April Fool's Day: A Novel

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9780060583972: April Fool's Day: A Novel

Ivan Dolinar is a man caught in the crosscurrents of senseless wars, ridiculous dictators, and the usual and unusual difficulties of just trying to get by in the Balkans. His life begins, auspiciously, on April Fool's Day, 1948. As a boy growing up in a small town in Croatia, Ivan tries to love the people's dictator, Tito, but his love is not returned. In a world of propaganda and paranoia, young Ivan quickly discovers that the best of intentions can backfire. At nineteen, full of hope and ambition, he enters medical school in Novi Sad, Serbia, but his medical career is cut short by a prank, and he is sent to a notorious labor camp to dig rocks for two years. War breaks out soon after his release, and Ivan is drafted -- into the wrong army. A pawn in an absurd conflict in which rules and loyalties shift unexpectedly, Ivan finds himself in a struggle simply to survive.

From the tavern to the ivory tower to the battlefields, as Ivan's fortunes rise and fall faster than one can say "Yugoslavia," a tender novel emerges. Told with the bitingly dark humor ofttimes used to keep despair at bay, April Fool's Day is both a devastating political satire and a razor-sharp parody of war.

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About the Author:

Josip Novakovich is the winner of a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. His stories have been published in the Paris Review, TriQuarterly, Double Take, Tin House, and Ploughshares, as well as the O. Henry and Pushcart Prize anthologies. April Fool's Day is his first novel.

Review:

“An ambitious first novel ... The magic realism of the final sections is exemplary; Novakovich has found his groove.” (Washington Post)

“[Ivan] is a fully rounded character, the type of protagonist...that we rarely find in fiction.” (Chicago Tribune)

“Delightfully neurotic . . . Novakovich brings a deft touch to his ambitious and unconventional first novel.” (Columbus Dispatch)

“APRIL FOOL’S DAY is a wonder...[It] has an economy of style and narrative that all good readers will relish.” (Republic of Letters)

“A heartfelt novel about the war-torn Balkans that’s actually quite funny...and touching.” (GQ)

“Both humorous and horrifying as it traces one man’s misadventures.” (USA Today)

“Wickedly funny and deeply harrowing...Novakovich knows how to tell a story...Strange, lyrical beauty abounds here.” (Maud Casey, New York Times Book Review)

“Disturbing and frequently beautiful...the novel is a Balkan conflation of Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Gogol’s DEAD SOULS, and SLAUGHERHOUSE FIVE.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“There are very few native-born English speakers who write as well. (Tibor Fischer, The Guardian)

“[A] laugh-while-you-grimace novel...[Novakovich] writes with dark wit, and a touching sympathy.” (Newsweek International)

“Rife with dark humor [and] notable for its witty reflections on politics, literature and the vicissitudes of the human heart.” (San Diego Union-Tribune)

“An agreeably eccentric first novel from one of the more interesting and unusual contemporary writers.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred)

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Novakovich, Josip
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