CROATIAN SPIRIT IN ENGLISH ATTIRE
Literature of Croatian immigrants in the language of the country of their residence is probably most systematically known in the U.S. Croatian Americans have a series of writers, four of which have found their way to the very top of the contemporary American writing. They are, in alphabetic order, Melissa Milich, Anthony Mlikotin, Josip Novakovich, and Mary Helen Stefaniak.
While they share successful expression of their literary talent through English words, their life histories are varied. Novakovich and Mlikotin were born in Croatia and they are fully bilingual. Mlikotin has been active in the U.S. for half a century, Novakovich for a quarter. They both came to the U.S. as students, and they continued their careers within the academic framework. Melissa Milich and Mary Helen Stefaniak are born Americans. Milich, whose family came from the Dubrovnik region, belongs to the large Croatian-American community in Watsonville (California). She is a professional writer and journalist. Stefaniak is interesting in that her family originates from Novo Selo in Hungary, being thus a part of the indigenous Croatian minority in that country. Like Novakovich, Mary Helen Stefaniak teaches creative writing (Creighton University at Omaha), and in the course of her life she was a salesperson, model, soccer coach, tourist guide, editor... She was born in the multiethnic, industrial Milwaukee, and this is reflected in the picturesque nature of her prose.
America has enthusiastically received our colorful quartet, and their works have entered leading anthologies and magazines. For example, Mary Helen Stefaniak has been featured in the New Stories from the South: The Year's Best, 2000; and Novakovich was declared by the Kirkus Review to be "the best American short-story writer of the decade."
HMI, matis.hr / Vladimir P. Goss