croatia and the Balkan region of the Kočićevo Pero Award, the Josip and Ivan Kozarac Award, and the Kiklop Award for the best work of fiction
When the Croatian War of Independence breaks out in her hometown of Vukovar in the summer of 1991 the narrator of The Hotel Tito is nine years old, nestled within the embrace of family with her father, her mother, and older brother. She is sent to a seaside vacation to be far from the hostilities. Meanwhile, her father has disappeared while fighting with the Croatian forces. By the time she returns at summer’s end everything has changed. Against the backdrop of genocide (the Vukovar hospital massacre) and the devastation of middle class society within the Yugoslav Federation, our young narrator, now with her mother and brother refugees among a sea of refugees, spends the next six years experiencing her own self-discovery and transformation amid unfamiliar surroundings as a displaced person. As she grows from a nine-year old into a sparkling and wonderfully complicated fifteen-year-old, it is as a stranger in her own land.
Applauded as the finest work of fiction to appear about the Yugoslav Wars, Ivana Bodrožić’s The Hotel Tito is at its heart a story of a young girl’s coming of age, a reminder that even during times of war—especially during such times—the future rests with those who are the innocent victims and peaceful survivors.
We sat down with Ivana Bodrožic, author of The Hotel Tito, to discuss why there is no such thing as "displaced children," subconscious literary influences, and her next book from Seven Stories, a political thriller called Pits that will arrive in 2020. Pardon the shakiness of the footage and the vertical video—we're working on our cinematography skills!