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Saturday, May 5, 2018

THE HOTEL TITO: A NOVEL (audiobook) by Ivana Bodrozic. Translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac

Published in 2017 by Blackstone Audio
Read by Eileen Stevens.
Duration: 5 hours, 27 minutes.

A tank destroyed by the Croats in 1992.
The novel follows the family of a 9 year old Croatian girl as her family is displaced by war in the former Yugoslavia. In 1991, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia and fought a 4 year war, mostly against the Serbs. The family has fled from Vukovar, a city on the border with Serbia. The father has stayed behind to defend their city and the family ends up in a hotel that has been re-purposed to house refugees.

The story follows the girl as she and her friends go to school and try, unsuccessfully, to blend in with the local children, the activities and pranks they participate in at the refugee camp/hotel and their long wait for an apartment or a house that they can call their very own. Most importantly, they await any word on their father who was part of a spirited, but ultimately failed defense of Vukovar.

The Hotel Tito sheds some light on a mostly forgotten bit of history, but only a little bit of light. I learned much more about the war and about Croatia researching this review than I did listening to this audiobook. There is precious little context and most of the action is told from a detached point of view of a child so the reader/listener has almost no chance to learn much about the situation. I felt as confused as the child must have, but I am not sure if that was the intention since the story continually mentions cities, generals and politicians.

The problem, I am sure, is that this book was intended to be read by people who have a great deal of familiarity with the events of the 1991-1995 war. Unfortunately, I remember only the vaguest of outlines about what went on during the war. If you are clueless about this war, skip this book (or do a lot of pre-reading research).

The book was translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac and I thought she did a superior job of translation. I am a Spanish teacher and know nothing about Croatian. But, I do know how hard it is to translate colloquialisms into other languages and Elias-Bursac included a lot of them as she attempted to make this text more approachable.

Eileen Stevens read the audiobook. None of my complaints about this book stem from her reading - it was quite good.

I rate this audiobook 2 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here: The Hotel Tito.

Note: I received a free copy of this audiobook from the publisher through Audiobook Jukebox's Solid Gold Reviewer program so that I might write an honest review.

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